ARC REVIEW: The Dollmaker Of Krakow – by R.M. Romero

Title: The Dollmaker Of Krakow
Author: R.M. Romero

Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
First published: September 12th 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: September 13th 2017
Pages: 336

“You can destroy a person, Karolina, but destroying their story is far more difficult. No one is ever really lost as long as their story still exists.”

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

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I was drawn to this book as soon as I saw the stunning cover, and when I found out it was a story set during WWII I was sold. I know I don’t read a lot of middle grade novels, but I do like to mix things up a bit every once in a while and this sounded like the perfect book to do so. The Dollmaker Of Krakow has been compared to The Boy In The Striped Pajamas (one of my all time favorites) and not only has a stunning cover, but also a wonderful story. This middle grade story is not just another historical fiction read with a WWII setting. With The Dollmaker Of Krakow, R.M. Romero has created a truly unique story that is a perfectly balanced mix of historical facts and fantasy with a touch of magical realism and a fairytale-like feel. There is magic, there are talking dolls brought to life, but there is also the brutal reality of the war and what the Germans were doing to the Jews during that period. Innocence is mixed with a somber reality in a way that is truly moving and very beautifully crafted. It’s hard to properly label this story, but there is no doubt about the originality and uniqueness of The Dollmaker Of Krakow. I would recommend this story for the ages of ten and up due to the sensitive historical elements (holocaust references) included, but I am positive they will be completely charmed by this fairytale-like mix of fantasy and reality. The writing style reads like a dream and I really liked the contrast between Karolina’s world and the real one. The characters are also well developed and used perfectly to demostrate the situation of both Jews and the people close to them during the war. It will definitely help make the younger readers reflect in an innocent way and leave breadcrumbs of information that will stay with them without the story feeling like a history lesson. All in all definitely recommended!

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Karolina used to live in the Land of the Dolls as a seamstress, happy to work for her king and queen, but one day they are overthrown by Rats and the dolls are no longer safe. A strange wind spirits her away from her home and suddenly she finds herself in Krakow… Right in the middle of the shop of the Dollmaker, a man with an unusual power he didn’t know he had. They will soon find out they benefit mutually from their company, and they  even make new friends with a violin-playing father and his daughter. But the Nazi soldiers come to Krakow and Karolina and the Dollmaker soon realize their new Jewish friends are in danger…

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I was sold as soon as I saw the cover and blurb, and there is no doubt that the writing is just as beautiful as the stunning cover. The Dollmaker Of Krakow is a truly unique story that mixes historical events with a fairytale-like fantasy world and sometimes feels a lot like magical realism. This innocent way of approaching the holocaust is a truly fascinating angle and very well executed; the fantasy elements only add to the overal originality of the story.


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BOOK REVIEW: Our Dark Duet – by Victoria Schwab @veschwab

Title: Our Dark Duet
(Monsters Of Verity #2)
Author: Victoria Schwab

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Dystopia
First published: June 13th 2017
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Finished reading: September 12th 2017
Pages: 533

“The world was complicated. Life was hard. And so often, living hurt. So make it worth the pain.”

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It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Victoria Schwab‘s books and my review might sound a bit biased or like a typical fangirl blabbering about how awesome this particular book was. Because I’m not going to lie and say that even though I finished Our Dark Duet quite a few days ago, I still haven’t recovered. I read the first book of this duology, This Savage Song, last year and completely fell in love with the worldbuilding, writing and characters. It’s true nothing can quite replace or outshine the Shades Of Magic series, but I like to see them as two completely separate stories and worlds to love and cherish. I reread the first book before starting the sequel, and this has definitely reconfirmed my love for this duology. The worldbuilding is actually quite simple and the strength of this story is in both the brilliant writing, the main characters and the constant threat of danger and monsters hiding in dark corners as well as on the next page. Our Dark Duet adds a whole different level and a new monster to the equation, and I quite liked this addition. I just loved seeing my favorite characters evolve and react to the dangerous situations they find themselves in… And even though the ending crushed me, I realy admire Victoria Schwab for her courage to do what she did. This story set in a dystopian world where monsters are real has never been a happy story, and by no means can be called just another sappy YA fantasy story. Because Monsters Of Verity is anything but. Sure, there is a dash of romance included, but there’s no love triangle, no cheesy romance scenes, no all-consuming romantic plot. No, instead you get a double dose of suspense, action, monsters and a whole lot of awesomeness in general. To say that the writing is excellent is an understatement, but then again it is Victoria Schwab we are talking about. Don’t compare this duology to Shades Of Magic, because you will most likely end up being disappointed. Instead, see Monsters Of Verity as something new and completely different, and let the characters and their dystopian world full of monsters enchant you.

