Blog Tour · Book Review · Books

Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy [BLOG TOUR]

Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy [BLOG TOUR]

★★★★

Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy is the first book I read this year, and my first 5 star as well. I am now confident that 2021 won’t be that bad. I knew I was going to enjoy it, I just didn’t expect to enjoy it this much. Huge thank you yo Kaleidoscope Tours and Scholastic Press, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Synopsis:

Niamh just moved to London, with the hope to pursue acting, meet friends and have fun. When she starts making new friends and these women keep getting attacked and murdered, she realises that this might be all somehow connected to her. Because all women that are being attacked look very much like her.

My Thoughts:

Last One to Die is suspenseful from the very beginning, because Niamh knows that she’s in danger. She just doesn’t know what/who the danger is. Trusting people is hard and so is making new friends again. And as the book goes on, the intensity increases and the stakes get higher.

It’s so hard to write a spoiler-free review for this book, because I want to share everything I felt while reading it. Niamh was a character I really liked, and she was very easy to relate to as well. I went in for a YA thriller and I got a supernatural horror that kept me on my toes.

The friendship with Jess, the family closeness and the love interest scenes were a wonderful addition to the suspense we get, like breathing a bit of fresh air as well. I loved it when scenes made me giggle or give me the butterflies. It was very light as well, which helped break the scary moments and make you believe everything was good, before another plot twist happened.

I also loved the history element too.

The library, the museum, the old scary stories that happened in the part and brought eeriness… These were some of my favorite scenes in the whole book.

This is one of those books where you’ll have a theory, be eager to know the villain, and see your theories change at least three times. I made so many prediction, and got it correct in the end, but even then I still had to wait until the end to confirm it and get a satisfying explanation.

If you love YA thrillers, with horror elements and supernatural moments, don’t miss this one. This trope is now on my books. It might even be my favorite genre if my next reads are good as well. Cynthia Murphy as an author is also now on my list. I will make sure to read the next book she writes! I couldn’t recommend it enough!

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Book Review · Books

October, October by Katya Balen [BOOK REVIEW]

October, October by Katya Balen [BOOK REVIEW]

★★★

I am so glad I read October, October by Katya Balen and illustrated by Angela Harding. It is a perfect middle grade book that not only brings us to a beautiful wild adventure, but also teaches us that it’s okay to be different. Thank you to Bloomsbury and LoveReading 4 Kids, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Synopsis:

October and her dad live in the woods. They live in a house that her dad built and enjoy the nature and the animals and the trees. They love the river and they love looking at the stars at night. It’s always been just the two of them, and that’s how it is.

And then October turns eleven. That’s the year she rescues a baby owl. That’s the year her dad fell from the tallest tree and was taken to hospital. The year when the woman who calls herself mother came back.

That’s when everything changes.

My Thoughts:

Through October’s passionate and, at the same time, innocent thoughts, we enter her world surrounded by wilderness and freedom. A child raised in the wild, whose life changes in a way she never deemed possible. She now has a new life that she needs to adjust to. But October doesn’t understand this. She doesn’t feel the need to adjust, because the wilderness is her home. Together with her dad. And now she lives in the city with this woman who calls herself mother, who tells her she needs to go to school, and who doesn’t approve of the baby owl.

“A pocket of people in a pocket of a world that’s small as a marble. We are tiny and we are everything and we are wild. We live in the woods.”

“Being wild and free is different for every person and every thing and it can be folded into the woods or whirling through the city streets. I know not everything has a perfect ending and I know that some things have a perfect place and that some things don’t and that all this can change anyway.”

With each paragraph and each chapter, I could feel October’s frustration. How her life is very unfair, and her questioning everything, trying to figure out why people want her to behave differently.

“What feels best isn’t always right, you know.”

This book resonated with me so much.

Perhaps because I was once in a similar situation to October as a child. I loved exploring the world from her point of view and I loved her wild personality. The relationship she has with her father was so precious. He understands her the most, and they get along together very well.

