ARC REVIEW: No Excuses Detox – by Megan Gilmore

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Title: No Excuses Detox
Author: Megan Gilmore

Genre: Non Fiction, Cookbooks, Health
First published: February 21st 2017
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Finished reading: November 4th 2016
Pages: 208
Rating 3,5qqq

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

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I actually read this cookbook by Megan Gilmore last November as part of the promise to myself to start eating healthier, but I haven’t published my review before since No Excuses Detox is actually going to be published recently next month. The cover and promise of quick, affordable and delicious food recipes that will make it easy to follow a healthy lifestyle every day had me sold straight away. This cookbook focuses on showing everyone that it is doable to start changing your eating habits and that there are literally ‘no excuses’ to be posponing the change. No Excuses Detox talks about the most common excuses and shows a wide variety of recipes that will please even the most complicated eater. I do admit I wasn’t convinced by everything that was talked about in the introduction and I think some of the points were a bit too complicated to be called simply ‘no excuses’. That said, the recipes are without doubt excellent and I liked that the author showed just how cheap a healthy meal can be. I have quite a few marked and I will be looking forward to try out more.

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In this cookbook, the author presents a collection of 100 recipes that are both quick to prepare, affordable, delicious and family-friendly. These recipes will make it easy to follow a healthy lifestyle every day and convince even the most complicated eater. Recipes for traditional comfort food favorites have been altered to make them both healthy and still taste as good as their counterparts. It also gives answers to all most common excuses for posponing a change, and shows that being ‘too busy’, ‘healthy food is expensive’ and ‘healthy food probably won’t taste good’ are no excused to stick to a healthy diet.

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I always enjoy browsing cookbooks for more healthy recipes, and No Excuses Detox was without doubt a little goldmine. I don’t agree with everything that is said in the introduction about the common excuses, but I did enjoy the different recipe chapters. From budget and family-friendly recipes to variations of your favorite comfort food; if you are looking for a book that might help you start eating healthier, this one is worth the try.


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BOOK REVIEW: Wuthering Heights – by Emily Brontë

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Title: Wuthering Heights
Author: Emily Brontë
Genre: Classics, Fiction, Romance
First published: 1847
Publisher: Penguin Books
Finished reading: December 31st 2016
Pages: 360
(Audio duration 13hs 14m 06s)
Rating 4qqq

“I have dreamt in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind. And this is one: I’m going to tell it – but take care not to smile at any part of it.”

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I was browsing my list of reviews the other day and realized I totally forgot to write my review on my last read of 2016. Oops? So this is me making up for that. My last read of 2016 was actually an audiobook I listened to on Audible of one of the popular classics: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. It was my first experience with the Brontë sister’s books and I have to say it was quite a positive one. I’m still a newbie when it comes to listening to audiobooks, but I found my experience listening to the story of Heathcliff and Catherine to be so much more entertaining than I thought I would! Sure, there is a lot of drama going on and I didn’t really like every character, but I found myself looking forward to my time with the inhabitants of Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights. It’s a bit hard to properly judge the writing style by just listening to the prose, but I’m quite positive I would enjoy reading the physical version of Wuthering Heights just as much. I definitely have it marked for a ‘reread’ some time in the future!

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Lockwood is the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange on the bleak Yorkshire moors. One night he is forced to seek shelter at the home of his landlord at Wuthering Heights, and it is not a positive experience. And then he finds out all about the history of the events that took place years ago and influenced the history of both Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights. It all started with young Heathcliff and Catherine, and when things didn’t turn out as planned the events that happened next have influenced current and future generations alike…

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I have to admit I was never sure the classics of the Brontë sisters would be my thing, but I’m glad I finally gave Wuthering Heights a go. Audiobook or not, I enjoyed this story so much better than I thought I would even though some of the characters can be quite irritable. The history of both families is intriguing and I will definitely be looking forward to revisit this world some time in the future when I pick up the physical version.


