BOOK REVIEW: The Girl In The Ice – by Robert Bryndza

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Title: The Girl In The Ice
(DCI Erika Foster #1)
Author: Robert Bryndza
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: February 12th 2016
Finished reading: April 20th 2016
Pages: 396
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“The secret of blending in, is don’t try to. Everyone is so fucking self-obsessed.”

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I have been wanting to read The Girl In The Ice ever since I first heard about it and found out it was a mystery/thriller read… The cover is slighly misleading (when I first saw it I thought it would be a fantasy read until I investigated further), but the excellent plot more than makes up this initial confusion. In fact, I think the plot, plot twists and descriptions are probably the best aspect of this first book in the DCI Erika Foster series. The detailed descriptions set the right atmosphere right from the first page and the fast pace and intriguing murder case made it hard to stop reading this story. I admit some of the plot twists might be a bit farfetched, but the story is interesting enough that it doesn’t really matter. What did bother me and lowered the rating quite a bit is the ‘bitchiness’ of the characters and the slight lack of character development or other elements that maybe would have made me like the characters better. I understand Robert Bryndza was trying to create a strong female character with Erika Foster and I’m not saying she comes over as a bad detective, but why do all successful (female) detectives have to have a complicated personal life? And what is with all the bitchiness between the main characters? The fact that the characters were not likeable made it harder to connect to the story, although I have to say it is the only serious problem I had with The Girl In The Ice. So if you are looking for a good whodunit with a well written plot, a surprising ending and don’t mind unlikeable characters, make sure to add this book to your wishlist.

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When the body of a woman is discovered beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to investigate the murder. The case is delicate since the victim turns out to be the daughter of a very influential family and Erika Foster is told she cannot ask any painful questions or do anything that might damage their reputation. Erika doesn’t trust the family though and decides to dig deeper anyway… And she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes whose deaths look suspiciously similar. Her boss is furious that she doesn’t leave the family alone and wants to release information that can damage both their reputation and that of the victim… Erika feels she is close to discovering information that will help her to solve the case, but after her last investigation went terribly wrong her career is hanging by a thread and she doesn’t find the support she needs to continue. Will she be able to find a way to fight her own personal demons as well as to hunt the new killer before he kills again?

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Like I said above, I would have given The Girl In The Ice an even higher rating if it wouldn’t have been for the ‘bitchy’ characters. I don’t mind strong characters or a bit of swearing if it’s used in the right way, but the constant bitching between the main characters became quite annoying after a while. The plot and plot twists are more than excellent though and I have to say I didn’t see the ending coming at all. Combine this with detailed descriptions that set the right atmosphere and a fast pace and you have a really entertaining whodunit that is definitely worth reading if you like the genre.

Friday Finds #84 – April 29th

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FRIDAY FINDS is originally featured at Books And A Beat and showcases the most interesting books I’ve encountered during the last week and have added to my neverending TBR list on Goodreads. Below a selection of my newest additions; click on the book descriptions to go to its Goodreads page! 😀

My finds:

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Continue reading

WWW Wednesdays #88 – April 27th

wwwwednesdaysWWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I finally started The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah the other day and even though I didn’t have much free time to read, I’m really enjoying it so far. I’ve also finally picked up my latest TBR jar pick The Name Of The Star by Maureen Johnson, but it’s too soon to say anything about it.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* The first title I managed to finish since last week was The Girl In The Ice by Robert Bryndza. The plot, plot twists and descriptions are really good, but the ‘bitchiness’ of the character did make me enjoy this mystery/thriller less than I thought I would… Still definitely worth reading though!
* I then decided to read Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover, which turned out to be an entertaining enough read. I actually loved the first part (up until about 55-60% I would have given it 5 stars), but things went downhill from there… Still, I really enjoyed most of it.
* I decided to pick up the novella Maybe Not by Colleen Hoover as well since it was short and I kind of wanted to read more about Warren… And I actually liked the novella better than the last part of Maybe Someday.
* The last book I finished is A Gathering Of Shadows by V.E. Schwab, and I have a feeling it is going to take some time to get my thoughts together… Such a good series and the wait for the third book is going to be a long one!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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I really should start reading Daughter Of Smoke And Bone by Laini Taylor next since it was the winner of the which series to read next? poll last month… I will most likely do as soon as I finish one of the titles above; I just wanted to read my last TBR jar pick first. I also want to read The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, although I should probably get a copy of the fourth book first… And I honestly don’t know why I haven’t read See How They Run by Ally Carter yet, since I loved the first book last year and this sequel has been on my most anticipated 2015 releases list. Oops? My new TBR jar pick is Love Letters To The Dead by Ava Dellaira. I’ve heard mixed things about that one, so I will be keeping my fingers crossed.

