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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ARC REVIEW: Girl In Snow – by Danya Kukafka

Title: Girl In Snow
Author: Danya Kukafka

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 1st 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Finished reading: August 16th 2017
Pages: 368

“Emotions shouldn’t have names. I don’t know why we bother talking about them, because emotions are never what they’re supposed to be.”

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

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I was actually invited to read this title a while back, and I was intrigued by both the cover and blurb. I was really looking forward to Girl In Snow, but unfortunately I can’t say I enjoyed it as much as I initially thought I would. This was actually the second time I picked up my copy, because somehow the first time I never made it past the first few pages. Because there is just something about the writing style that makes it quite hard to connect to it if you aren’t in the right mood, making it hard to stay focused on the story itself. I do have to say things went a lot better the second time around and after getting used to the writing style Girl In Snow turned out to be quite a fast read. That said, I can’t deny there was something about the way the story was written that didn’t manage to convince me completely. Because I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who felt slightly confused by the what, who and how in the beginning. Things did get better when more information is given, although I do wish Girl In Snow would have been more focused on the actual plot and less on the different characters. Unfortunately I was never able to connect to the three main characters or their POVs used to tell the story and the victim Lucinda for me lacks developments to properly care about her. That said, I did appreciate the descriptions of Jade and Cameron and their issues; they seem quite realistic. I wasn’t sure about the credibility in general though or the way everything was connected… But Girl In Snow is a fast read and has quite a few twists you probably won’t see coming. The memory loss of Cameron was an interesting touch as well.

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The teenage Lucinda Hayes is found murdered one winter morning in 2005 and it seems the whole town is affected by her death. Cameron, Jade and Russ are each somehow connected to her life or the aftermath of Lucinda’s death and will have to confront their secrets to find out the truth about what happened to Lucinda… Because things are not what they seem and if they don’t try to face their problems, the truth may never come out.

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I really wanted to enjoy this story, but unfortunately I did stumble upon a few problems that made it harder for me to actually enjoy the reading experience. I’m not saying the writing is bad at all, but I do think it is something that either works for you or it doesn’t. Once I got used to it, Girl In Snow did turn out to be quite a fast read and there were some aspects and themes I really liked. Cameron is quite an interesting character both because of his memory loss and mental health issues. I can’t say I actually liked the characters and I wasn’t sure if some aspects of the plot and connections were completely credible, but the right person will probably love this story.


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ARC REVIEW: Dead To Me – by Stephen Edger @bookouture

Title: Dead To Me
(Detective Kate Matthews #1)
Author: Stephen Edger

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: August 17th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: August 10th 2017
Pages: 352

“A rush of adrenaline swept over her. Nothing ever quite compared to the buzz of a new crime scene, an untouched puzzle fresh out of the box.”

*** 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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!! Happy publication day !!

I think just about everybody already knows by now just how hard I find it to resist a Bookouture thriller… Dead To Me by Stephen Edger was no exception to that rule. This book had me at the cover and the mention of a serial killer and I was initially very excited about this title. But then mixed reviews started popping up, and my excitement turned into worry. What if I didn’t like the story either? I posponed picking it up for longer than I would have liked, but finally did read it last week. And I was pleasantly surprised by what I initially found when I started Dead To Me. There is no doubt that Stephen Edger‘s writing style is very engaging and draws you right in. The plot itself is well developed and intruiging with a lot of plot twists that will keep you guessing for a long time. And that serial killer! Very twisted indeed and there were things I didn’t see coming at all. This all sounds very positive, so why the lowish rating? One word: Kate. Basically, the main character Kate ruined what could have been a great and intense thriller for me. I absolutely despised her! The way she treats her daughter, doesn’t care about her safety and even forgets she’s there at times… Not caring about police protocol, doing whatever she wants without considering the consequences, endangering others, undermining active murder investigations… And I can go on with that list if I want to. Ugh! It’s a shame one character can influence my opinion about a story that much…  But I personally found it really hard to keep tolerating Kate AND enjoying Dead To Me at the same time, especially since she plays such a big role in the story and the developments in the plot. As I said before, the writing is GOOD, the plot intense and twisty and this first book of a new detective series has a lot of potential. Unfortunately my dislike for the main character will stop me from continuing this series… I have seen others not being all that bothered by Kate though, so give this book a chance if the things about Kate I mentioned above don’t curl your toes.

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Detective Kate Matthews is called in to investigate the brutal murder of a woman, who was found in an abandoned bar near the Southampton docks. Kate still hasn’t recovered from her role in the death of a close colleague, and is told she must solve the case to prove she is still up for a leading role. Her team keeps hitting dead ends, until Kate discovers something that will blow not one but various cases wide open… But nobody seems to believe her findings or theory, and that leaves her with a very difficult decision.