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ARC REVIEW: Point Of No Return – by Martha Gellhorn

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Title: Point Of No Return
Author: Martha Gellhorn

Genre: Historical Fiction, War, Romance
First published: 1948 (republished December 20th 2016)
Publisher: Open Road Media 
Finished reading: December 30th 2016
Pages: 332
Rating 3,5qqq

“He had no other life and no other knowledge; he knew that he could not live anywhere now because in his mind, slyly, there was nothing but horror.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Open Road Media 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 enjoy reading historical fiction and have a special interest in stories set during or around WWII. I’m actually quite surprised I hadn’t heard about Point Of No Return before, especially since Martha Gellhorn is considered to be one of the greatest war correspondents of the 20th century. The story was actually first published in 1948, only a few years after the war ended, and has been republished last month. There is no doubt that Point Of No Return is a powerful read and I admire the author for her courage and what she was able to achieve during her life. The plot itself is intriguing and follows an American Jewish soldier during the war up until his ‘point of no return’. The story is without doubt well written and well researched, although it did read a bit slow and I personally thought there would be more focus on the concentration camps… There was a little too much focus on the romance to my taste, but that might just have been me. The final part also felt a bit rushed, especially since it’s the part I felt would have been most interesting. Still, there is no doubt this is a very solid WWII historical fiction read.

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Jacob Levy grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and is a typical American boy. He doesn’t give his Jewish heritage or the world affairs much thought, but when the United States joins the war in order to stop Hitler, Jacob joins the cause. As a soldier during the last months of WWII, Jacob lives through the Battle of the Bulge and the discovery of Nazi concentration camps. This experiences have a big impact on his life, and witnessing the liberation of Dachau forces him to confront a level of cruelty beyond his own imaginations…

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After reading the blurb of Point Of No Return, I honestly thought the discovery of the concentration camps and its impact would have played a bigger role in the story. It was only mentioned near the end and that part actually felt a bit rushed. Rather than developing this angle, Point Of No Return is about the experiences of an US Jewish soldier and how the war has changed him forever in general. Still a solid enough read, but not as good as I was expecting.

BOOK REVIEW: After You – by Jojo Moyes

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Title: After You
(Me Before You #2)
Author: Jojo Moyes
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
First published: September 23rd 2015
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Finished reading: December 29th 2016
Pages: 353
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“Sometimes I look at the lives of the people around me and I wonder if we aren’t all destined to leave a trail of damage.”

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I know, I know, I should have known not to read the sequel after I discovered that Me Before You didn’t really live up to my expectations last year. It’s not the first time I end up disappointed by hyped books, although I’m not saying the first book is a bad read either… After You however seemed to be a totally unnecessary sequel to what should have been a perfectly good and closed ending. I can understand why fans of the first book would be devastated to have its magic broken by such a mediocre and uninspiring follow-up. I picked up After You mostly because I already had a copy of it and it would mean one less series on my still-to-finish list. But to be honest, I kind of would have preferred not reading it at all. Unlike the first book, the plot in After You is rather weak, cliche and felt forced. Sure, it’s a fast read and the prose is easy to read, but I just felt something was missing… The fact that Lily is a completely obnoxious and highly annoying character doesn’t really help either. In short, would I suggest reading this sequel? I don’t think so, because I’ve heard a lot of actual fans feeling really disappointed by this sequel as well. Read at your own risk!

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

After the most recent events, Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. Her time with Will Traynor has transformed her, and she is struggling to continue her life without him. After she has a very serious accident in her new home in London, she is forced to return home to her family. There she is confronted again with her past and she feels she’s right back where she started… Louisa knows she needs to find a way to start living again, but that’s easier said than done. Will she be able to move on and create a new future for herself?

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I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the After You sequel in the past, and now I’ve read it I can join the crowd. I personally wasn’t blown away by Me Before You, but I can’t deny it was still a solid read and I understand why so many people love it. I have no such feelings for the sequel though. It felt the story was more build around the success of the first book rather than a proper plot, and the whole thing  simply felt unnecessary and forced. I can see why so many fans felt cheated by After You

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
Rating 4qqq

“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.

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
Rating 2,5qqq

“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.