BOOK REVIEW: The Beginning Of Everything – by Robyn Schneider

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Title: The Beginning Of Everything
Author: Robyn Schneider
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
First published: August 27th 2013
Finished reading: April 18th 2016
Pages: 335
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“If everything really does get better, the way everyone claims, then happiness should be graphable. But that’s crap, because better isn’t quantifiable.”

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I was looking for a quick and entertaining read and since I loved reading Robyn Schneider‘s other novel Extraordinary Means two months ago, I decided to pick up my copy of The Beginning Of Everything. Unfortunately, this story wasn’t as nearly as good as my first experience with her work. It might have been because of my high expectations, but the cheesy and cliche plot and annoying characters made me feel mostly disappointed by this read. The first three chapters make you think this could be a really interesting take on how Ezra deals with the fact that he can no longer play tennis and has to adapt to his new life and status at school. Those chapters are actually quite misleading, because the rest of the story is basically a cliche storybook involving a couple of seniors both trying to be different and fitting in during the last year in high school. Jocks against nerds, a former jock now belonging to the debate club, the former tennis captain that used to date a cheerleader, prom, (hotelroom) parties involving alcohol and games… This plot is basically one big cliche and almost made me gag. I guess those who don’t mind a story like this will probably end up loving The Beginning Of Everything, but this definitely wasn’t my cup of tea. Also, the fact that I couldn’t stand the main character, the whole pity party and prom situations didn’t help either… And the tension between Cassidy and Ezra is actually quite boring. But like I said before, fans of contemporary romance who don’t mind cheesy and cliche high school scenes will probably love this read.

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Ezra Faulkner used to be the golden boy with a great athletic career and a busy social life with his jock friends and girlfriend. But all that changed that one night of his personal tragedy, where a reckless driver shatters his knee and dreams… Ezra can no longer play tennis and finds himself without friends or a girlfriend after she cheated on him. His senior year is not going to be as he thought it would, and suddenly he finds himself at the table of misfits. His former teammates don’t seem to care much about the fact that Ezra is missing, but can he accept his new status and friendships? And what about the new girl Cassidy Thorpe, who seems to be unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met?

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The Beginning Of Everything started out promising even though I never liked the main character, but things soon went downhill from there. I admit I never really like cheesy contemporary romance stories, but the promise of something better actually made me feel more disappointed in the end. I’m not saying this is a bad read and the right person will probably love it, but if you want to try Robyn Schneider‘s work I would definitely recommend reading her other novel Extraordinary Means first.

Teaser Tuesdays #91 – April 26th: The Nightingale

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TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme originally featured at Books And A Beat. 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!)

Historical fiction is probably one of my favorite genres and I always find stories set during WWII intriguing, so it’s easy to say I’m really excited to be finally reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about this story, so I can’t wait to continue reading this one later today.

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My teaser (20%):

“Vianne closed the bedroom door and leaned against it, trying to calm her nerves. She could hear Isabelle pacing in the room behind her, moving with an anger that made the floorboards tremble.”

What are you reading right now?

BOOK REVIEW: A Darker Shade Of Magic – by V.E. Schwab

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Title: A Darker Shade Of Magic
(Shades Of Magic #1)
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Dystopia
First published: February 24th 2015
Finished reading: April 15th 2016
Pages: 400
Rating 5qqq

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”

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I know, I know, I should have listened to the numerous recommendations and raving reviews and picked up this series a lot sooner, because A Darker Shade Of Magic went straight to my list of all time favorites. This book is amazing! I have to say it has been hard to write a coherent review without fangirling all over the place… Because the first book of the Shades Of Magic without doubt deserves every last bit of the hype around it. Why? A Darker Shade Of Magic has an excellent worldbuilding, a simple but intriguing plot, a fast pace, well written prose, interesting characters I almost immediately connected to, no love triangle, almost no romance… In one word: BRILLIANT, or at least everything I want in a fantasy series. I loved the dynamics between the two seemingly so different characters Kell and Lila, especially since there is NO love interest whatsover between the two. The worldbuilding is really well done and together with the prose it immediately set the right atmosphere for this kind of dark and intriguing story. And even though A Darker Shade Of Magic doesn’t end with a cliffhanger, I still needed to read the sequel straight away. An excellent sign for a great story, right? I will stop fangirling now and leave you with these last two last facts: first of all, V.E. Schwab is without doubt one of my new favorite authors and secondly, if you haven’t read this series yet and like the genre, make sure to move it to the top of your TBR pile!