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There is a lot to love in Dead To Me and I would probably have given it a lot higher rating if it wouldn’t have been for the main character Kate. Sadly I couldn’t ignore the fact that she is the most important character of this new series and the whole story is told around her… And it’s really hard to properly enjoy a story when you absolutely despise the main character, no matter how good the writing and plot are. The writing, plot, twists and intense feel were more than promising and I do hope there will be a ‘Kate-less’ thriller by his hand in the future.


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BOOK REVIEW: Sister – by Rosamund Lupton

Title: Sister
Author: Rosamund Lupton

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: September 2nd 2010
Publisher: Boekerij
Finished reading: August 6th 2017
Pages: 352
(Read in Dutch: ‘Zusje’)

“Usually time alters and affects everything, but when someone you love dies time cannot change that, no amount of time will ever change that, so time stops having any meaning.”


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It may sound weird since I’m originally Dutch, but I haven’t used the language actively in years (I use Spanish all day and English for reading and blogging) and I can promise you it has become preeeetty rusty. How do I know? Let’s just say that when I visited Holland last year nobody believed I was actually Dutch when I tried to speak haha. I made a promise to myself when I came back from my trip to start reading at least one or two Dutch books a year to refresh my memories… And last month I finally decided to keep that promise and pick up my copy of the Dutch version of Sister by Rosamund Lupton. I was kind of hoping that picking up a story belonging to one of my favorite genres would make it easier to enjoy reading it, but unfortunately this didn’t end up being the case. It took me a whole month to actually finish this story, which was way longer than I had planned. Part of the problem was probably the language barrier (reading in Dutch just doesn’t feel ‘natural’ tp me anymore), but I don’t think that was the only reason why I didn’t enjoy reading Sister. The first thing that stands out is the superslow pace, which made it so much harder to keep going. I wasn’t really a fan of the writing style either, although it’s always tricky to talk about this element with a translation. Still, I wasn’t charmed by the tone or the way the sentences flowed and this made it considerably harder to stay focused on the story. And the characters… Boy, did I have a hard time with them! I wasn’t able to warm up to them at all and was mostly frustrated by Beatrice. The way the story is told is quite original though and I can’t deny the ending came as a surprise. The final part of Sister definitely made me rate this story higher than I would have thought initially, but I don’t think it actually makes up for the slow pace, writing style or characters. Most people seem to have enjoyed this story though, so it makes me wonder whether I should get an English copy some time in the future (when I don’t remember the plot twists or how it ends) and give this story another go.

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Beatrice has been living in New York for quite some time now, but when she receives a phone call that her younger sister Tess is missing she takes the first plane back to London. Nobody seems to know where her sister could have gone, and as Beatrice learns more about her disappearance she is starting to realize just how little she knows about Tess’ life. Everybody seems to accept they have lost her, but Beatrice doesn’t want to let go until she finds out the full truth. But will Beatrice be able to convince the rest?

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Part of the problem I had with this book has probably been caused by reading it in Dutch, but I don’t think the language barrier was solely to blame for my negative reading experience with Sister. Between the superslow pace, writing style I couldn’t connect to and characters I never warmed up to, it was quite hard to actually enjoy reading this story. It was a very slow ride and it took me a whole month to reach the final page. The last part did improve considerably and the final twist was a huge surprise that will make you reconsider everything you read before. I don’t think that made up for the rest of the story though.


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BOOK REVIEW: Beautiful Broken Things – by Sara Barnard

Title: Beautiful Broken Things
Author: Sara Barnard

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: February 11th 2016
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Finished reading: August 2nd 2017
Pages: 322

“Everyone says apologizing works, but it never really does. Not quickly enough anyway.”

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I’ve been meaning to pick up Beautiful Broken Things for quite some time now, so I was quite happy when my TBR jar decided for me it was time to read my copy. I always have mixed experiences with YA contemporaries, but I was drawn to this cover and blurb like a bee to honey. And to be honest, I initially really enjoyed reading it. The first thing that stands out is the writing style, which is very engaging and makes it very easy to read this story. I found myself literally flying through the pages at first. Even though the plot itself isn’t all that special and nothing I haven’t seen before in the genre, I had a great time reading it. There are quite a few high school cliches involved though which I could have done without as well as the jealousy and the whole new friend/third wheel theme. I had mixed feelings about the characters and as the story continued especially Caddy really started to bother me. Both her attitude and her idea that having bad things happen to you make you more interesting is not only frustrating but almost offensive. It’s one of the reasons I started to enjoy Beautiful Broken Things less and less and ended up having to give a lot lower rating than I initially suspected. Sure, Suzanne’s character is quite interesting and opens the way to talk about important themes as abuse and its consequences and mental health, but her reactions are also almost cliche at points and I’m not sure I’m happy with the final developments and the ending. All in all it wasn’t the reading experience I was hoping for… Beautiful Broken Things had a quite strong start because of the enjoyable writing style, but didn’t manage to convince me in the end. Part of the problem might have been me, so if you love the genre and don’t mind cliches it’s still worth giving a go.

