Friday Finds #96 – July 22nd

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FRIDAY FINDS is originally featured at Babs Book Bistro 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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It’s All About Books is going Dutch!

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Those who follow my blog will probably already know I will be traveling to the Netherlands next month… Since I won’t be having access to my computer, files or PhotoFiltre, I have decided It’s All About Books and me will be going on on a hiatus starting August 14th.

This also means I will not be accepting any new ARCs/ review copies until further notice. I’m honored for the offer, but I won’t be able to post reviews properly for the time being. (And I’m way behind with my pending books as it is.)

Since I will be in the Netherlands for paperwork and I have no idea how long this will take (weeks, months??), I have no fixed return date yet… And I probably won’t be posting anything new after August 14th until I’m back home. I will still lurk in the shadows though, so you might see a comment or two! And I will be reading a lot, so I will have tons of new reviews for when I’m back. 😉

BOOK REVIEW: The Ice Twins – by S.K. Tremayne

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Title: The Ice Twins
Author: S.K. Tremayne
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Horror
First published: January 29th 2015
Publisher: Harper Collins
Finished reading: July 18th 2016
Pages: 373
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“It’s not so much my own death that is intolerable, it’s the death of those around me. Because I love them. And part of me dies with them. Therefore all love, if you like, is a form of suicide.”

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I’ve heard a lot of great things about this book ever since it was published last year and it was on my list of most-anticipated-releases in the first place… I’m not sure why, but somehow I never actually read The Ice Twins though until now. And I kind of wish I had picked it up earlier, because I can definitely see why so many people seem to love this book! Sure, the plot itself is a bit simple and if you look critically nothing much really happens during the story. But there is no doubt that S.K. Tremayne is a master when it comes to creating a suspenseful atmosphere. The Ice Twins is well written with excellent descriptions that make it feel like you are right there on the tiny Scottish island with the main characters. I personally loved the setting and the spooky atmosphere, and I really enjoyed reading this story despite the lack of action. The plot twists are subtle, but have a big impact on the story and the characters. I personally didn’t really like Angus OR Sarah, especially because of the way they handle the whole situation, but their development is well done. The ending is interesting as well, and the twins are without doubt spooky and helped set the right atmosphere. If you are looking for a creepy and well written mystery/thriller, make sure to give The Ice Twins a go!

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Angus and Sarah Moorcraft saw their lives fall apart after one of their identical twin daughters died in an accident a year ago. Their suriving daugher, Kirstie, is suffering as well, and they decide to make the move to the tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his granmother hoping to put together some of the pieces of their shattered lives. Things don’t exactly improve though when Kirstie claims they have mistaken her identity; that she is in fact Lydia and that Kirstie was the one that fell out of the window. Their world comes crashing down again and they don’t know how to deal with all of this. Isolated on their tiny Scottish island, their surviving twin is growing more disturbed and both parents start to have problems of their own as well…

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Like I said before, The Ice Twins is more about the character development and the spooky setting than the actual actions. It’s a well written read with excellent descriptions that make it feel you are right there with the characters, and the story definitely creeped me out at points. The ending was definitely surprising! If you enjoy reading the genre, I can definitely recommend this book.

WWW Wednesdays #100 – July 20th

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100TH WWW MEME CELEBRATION EDITION!!!