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

There is no way back after what happened… Nearly six months after Kate and August first met, the war between monsters and humans has become very real. August Flynn has always wanted to be human, but knows he will always be a monster in the end. He will have to make some difficult choices now he is seen as a leader during the battle agains the other monsters. Kate Harker on the other hand is far away in Prosperity hunting the monsters the people living there don’t even know that exist… Doing what she does best until a new monster shows up and messes up everything. What will happen to the two characters and Verity in general? Will the monsters finally win?

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Error, page not found… Excuse me while my mind recovers from the blow. Because WOW. Victoria Schwab wasn’t kidding when she said this wasn’t a happy story; I admire her all the more for it even though this book kind of broke my heart… Bulldozer or not, I loved this story and how things developed after the first book ended. I’m not saying this Monsters Of Verity duology can compete with the Shades Of Magic trilogy, but I like to see them as two completely separate series that both deserve all the love. Because both have deserved a well earned place among my other all time favorite books and characters. I’m having a feeling Kate, August, Kell and Lila would make a very interesting group indeed! 😉


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ARC REVIEW: The Surrogate – by Louise Jensen @Fab_fiction @bookouture

Title: The Surrogate
Author: Louise Jensen

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: September 27th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: September 7th 2017
Pages: 374

“But then, we all have things to hide, don’t we? Our version of the truth is pliable, we mould our reality to mask our lies, and sometimes it sounds so plausible we even convince ourselves.”

*** 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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After reading The Sister and The Gift last year, I was left no other option than to add any future Louise Jensen books straight to my most-anticipated-releases list. This is exactly what happened as soon as I heard about her newest book The Surrogate and I was over the moon when I was granted a copy early. And WOW. Be ready to get your socks blown off when you read this psychological thriller! Basically I was left speechless and mindblown when I reached the final page, and to be honest I still haven’t recovered fully from this story. What starts out as an excellent, but seemingly straightforward psychological thriller will manage to leave you flabbergasted before you reach the ending… Because there is one thing I know: I was SO wrong about every single suspicion I had while was reading The SurrogateLouise Jensen is a pro at creating the perfect suspenseful atmosphere with that feeling you can’t trust anyone or anything… But she is also brilliant at misleading her readers. It doesn’t happen often, but The Surrogate managed to surprise me entirely with the final twists and I just love whenever that happens! Apart from the final plot twists bombs, the plot itself is very well executed and very capable of misleading you without losing your interest as you suspect you have already figured everything out quite early on. The suspense and suspicions are real until the very end and combined with the excellent writing you will find it really hard to put this story down before you know what happened and will happen to the main characters. The characters themselves are well developed and feel realistic, even though if I am honest I didn’t exactly like them. I found Kat to be a bit too trusting, but I guess this part of her personality does make the story work all the better. And this minor speed bump by no means makes The Surrogate any less brilliant. If you enjoy reading psychological thrillers, I can highly recommend Louise Jensen‘s work in general. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed by her books!

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Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents, but maybe it just wasn’t ment to be… Kat cannot get pregnant and their efforts to adopt a little one into their family haven’t been successful. Something always seems to go wrong and they are on the point of giving up; they simply cannot take the stress anymore. But then Kat runs into her childhood friend Lisa by chance and it seems like the couple has been given one last chance to fulfill their wish. It all sounds too good to be true… Can Lisa really be trusted with something this delicate?

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If you are looking for your next psychological thriller, you have just found your story. Because The Surrogate is perfect for any fan of the genre and will leave you both speechless and mindblown by the last page. The story starts out rather conventional and gives you that false security that you have already figured out what is probably going to happen… And then the plot twists bombs start falling and you will discover you were SO wrong about everything. Oh yes, The Surrogate will mess with your mind and you will love every single minute of it. Because this is one brilliantly executed psychological thriller.


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ARC REVIEW: Cold Blood – by Robert Bryndza @RobertBryndza @bookouture

Title: Cold Blood
(Detective Erika Foster #5)
Author: Robert Bryndza

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 20th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: September 1st 2017
Pages: 300

“We’re all a few pieces of bad luck away from having to make horrible choices to survive.”

