#AVAReadathon: It’s A Wrap!

Aimal @ Bookmarks And Paperbacks hosted A Very ARCish Readathon during the whole month of April; a readathon all about tackling your personal ARC mountain. The best part is that the goals were easy: just read as many ARCs as possible, have fun and comment on social media with the hashtag #AVAReadthon if you wanted to.

I made a TBR back in March and ended up reading 6 out of 9 titles on that list. I didn’t read all of them mostly because I had mixed up the dates of some of the ARCs and only noticed in April… But also because I was too weak to resist the NG request button and had to read a few titles first instead. xD

Still, I managed to read a whopping total of 13! ARCs during the month of April. 6 of them were Netgalley ARCs, while 7 were sent by their respective authors. I’m really happy with those numbers, especially since I’ve been waaaaay behind with those ARCs. My NG rating has dropped a bit this month though, so I will have to do something about that in May. Oops?

Here’s a list of all the ARCs I’ve read for the #AVAReadathon and a link to the reviews:

Did you read any ARCs in April? Have you participated in this readathon? Feel free to add your link!


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BOOK REVIEW: Small Great Things – by Jodi Picoult

Title: Small Great Things
Author: Jodi Picoult

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: October 11th 2016
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Finished reading: April 27th 2017
Pages: 470

“That’s because racism isn’t just about hate. We all have biases, even if don’t think we do. It’s because racism is also about who has power…and who has access to it.”


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Small Great Things is one of those books I’ve heard nothing but great things about and was really excited to read, but somehow it took me months to actually pick it up. Not for any specific reason and definitely not because I didn’t want to, especially since I’ve read and enjoyed a few Jodi Picoult novels in the past, but somehow I always ended up with a different title in my hands instead. And right now, I kind of want to kick myself for waiting this long to pick up my copy. Because there is no doubt that Small Great Things is an emotional, well written, powerful and unforgettable story. Simply brilliant!

I’m actually having a hard time getting my thoughts properly on paper, but I’m going to try and explain why this story is THAT good anyway. First of all, Small Great Things focuses on the very important topic of racism and racial problematics. This alone was enough for me to want to read the story, but what stands out is the excellent execution of this topic. The diversity of the characters Jodi Picoult used to tell this story is spot on, as well as their development. We see the story develop through the eyes of both the African American nurse Ruth, the white supremacist Turk who just lost his baby and Ruth’s (white) lawyer Kennedy. Through this diverse collection of characters Jodi Picoult is able to address a wide variety of issues related to race problematics, resulting in a VERY powerful story that will stay with you for a long time. This is a story that will make you think: like the author says, racism isn’t just about active racism; passive racism is just as dangerous and something we don’t tend to pay enough attention to. But there is more. Not only is Small Great Things a story with a very important topic that is well executed and with diverse and well developed characters, the plot itself is also intriguing and the whole message behind this story is very powerful. And to top things off, the prose is just as good as every other aspect of this novel. As you might have guessed, I can more than recommend Small Great Things.

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The African American Ruth Jefferson has been working as a delivery nurse in a Connecticut hospital for more than twenty years, and she has never had a complaint. But when one day she begins a routin checkup on a newborn, his parents don’t seem too happy about having Ruth as a nurse. They are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth to touch their child… Minutes later, Ruth hears she is no longer to come close to the child. There’s nothing to be done, but then the next day Ruth is faced with an impossible dilemma. The baby goes in cardiac distress when she is alone in the nursery; should she obey orders and stay away or try to save him? Sadly the baby dies and his parents blame Ruth for his death. Ruth soon faces a murder charge, and the one person that might keep her out of prison is the white public defender Kennedy McQuarrie. But when Kennedy tells Ruth they aren’t to mention anything related to racism during court, Ruth isn’t so sure if Kennedy is the right person to represent her…

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Small Great Things is without doubt my new favorite Jodi Picoult novel, and I don’t think it will be easy to outdo this story. From the prose to the diverse, intriguing and well developed characters; from the well executed and important topic of racism to the very powerful message behind this story… Everything just points towards the fact that this story is a very important, powerful and brilliant modern take on such a complicated topic.


