Double Trouble ABC Challenge

I missed doing an ABC challenge in 2018… So even though I’m not sure I’ll actually finish the challenge this year, I decided to just give in and give it a go. The catch? I’ll be doing not one, but TWO ABC challenges: one with the book titles and one with the last name of the authors. Like the title states: double trouble! But hopefully also double the fun. (I know there are lots of existing ABC challenges out there, but I’m just doing my own challenge this year to keep things simple.)

My rules:

TITLE: read one book that has a title with each letter of the alphabet. The A’s and The’s don’t count… Also, the Q, X and Z titles can have those letters anywhere in the title.

AUTHOR: read a book with an author’s last name for each letter. If there is more than one last name, it should be the first that counts… And the Q, X and Z names can have the letter anywhere in the last name.

Let’s go ABC crazy!!

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WWW Wednesdays #207 – January 30th

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’ve been neglecting those poor physical copies on my shelves, so I decided to pick up noir classic The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler on a whim. I’m ashamed to admit I hadn’t heard of the author before, but so far my first experience with his work has been interesting. I’m also reading one of my 2019 most anticipated releases Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen M. McManus. So far I’m flying through it!

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Psychology Of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas (4/5 stars) REVIEW 07/02
This story is part sci-fi, part psychology, part murder mystery, part family drama and part romantic fiction. There are a lot of different elements involved in The Psychology Of Time Travel, and somehow they all manage to work together and create a very fascinating debut. The complex plot will have you on your toes as you try to fit everything together, but only in the most positive way. It was interesting to see the different characters evolve over time and the psychology behind time travel is simply intriguing. I loved the details of the time traveler’s slang as well! This book definitely left a mark and will stay with me for quite some time.

2. Exquisite by Sarah Stovell (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 09/02
Exquisite is an excellent psychological thriller that will give you all the feels and will most definitely manage to shock you before you reach the final page. Simply exquisite and absolutely worth the read if you enjoy the genre! I’m definitely kicking myself for waiting this long to finally read it.

3. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandya Menon (4/5 stars) REVIEW 11/02
It might have to do with the fact I was in the mood for a feel-good story, but I enjoyed my time with this story so much better than I thought I would. This story is cute, fluffy, quirky, geeky and has unique characters and that #ownvoices element that seems to be so popular right now. Yay for etnic diversity and interesting characters that represent a different culture in a realistic way! The characters are what made this story into a success for me and I loved reading about Dimple and Rishi’s story. The coding, the comic art, the geeky elements in general… This was just quirky heaven for me.

4. The Familiars by Stacey Halls (3/5 stars) REVIEW 05/02
What seems to be a historical paranormal fiction story about witches, turns out to be a mostly historical and romantic family drama with only a hint of the supernatural. This lack of a role of the witches, familiars and the witch trials was rather a disappointment for me and not something I expected when I picked up my copy of The Familiars. The fact that Fleetwood was rather dull and lacked a proper personality didn’t really help either, as the story evolved around her and it was hard to keep myself invested in a story when I couldn’t care about the main characters. Having cheating and a love triangle involved didn’t really help either… But if you enjoy character driven and more romantic and family focused historical fiction stories, you will probably end up enjoying it better than I did.

5. How To Experience Death For Beginners by Jessica Branton (2/5 stars) REVIEW 08/02
I can’t deny that the idea behind this story is fascinating and shows a lot of promise, but I don’t think the execution lived up to expectations. The paranormal element of How To Experience Death For Beginners, by far the most interesting aspect of this story, lacked development for me as instead we get an uncomfortable mix of different and sometimes cliche elements that fail to combine into a coherent plot. The lack of credibility, the main characters, the way difficult topics were handled… Sadly this story just didn’t work for me.

