BOOK REVIEW: Rubyfruit Jungle – by Rita Mae Brown

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Title: Rubyfruit Jungle
Author: Rita Mae Brown

Genre: Classics, Fiction, Glbt
First published: 1973
Publisher: Bantam
Finished reading: December 28th 2016
Pages: 240
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“Oh great, you too. So now I wear this label ‘Queer’ emblazoned across my chest. Or I could always carve a scarlet ‘L’ on my forehead. Why does everyone have to put you in a box and nail the lid on it? I don’t know what I am—polymorphous and perverse. Shit. I don’t even know if I’m white. I’m me. That’s all I am and all I want to be. Do I have to be something?”

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I confess I came across this book by accident, but I was immediately intrigued by both the cover and the blurb. The fact that Rubyfruit Jungle is a coming of age story written back in 1973 and talks about the glbt theme so openly is both impressive and inspiring. I can see why so many people seem to find Rita Mae Brown‘s book that powerful… Because as we follow the main character Molly Bolt, basically every cliche involving the glbt community is included and talked about.  It’s so interesting to read about how the situation was back then and compare them to our current one! The prose is both refreshing and entertaining to read, and I was able to finish this modern classic in no time at all. Molly Bolt isn’t exactly the most ‘perfect’ character out there, but it is so easy to like her with all her flaws. She says and does exactly how she thinks and I can really appreciate that. There is some swearing involved in Rubyfruit Jungle, but in this case it is basically part of the character building. All in all a very interesting read!

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Molly Bolt is the adoptive daughter of a dirt-poor Southern couple who stubbornly decided to find a way to improve her current life. She has been determined not to have other people stop her from reaching her goals and dreams, even if she wants things other people might find odd. That includes Molly finding women more attractive than men, and she refuses to apologize for loving them. But will she be able to succeed in life?

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If you enjoy reading a good glbt coming of age story where the main character doesn’t shy away from saying the painful truth and you don’t mind a bit of colorful prose, I can strongly suggest reading Rubyfruit Jungle. I personally loved the unorthodox prose and I had so much fun reading this story. Molly Bolt is such an intriguing and well developed character and it was really interesting to follow her difficult journey to adulthood. It’s a very original and powerful story and even more impressive if you think about the time when Rubyfruit Jungle was first published.

ARC REVIEW: From Sand And Ash – by Amy Harmon

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Title: From Sand And Ash
Author: Amy Harmon

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Romance
First published: December 1st 2016
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Finished reading: December 26th 2016
Pages: 386
Rating 4,5qqq

“They can take our homes, our possessions. Our families. Our lives. They can drive us out, like they’ve driven us out before. They can humiliate us and dehumanize us. But they cannot take our thoughts. They cannot take our talents. They cannot take our knowledge, or our memories, or our minds. In music there is no bondage. Music is a door, and the soul escapes through the melody.”

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

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Brandie @ Brandie is a Book Junkie has been telling wonderful things about Amy Harmon‘s novels this year, so when I saw her newest novel at Netgalley I grabbed the chance (and copy!) with both of my greedy hands. And she (like many other bloggers) was absolutely right about this author. I really enjoy reading historical fiction stories and I have a special interest in any story about WWII, and From Sand And Ash will definitely appear on my list of all time favorites of the genre. Amy Harmon both writes beautifully and is able to make you feel connected to the characters and the things that happen to them. It’s a haunting and well researched story that will keep with you for a long time… The pace is a bit slow at points, but you forget all about that when you reach the final part. Make sure to keep your tissues ready! I liked the Italian setting and I could really appreciate the attention to detail when it comes to both descriptions and character development. I fell in love with the prose and I will no doubt read more of her work soon! If you enjoy reading historical fiction, I can strongly recommend From Sand And Ash.

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Eva Rosselli and Angelo Bianco were raised like family, but religion separated them as Eva is Jewish and Angelo Catholic. As the years go by, the two find themselves falling in love, but the circumstances are less than ideal as World War II is looming over them. Angelo chooses becoming a Catholic priest even though he has deep feelings for Eva, and Eva has nowhere to go… It is not longer save to be a Jew in Italy, or anywhere in Europe for that matter, and when things become to dangerous Angelo does anything to hide Eva from the Gestapo. But Eve feels she cannot just hide quietly…

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I have read many historical fiction novels set during or around WWII over the years, and From Sand And Ash is no doubt one of the best novels of the bunch. The prose is simply beautiful and the character development as well as the plot are excellent, making it really easy to both connect to the story and enjoy reading it. Sure, the pace is a bit slow at points and I had initially deducted a star from the rating, but the final part of the story is just too good not to give it one of the highest rating. You will probably feel emotional after reading From Sand And Ash, so make sure to keep some tissues ready! This is without doubt an excellent read.