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ARC REVIEW: The Car Bomb – by T.V. LoCicero

Title: The Car Bomb
(Detroit I’m Dyin Trilogy #1)
Author: T.V. LoCicero

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 7th 2013
Publisher: TLC Media
Finished reading: April 27th 2017
Pages: 220

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

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April ARC month is slowly coming to an end and this is probably one of the last titles I will be able to read before the month is over. I’ve had this first book of a trilogy on my ARC list for a while… The Car Bomb belongs to one of my favorite genres and I was looking forward to what looked like an action-packed thriller. Unfortunately, I ended up having a hard time reading this story. It’s without doubt a superfast read and I managed to finish it in less than a day, but I can’t say I actually enjoyed it. During most of the story the different chapters just didn’t connect together and I had to struggle to follow the plot. Most of the story felt messy, chaotic and some things just didn’t make sense… Things did improve in the final part, which I enjoyed considerably better, but I have to be honest and say I’m not sure if I would have made it to that part if this wouldn’t have been an ARC. This wasn’t my biggest problem with The Car Bomb though. It wasn’t the excessive swearing either, although it did started to frustrate me. No, it was the main character of this story: Frank. Words cannot describe how much I dislike that cheating (note: on both his wife AND mistress), womanizing, drunk, arrogant bastard. It was practically hate at first sight and it was really hard for me to try and enjoy a story I had already issues with having to deal with a main character I simply can’t stand. I mean, he is a popular TV star, so he gets away with all the despicable things he does?! Not in my world. I guess male readers might be less offended by his character, although I sure do hope they don’t take him as an example. As you might have guessed, this story definitely wasn’t for me even though the general idea behind this story did sound interesting.

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Frank DeFauw is a very popular TV anchor with a colorful personal life full of booze, drugs and womanizing. After a car bomb kills a mother and her two children, Frank decides to investigate the case and stumbles upon something a whole lot bigger than just a simple bomb. He is on the border of discovering a big corruption scandal, and one of the persons involved might actually be one of his best friends. Frank is faced with a complicated decision to either discover the truth or protect his friend and family… Because some people are trying very hard to keep the truth from coming out, and things are becoming dangerous.

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I normally enjoy reading thriller reads, but The Car Bomb was definitely not for me. Male readers might enjoy this story better than I did, but I just couldn’t recover from my VERY negative feelings about the main character. I don’t care that he is a famous TV anchor; both his behavior and character in general are simply inexcusable and disgusting. The case itself might be interesting and it does have potential, but unfortunately I just couldn’t enjoy this story.


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Stacking The Shelves #16 – April 29th

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Stacking The Shelves is hosted at Tynga’s Reviews and is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

I know, I know, another week and another ‘TBR control’ failure. Resisting the request button is HARD. This latest ARC haul is partly blamed on Bookouture publishing so many awesome thrillers in the first place, and also partly because I never ever EVER would have imagined my Flame In The Mist request would actually be approved. I literally did a happy dance when I saw that email in my inbox!! I read a teaser in one of the Buzz Books editions and I can’t wait to read the whole story (in fact, I will be reading it this weekend). ❤

# NETGALLEY ARC #

 

I hope everyone is having a great weekend! ❤


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Friday Finds #130 – April 28th

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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ARC REVIEW: Ginny Moon – by Benjamin Ludwig

Title: Ginny Moon
Author: Benjamin Ludwig

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: May 2nd 2017
Publisher: Park Row Books
Finished reading: April 22nd 2017
Pages: 368

“No one can hear what I say inside my head because that’s where my brain is. It helps me do things when no one is looking.”

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

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I’ve seen so many raving reviews about this book around the blogosphere that I just HAD to request a copy so I wouldn’t have to wait until the publish date to read it. It’s easy to say I was really looking forward to (The Original) Ginny Moon… And I kind of feel bad that I ended up having mixed feelings about the story instead. I can’t deny it’s a well written, unique story with one of the most intriguing main characters I’ve encountered this year. The author did a more than excellent job of describing and portraying the autistic Ginny and it has been truly fascinating to be able to have a glimpse inside her head. It really shows that Benjamin Ludwig has personal experience with autism and both the character development and behavior feel authentic. That said, it took me longer than expected to get used to the voice of the autistic Ginny and I found myself a bit confused in the beginning. Like I said before, the author did an excellent job of describing autism and what it is like to live and interact with someone autistic, but I did understand why her ‘Forever’ parent got so frustrated with her at times. I felt the same frustation as well and it made me enjoy the story slightly less than I thought I would, although this has nothing to do with the story itself and I want to stress that the author did a brilliant job of putting autism in the spotlight it deserves. And there is no doubt Ginny Moon will leave her mark and will stay with you for a long time…

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Ginny Moon has been in foster care for years, and she is currently living with her fourth forever family. Everybody keeps saying she sound feel happy that she has finally found parents who will love her… But Ginny has never forgotten what happened all that time ago, something she feels she will have to put right no matter what. But it is kind of hard to explain things to the rest of the world when you can’t find the right words to express yourself… Or people don’t seem to understand what she has been trying to tell them all this time.

