BOOK REVIEW: Black Roses – by Jane Thynne

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Title: Black Roses
(Berlin Series #1)
Author: Jane Thynne
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
First published: February 2013
Finished reading: October 14th 2014
Pages: 471
Rating 1,5

“Perhaps, he thought, there was some strange satisfaction to be derived from confining savage animals here, given that the savagery outside this place was the kind that couldn’t be confined.”

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I am SO disappointed with Black Roses. I even came to the point that I was about to DNF it, and I practically NEVER leave a book unfinished. I guess I probably decided to continue because the book was a gift and it just didn’t feel right not finishing it. But it sure felt like a waste of time. I normally love historical fiction novels. Especially when they are set during or between WWI and WWII. But this novel by Jane Thynne just couldn’t convince me. Sure, it shows she investigated the topic thoroughly and I don’t think she got the facts wrong. But the characters were so cliche and boring that I just couldn’t be bothered with what happened with them. And that for an English girl who is spying on the German female Nazi elite. Not recommended, unless you need an alternative for sleeping pills…

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The story is set in the Berlin of the year 1933, and Hitler is gaining power and influence. People around Europe are becoming worried and so is the English government. The young English actress Clara Vine is not aware of the dangers of Berlin. She decides to escape to Germany to follow her acting dream and unwillingly gets involved with some of the elite Nazi wives. Among them is Magda Goebbels, and she seems to fully trust Clara. Just as the English actress doesn’t want to continue seeing the Nazi wives, she meets an undercover agent working for British intelligence. Leo sees the true potential of her ‘friendship’ with Magda and the others, and asks her to become a spy.

Clara is not convinced at all, since it will not only ask for all of her acting skills, but also means that she will have to continue dating the Nazi Officer Muller. But when she finds out that her grandmother is actually a Jew, she is determined to do whatever she can to help the British intelligence. Soon she is in more trouble than both Leo and herself would have hoped as Magda Goebbles reveals an enormous secret… Magda asks for her help, and even though Clara knows that was is asked of her is extremely dangerous, she agrees to do it. And those actions do have consequences…

finalthoughts

Like I said before, I expected so much more of Black Roses. The entire novel has been a huge disappointment, and I definitely don’t recommend it. There are a lot of great historical fiction novels out there, and this is not one of them. It is such a shame, since the story had so much potential…

WWW Wednesdays #14 – October 15th

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Originally featured at Should Be Reading… WWW WEDNESDAYS is all about answering the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?

hopesrebellionamatterofhonourI have started Hope’s Rebellion and since it doesn’t have that many pages and it’s good, I will probably finish it soon. It’s an ARC written by Jade Varden. I’m also reading A Matter Of Honour by Jeffrey Archer, mostly because I have to finish it before next week…

 

  • What did you recently finish reading?

divinefallblackrosesOf Divine Fall I have already uploaded my review. Like I said before, this novel by Kathryn Knight is surely an entertaining read and definitely worth it if you like paranormal/fantasy romance novels. I’ve also finished Black Roses by Jane Thynne yesterday, and it was a huge disappointment. A full rant/review will be posted tommorrow.

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

11573479309Probably The Dead Zone by Stephen King or Naked In Death by J.D. Robb… I’m in need of a good horror/thriller/mystery story, and either of the two seem a good choice. I will probably go with The Dead Zone though, just because I know Stephen King mostly delivers with his stories.

Teaser Tuesdays #16 – October 14th: Hope’s Rebellion

teasertuesdays

TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme originally featured at Should Be Reading. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

The book I’m currently reading is Hope’s Rebellion by Jade Varden. This book is another ARC and part of the Guest Reviewer Program at Ethereal Book Reviews… And so far so good.

hopesrebellion“Even the sky looked dry and cracked, like the dirt beneath their feet. Their last summer as children was upon them, hotter and dryer than any they could remember.”

 

 

What are you reading right now?