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Ever since disaster happened in Black London, the three remaining Londons have been separated and isolated in their parallel worlds. Grey London – dirty, boring and lacking magic, ruled by mad King George -, Red London – where life and magic managed to flourish with the Maresh Dynasty at the top – and White London – where people fight to control magic and whoever has murdered their way to the throne rules. Kell is one of the last Antari left with the rare powers to be able to travel between the worlds, and officially he is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London. It is his task to carry the monthly letters between the royals of each London, but that is not the only thing Kell takes with him on his travels between the parallel worlds.  His dangerous hobby of smuggling bits of a world they’ll never see to those willing to pay for it finally caught up with him and he is set up for treason… And while he flees into Grey London, someone seems to tag along even though Kell still believes he doesn’t need help.

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As you might have guessed from my rambles above, I really loved reading A Darker Shade Of Magic. This first book in the Shades Of Magic series has basically everything I want in a YA fantasy series all mashed together into one brilliant story, and this book made it straight to my list of all time favorites. I know it sounds a lot like fangirling and I admit I still find it hard to write a proper review even days after finishing it… But what I can say is that A Darker Shade Of Magic is one of those books that is truly worth the hype. Make sure to read it if you haven’t already; you won’t regret it!

Sunday Post #17 – April 24th

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It’s been a while since I last did a Sunday Post (read, close to two! months ago), so I thought I would try to start this meme again. It’s basically a short summary of my blogging week and other random facts… Here we go!


# CURRENTLY READING

I have finally been able to pick up the Shades Of Magic sequel A Gathering Of Shadows again the other day… I LOVED the first book and V.E. Schwab made it straight to my list of favorite authors. The only reason I delayed reading the sequel for a week or so is because it took me a while to write a somewhat coherent review… But now I don’t have any distractions left and hopefully I will be able to finish the sequel soon.

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# LATEST ADDITION TO MY SHELVES

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I love stories involving dragons, so when I heard about The Smoke Thief and the Drakon series by Shana Abe, I knew I had to try the series. It sounds like a very interesting read, so hopefully I will be able to read it some time soon.

# OTHER (BOOK) NEWS

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I think this Goodreads memo was sent two weeks ago? Anyway, it seems like I’m waaay ahead with my Goodreads Reading Challenge… Again. I admit I have read a lot of shorter book this year and the page count is not nearly as high as some of the previous years, but I still can’t believe I’ve been able to read this many books so far. Also, the average rating is quite low this year… I’m not sure if it is because I’ve become more strict with my ratings or if I had bad luck picking my books, but hopefully the next quarter will be better.

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As far as running goes, these babies unfortunately haven’t seen a lot of action so far… I’ve been slowly recovering from a minor knee injury since last month, and I still haven’t been able to actually run so far. 😦 I’m back to (speed)walking though, so I’m hopeful I will be able to train again within two weeks. I’m keeping my fingers crossed the weather will work with me, because it is slowly getting cold (and wet) down here.

# WHAT’S NEW ON IT’S ALL ABOUT BOOKS


That’s all for this Sunday Post… I hope everyone is having a great Sunday! ❤ 

BOOK REVIEW: Out Of My Mind – by Sharon M. Draper

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Title: Out Of My Mind
Author: Sharon M. Draper
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Middle Grade
First published: March 4th 2010
Finished reading: April 13th 2016
Pages: 320
Rating 4,5qqq

“Everybody uses words to express themselves. Except me. And I bet most people don’t realize the real power of words. But I do. Thoughts need words. Words need a voice.”

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I was not sure what to expect when I first picked up my copy of Out Of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper, but I was more than pleasantly surprised with what I found. The main character Melody has spastic bilateral quadriplegia, also known as cerebral palsy, and her story has without doubt an inspiring message and should probably be made into an obligatory middle grade read. Out Of My Mind, not unlike another well known middle grade read with about the same theme Wonder, gives us the valuable lesson that being different or having a disability doesn’t mean that person should be discriminated or treated as a ‘lesser’ being; what really matters is what is on the inside and what that person CAN do. I agree that part of Melody’s story seems a bit farfetched; it’s hard to believe her parents or doctors didn’t think of a better way for her to communicate before with all the technology out there and famous cases like Stephen Hawking (he is even mentioned in the book itself). Still, since this book was ment as a middle grade read, I believe the focus should be on the story itself and the message it is trying to give… And I think Sharon M. Draper did a more than excellent job telling Melody’s story in a way that is both understandable for the age group, easy to read and even emotional at points. Melody’s character development is very well done, although the other characters do lack some dept (especially the ‘bad’ guys). Would I recommend reading this one? A definite yes, although I suggest keeping in mind the age group when you are reading it.