6. The Shattering by Karen Healey (3/5 stars) REVIEW 11/02
Even though The Shattering didn’t turn out to be a big hit for me, I’m still glad I finally picked it up. This probably has a lot to do with the setting, since I hardly ever seem to read books set in New Zealand. It also doubles as a negative though, because I would have loved to see more local culture and descriptions included. As it is, The Shattering feels more like a melting pot filled to the brim with different story elements and bits and pieces, making each feel superficial and underdeveloped. The story itself has a lot of potential, with the paranormal aspect, the secrets of Summerton and three different POVs to follow. But with so many different elements distracting you, the story didn’t come out as strong as I thought it would be.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m definitely picking up What The Wind Knows by Amy Harmon next as she is one of my favorite authors and I’m dying to read her newest story. I’m also planning on making good to my promise to read more Agatha Christie and pick up the second Hercule Poirot book The Murder On The Links. And to further reduce my ARC pile, I’m also picking up An American Marriage by Tayari Jones soon (I’m not sure which cover I prefer…) And I have a new TBR jar pick: Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson.


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ARC REVIEW: End Of The Lie – by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

Title: End Of The Lie
(Anastasia Phoenix #3)
Author: Diana Rodriguez Wallach
Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
First published: March 4th 2019
Publisher: Entangled Publishing LLC
Finished reading: January 18th 2019
Pages: ?

“This time, they were all going to burn, without any beasts rising from any ashes.”

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

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I read the first two books of this YA spy thriller series last year and enjoyed the international feel and pace of the story, so when I saw the third and final book mentioned I just couldn’t resist. I was looking forward to another bout of country hopping and finding out how Anastasia’s story would end… And End Of The Lie manages to deliver both. While I do have to say I enjoyed this last installment a tiny bit less than the previous two books, overall it was still a solid read. The pace took a little while to pick up and I have always had my struggles with the main characters, but the story is easy to follow and we still get our dose of international travel despite the slow start. And I just LOVE that not one, but two places we were able to visit during our Europe trip last year were mentioned! Seeing Krakow and Prague described brought back great memories and made me feel as if I were transported back to those places again. It shows that the author used personal travel experiences to describe the settings! This international feel of End Of The Lie is without doubt one of the strongest features of this spy thriller. Once the pace picks up, the plot goes fast as they are trying to end the whole situation before things spin even more out of control. There were cliches involved and I’m not sure about the credibility of some aspects, but I can’t deny it was still an entertaining read. I could have done without the romance and the bitchiness, but overall the Anastasia Phoenix trilogy as a whole is an entertaining interntational spy thriller for fans of the genre.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first two books of this trilogy yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Anastasia Phoenix and her friends thought everything would be better now everything was out in the open, but those thoughts turned out to be too good to be true… Lives are still in danger, and the only way to stop it all is to destroy Department D completely. This is easier said than done, because they have no idea where their parents are and how to end things completely. Will they be able to stop all this madness before it’s too late?

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I love a good international setting where it seems like reading a story comes with free travel. Add the fact that this story visits two places I’ve recently been able to explore and love myself, and it’s easy to say that the international feel of End Of The Lie was a huge bonus for me. I still struggled with the main characters, the bitchiness and the romance (although I liked some of the romantic developments), but the writing reads like a train and once the pace picks up things get interesting. Fans of international YA spy thrillers will have a great time with this trilogy.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #77 – A Tragic Kind Of Wonderful & Ghost Boys

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a title I picked up on a whim and another I needed for the #ownvoices prompt of the Beat The Backlist EPIC Bingo challenge. A Tragic Kind Of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom turned out to be a slowburner, but the rest of the story made up for the slow start. Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes blew me away. Definitely a must-read.


Title: A Tragic Kind Of Wonderful
Author: Eric Lindstrom

Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: December 29th 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
Finished reading: January 15th 2019
Pages: 353

“I can’t bear the thought of how they’d look at me, and treat me, if they knew how many pills I take every morning just to act more or less like everybody else.”


