ARC REVIEW: Stillhouse Lake – by Rachel Caine @rachelcaine @ThomasMercerUK

Title: Stillhouse Lake
(Stillhouse Lake #1)
Author: Rachel Caine

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 1st 2017
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: July 18th 2017
Pages: 302

“There are no limits for the hate. It’s free-floating, a toxic cloud of moral outrage and mob mentality, and it doesn’t care who it hurts. Only that it does.”

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

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I have heard a lot of excellent things about Stillhouse Lake so far, so you can imagine my happy dance when I saw the message in my inbox that my Netgalley wish was granted. It took me less than a week to pick up my copy and I still kind of wish I would have done so earlier. Because wow. Just WOW. It’s been over a day since I finished reading Stillhouse Lake and I am still lost for words. I should probably have taken more time to cool off before writing my review, because this thriller has been one hell of a ride…But let’s see if I can say something somewhat coherent about it. First of all Stillhouse Lake is hands down one of the best thrillers I’ve read this year and just so damn intense! Make sure to clear your schedule before starting this one, because you will want to sit down and read it in one go. The story had me hooked from page one and didn’t let me go until the very end… Why? Here are some bulletpoints to give you an idea. Highly creepy serial killer: CHECK. Intriguing plot and plot twists:CHECK. Constant suspense and feeling something is off: CHECK. Brilliant writing style that keeps you on the edge of your seat: CHECK. Inability to trust any character: CHECK. Being sure you figured it all out and finding out you’re wrong over and over again: CHECK. Very realistic character development: CHECK. Do I have to go on? Dark, twisted, messed up and oh so good…As you can imagine, I can highly recommend Stillhouse Lake. Where can I sign up for the sequel?!

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The life of Gina Royal seemed to be nothing but average: a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two children. But that is until a car crashes into their garage and her husband’s secret life as a serial killer is revealed. People can’t believe she never knew about it and blame her just as much as her husband… After one too many death threat, stalkers and internet trolls, Gina is forced to run and create a new identity to keep both her and her kids safe. Her ex is now in prison, but that doesn’t mean danger isn’t out there… Not only has her husband connections and seems to find her wherever she hides, but there are many others who wish her harm. Gina, now called Gwen, thinks she is finally safe in their new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. But just as the three are starting to feel at ease in their new identities, a body turns up in the lake…

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Like I said before, Stillhouse Lake is hands down one of the best thrillers I’ve read so far this year. This story is dark, disturbing and intense right from the very first page and will have you hooked until you reach the end. I love my serial killer thrillers and this focus on the relatives and the consequences of being linked to a serial killer is such an original perspective! I loved every single moment of this disturbing ride and I can highly recommend it to fans of the genre. SO good!


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ARC REVIEW: What To Say Next – by Julie Buxbaum @juliebux @DelacortePress

Title: What To Say Next
Author: Julie Buxbaum

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: July 11th 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Finished reading: June 27th 2017
Pages: 272

“There’s a famous expression that if you’ve met one person with autism, then… you’ve met one person with autism.
So you met me.
Just me.
Not a diagnosis.”

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

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Forget the fact that the whole contemporary romance genre and me normally don’t get along. Forget the fact that normally I’m almost allergic to anything that can be possibly considered as cheesy. Forget the fact that I’m never a big fan of high school cliches in the first place. Because Julie Buxbaum has done it again and has proven to me I can actually absolutely love a slightly cheesy contemporary romance novel! I already had high hopes after falling in love with Tell Me Three Things last year and What To Say Next has only enhanced that love for her books. I do love it whenever an author is able to make me enjoy a genre that normally isn’t a right fit… What To Say Next is possibly even better than her previous story. Why? A very easy answer: because this story has David. Basically David won over my heart right from the very first chapter and he is without doubt one of my new all time favorite characters. He is just so unique, adorable and his character is extremely well developed! There aren’t all that many books out there with an autistic main character and Julie Buxbaum did a brilliant job portraying him realistically. Then again, the main characters were well developed in general and I really liked Kit’s character as well. The writing style is very enjoyable to read and the story is told in alternating chapters switching between David and Kit’s POV. Both storylines are interesting for completely different reasons, because this story isn’t just about David and his uniqueness. It’s also about Kit and how the sudden death of her father affects her, something that was again portrayed very realistically. I honestly couldn’t find anything negative to say about What To Say Next even though it has a few cheesy moments and high school cliches… Let’s just say that having a character like David makes you feel very forgiving.

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David Drucker and Kit Lowell don’t really know each other that well. Kit is relatively popular and has her own group of friends, while David is basically socially isolated and a loner. Then one day Kit decides to sit with David at lunch, unable to keep faking her feelings with her friends… Her dad has recently died in a car accident and she just can’t handle the reactions anymore. David seemed like a safe bet since he normally doesn’t really talk to others, but somehow the two connect anyway. But will this unlikely friendship last?