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First of all, I want to stress that my slightly lower rating has nothing to do with the excellence of this book, but more with my feelings of frustration as I was reading it. Ginny’s character will provoke strong emotions, and while mine weren’t completely positive, there is no doubt she will still stay with me for a long time. I don’t think I’ve ever read a story with an autistic main character before (even though it’s such an important topic), and the author did a brilliant job of accurately describing what it’s like living with autism. Ginny Moon: A very important and truly unique story and character!


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Ready for another round of Bout Of Books?!

I participated in a few Bout Of Books read-a-thons in the past and I always had a great time, so I just couldn’t resist signing up for the next one. And Bout Of Books 19 is just about around the corner! It starts May 8th and ends May 14th, and for those who aren’t familiar yet with this read-a-thon it’s all about reading as many books as you want/can and having fun along the way. The best part: you can make your own goals! For the official rules, check the Bout Of Books page and below:

You can still sign up until May 9th so there is still time to join the fun! I will write a proper goals/TBR post the weekend before the read-a-thon starts, because I have still no clue what books would be next around that time.


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ARC REVIEW: The Millionaire’s Wife – by Shalini Boland @ShaliniBoland

Title: The Millionaire’s Wife
Author: Shalini Boland

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: April 27th 2017
Publisher: Adrenalin Books
Finished reading: April 21st 2017
Pages: 306

“The trouble with secrets is that you never know how the other person is going to react.”

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

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I became an instant fan of Shalini Boland‘s thrillers as soon as I I finished reading The Girl From The Sea last year. I’ve been lucky enough to receive an ARC copy of The Millionaire’s Wife, which is already my third thriller by this author. My expectations were set high after the previous two books, but this one has turned out to be yet another winner. I found myself on the edge of my seat for the duration of the ride and the story was gripping until the very last page. Well written and enjoyable prose, many many plot twists, well developed and unrealiable characters and a very intriguing plot; what more to ask of a psychological thriller?! It was almost impossible to stop reading The Millionaire’s Wife as the need to find out what happens next was just too big… And you will find yourself face to face with one or two true plot twists bombs along the way as well. The POV switches between past and present and the Swedish nationatity of one of the main characters is without doubt very well used. It definitely adds another original touch to the story! If you like fast-paced, suspenseful and well written thrillers with plot twists that will blow you away, The Millionaire’s Wife is a must-read. You won’t regret it!

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Anna Blackwell seems to have a very comfortable life with a loving husband and a big house, but can she really outrun her past? When she finds out a woman is killed on the other side of the world, Anna realises that her past has definitely caught up with her in the end. She knows what will come next… And her greatest fear is about to come true. Will she be able to find a way out before it’s too late?

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The Millionaire’s Wife had me hooked right from the very first page and I couldn’t stop reading until I found out how the story ended. The switches between past and present keep up the high level of suspense and the unreliable characters do the rest of the job. You will find yourself wondering what will happen next until the very last page and there are some very twisted characters and plot twists to join you along the way! If you like a good psychological thriller, this one should definitely be on your wishlist.


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WWW Wednesdays #134 – April 26th

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?

I’m finally making good progress with Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, and I will most likely end up finishing it some time today or tomorrow. I’m still kicking myself for waiting this long to pick it up, because it’s without doubt brilliant. Well written, intriguing story and a very important focus on racial problematics and racism as well as an interesting mix of characters. I’m also about to start another ARC, The Car Bomb by T.V. LoCicero, which sounds like an action-packed read. I’m also still reading Enchanters by K.F. Bradshaw, although I have put temporarily on hold until I’m in the mood for (high) fantasy again.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