Friday Finds #114 – December 30th

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FRIDAY FINDS 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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BOOK REVIEW: What Light – by Jay Asher

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Title: What Light
Author: Jay Asher

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: October 11th 2016
Publisher: Razorbill
Finished reading: December 23rd 2016
Pages: 272
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“People think what they want. That’s what I’ve had to accept,” he says. “I can fight it, but that’s exhausting. I can feel hurt about it, but that’s torture. Or I can decide it’s their loss.”

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I realized the other week I had been completely neglecting my Holiday themed reads this year, so this is me making up for that. I didn’t have too many Christmas themed stories on my TBR pile, but I’ve seen What Light around and I decided to give it a go. I read Thirteen Reasons Why last year and I was thoroughly impressed by it, so I had high hopes for this story as well. Unfortunately, I ended up being quite disappointed by What Light even though I should have known the purpose of this story would be completely different. I couldn’t help but feeling What Light was basically a whole lot of cheesiness, cliches and drama wrapped in shiny paper and Christmas lights to make it appropriate for the Holiday season. I liked the idea of the Christmas tree lot and the family returning to it every year. The prose was also easy to read and the pace is quite fast. But there was just SO MUCH DRAMA everywhere! It almost felt like an overdose, and not in a good way. Part of the problem might just be me though, and I’m sure contemporary romance fans will probably enjoy the story a lot better than I did. Just make sure what you sign up for…

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Sierra’s family runs a Christmas tree farm in Orgeon, and every year they pack up and move to California to sell their trees during the season. Sierra spends most of her time in Oregon along with her two best friends, but whenever she is in California her life is completely different. She has another best friend there and it means that leaving one place always means missing the other… And this particular Christmas, something else will complicate her situation even further. Sierra meets Caleb at her Christmas tree lot, and even though her best friend had initially encouraged her to date, she doesn’t seem to approve of Caleb… Are the rumors around Caleb’s past true?

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If you are looking for a sappy and drama-filled Christmas read, you will probably enjoy What Light a lot better than I did. It is quite fast-paced and easy to read, but I personally found there was just too much drama going on for it to be a feel-good Christmas read. It just all felt a bit too exaggerated and I’m not sure up until what point it was actually credible. I have to confess I didn’t connect to the characters either… It might have just been me, but unfortunately I wasn’t a fan of this story.

WWW Wednesdays #117 – December 28th

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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’ve picked up another (modern) classic as I’m trying to finish a challenge: Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown. It’s turning out to be a fast and entertaining read, so I will probably finish it today. I’m also still reading Point Of No Return by Martha Gellhorn, a Netgalley ARC that has been republished last week but was actually first published back in 1948. I’m hoping to finish it before the end of this year, because it will bring me only one classic away from finishing my last pending challenge. And that classic I’m keeping my fingers crossed will be Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. I’m listening to the audiobook version of this one and I’ve made quite some progress so far, so I’m hoping I will be able to listen to the last part while I make preparations for New Years Eve. I’m enjoying this classic so much better than I thought I would!