*** 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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Those who follow my blog are probably already aware of the fact that I have become a big fan of the Erika Foster series ever since I finished reading the first book last year. Now book number five is already about to come out, and my feelings haven’t changed. In fact, Cold Blood has only reconfirmed my love for this series. Because this story yet again blew me away… There is no doubt that every new Erika Foster adventure simply delivers and will have you on the edge of your seat for the duration of the ride. Cold Blood is another serial killer thriller with a twist; it has a great plot, lots of action and twists that will keep you invested until the very end. It has been very interesting to see the main characters develop over time and it almost feels like you know them personally. Erika Foster is without doubt a very powerful character and is an important part of why this series is such a success. The case in Cold Blood is another fascinating one; you find out the who quite early on but the character development is spot on and intriguing. Also, the final scene is GOOD! I definitely can’t wait for the next installment and Cold Blood hasn’t even been published yet. If you enjoy reading crime thrillers, I can highly suggest picking up this series. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed! The books are highly entertaining, well written, suspenseful, have the right amount of creepy, lots of twists and a kickass main character. What more to ask?

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

A battered suitcase washed up on the shore of the Thames, and what is inside shocks everyone. The suitcase contains the dismembered body of a young man… They are not able to identify him immediately, but as Erika and her team start working on the case, they make the link with another victim that was found under similar circumstances two weeks ago. Could it really be that another serial killer is on the move? Why were the two victims killed? Things will spin out of control fast and Erika and her team will have to do everything it takes to stop the killer. And they might be in for a surprise or two…

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I’m a big fan of the Erika Foster series and book number 5 was definitely one of my most anticipated releases. The wait was worth it, because Cold Blood was definitely everything I  hoped for and more. Suspenseful, fast-paced, a kickass character, thrilling plot, another serial killer thriller and entertaining read in general. This book has only reconfirmed my love for this series and I’m already waiting impatiently for the next one! Oh yes, I’m seriously addicted to Erika Foster adventures. They simply read like a train.


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ARC REVIEW: I Am Behind You – by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Title: I Am Behind You
(Platserna #1)
Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist

Genre: Horror, Dystopia, Paranormal
First published: August 1st 2014
Publisher: Riverrun
Finished reading: September 4th 2017
Pages: 416
(Originally written in Swedish: ‘Himmelstrand’)

“The things we take for granted are the things we miss the most when they disappear.”

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

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!! Happy Publication Day !!

Warning: some mild swearing ahead. Couldn’t express my feelings for this one otherwise. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read my share of crazy, weird and quirky stories and I actually enjoy reading them to take a break from the ‘ordinary’. But there is weird, and then there is I Am Behind You. My first thoughts when I started reading were literally: what the hell did I sign up for when I requested a copy?! Because there is one thing for sure, and that is that even after finishing it the only thing my mind is able to process is WTF WTF WTF did I just read?! I Am Behind You is actually a translation of a Swedish novel published back in 2014… I wonder if part of the story was lost in translation and made it more difficult to enjoy it, but considering the other reviews out there I’m quite certain this is not the case. The first thing that stands out to me is the plot, or actually the lack of a plot that actually makes sense. Like the characters, you are left in the middle of an empty field without a clue what is going on. Instead of adding suspense and intrigue, it only made me feel VERY frustrated and added to the overall struggle I had with this story. The worst part is that a lot of things are never explained at all and leave you empty handed and with that WTF feeling I mentioned before. The multiple POVs are also confusing and take a long time to get used to… The flashbacks are a nice touch, and I think I would have actually prefered seeing more of those instead of the current POV since the flashbacks at least made a bit more sense. I wasn’t a fan of the characters at all though. I disliked one even more than the other and this made it very hard to care about them or what would happen to them. And apart from the the lack of a proper plot, multiple POVs, unlikeable characters and the sheer absurdity of it all, I had a hard time connecting to the writing style as well. It might have been the translation, it might have been the writing, but it took me a lot longer than normal to reach the final page and to be honest it was a real struggle. And after such an unsatisfying ending, I kind of wish I could have DNFed this story instead. Because there is one thing for sure: this story 100% isn’t for me. I like weird, I like unconventional, but I Am Behind You was just batshit crazy. Guano style.

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When Molly wakes up early in the morning and asks her mother to go to the bathroom, something strange seems to be going on. Because the toilet block is no longer there. In fact, everything else has gone too and the only thing left are four campers in a neverending field of grass. Where are they? And why are they there in the first place? The four families will do whatever it takes to get back to the ‘normal’ world… But is that even possible?

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I was actually really looking forward to this book, but I guess I should have known after reading the blurb. The thing is: I normally like stories that are unconventional. Call me weird, but I find a dose of crazy to be rather refreshing every once in a while… But I wasn’t prepared for I Am Behind You. Because this story will definitely give you an overdose of crazy. The plot is basically absurd and doesn’t make sense and I was clueless even after reaching the final page. I didn’t manage to connect to the characters or writing style and overall unfortunately I had a really hard struggle with it. The fact that it took me about three times as much as normal to just finish it will say enough… Definitely not a story for me.