* The first title I finished is the travel memoir Among Friends: Travels In Cuba by Heather Murray. Unlike other non fiction reads about Cuba, this memoir focuses mostly on the personal experiences of the author during her various trips to Cuba and what she could see of the daily life of the Cubans rather than on the complicated political and social-cultural situation. It’s a well written and enjoyable read and the descriptions of the various locations in Cuba made me feel as if I were visiting the country myself.
* I then picked up The Millionaire’s Wife by Shalini Boland, which has turned out to be yet another winner. I’ve been a fan of her work ever since I picked up The Girl From The Sea last year… This is my third suspense thriller and my opinion hasn’t changed a bit. This story is well written, filled with many plot twists, unrealiable characters and a very intriguing plot. The POV switches between past and present and the Swedish nationality of one of the main characters is very well used. Gripping until the very last page!
* Next up was (The Original) Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig, which I had heard lots of excellent things about. Ginny is without doubt one of the most original and interesting characters I’ve came across lately, although I do have to say I was a bit confused in the beginning. It took me a while to get used to the voice of the autistic Ginny, and while I feel the author did an excellent job of describing autism and what it is like to live and interact with someone autistic (I’m not surprised since he has personal experience), I did understand why her ‘Forever’ parent got so frustrated with her. I felt the same frustation as well and it made me enjoy the story slightly less than I thought I would, although like I said before I feel the author did a brilliant job of putting autism in the spotlight it deserves.
* The last book I finished is This Is Really Happening by Erin Chack, another memoir. I was surprised my request was actually approved last Saturday, especially since the publish date was that close (yesterday). I decided to give it priority since I was in the mood for a non fiction read anyway, and I ended up really enjoying this bundle of coming to age essays. The writing style really stands out and combined with the honest and personal tone and just the right dose of humor this is a very enjoyable read.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m slowly catching up with my pending ARCs, but I will probably be making May into another ARC month just so I can deal with most of the still pending backlog. Both Anything For Her by Jack Jordan and The Darkest Lies by Barbara Copperthwaite are pending Netgalley ARCs and thrillers I’ve been looking forward to. I also want to pick up the ARC Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel, which sounds like a fascinating read. And I want to read The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware soon as well, although I have been reading a lot of thrillers lately and I might read something of a different genre instead.


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ARC REVIEW: This Is Really Happening – by Erin Chack

Title: This Is Really Happening
Author: Erin Chack

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir,  Humor
First published: April 25th 2017
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group / Razorbill
Finished reading: April 24th 2017
Pages: 240

“I realized then that luck is a slippery thing, hard to hold and keep with you. No amount of worrying will prepare you for when it starts thrashing around in your hands. Luck happens whenever it feels like it, wherever it feels like it, however it feels like it.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Penguin Young Readers Group / Razorbill in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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Two years ago I made a promise to myself to read more non fiction stories, and since I’ve discovered I really enjoy reading memoirs even if I’m not familiar with the author. I came across This Is Really Happening in one of the Buzz Books editions at Netgalley, and I was instantly convinced by the short excerpt provided there. To my surprise, my request came through last Saturday… And since I was in the mood for a memoir, I decided to try and read it before the publish date today. This Is Really Happening is without doubt a well written and fast read with just the right dose of humor. It contains various, mostly ‘coming of age’ essays about various stages in Erin Chack‘s life. To get an idea of the topics in the essays: among other things she talks about high school and how she met her partner, about her battle against cancer at the age of nineteen and how people react to the illness, about her job at BuzzFeed and her roadtrip from coast to coast. What stands out is the enjoyable writing style and the fact that Erin Chack tells things exactly how they are; not hiding the ugly (and maybe embarrassing) details and that makes this memoir feel a lot more authentic. Serious topics are mixed with hilarious moments and if you are looking for an entertaining, well written and interesting coming of age memoir, This Is Really Happening is a great choice.

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A collection of personal essays where Erin Chack writes about a variety of things that happened to her while growing up. From meeting her partner during high school to her battle with cancer, dealing with the symptoms of chemotherapy, what it’s like working as a writer at BuzzFeed, college and an extended roadtrip; she recounts everything with a healthy dose of humor and honesty, talking about various universal themes along the way.

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If you enjoy reading memoirs and are looking for a well written and fast-paced bundle of essays with just the right balance of serious topics and humor, This Is Really Happening would be right up your alley. I really enjoyed the writing style and the general tone of the story. It feels like Erin Chack is telling you her story while sharing a drink in a bar; personal, honest and with just the right dose of humor. Recommended!


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