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WWW 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’m currently reading The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel and it is turning out to be an interesting read. I’m glad the reviews I’ve seen so far convinced me to get a copy of this book! I’ve also finally started my last TBR jar pick The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz, which is ok enough so far, although I do hope the plot will get a little more interesting in the future. I still have to finish The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse as well… I actually thought about DNFing it because I am really struggling with it, but since I already made it this far I will just finish it.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* The first book I finished since last week is Wanderlost by Jen Malone, which turned out to be a quick, fluffy and entertaining summer read. Not perfect and in a way a bit cliche, but I loved the road trip details!
* I then finished The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey; probably one of the first stories with zombies I absolutely loved. I still can’t believe it took me this long to pick up this book! Well written, excellent worldbuilding and Melanie is probably one of my newest favorite characters.
* I also finally continued The Stepmother by Claire Seeber, but unfortunately I wasn’t completely convinced by it. I liked the fact that  it reversed the roles of the typical ‘evil stepmother’ plot, but the pace is quite slow and I REALLY disliked the main character.
* The last book I finished is The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne, which turned out to be a well written, spooky read with great descriptions. The plot was a bit uneventful, but it is without doubt a great read.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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Depending on what genre I’m in the mood for, I will read When We Collided by Emery Lord. I might read The Fire Child by S.K. Tremayne first though; especially since I really enjoyed her other novel. Talon by Julie Kagawa is most likely my next fantasy read; I have been wanting to read another dragon story for too long now! Secret Letters by Leah Scheier is another Sherlock Holmes retelling and my newest TBR jar pick.

ARC REVIEW: The Stepmother – by Claire Seeber

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Title: The Stepmother
Author: Claire Seeber
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Realistic Fiction
First published: July 15th 2016
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: July 16th 2016
Pages: 345
Rating 2,5qqq

“Still, the thing lurks in the corners of my mind, that squat little beast called memory, its sticky fingers covering everything with a thin layer of slime.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Bookouture in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I have seen a lot of positive reviews about The Stepmother and that was why I wanted to read this book by Claire Seeber in the first place, but unfortunately I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. In fact, I struggled to get into the story at first. The pace is quite slow in the beginning and I had a hard time figuring out what the story was really about; the whole mystery around Jeanie’s secrets and how this was dragged out was starting to get annoying instead of intriguing. That might just be because I felt a strong dislike for the main character Jeanie in the first place (and her new family for that matter), but in general I had a hard time connecting to the story and my feelings for Jeanie definitely didn’t make it easier to enjoy this book. What I did like about The Stepmother is that it reversed the roles of the typical ‘evil stepmother’ plot. I could really appreciate that and made this story a lot more original. The pace also picked up later on and I definitely didn’t see most of the plot twists coming. I did feel that while the first part of the story was almost uneventful, there was almost too much information squeezed into the final part of the story. It made the revelations feel less important, which is a shame because some of the twists were without doubt a huge surprise. All in all not the best psychogical thriller I’ve read this year, but I guess I will give it the benefit of the doubt.

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Jeanie can’t believe her luck when she meets Matthew and they get married not long after. She thinks she has gotten a second chance for both her and her son Frank, being able to start over after all that happened… But her new fairytale life doesn’t seem to be so perfect after all. Both Jeanie and Matthew have teenage children from previous relationships, and it is not easy to raise a blended family under one roof. Especially since Matthew’s ex-wife seems to have left her mark everywhere in the house Jeanie now tries to call her home… To make things worse, Jeanie’s step-daughter Scarlett rejects her and the terrible secret Jeanie is hiding is threatening to destroy her new marriage. Someone knows, and that person isn’t about to let go and let Jeanie have her fresh start. But who is behind the threats?

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I really wanted to enjoy this book, but unfortunately it took me a long time to get a proper feel for the story. In fact, the first part is mostly uneventful and almost boring, although the pace did pick up later on. The biggest problem I probably had with The Stepmother is the fact that the main character Jeanie is just SO unlikeable. I normally can get over that fact, but since the first part of this story is so character-driven in the first place, it made it really hard to enjoy reading it. The last part of the story was a whole lot more interesting, but there were so many revelations in such a short time that it almost felt like an information dump. I did like the fact that Jeanie wasn’t the typical evil stepmother and the many plot twists were without doubt creative.

Teaser Tuesdays #103 – July 19th: The Summer That Melted Everything

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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!)

I decided to request a copy of The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel at Netgalley after I saw a few positive reviews, and when I was approved yesterday I decided to just go ahead and start reading it straight away. I’m not too far into the story yet, but so far things are looking promising! It’s definitely a nice break from all those mystery/thrillers I have been reading this month. 😉

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My teaser (9%):

“My knees know I’m a praying man. The broken dishes, the empty beer cans, the hole in the wall the size of my fist, all know I am an unanswered man. Why is no one answering me?”