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BOOK REVIEW: Never Let Me Go – by Kazuo Ishiguro

Title: Never Let Me Go
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro

Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: March 3rd 2005
Publisher: Vintage Books
Finished reading: August 31st 2017
Pages: 288

“Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don’t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them fading.”

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Sometimes you stumble across books that are simply not a right fit, and I’m having a feeling that is exactly what happened between me and Never Let Me Go. I’ve had this title on my TBR for ages and always wondered if this story would be for me… This doubt is probably one of the main reasons I have posponed picking this title by Kazuo Ishiguro up for as long as I have, and it seems like the author and me will not be friends. Because even though this book has been highly rated by many and is very well known, I actually struggled a lot with it. I had a really hard time making sense of it all when I started reading and while things became better as I forced myself to keep reading, I can’t say I exactly enjoyed the reading experience. And this surprised me, because I’ve seen so many people naming Never Let Me Go one of their favorites… Call it unpopular opinion, call it a bad book-reader match, but this dystopian story wasn’t for me. The prose never managed to lure me in completely and like I said I had a hard time figuring out what was really going on. I like a healthy dose of weird and mystery, but apparently I ended up being allergic to this particular brand. As for the characters… Kathy wasn’t all that bad, but I absolutely loathed Ruth. I guess the fact that she was able to provoke such strong emotions is a sign of good character development… But it also ment I ended up enjoying a story I was already struggling with even less. I seem to be one of the few though, so definitely take my experience with a grain of salt. And to be honest, with my reputation with popular books I’m not surprised this review has turned out to be another ‘unpopular opinion’ one.

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Kathy, Ruth and Tommy grow up attending an exclusive boarding school called Hailsham in the middle of the English countryside. They have never experienced life outside the school and are not allowed to leave the premises. The teachers keep reminding them just how special they are, even though they don’t really understand why. That understanding comes years later when their real purpose is revealed… And slowly the understanding comes of exactly what it is that makes them special.

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I’ve tried really hard to like Never Let Me Go, but I’m convinced that this book/author and me simply aren’t a right fit. Especially since this book has received so much praise over the years… I personally really struggled with both the prose, plot and characters and I had a hard time making sense of it all. It’s almost as if the readers are clueless students as well and quite a lot of key information is left out in the beginning. In the end Never Let Me Go wasn’t my cup of tea, but since most people did enjoy it don’t let my review stop you from picking it up.


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BOOK REVIEW: Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland – by Lewis Carroll

Title: Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland
Author: Lewis Carroll

Genre: Classics, Fiction, Fantasy
First published: July 4th 1865
Publisher: Puffin Books
Finished reading: August 29th 2017
Pages: 160

“How puzzling all these changes are! I’m never sure what I’m going to be, from one minute to another.”

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I still can’t believe I have never picked up the original version of the famous Alice In Wonderland retellings before! Or at least that I can remember… However it be, I’m glad I finally decided to do so. Because even though Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland is a classic and written back in the 19th century, I was surprise by just how easy the prose was to read and how entertaining the story was in general. Sure, there isn’t much of a plot to talk about and nothing really makes sense. Sure, the characters are not really all that developed. Sure, I would have liked to see the whole Wonderland setting more developed. But there is just something about this story that made me smile. Could it have to do with the fact I have been familiar with most of the details around this story since I was little? Maybe. But I had a great time reading this little bundle of nonsense and absurd fantastical ramblings. These words ment only in the best possible ways of course! Do I like some of the retellings better where the worldbuilding is way more extensive and there is actually a plot? Probably. But I’m glad I finally read the original version as was written by Lewis Carroll all those years ago.

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One day Alice follows a peculiar White Rabbit down a rabbit hole, and suddenly finds herself in a completely different world where nothing makes sense. It’s filled with creatures like the Mad Hatter, a disappearing Cheshire Cat, talking animals, the Queen Of Hearts… Nothing is as it seems in this strange world called Wonderland, something that Alice will find out soon enough.

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I kept the summary supershort since I’m positive just about everyone will already be familiar with this classic in the first place. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland is surprisingly easy to read for a classic and quite short as well; I was able to fly through it in a blink of an eye. There isn’t much of a plot to talk about and basically nothing really makes sense, but in the end this story was able to bring a smile to my face and sometimes that is just the most important thing. I do realize now most of the retellings are way more detailed than the original story… Something that has truly surprised me.


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