ARC REVIEW: Divine Fall – by Kathryn Knight

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Title: Divine Fall
Author: Kathryn Knight
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: July 23rd 2014
Finished reading: October 8th 2014
Pages: 240
Rating 3,5

“Loving someone is a risk. But if you don’t take a few risks in life, well, that’s not really living, is it?”

*** A copy of this book was kindly given to me by the author through Ethereal Book Reviews in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
(Guest Reviewer Program) ***

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When I was first contacted about Divine Fall, I couldn’t exactly decipher from the cover what the story was about. What looks like a contemporary romance story at the first glance actually turned out to be a paranormal romance story involving angels! I’m glad I decided to read this novel by Kathryn Knight in the end, as the story is easy to read and quite entertaining. The main characters Jamie and Dothan are on the verge of being too cliche at some points and the way Dothan was trying to hide his secret didn’t convince me. The handsome and mysterious stable hand falling in love with a social outcast… Sounds pretty cliche to me, although I do love the fact that Jamie works in an antique shop full with old and interesting books. I didn’t see the truth about her grandfather coming and it was a nice plot twist, as well as the ending. All in all a nice read for a pleasant afternoon of easy reading, and recommended to those who enjoy paranormal romance stories.

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The life of Jamie has been turned upside down after the events of last year, and she has become an outcast. She is determined to leave her hometown as soon as she finishes school and until then she spends most of her time with her horse Beau and her only true friend. Things change when a mysterious and very attractive stable hand shows up at her barn. Jamie is intrigued by him and determined to find out more about him.

Dothan has a secret he cannot share with the world though; he is the last of the Nephilims and an half-angel. He arrived at Jamie’s hometown looking for the murderer of his father, but he is weaker than full-blooded angels and he needs the help of an ancient weapon to try and get his revenge. Knowledge that is hidden in the books located at the antique store of Jamie’s grandfather… And he seems to try use Jamie to get to that information. Dothan and Jamie start hanging out together more, but Dothan cannot seem to touch a human without sending out an electric current… And sooner or later Jamie finds out about his secret and more. She is now in danger, and Dothan is forced to work together with her grandfather to save her…

finalthoughts

Like I said before: while some parts of the story might be on the verge of cliche, the story in general delivers and is quite entertaining. It is an easy read an perfect for a nice afternoon of light reading… It has the right dose of action and fantasy and will appeal to those who enjoy reading paranormal romance or fantasy stories in general.

Friday Finds #12 – October 10th

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FRIDAY FINDS is originally featured at Should Be Reading and showcases the most interesting books I’ve encountered during, in this case, the last two weeks and have added to my neverending TBR list on Goodreads. You can find a selection of my newest additions below:

My finds:

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WWW Wednesdays #13 – October 8th

wwwwednesdays Originally featured at Should Be Reading… WWW WEDNESDAYS is all about answering the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?

blackIdivinefall still haven’t finished Black Roses by Jane Thynne, which is mostly due to the fact that I find the main characters VERY boring and flat. I will still finish reading this one in the hope it becomes better, because I do like the fact that it takes place in the Berlin of the 1930s. I’ve started Divine Fall by Kathryn Knight in the mean time, an ARC I’m highly enjoying so far.

  • What did you recently finish reading?

thelegendofsleepyhollowAfter finishing Mr. Mercedes and not really enjoying it, I wanted to read a real horror story. Making the mistake that The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving fits that description, I decided to read this novel before finishing Black Roses. I probably would have enjoyed The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow way better if I just would have read it at a different time; I wasn’t in the mood for dense prose and long descriptions when I picked up my copy of this classic.

 

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

hopesrebellion

Either Hope’s Rebellion by Jade Varden, another ARC and part of the Guest Reviewers Program at Ethereal Book Reviews, or one of the books mentioned in last week’s WWW Wednesdays. ( A Matter Of Honour by Jeffrey Archer or Flood Tide by Clive Cussler) I should read either of the last two since I have to give back the copies in about two weeks…

Teaser Tuesdays #15 – October 7th: Divine Fall

teasertuesdays

TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme originally featured at Should Be Reading. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

The book I’m currently reading is Divine Fall by Kathryn Knight. This book is an ARC and part of the Guest Reviewer Program at Ethereal Book Reviews… So far it’s good and a quite pleasant read; I’m hoping to finish it before the weekend.

divinefall“I drove slowly down the curving drive, dogs trailing behind me, and carefully pulled into the empty parking area. A fine mist, along with whining yips and wagging tails, greeted me when I stepped out”

What are you reading right now?