What are you reading right now?

BOOK REVIEW: The Girl With All The Gifts – by M.R. Carey

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Title: The Girl With All The Gifts
Author: M.R. Carey
Genre: Horror, Dystopia, Science Fiction
First published: January 14th 2014
Publisher: Orbit
Finished reading: July 15th 2016
Pages: 460
Rating 4,5qqq

“It’s not just Pandora who had that inescapable flaw. It seems like everyone has been built in a way that sometimes makes them do wrong and stupid things.”

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I know, I know… I should have known. This book has been recommended to me too many times to count and it’s been on my wishlist for a long time, but I was a bit wary since I’m normally not into stories with zombies. Now I’ve finally read The Girl With All The Gifts, I kind of want to kick myself for waiting this long, because I absolutely loved it! This book written M.R. Carey has shown me I can actually love a zombie story and I love his version of the ‘hungries’ and the special ‘children’. The story is well written and fast-paced, and I loved the many detailed descriptions of the dystopian world the characters have to survive in. Speaking of the characters: I LOVE Melanie! She is such a well developed and intriguing character and she is without doubt one of the reasons this story simply worked. Then again, the character development of all important characters is really well done. The plot was interesting and I personally liked how M.R. Carey decided to end the story. I would love to read a sequel though! So many possibilities… This book is highly recommended and worth the try even if you normally don’t like zombie stories. Trust me, you might be surprised by how much you will enjoy it anyway!

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Melanie is a highly intelligent girl and without doubt very special; there is nothing ordinary about herself or her daily routine. Melanie lives in her cell and waits every morning to be collected for class. Two people then strap her into a wheelchair while Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her the whole time. Why exactly this is necessary Melanie doesn’t know, but most people seem to be wary of her and her classmates. She loves school though, and learning about the world outside. Her favorite teacher would be Miss Justineau, and the days she is in class are Melanie’s favorites. Though whenever Melanie talks about her dreams and future, Justineau becomes sad… Because unlike Melanie, her teacher knows what the world really looks like.

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I’m so glad I finally decided to read The Girl With All The Gifts, because it’s without doubt an excellent read. The plot and plot twists are really interesting and I liked how the story ended. The detailed descriptions and character development made it really easy to enjoy reading this book and Melanie is without doubt one of my new favorite characters. The Girl With All The Gifts is a horror story and it has zombies, but that is not all that there is to it. I can’t go into details because that might spoil the story, but I can say that I would definitely recommend this book!

Cover Characteristic #6 – July 17th

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I saw this meme popping up the other day and I thought it would be a fun way to take a closer look at all those beautiful covers out there. Cover Characteristic is hosted at Sugar & Snark and has a weekly theme.

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This week is all about covers with EGGS. I haven’t actually read any of these titles below, but they do all have one or more eggs on the cover! 😉

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5. Bumped by Megan McCafferty.

4. Eggs by Jerry Spinelli.

3. The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell.

2. Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire.

Now on to my favorite cover of this week:

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1. The Family Tree by Carole Cadwalladr.

What is your personal favorite out of these 5 covers? And have you read any of these books yourself? Feel free to comment!:)

BOOK REVIEW: Wanderlost – by Jen Malone

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Title: Wanderlost
Author: Jen Malone
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 31st 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Finished reading: July 13th 2016
Pages: 352
Rating 3,5qqq

“Lizzie, pushing your comfort zone is what traveling is all about.”