The story developed in a very nice way, and the ending was quite satisfying. Without giving anything away, I will just say that many characters realised many things by the end of the book. The learning journey they all went thought was very prominent and it left me with a melancholy, but also happy feeling. The ending felt very bittersweet.

“Sometimes it’s a kindness to let something go even when you love it very much.”

October, October is a beautifully written book about wilderness, happiness and freedom. The beautiful illustrations just add up to the writing and give a life to the story. I recommend it to both children and adults. A gem worth discovering!

Purchase Links:
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Book Review · Books

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline [BOOK REVIEW]

When I first found out that there is a sequel called Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline, I was so excited! But I was also doubtful whether it would live up to the hype. Writing this review was a bit hard for me, considering how much I loved the first book, but here we go.

Synopsis:

Days after Oasis founder James Halliday’s contest, Wade Watts makes a discovery that changes everything. Hidden within Halliday’s vault, waiting for his heir to find, lies a technological advancement that will once again change the world and make the Oasis a thousand times more wondrous, and addictive, than even Wade dreamed possible.

With it comes a new riddle and a new quest. A last Easter egg from Halliday, hinting at a mysterious prize. And an unexpected, impossibly powerful, and dangerous new rival awaits, one who will kill millions to get what he wants. Wade’s life and the future of the Oasis are again at stake, but this time the fate of humanity also hangs in the balance.

My Thoughts:

Everyone my age remembers where they were and what they were doing when they read Ready Player One. I remember I was listening to the audiobook, wonderfully narrated by Wil Wheaton. It was the first audiobook I ever listened to, and I loved everything about it. The plot, the Oasis, the easter egg contest, the 80’s references. And for me, Ready Player One ended perfectly. Wade won the contest, and everything was fine.

So you can imagine my surprise and excitement when I heart that there is a sequel coming. Of course I was excited! But I was doubtful at the same time. A little bit afraid that this new book wouldn’t live up to my expectations.

Ready Player Two starts very soon after the first book ends, and Wade and his friends uncover a new set of technology, where people can now feel and touch things in the Oasis. But something goes wrong and a villain appears. Only this time, the stakes are very high. People’s lives are in danger. And Wade and his friends must go onto another quest, gathering seven stones, to save everyone!

The quest element was basically the same as the easter egg contest.

Except this time, there were different puzzles and the stakes were higher, with a very tight deadline. I was not impressed at this part at all, and not even the 80’s references could help anymore. Some of the quests went on and on, making me fall asleep on my hardcover book a couple of times. And then, some of them were completed in two pages or less, not given any attention.

Then we had our main hero, Wade, who I started to despise. The Wade I knew from the first book suddenly turned into this rich douchebag that had a God complex. He definitely forgot where he started, and how humble he used to be. He does change a bit in the end, but I gave up on him way before that happened, so I didn’t care.

To be fair, the second part of the book wasn’t that bad, which is why I gave this review an extra star. I loved the final battle, and I’ll be honest, I might even watch that second movie, just to see that scene in action.

But let’s be honest. Ready Player One ended as it ended, and it didn’t need a second book. If feels as if everyone involved in the first book and movie loved the revenue, and decided to milk it as long as it is popular. Because we all love the idea of the Oasis and will keep reading things that feature it. And that’s what gives me the ick.

There is no easy way to say this. When people would ask me about sci-fi recommendations, I would instantly say: “You have to read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline!”. Now, when people ask me the same, I say this: “Ready Player One is amazing! But don’t read the second book. It’s not worth it.”

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Book Review · Books

The Spiral by Iain Ryan [BOOK REVIEW]

The Spiral by Iain Ryan [BOOK REVIEW] This book really took me on a rollercoaster and I still feel the adrenaline after the ride.

★★

I was reading The Spiral by Iain Ryan as part of a readalong with some amazing people on Instagram. I have a few readalongs in the pipeline for 2021 for both book bloggers and bookstagrammers, and you can read more and join HERE if you want to. Reading The Spiral was a very unique experience!

Synopsis:

Erma Bridges’ life is far from perfect, but entirely ordinary. So when she is shot twice in a targetted attack by a colleague, her quiet existence is shattered in an instant.