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* The first book I finished is The Gift by Louise Jensen. As I’ve said in my review yesterday, I enjoyed this second book even better than her debut novel and she is without doubt one of my favorite new discoveries this year. Her stories are well written, fast-paced, have an interesting plot and basically keep you on the edge of your seat for the duration of the ride. I was hooked right from the beginning and I loved the refreshing angle in The Gift. Without doubt an excellent psychological thriller I can recommend to any fan of the genre!
* I then picked up What Light by Jay Asher, trying to make up for the fact I completely ignored the Christmas themed stories so far. Unfortunately I was quite disappointed by this story. Thirteen Reasons Why was such a strong novel, but What Light was basically a whole lot of cheesiness, cliches and drama wrapped in Christmas lights to make it appropriate for the holiday season. I liked the idea of the Christmas tree lot and I’m sure contemporary romance fans will love this story, but there was just SO MUCH DRAMA everywhere! It almost felt like an overdose, and not in a good way. The prose is easy to read though and it was quite a fast read as well.
* The last novel I was able to finish is From Sand And Ash by Amy Harmon. I finally know why so many people seem to love her work! I really enjoyed reading this historical fiction novel and it has without doubt a very strong plot… The pace slows a bit at points, but you forget all about that when you reach the final part. Make sure to keep your tissues ready! Amy Harmon both writes beautifully and is able to make you feel connected to the characters and the things that happen to them. It’s a haunting story that will keep with you for a long time… If you enjoy reading historical fiction, I can strongly recommend this one.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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Since I probably won’t be able to start any new titles this year (I still can’t believe the year is nearly over!!!), my next reads will be the very first of my 2017 TBR. First up is The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda, which I only haven’t read yet because I needed to read other titles first before the end of 2016. Words cannot describe how excited I am to be reading this one next week! I’ve also been convinced to pick up the Alice In Wonderland retelling Splintered by A.G. Howard next. I have been wanting to read another fantasy story anyway so it works perfectly. The Netgalley ARC Witness by Caroline Mitchell is also on my list… And my next TBR jar pick is still Little Women by Louise May Alcott. (Yes, I’m quite ashamed I haven’t been able to pick up this classic yet.)

ARC REVIEW: The Gift – by Louise Jensen

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Title: The Gift
Author: Louise Jensen

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: December 16th 2016
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: December 21st 2016
Pages: 320
Rating 4,5qqq

“A heart is not just an organ. The heart stores secrets and lies. Hopes and dreams. It’s more than a muscle. I know it is. The heart remembers.”

*** 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 really enjoyed reading Louise Jensen‘s debut novel The Sister back in July, but I had so many other pending Netgalley ARC’s I didn’t immediately request a copy of her newest story The Gift. Big mistake! I’m so glad Donna convinced me to request my copy, because this new story was possibly even better. All those raving reviews were absolutely right to praise The Gift, because it is without doubt a very well written, original and exciting story. I have read many psychological thrillers this year, but this one stands out from the rest with both its original and refreshing plot and its excellent prose. The pace is fast, the mystery around Callie’s death is intriguing and I simply couldn’t put this story down until it was finished. I also liked the main character Jenna better than the main character in The Sister; Jenna makes a lot of reckless moves, but they are easily forgiven when you think about her situation. I don’t think I have read many stories where heart transplantation plays such a big role and it is without doubt one of the reasons I found The Gift such a refreshing psychological thriller. This one will without doubt appear on my list of 2016 favorites! If you enjoy reading the genre, I cannot recommend this author enough.

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Jenna is seriously ill and has lost just about all her hope of getting the heart transplant she needs to live on time. But just as she is giving up, she learns that a donor heart has become available. She receives her heart from a girl called Callie, and as she recovers Jenna wonders who her new heart belonged to. Who was Callie and how did she die? But as she becomes closer to the family, her death is becoming more and more suspicious to Jenna…

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I’m so glad I was convinced to request a copy of The Gift, because it has turned out to be one of the best and most refreshing psycholical thrillers I’ve read this year. It’s well written, fast-paced and has an interesting and original plot with many many plot twists you won’t see coming. It’s a true pageturner that will have you on the edge of your seat for the whole ride, and it’s without doubt one I can recommend to any mystery/thriller fan with my eyes closed.

Teaser Tuesdays #120 – December 27th: Point Of No Return

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TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme hosted at The Purple Booker. 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 have to confess I’m a bit behind with my ARC’s… Point Of No Return by Martha Gellhorn is one of those pending titles. It’s actually a WWII story first published in 1948 by one of the first female war correspondents, and now republished by Open Road Media last week (December 20th). I love historical fiction and have a special interest in anything WWII, so I am definitely looking forward to this one. I’m only a few pages into the story, but things are looking promising!

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My teaser (16%):

“He had to go; it was a long way back to the car park. He’d have to run and you never liked to run in a dark city with a lot of trigger-happy rearguard sentries and M.P.’s around.”

What are you reading right now?

ARC REVIEW: Down The Rabbit Hole – by Julia Crane

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Title: Down The Rabbit Hole
Author: Julia Crane

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: December 3rd 2016
Publisher: Valknut Press
Finished reading: December 18th 2016
Pages: 230
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“No one is fully evil. You just have to try harder to be good.”