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This is one of those titles I picked up on a whim without a proper reason of doing so. I do remember enjoying his debut in the past, so that might have had to do with my decision to pick up A Tragic Kind Of Wonderful… Although it might have been the cover itself as well. I have to say that this story was a slowburner for me. It took me a while to get into the story and get a proper feel for the plot and characters. The warming up was slow, but once I did my feelings soared. There is just something about Eric Lindstrom‘s writing and character development that will manage to win you over even if you think it won’t happen. I can really appreciate how bipolar disorder is put in the spotlight with the help of this story, and it was interesting to see how it was portrayed in both Mel’s character and those around her. The chapter introductions were a nice touch, and I just loved how romance only played a tiny part in the story (and mostly innocent at that), leaving room for the important things to be properly developed and discussed. I could really appreciate that! It was interesting to see how things ended and while there are a few high school cliches involved, somehow they didn’t bother me that much. Slow, but sweet and definitely worth the read! Mel will be able to turn around your feelings, David is adorable and the bipolar disorder seems to have been very well handled!


Title: Ghost Boys
Author: Jewell Parker Rhodes

Genre: MG, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: April 17th 2019
Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: January 16th 2019
Pages: 224

“Only the living can make change.”


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I first heard about this book when it was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards last year, and to be honest I’m surprised this little gem hasn’t received more attention and love. Ghost Boys is such a powerful read! With race problematics and discrimination sadly being all too real even today, this is such an important book for middle graders and adults alike to read… The topic itself is brilliantly handled, well developed without things becoming too political or dull. The power behind Ghost Boys is the twelve-year-old Jerome, who gives the fatal consequence of racism a face and will make your heart break. The division between the dead and alive chapters was very cleverly done and gives the story an original twist as well as a paranormal touch. I really liked the idea of the other ghost boys, the inclusion of different ideas about life after dead and the incorporation of historical information was very well done. The writing will draw you in right away, your heart will ache for Jerome and those close to him and you will feel the powerful message behind the story long before you reach the final page. This is a story of what sadly is still happening around the world and something ‘only the living can change‘. A true eye-opener and a very important read anyone should read.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #76 – The BFG & The Insect Farm

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a reread of a childhood favorite and a TBR jar pick. Roald Dahl is one of the very first authors I was able to read by myself back when I was tiny, and I’ve read his books over and over again since. It’s been a long time since I last read The BFG though, so I thought it was about time I did. Such a wonderful experience… The Insect Farm by Stuart Prebble was a TBR jar pick, and not as good as I hoped.


Title: The BFG
Author: Roald Dahl

Genre: Children, Fiction, Fantasy
First published: 1982
Publisher: Puffin Books
Finished reading: January 11th 2019
Pages: 195

“The matter with human beans,” the BFG went on, “is that they is absolutely refusing to believe in anything unless they is actually seeing it right in front of their own schnozzles.”


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Roald Dahl is one of the very first authors I was able to read on my own back when I was tiny, and I’ve read his books over and over again since. It’s been a long time since I last read The BFG though, so I thought it was about time I did. And boy, did I forget about a lot of the details of this story! I had a wonderful time revisiting this story and its illustrations. I had forgotten most things about the Big Friendly Giant and just how funny his speech is (especially when read out loud to children). The story itself is simple, easy to follow and is actually quite scary if you think about it… But the BFG and his dreams give the story a whimsical twist. It’s a great story for young and old and I will be looking forward to finally watch the movie adaptation so I can compare the two. Another successful Roald Dahl reread and a jump back in time!


Title: The Insect Farm
Author: Stuart Prebble

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Romance
First published: March 10th 2015
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Finished reading: January 13th 2019
Pages: 320

“In my mind, and what keeps coming back to me is that the insect farm has been a hidden player in so much that has happened – the continuing thread running behind so many of the milestones along the way.”