BOOK REVIEW: The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow – by Washington Irving

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Title: The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow
Author: Washington Irving
Genre: Horror, Classics, Fantasy, Gothic
First published: 1820
Finished reading: October 3rd 2014
Pages: 96
Rating 3

“I profess not to know how women’s hearts are wooed and won. To me they have always been matters of riddle and admiration.”

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The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow has been on my TBR pile for quite some time now. After seeing the trailer of the TV series with the same name the other day, I thought it was about time to read this classic novel written by Washington Irving. I’m not sure why I’ve never read this or why they didn’t make it into an obligatory read during high school… Irving seems to have been inspired by the Dutch culture after all. I must say I didn’t really like the story. I guess I was expecting something way more creepy when I decided to read this short story. I definitely didn’t expect it to be an almost boring story full of dense prose and long descriptions. I understand The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow was written back in 1820 and while this explains the language he used, I just couldn’t enjoy this story as much as I would have expected. But then again I was really in the mood for a serious dose of horror, and that exactly what this story doesn’t deliver…

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The Sleepy Hollow is a village set in the beautiful countryside and is said to be hounted by ghosts. One of the most famous ghosts is the Headless Horseman, who is said to be patrolling the country on his horse. Ichabod works as a teacher and lives of the kindness of his students’ parents. He soon falls in love with the daughter of the Van Tassels, but he isn’t the only one… The very imposing Brom Bones is trying to win her heart as well. At a party where both men are invited, they all start telling ghost stories. Brom tries to convince everyone he has actually seen the Headless Horseman, challenged him and won the race. Ichabod finally leaves the party understanding he cannot win the battle, but as he tries to go back to the village he comes to realize the ghost stories turned out to be true…

finalthoughts

I probably decided to read this story at the wrong moment. The descriptions are actually quite beautifully done and make you feel as though you were visiting the countryside and its people yourself. I liked the many references to the Dutch culture and food and I totally agree with Irving that the desserts are the best part of the Dutch kitchen (and I guess that’s what I miss most after spending various years abroad; hmm stroopwafels). What I don’t understand is that this is supposed to be a horror story. I couldn’t find any truly spooky moments and the Headless Horseman didn’t seem scary at all from the descriptions Irving used. I guess that is mostly what made me feel disappointed with this story, although I still recommend it to those who enjoy beautiful prose of historical value.

BOOK REVIEW: Mr. Mercedes – by Stephen King

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Title: Mr. Mercedes
(Bill Hodges Trilogy #1)
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Mystery, Crime
First published: June 3rd 2014
Finished reading: September 30th 2014
Pages: 436
Rating 2,5

“The truth is darkness, and the only thing that matters is making a statement before one enters it. Cutting the skin of the world and leaving a scar. That’s all history is, after all: scar tissue.”

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Stephen King is one of my preferred horror/mystery authors. When I found out he published a new novel this year, I knew I just had to get myself a copy and read Mr. Mercedes as soon as possible. Unfortunately the book didn’t turned out to be as good as I would have thought. In fact, I was mostly left wondering if Stephen King REALLY wrote this book, or if he had someone else doing the job. Mr. Mercedes is definitely not King worthy, and it doesn’t deserve more than the 2,5 rating I was forced to give. I sincerly hope that Mr. Mercedes isn’t an example of his future work! Although I guess there are still a lot of older books I still have to read… If you have read his work before and enjoyed it, you have been warned when you choose this one. And if you don’t know his work and want to get to know it, I suggest you start with a different book… There are way better King books out there.