With her would-be murderer dead, no one can give Erma the answers she needs to move on from her trauma. Why her? Why now?

So begins Erma’s quest for the truth – and a dangerous, spiralling journey into the heart of darkness.

My Thoughts:

First of all, I feel the need to say that I still feel confused after finishing The Spiral. But in a good way. This book really took me on a rollercoaster and I still feel the adrenaline after the ride. And don’t let my 3-star rating put you off, because it’s a very strong 3 star. The Spiral is definitely one of those books that is bound to give you a hangover. The characters will haunt for me for a while, especially Erma.

Erma’s life changes when her assistant Jenny tries to kill her and then kills herself. With Jenny dead, Erma has no answers on why Jenny did that, and all she can do is try and follow her steps and try to reveal the reason why.

Through Iain Ryan’s amazing writing and creativity, this book takes a very unique approach. I loved how the author incorporated the “choose your own adventure” narrative not just in the book, but also as part of the book plot. It was a very new experience for me, and I had lots of fun reading it! If you are not familiar with the “choose your own adventure” format, these types of books are written with a narrative that give you an option, as the reader, to make certain choices. And they usually contain sentences like this one:

” You are standing between three doors. If you choose the red door, go to page 35. If you decide to go for the white door with blue sparkles, go to page 46. And if you are feeling brave today, and want to choose the black door surrounded by thorns, proceed to page 59.”

– Please note that this quote was a product of my imagination, and is not an actual quote from the book.

But now you sort of get the point. You go to a certain page, and then read a story based on your choices. Then you end up making more choices along the way. These books usually have a lot of different endings that you can unravel. The Spiral, however, uses this “choose your own adventure” narrative to provide more information on different character’s plotlines, but doesn’t actively impact the outcome in the end. Well, not completely. Just a little.

I still feel like there are many questions that were left unanswered, and I am currently in between two worlds. The curious part of me wants a conclusive ending, and doesn’t like to keep wondering. And the creative part of me things that this is the point of the book – to give us a chance for us to imagine how the character’s future will unfold.

The Spiral is a very dark, very eerie, very unpredictable book. It’s also full of twists, or dare I say, spirals 😂. I enjoyed it a lot and I hope you’ll give it a chance if the synopsis pulls you in.

“Memory isn’t fact. Memory is subjective and loose. A memory can get close enough to fiction that the line blurs. What good is it?”

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Books · Monthly Tags

My Top 10 Books Of 2020

My Top 10 Books Of 2020

Hello, lovely people!
Today on Diary of Difference I will cover my top 10 of 2020. Let’s be honest, 2020 wasn’t what we expected, and I am so glad that it’s almost over. But if there is one thing I am grateful for, it’s the opportunity 2020 gave me to read more books – in fact the most I’ve ever read in one year – 125. These top 10 are from all the books I read in 2020. There will be another post coming soon about my Top 10 books published in 2020, so keep an eye for that in the next few days.

Without further delays, let’s get into my top 10 of 2020.

10. A Clock of Stars by Francesca Gibbons

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Why I Loved it: It was my favorite middle grade fantasy of the year, and the writing style reminded me when I was first reading the Chronicles of Narnia. I loved the adventure, and I loved the two sisters saving the kingdom. Beautifully written, with amazing lessons for people of all ages. Couldn’t recommend it enough!

Synopsis:

Imogen loves adventures. But her little sister finds Marie always disturbs her and is such a burden. One day, Imogen sees a shadow moth in the garden and starts to follow it. Then her sister finds her, and closes the gate behind them.

Suddenly, they are trapped and it’s all Marie’s fault. But on the other side of the gate, there is a new world, different to theirs. A world where they meet Miro, a boy dressed in weird clothes, claiming he is the prince of this kingdom. A kingdom, where dangers lurk at night.

Link to the Full Review

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

9. Postscript (PS, I Love You #2) by Cecelia Ahern

Genre: Fiction, Romance
Why I Loved it: I didn’t know that PS, I Love You had a sequel, until there was a readalong on bookstagram that I decided to join in on. I loved the first story, and reading the second book after so many years was truly a wonderful experience, especially because I could share this experience with the other readers on the readalong as well.