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

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I have to confess it has been 15-20 years since I last read the original Alice In Wonderland, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love reading a good retelling of the story. It’s easy to say I was especially excited to have my wish granted at Netgalley! I was really looking forward to pick up my copy of Down The Rabbit Hole, but I’m sad to say I didn’t live up to expectations. I remember how happy I was when I first found out it was a retelling, but my initial excitement slowly turned into disappointment. The story started out promising enough and Alice is without doubt an interesting character. Down The Rabbit Hole had a lot of potential, but unfortunately it fell flat as soon as Lacie’s character makes her appearance. The POV switches between the two sisters, but the Lacie chapters are weak and I could’t warm up to her character. To make things worse, there are a lot of innecessary romance scenes (including annoying tropes like insta-love and love triangle) included that that didn’t add anything to the plot. I also found the ending a little too ‘weird’ to my taste… Although the general idea behind the story is without doubt intriguing. That said, Down The Rabbit Hole wasn’t what I was expecting at all, and unfortunately not in a good way. If you don’t mind cheesy romance scenes and a little weird, you will probably enjoy it a lot better than I did though.

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Two sisteres are bound by blood, but separated by magick… Alice lives in Wonderland with her so-called mother the Red Queen, and years of pain and illusion have messed with her mind. She is quite unpredictable and can turn out to be very dangerous… She has watched her twin sister Lacie for years with great envy, although Lacie doesn’t even know she exists. Lacie has been living on Earth for all those years unaware of her destiny, but that will change soon as the date of the prophecy comes closer. According to the prophecy, only one of the twin sisters will survive… Who will it be, or do they find a way around the prophecy?

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I really liked the sound of Down The Rabbit Hole and I always enjoy reading a good retelling. The story started out promising enough, but fell flat as soon as Lacie was introduced. From that point the story was basically a bunch of cheesy romance scenes sprinkled with a little magic that wasn’t enough for me to keep my interest. The ending was a little too weird as well, and quite abrupt. I wish I could have enjoyed this story better, but Down The Rabbit Hole definitely wasn’t for me.

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

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Today it is December 25th which means it’s time to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!! I’m actually scheduling this post… In Argentina they celebrate mostly during Christmas Eve and it goes on until late, so I will be either still sleeping and/or nursing a (food) hangover when this is published haha. I hope everyone will have a excellent time! I will be back next week with a few pending reviews.

I wanted to end this post with cute Christmas photos of my furry friends, but they refused to stay still with the hat on. xD So here are a few pictures of cute kittens instead. 

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BOOK REVIEW: The Picture Of Dorian Gray – by Oscar Wilde

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Title: The Picture Of Dorian Gray
Author: Oscar Wilde

Genre: Classics, Fiction, Fantasy
First published: June 20th 1890
Publisher: Random House
Finished reading: December 15th 2016
Pages: 254
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“Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”

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I have been neglecting my classics way too much this year, so I decided to try and make up for it in this last month of 2016. The Picture Of Dorian Gray has been one of those classics that has been on my radar for a while now, especially since so many fellow bloggers seem to have enjoyed this classic. Now I’ve finally read this novel by Oscar Wilde, I can understand why. Reading classics can normally tend to present quite a challenge, but I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to read The Picture Of Dorian Gray even though it has been written back in the 19th century. The first part is probably the strongest of the story, as the pace slowed down considerably in the middle with the appearance of a lot of long ‘pointless’ lists where Dorian went on and on about random things. Thankfully the pace picked up again later on and the final part is almost as good as the beginning. In general I had a great time reading this classics and it is without doubt a fast-paced and well written story that can entertain us even today. Recommended!

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When Dorian Gray sees the finished portrait Basil Hallward has painted of him, he has such a fear of growing old and unattractive he decides to sell his soul in exchange for eternal youth and beauty. Dorian seems to have switched places with the portrait; he doesn’t seem to age a day, while the portrait is affected by all he does is life… And it is something that might destroy him in the end.

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I’ve had mixed experiences with reading classics in the past, but The Picture Of Dorian Gray has turned out to be one of those exceptions. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this story, and how fast-paced and how easy it was to relate to the story. There is quite a strong message behind the beautiful prose and intriguing plot, and it is without doubt one that can be connected to the 21st century as well. If you are looking for an interesting classic that mostly reads like a train, The Picture Of Dorian Gray is an excellent choice.