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Bill Hodges was once a very succesful detective, but now he is retired he feels useless and he has lost the will to live. His unsolved cases are haunting him; the one where someone stole a Mercedes and used it to kill eight innocent people in particular. Just as he seriously contemplates suicide, the so-called Mercedes killer starts contacting him. Hodges received a letter in which the killer lets him know he is watching him and invited him to talk through an anonymous chat. Hodges suspects something and uses his old contacts to slowly start investigating the case again; this time on his own. He doesn’t want to alert his old partner just yet and he thinks he can get the perp by himself. But he doesn’t know a lot about modern technology and he has to rely on the young Jerome to help him with the computer as well as the garden… Hodges then starts to talk with the killer through the chat site. Although the killer first said he didn’t intend to do it again, he is highly unstable and ends up planning something WAY bigger than the Mercedes attack. It is up to Hodges and his very unlikely helpers to stop him…

finalthoughts

I didn’t like Mr. Mercedes. It was close to boring, I didn’t like the writing style and the characters weren’t really convincing. Like I said before, this isn’t King worthy, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend reading it. There are way better options out there if you want to read something written by Stephen King. I seriously hope this book was indeed written by a ghost writer and that he soon realizes that this ‘new’ way of writing isn’t satisfactory. Until then I will be reading only his previous work myself…

BOOK REVIEW: Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban – by J.K. Rowling

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Title: Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban
(Harry Potter Series #3)
Author: J.K. Rowling
Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: July 8th 1999
Finished reading: September 25th 2014
Pages: 317
Rating 4,5

“Besides, the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”

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Some know already that I’m currently rereading the seven books of the Harry Potter series. Book number three, Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, is one of my favorites and marks the beginning of a growingly dangerous wizard world where Voldemort is about to rise again. Growing up along with Harry and his friends the first time I read these books, I could really appreciate the books becoming darker over the years… And it makes sense as Harry is growing up as well. J.K. Rowling did an excelent job with this third book, and is able to tell us a both terrifying and magical story in only threehundred pages. Lupin is probably one of my favorite Defense Against The Dark Arts teachers, and I remember being glad J.K. Rowling decided to use him again in later books. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban is, like the previous books, a definite must read for anyone who enjoys reading YA fantasy and won’t disappoint. It’s just magical!

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WARNING: Spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the previous books yet...

Just as Harry thinks his summer with the Dursleys cannot get worse, his aunt decides to stay at her brother’s house. She despises Harry and uses every opportunity to criticize and humiliate him. Harry tries to be patient as he cannot use magic in presence of Muggles, but enough is enough and he ends up accidently blowing up his aunt. Fleeing the Dursley house, he gets picked up by a very special bus and when he arrives at The Leaky Cauldron they are waiting for him. But he doesn’t get expelled as he was expecting; they actually seem very glad to see him alive. A dangerous murderer has escaped the wizard prison of Azkaban and is currently on the loose… And what Harry doesn’t know, is that the same wizard named Sirius Black is looking for him.

Everybody seems to be concerned about Harry’s safety but Harry himself. They don’t let him go anywhere alone and this doesn’t stop when they arrive at Hogwarts. They fear Black will attempt to enter Hogwarts and attack him. Dumbledore has agreed to have the Azkaban prison guards, creatures named Dementors, at the gates of Hogwarts to prevent this. They don’t seem to obey all the rules though and approach the students various times. The Dementors have a terrible effect on Harry. Every time they are close, he hears the last moments of his parents’ life… And he faints. Black is spotted close to Hogwarts, and then he managed to enter the school and attack the portrait that guards the entrance of the Griffindor common room. New security measures are taken, and Harry is trying to weapon himself against the Dementors with the help of professor Lupin. Then one night the horrible truth comes out and Harry starts seeing the past events in a whole new light…

finalthoughts

Poor Harry doesn’t get a break, does he? Surviving Voldemort three times already (twice in the first two years at Hogwarts), you think he deserved a nice and quiet third year. But no, this time a dangerous criminal is trying to kill him and people turn out to be different than who they seemed to be. I loved the final scenes and I wish I could have a watch like Hermione’s… A great reread and definitely worth reading if you haven’t already!