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Even though this normally isn’t my genre, I ended up absolutely loving What To Say Next. This story has once again proven to me Julie Buxbaum is an exception to my rule and I will be looking forward to her future books. Her writing style is very enjoyable to read and she is a master in creating the most wonderful characters. David is basically what makes this story into something special and he will stay with me for a long time, although it was really easy to connect to the characters and story in general. In short I can highly recommend What To Say Next!


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BOOK REVIEW: Love, & You – by Gretchen Gomez

Title: Love, & You
Author: Gretchen Gomez

Genre: Poetry, Non Fiction, Romance
First published: April 4th 2017
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Finished reading: June 4th 2017
Pages: 142

“addiction
comes
in
different
forms

i was the addict.
he was the drug.

and every time i tried
to go into detox, he kept
coming back to me
with pretty hello’s.”


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I normally don’t tend to review the poetry I read, but I just HAD to make an exception for Love, & You, a poetry bundle written by fellow book blogger Gretchen Gomez (chicnerdreads). I’m sure most have already heard about her blog and wonderful poetry posts, but make sure to visit her if you haven’t! ❤

I remember adding Love, & You to my wishlist as soon as I first heard about it and my interest increased steadily as I read glowing after glowing review. But I have to give credit when it’s due and say it was actually Amanda’s wonderful review that sealed the deal for me, confirming just how much I would be able to relate to the poems. And she was 100% right. It’s been days since I devoured Love, & You in record time, and I still haven’t recovered from the emotion overload. Because to say it crudely: damn, that girl can write powerful poetry! Wonderful, emotional, raw, beautiful, powerful, strong, exceptional… Trust me, I can keep the adjectives going for a long time if you let me. This poetry bundle is all about her experience with a toxic relationship and her slow recovery from it. The poems are highly personal and it really feels you get to know her a lot better through her poems. I truly admire her courage first talking about such a personal topic and then going ahead and publishing the poems afterwards!

It’s not widely known, but I was unfortunate enough to have a quite similar experience with a toxic relationship in the past. The details don’t really matter right now, but it did mean that the poems in Love, & You made an even bigger impact on me than they would to others who haven’t had such an experience. Trust me, she doesn’t exaggerate the effects of such a relationship and its looong and difficult road to recovery. Writing (both poems and other forms) can be a very important form of self-therapy and I loved learning more about her journey through her writing. I wrote some poems myself after my experience that helped me learn about the past and accept what happened, but those just seemed like silly scribblings compared to those shared in Love, & You. I loved both the writing style, form and the way the different emotions are voiced. It’s not often that I’m left speechless, but I found myself lost for words after finishing this bundle. Thank you for describing my own feelings and memories so much better than I could ever done!

It’s easy to say I can highly recommend Love, & You.


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BOOK REVIEW: Room – by Emma Donoghue

Title: Room
Author: Emma Donoghue

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: September 13th 2010
Publisher: Picador
Finished reading: May 9th 2017
Pages: 321

“Just because you’ve never met them doesn’t mean they’re not real. There’s more things on earth than you ever dreamed about.”

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I know for a fact it’s not true, but I feel like I’m about the last person on earth to read this book. I have been hearing so many great things about it over the years, and I still don’t know why I haven’t picked it up before… I’m definitely kicking myself for not doing so now though, because Room is without doubt one of the most powerful, heartbreaking and thought-provoking stories I’ve read this year. The first thing that stands out is the fact that it’s told from the POV of a 5-year-old boy, which makes the story that much more powerful and unique. Jack’s voice made a huge impact on me and it’s a story that will stay with me for a long time. It actually made me think of The Boy With The Striped Pajamas (another of my all time favorites), which uses a similar technique to narrate a rather shocking story and is just as powerful. Another thing that stood out for me in Room is the excellent execution of Jack’s reactions, emotions and feelings in general to Room and the Outside. In fact, the writing style in general is wonderful; I literally flew through the pages and finished it in less than a day. The character development is also excellent and it’s very intriguing to see how everything that happens to both Jack and his mother affects them. If you haven’t read this little masterpiece yet, I suggest you do! If you like the genre, you won’t be disappointed.

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Jack has been living with his Ma in Room for as long as he can remember, and he is excited about his fifth birthday. Room has a locked door and a skylight, and measures exactly eleven feet by eleven feet. It’s also the whole world for Jack; the rest of it being Outside and nothing what he sees on the TV is truly real. In fact, only him, Ma and the things in Room are… Until the day Ma admits that there is actually a world outside.

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I still can’t believe it took me years to finally pick up my copy of Room, but it is without doubt one of my new all time favorites. The story itself is already both dark, shocking and powerful, but what makes Room even more special is that it’s told from the POV of a 5-year-old boy. Jack is a truly fascinating and unique character and having the opportunity to follow both him and Ma is a true blessing. This story will definitely stay with me for a long time! As you might have guessed, I can highly recommend this story.