Synopsis:

When Holly lost her husband Gerry, he left letters for her to read after his death, all of them signed with PS, I Love You. These letters helped her go through the process of grief, get back on her feet and start to love again. 

Now, years later, a mysterious club wants to meet her. And if Holly can find the courage to discover more, she’ll learn what living fully truly means. 

Link to the Full Review

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK |Amazon US |

8. The Hidden Beach by Karen Swan

Genre: Romance, Fiction
Why I Loved it: This was my first book by Karen Swan, and I jumped in thinking it will be a cute romance story. But it became something much more than that. It taught me so much about Stockholm, it had mystery and thriller elements, and it was the perfect summer read. This is also the book that made me fall in love with Karen Swan’s writing, and read more books by her this year.

Synopsis:

In the oldest part of Stockholm, Bell Everhurst is working as a nanny for an affluent family. Hanna and Max Von Greyerz are parents to 7 year-old Linus, and 5-year old twins Ellinor and Tilde, and Bell has been with the family for over two years.

One early Spring morning, as she’s rushing out to take the children to school, she answers the phone – and everything changes. A woman from a clinic she’s never heard of asks her to pass on the message that Hanna’s husband is awake.Bell is confused. She clearly just saw Max walking out of the house a few minutes earlier, but the woman mentioned Hanna by name…

When she gets hold of her employer, the truth is revealed: Hanna’s first husband fell into a coma seven years earlier, following a terrible accident. He has been in a Persistent Minimally Conscious State since and there was very little hope of further improvement. But now he’s awake. And life is going to change for them all.

Link to the Full Review

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK |Amazon US |

7. Shiver by Allie Reynolds

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Why I Loved it: I chose to read it because it was a locked-room type of mystery set in a ski resort, featuring snowboarding professionals. And then, I fell in love with the characters, the plot and the plot twists, and it’s definitely my favorite winter read this year!

Synopsis:

When Milla is invited to a reunion in the French Alps resort that saw the peak of her snowboarding career, she drops everything to go. While she would rather forget the events of that winter, the invitation comes from Curtis, the one person she can’t seem to let go.

The five friends haven’t seen each other for ten years, since the disappearance of the beautiful and enigmatic Saskia. But when an icebreaker game turns menacing, they realise they don’t know who has really gathered them there and how far they will go to find the truth.

In a deserted lodge high up a mountain, the secrets of the past are about to come to light.

Link to the Full Review

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

6. The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm (World of Warcraft #8) by Christie Golden

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
Why I Loved it: I used to play World of Warcraft a lot in the past, and I was familiar with the lore, but never really read the books. The Cataclysm was my favourite expansion, so I decided to try and read Thrall’s story. And the adventure, world building and the characters didn’t disappoint at all, and hooked me in so fast. I am looking forward to reading all the books in the series one day, once I buy them.

Synopsis:

The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm by Christie Golden is the eighth book in the World of Warcraft series. The series covers the lore of the characters that are featured in the popular video game World of Warcraft.

The Shattering has a focus on the events that happen before the Cataclysm, and the events that actually lead to it, from various character’s perspectives, from both the Horde and the Alliance. We get to see the character’s perspectives, choices and how even small things have a big impact on what’s about to happen.

Link to the Full Review

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK |Amazon US |

5. The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Why I Loved it: A wonderful thriller that gave me the chills. I also loved the “book within a book” concept, and it was so well executed. If you can only choose one thriller, let it be The Nothing Man. It is truly amazing!

Synopsis:

I was the girl who survived the Nothing Man.
Now I am the woman who is going to catch him…

You’ve just read the opening pages of The Nothing Man, the true crime memoir Eve Black has written about her obsessive search for the man who killed her family nearly two decades ago.