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Eleven-year-old Melody is probably one of the smartest kids in her whole school, absorbing every single fact she has ever heard or seen in her photographic memory. The thing is nobody actually knows it… Melody has spastic bilateral quadriplegia, also known as cerebral palsy, meaning she can’t talk, walk or write down what she wants to say. She is basically stuck inside her head and most people don’t realize what she is actually capable of, including her teachers and doctors… But Melody’s wish to finally speak up for herself may finally come true as she discovers something that will help her to speak for the very first time. Melody finally has a voice, but not everyone will be ready to hear it… Or accept the fact that Melody is a lot smarter than they thought she was.

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If you forget about the sometimes not so credible circumstances around Melody’s situation and lack of development of the characters around her, Out Of My Mind is without doubt an incredible read. The story is easy to read, has an inspiring message and the character development of Melody is very well done. I loved how she reacted in one of the final scenes at school! This story will probably stay with me for a long time and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in the genre, especially if you’ve read and enjoyed Wonder  by R.J. Palacio as well.

BOOK REVIEW: Suicide Notes – by Michael Thomas Ford

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Title: Suicide Notes
Author: Michael Thomas Ford
Genre: YA, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
First published: October 14th 2008
Finished reading: April 13th 2016
Pages: 295
Rating 3,5qqq

“I’m still kind of a mess. But I think we all are. No one’s got it all together. I don’t think you ever do get it totally together. Probably if you did manage to do it you’d spontaneously combust. I think that’s a law of nature. If you ever manage to become perfect, you have to die instantly before you ruin things for everyone else.”

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Suicide Notes is not the first book I’ve read that uses an interesting mix of humor and a serious theme like mental ilness and (teenage) suicide and therefore its plot is not exactly original. In fact, both It’s Kind Of A Funny Story and The Shock Of The Fall use quite a similar setting with a main character inside a psychiatric ward and if I have to be honest I feel those two books mentioned above did a better job especially when it comes to character development and credibility in general. (I’m aware the second title was published years after Suicide Notes, but that doesn’t take away the fact that I think it was better). I want to make clear that I am by no means saying this novel by Michael Thomas Ford was a bad read and I mostly enjoyed reading it, but I did have a few minor problems with it that influenced the rating. First of all, I wasn’t completely convinced by the credibility of the characters and their (lack of) development of both the main character Jeff and the other patients. Also, I’m not sure I appreciate some of the mental ilness, suicide and glbt related humor used during this story. Not only can some of it be found offensive (especially the glbt related parts), I also thought the humor felt forced at points… I do agree the pace is fast and the story is easy to read even though it’s about such a serious theme. I would probably have given it a higher rating if it wouldn’t have been for the last part… I won’t go into details to avoid spoilers, but it has something to do with the glbt theme that I found slightly offensive and the (sort of) love triangle was somewhat annoying as well.

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When fifteen-year-old Jeff wakes up on New Year’s Day, he finds himself inside the psychiatric ward. Even though he doesn’t really remember what happened the other day, someone clearly made a huge mistake when they brought him to the ward… Jeff is determined to leave as soon as possible, claiming he doesn’t belong there along with the ‘nutjobs’. But what about the bandages on his wrists and the notes on his chart? Jeff doesn’t see what the big deal is about what happened, but other people do seem to be worried about him. It turns out Jeff is part of a forty-five-day program and won’t be able to leave early even though he thinks he is perfectly fine and ‘normal’. But as the days go by, the ‘crazies’ start to seem less crazy and Jeff slowly starts to accept what happened to him…

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Suicide Notes is without doubt an interesting read with a fast pace and a healthy dose of humor to lighten up the serious theme. Still, I do believe there are better books out there with a similar plot. And although I enjoyed reading this novel in general, the characters were not always completely credible and I wasn’t always completely convinced by the humor either. The glbt related parts were probably my least favorite and sometimes even slightly offensive and cliché… But otherwise it is still worth reading if you are interested in the theme.