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Wanderlost is without doubt a great choice both if you want to escape the cold winter months (like me) and if you are looking for an entertaining summer read. This novel is by no means perfect, but definitely cute and fluffy enough if you can forget about details like the credibility of the plot. First of all, it shows that Jen Malone has traveled quite a lot herself and probably visited the places she mentioned in Wanderlost, because the descriptions are detailed and make you feel like you are traveling along with the main characters. I don’t think that all observations about local traditions are correct though (although I can only speak for the Dutch ones myself; seriously, salty pancakes are NOT breakfast food!), but I guess it’s really hard to understand the local ways in the first place without actually living in that country. I’ve learned that the hard way myself during my travels… Wanderlost is fast-paced though and both easy and entertaining to read. Sam is adorable and I liked the senior group, but I wasn’t too sure about Aubree in the beginning. I mean, I understand that leaving your home and country for the first time can be extremely intimidating, but the total lack of confidence did get a bit annoying after a while. It is however a realistic description, because I’ve had my share of ‘Aubree’s’ during my years working in a hostel. I liked how her character developed though, and overall Wanderlost kind of made me wish I could go on another Europe road trip myself…

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When her older sister, Elizabeth, gets into real trouble and cannot make it to Europe for her oh-so-important summer job, she asks Aubree to take over her place. Aubree is not exactly adventurous and has never been far away from home, but she feels guilty about what happened to her sister and reluctantly agrees. In two weeks, Aubree will now be leading a group of senior citizens on a bus tour through Europe, and even the carefully prepared binder full of helpful facts and training of her sister can calm her nerves. Things seem to go wrong from the start and she doesn’t even make it to her first hotel in Amsterdam before their perfect plan starts to unravel… Without phone and binder, Aubree is now on her own while she tries to do the job she was never hired for in the first place.

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Even though the plot was not really that credible, I still quite enjoyed reading Wanderlost. In itself it’s without doubt a fast-paced, entertaining and adorable summer read that will most likely appeal to those who enjoy reading contemporary romance novels. It’s cute, it’s fluffy, it has a lot of romance and also a healthy dose of road trip and travel descriptions… Warning: it will most likely trigger your wanderlust!

ARC REVIEW: The Sister – by Louise Jensen

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Title: The Sister
Author: Louise Jensen
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: July 7th 2016
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: July 12th 2016
Pages: 307
Rating 4qqq

“We all have to carry the consequences of our own actions, no matter how heavy they are. I know that better than anyone.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Bookouture in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I decided to read The Sister after a recommendation and I’m glad it turned out to be just as good as I was promised it was going to be. This debut by Louise Jensen is without doubt a psychological thriller at its best: an intriguing plot that switches back and forth between past and present, unreliable characters and many plot twists that will mess with your mind. The fact that there are so many flashbacks can be a bit confusing and in the beginning it’s hard to get a proper grasp of what is going on, but in the end it only adds to the whole mystery around Grace and Charlie. The story is well written and the character development is excellent. I can’t say I actually liked the characters, but they fitted their role perfectly and felt ‘real’. The main character Grace is a bit naive and I saw part of the big ‘revelation’ coming from a mile away, but most of the plot twists did manage to surprise me. If you are looking for a good psychological thriller and don’t mind flashbacks and unreliable characters, make sure to check out The Sister!

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Grace hasn’t been the same since her best friend suddenly left town six years ago, let alone when Charlie suddenly died four months ago. She is still haunted by Charlie’s last words and decides to open an old memory box they had buried when they were teenagers. And it turns out that Grace didn’t know her best friend that well after all… Grace decides to try and fulfill one of Charlie’s last wishes and find her father. Her husband Dan helps her set up some pages that might help locate him, and then suddenly a girl steps forward claiming to be Charlie’s sister. Anna looks a lot like Charlie, and Grace believes she has found something she thought she had lost when Charlie died. But is Anna really who she claims to be? And why is Dan acting so strange? Grace life seems to be turning slowly into a big mess and she cannot deny the feeling that someone is following her. What is really going on?

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Even though the flashbacks can get a bit confusing at times, I still ended up really enjoying  The Sister.  The story is fast-paced, well written and the characters were both unreliable and felt ‘real’, making it quite easy to connect to the story. Not everything in the plot was a surprise and I kind of wish that Grace would have been less trusting, but I guess The Sister does do an excellent job of showing what might happen if you trust the people around you blindly. Without doubt a great psychological thriller!