The Nothing Man starts when Jim is at work, walking through the supermarket, and he notices that a girl has a book with the name “The Nothing Man” with her. His heart starts racing – because he knows what it means. The Nothing Man is a mysterious man that has assaulted and killed many people in the area, and even after twenty years, no one has found him yet. But Jim knows the truth – because he is the man who did all these crimes. 

Link to the Full Review

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK |Amazon US |

4. Daisy’s Vintage Cornish Camper Van by Ali McNamara

Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance
Why I Loved it: If you know me, you’ll know I love travelling, Camper Vans and postcards. And this book has it all. When I saw the cover, I was so excited about how cute it is. And then I read it, and it was everything I ever wanted and more. Perfect summer read that I recommend to everyone!

Synopsis:

When Ana inherits a camper van from her best friend, she needs to go to Cornwall to get it. A nice sea air and fish and chips are enver a bad choice. 

But when she arrives, she realises that the camper van is in a much worse state than she imagined.

The fixing will take longer than she anticipated. 

On top of this, Ana finds a series of unsent postcards dating back to the 1940s, hidden in the van. This is a sign and Ana wants to make sure the postcards are delivered. 

And while the camper van is restored and Ana is helping other people be happy, she may eventually notice she is finding her way back to happiness again. 

Link to the Full Review

Purchase Links:
| Amazon UK |Amazon US |

3. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Why I Loved it: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has been on my TBR for the longest, and I somehow kept postponing it. But as soon as I started reading it, it hooked me in, and I couldn’t let it go. The characters are so well written, and the mystery and thriller elements are so good as well. A true classic, and I wish I read it way sooner!

Synopsis:

Lisbeth Salander can dig the deepest secrets of her targets. She is often underestimated because of her looks, but loves nothing more than to prove people wrong.

Mikael Bloomkvist is a disgraced journalist and when tasked to investigate him, Lisbeth finds nothing but integrity.

When his investigation of a mystery that happened a long time ago comes to a dead end, he needs help. And who could do that better, than the same person who investigated him. 

Link to the Full Review

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK |Amazon US |

2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Genre: Fantasy, Magic, Romance
Why I Loved it: The world building and the storytelling were from another world. I fell in love with the magic, and I loved that circus so much! This book is probably my most annotated book I have ever read, and I feel special pride saying that, as I only annotate quotes that make me think, or make me admire something a lot.

Synopsis:

Two people, brought up in different circumstances, have been getting ready for the challenge all their lives. They can’t avoid it, they are bonded to it. Their task is to be better than the other person, be a better magician, be a better illusionist. Their destiny is magical and dangerous, and the circus is their arena. 

Link to the Full Review

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK |Amazon US |

1. The Toll by Neal Shusterman (Arc of a Scythe #3)

Genre: Young Adult, Science-Fiction, Fantasy
Why I Loved it: I loved the first two books of the Arc of a Scythe series, and the Toll was the ultimate perfect ending to such a trilogy. A masterpiece, that invented such a world, and ended it so well. Neal Shusterman became one of my favorite authors with this series, and it’s truly no surprise The Toll made my number one spot in my top 10 of 2020.

Synopsis:

In order to not spoil anything for anyone, I will put the Synopsis for the first book (Scythe) here:

In a perfect world, where immortality exists, the only way to die is to be gleaned by a scythe. Citra and Rowan are both living different normal lives, when they both have separate encounters with Scythe Faraday that will change their lives. They are both chosen to be his apprentice, a role neither of them wants to have.

They have no choice, but to learn the art of gleaning – a word that has replaced killing many centuries ago, as it sounds better. Citra and Rowan are on their way to find out about the world of scythes, and what it takes to be one, and take on the terrifying responsibility of choosing their victims.

In a  perfect world though, corruption still exists, and Citra and Rowan will have to join forces to defeat it. But one day, they are told that one of them has to kill the other…

Link to the Full Review

Purchase Links:
| Amazon UK |Amazon US |

And there we have them – my top 10 books I read in 2020!

What are your top 10 books? Or your number 1 favorite for this year? I would love to hear it! If you made a blog post as well, please share it with me in the comments. <3

Until next year,
Ivana x

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