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The Insect Farm has been my TBR jar pick during the last two months, and it took me way longer to finally pick it up despite the fact I was looking forward to it. The blurb was quite interesting and I was looking forward to discover more about the mystery and what the insect farm had to do with it all. What I didn’t expect to find was that The Insect Farm is basically a mix of a family drama and a romance story including a love triangle. The story has a character driven plot and a considerably slow pace, something I didn’t expect and it took me longer that expected to finally finish the story. As always with character driven stories, it’s important being able to connect to the main characters to ensure properly enjoying the story. Sadly, this was not the case here. While Roger is quite an interesting character and I would have loved to learn more about both him and his learning capacities, I felt he wasn’t developed as thoroughly and his character fell flat for me. As for Jonathan and Harriet: they did have a more thorough development as the main focus seems to be on them, but I can’t say I felt really invested in their story or what happened to them. The story wasn’t told in a linear way, and the actual ‘mystery’ is pushed into the background only to be revealed and rushed to finish at the end of The Insect Farm. Instead, it’s more of a romance story of how Jonathan and Harriet first met and how their lives progressed afterwards. It even has a love triangle! *shudders* All in all it wasn’t my cup of tea, but fans of slower character driven family dramas with a romantic focus and a hint of crime will probably have a better experience.


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Stacking The Shelves #73 – January 26th

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 was doing quite well not requesting any new titles until an older request came through… The blurb and setting sound fascinating though, so I’m not sorry. 😉 I was also approved for Colombiano, a story close to my heart as I’ve always had a special interest in the war on drugs and the setting sounds fascinating. What I didn’t check before is that the story has 800+ pages… Whoops? Fingers crossed it will be worth it though!

I also needed something a little different for a future break from thrillers and historical fiction books, and there was just something about the contemporary romance title Mona Lisas And Little White Lies that caught my eye. I saw the fact that it’s due to be published on my birthday as a sign. 😉 Fingers crossed it’s a good one! And another approval with a fascinating blurb (The Victim), and thankfully recently due in August because I have way too may ARCs already. xD

I was also invited for the blogtour for The Pumilio Child and just couldn’t resist. A historical fiction meets thriller with an international setting? Yes please! And blog tour number two for the Nordic Noir translation The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl; both are due in March… This story sounds fantastic and I can’t wait to read it!

# NETGALLEY ARC #

# BLOG TOUR #

Click on the summaries below to go to the Goodreads page… 

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ARC REVIEW: The Winter Sister – by Megan Collins

Title: The Winter Sister
Author: Megan Collins
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: February 5th 2019
Publisher: Touchstone
Finished reading: January 17th 2019
Pages: 336

“Love is love. You can’t just kick it to the curb, even if sometimes you wished like hell you could.”

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

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There has been a lot of buzz around The Winter Sister, and with a just cause. I simply couldn’t resist this title when I was sent a personal invitation to read it and I saw one of my favorite thriller writers Megan Miranda recommended it… My intuition didn’t fail me, because this story was without doubt a very solid read. Part family drama, part cold case murder, part psychological thriller, The Winter Sister has a little bit of everything and combined in such a way that makes for a perfect mystery cocktail everyone will love. The writing style is engaging and solid and will manage to draw you in from the very first page. I really liked the structure of this story, switching between 16 years ago and the present and done in such a way that keeps building up the suspense and intrigue without things becoming confusing. This story is about what happened to Persephone, but also the effects it had and still has on those close to her. The character development is very well done and feels realistic. It is interesting to see the different characters interact and change over time while you learn more about the past and how everyone fits on the board. While I did see part of the final twists coming, there were also things I hadn’t guessed and that’s always a great feeling. The family drama is well balanced out with the cold case investigation and other secrets and plot twists, making The Winter Sister an intriguing and satisfying read. Fans of the genre will have a great time with this one!

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It has been sixteen years since Sylvie’s sister Persephone never came home. She had been missing for three days before her body was found, and the crime has remained unsolved. Sylvie has tried to move on, but is faced with painful memories as she has to return come to care for her estranged mother. Being back home brings back all the questions and her theories on who was behind the death of her sister. She is determined to finally discover the truth no matter what it takes…

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My instincts told me I was in for a treat with this one and it turns out they were right. The Winter Sister offers us a well balanced mix of a family drama, cold case murder and psychological thriller with a focus on the complicated relationships between mother and daughters alike. The writing is solid and the plot well crafted and interestingly developed. The switches between past and present added to the intrigue and suspense around Persephone’s death and the truth what really happened to her… There are a lot of secrets and twists to discover, and while I did see some of them coming, others managed to surprise me. All in all The Winter Sister was a very satisfying read fans of the genre will love.


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