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ARC REVIEW: Flame In The Mist – by Renee Ahdieh

Title: Flame In The Mist
(Flame In The Mist #1)
Author: Renee Ahdieh

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Retelling
First published: May 16th 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Finished reading: May 1st 2017
Pages: 368

“Sometimes we must fall forward to keep moving. Remain motionless—remain unyielding—and you are as good as dead.
Death follows indecision, like a twisted shadow. Fall forward. Keep moving. Even if you must pick yourself up first.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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As soon as I saw the cover and the mention of Mulan, I was sold. Flame In The Mist has been on my list of most anticipated 2017 releases ever since, and I still cannot believe my Netgalley request was actually approved. I read a teaser back in January in one of the Buzz Books editions, and what I saw was GOOD. So good that my expectations were extraordinary high when starting this new series by Renee Ahdieh, but somehow Flame In The Mist managed to be ever better than expected. I practically devoured its pages and loved every single minute of it. The setting, the writing style, the characters (Mariko, Okami!!!), the plot… It doesn’t happen often that I hand out the full five star rating, but I just couldn’t give this story any lower. Both the worldbuilding and the writing style feel rich, engaging and very well developed and executed. I also enjoyed that Flame In The Mist is set in Japan and talks about a culture I’m personally not all that familiar with. The characters started to grow on me almost instantly and I LOVED Mariko as a main character. A little note though: even though this story basically blew me away, I did feel my love would have been even greater without the romance… It’s not all that distracting, but there is a hint of a future love triangle I’m not that sure/happy about. It was too insignificant to influence my rating though. I just cannot wait to find out what the future has in store; the wait for the sequel is surely going to be a long one! If you like the genre, this is definitely a must-read.

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Even though Mariko has a long list of skills, she has long known her future has been out of her hands simply because she was born a girl. She is the daughter of a prominent samurai and at the age of seventeen now promised to the son of the emperor’s favorite consort. Mariko has no choice but to do as her father wishes and accept this political marriage, but it seems like fate has different plans for her in store. In route to the imperial city of Inako, the group is ambushed by a gang of bandits known as the Black Clan and Mariko narrowly escapes with her life… She is believed to be dead, and Mariko decides to use this to try and find the Black Clan. Will she be able to discover who was behind the attack and will she be able to restore the honor of her family?

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If you like well developed fantasy reads with gorgeous prose, setting and interesting characters, you are in for a treat with Flame In The Mist. The only thing that would have made me enjoy this story even more would have been the exclusion of the romance scenes; otherwise this first book of a new series is simply perfect. In fact, I can’t wait to read the sequel and the first book hasn’t even been published yet… More than recommended!


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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: Castle Of Water – by Dane Huckelbridge @Huckelbridge @StMartinsPress

Title: Castle Of Water
Author: Dane Huckelbridge

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: April 4th 2017
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press 
Finished reading: April 16th 2017
Pages: 288

“With his box-cutter knife in one hand and waterproof flashlight in the other, Barry felt, for the first time in his life, like a man. A terrified man on the verge of  wetting his loincloth, but a man nevertheless.”

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

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Sometimes (cover)love at first sight can lead to something extraordinary. When I first saw Dane Huckelbridge‘s debut novel Castle Of Water mentioned, I couldn’t stop staring at the cover. The color combination, the abstract sunset over the sea… Just gorgeous. Of course I had no other choice but to request a copy, especially since the story itself sounded really intriguing as well. And Castle Of Water is without doubt a little masterpiece. It’s a story about how two unlikely characters end up as castaways on a deserted island together and how they manage to survive… A modern ‘Robinson Crusoe‘ twist that captured my attention from the very first page. The characters are spot on and their development is brilliantly done. It’s really interesting to see how both Barry and Sophie react to the things that happen to them on the island and I love LOVE their bantering! I like that they represent different nationalities as well as personalities and it without doubt adds an original touch to an already excellent story and plot. The writing style really stands out as well; well written, enjoyable to read and even funny at points. I also loved the incorporation of many French elements/words, which were easy to understand and didn’t slow down the pace even though my French is pretty basic. I honestly couldn’t find something I didn’t like about this novel… So as you might have already guessed, I can more than recommend Castle Of Water if you enjoy the genre. You won’t be disappointed!

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Sophie Ducel and Barry Bleecker decided to travel to French Polynesia for very different reasons… Sophie wanted to visit the island home of her favorite singer, Jacques Brel, during her honeymoon with her new husband. Barry Bleecker decided to give up his job in Manhattan finance and chase his painting dreams instead; seeking creative inspiration in the place where his idol, Paul Gauguin, found it as well. The two didn’t know each other until they bordered the small plane sharing the same destination. And then their plane is downed in the middle of the Sout Pacific, and Sophie and Barry are the sole survivors. They find themselves stranded on a tiny island hundreds of miles from civilization… And they will have to learn to work together if they want to have any chance of survival and ever finding a way back home. Which might be more difficult than it sounds, because the two strangers couldn’t have been more different.

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While it was the beautiful cover that made me first want to pick up this novel, it was the story and writing style itself that managed to blow me away in the end. Castle Of Water is basically a modern castaway story with a twist, and I loved every single moment of it. The prose is just wonderful and combined with the well developed and loveable characters you are definitely in for a treat. An emotional rollercoaster, in the best possible way!


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