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Caddy and Rosie have been best friends for years and even though they go to different high schools, they are inseparable. Caddy has always been the quiet one though and when she turns sixteen she wants to make some changes in her life. And then Rosie meets Suzanne, a new girl at her school and they become friends. Suzanne is everything Caddy wants to be and she is jealous of their friendship. Things are becoming a whole lot more complicated… Especially when Caddy starts to get knowing Suzanne better. What will happen to the three girls?

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Initially I thought I was really going to enjoy this story and the writing style is without doubt enjoyable at first. I can’t point out the exact moment I started to enjoy Beautiful Broken Things less, but there is no doubt that the final part of this story didn’t live up to the promising start. There were certain things that started to bother me: the cliches, some of the characters and the way they act and think, the way important (darker) themes are handled… All in all not what I expected.


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ARC REVIEW: The Lost Book Of The Grail – by Charlie Lovett

Title: The Lost Book Of The Grail
Author: Charlie Lovett

Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery
First published: February 28th 2017
Publisher: Viking
Finished reading: July 26th 2017 
Pages: 336

“The library smelled substantial; it smelled of both life and death. The air was stale and still and Arthur felt the atmosphere of the place envelop him. He was home.”

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

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I admit I have a weird obsession with any title that has the word ‘book’ in it, so one look at the cover of The Lost Book Of The Grail and I was sold. Any lover of books about books and historical mysteries will be intrigued by the blurb of this story by Charlie Lovett. Trust me, I was one of them… And I have been looking forward to read it for a while now. That’s why I was slightly disappointed to find myself having mixed feelings about The Lost Book Of The Grail instead. On one hand, there were quite a few things I did love about this book. First of all, there are many many bookish references, quotes and descriptions that will appeal to any bookworm. The smell of books, the library, the old manuscripts… I could just imagine being there in Barchester myself just by reading the detailed descriptions and I always love when that happens. I also really liked the idea behind this story and the mystery around the manuscript and the history of Barchester and its secrets is intriguing. BUT. Unfortunately, the pace is slower than a sleeping snail and I had a really hard time to stay focused and keep reading despite the fascinating history. In fact, the plot actually feels pretty chaotic with the unorganized flashbacks, guidebook quotes and random quotes from other books. I admit it does add an original touch, but it also slowed down the already slow pace even more and made the story flow considerably less and feel quite haltered. Another problem I encountered myself with were the characters. To be honest, I was never able to warm up to them and they mostly felt like cliches. The ‘old school’ Arthur and ‘modern’ Bethany have textbook clashing views on anything bookish and I didn’t feel they were inspiring. Also, I could have done without the romance…  It didn’t add anything substantial to the story and only managed to make me enjoy the final part of The Lost Book Of The Grail even less. Another thing I struggled with is that the story, for being about a lost manuscript and the hunt to unravel the mystery before it’s too late, was actually quite uneventful and lacked suspense. I was really surprised by this, because when I read the blurb I thought their quest was going to be a whole lot more exciting. Oh well, we can’t like them all, can we?

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Arthur Prescott works as an English professor in the modern buildings of the University of Barchester, but he feels more at home surrounded by the ancient books and manuscripts on the Barchester Cathedral library. He spends most of his free time there, researching his unfinished guidebook to the medieval cathedral… Although his secret obsession with the Holy Grail is never completely leaves his mind. When an American woman barges into his sanctuary with the task of digitizing the manuscripts, Arthur is appalled. But Bethany doesn’t seem to be what she appears to be and she turns out to be a fellow Grail fanatic… And soon she will join Arthur in a quest to find a missing manuscript with the story of the cathedral’s founder.

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I really wanted to like The Lost Book Of The Grail and there were certain elements I did enjoy very much. The history of Barchester and its secrets is fascinating and I’m sure many will appreciate the bookish quotes and references. The pace is incredibly slow though and the plot feels both a bit chaotic and lacks action. I also had problems connecting to the characters and felt they lacked character development or at least originality. Such a shame!


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BOOK REVIEW: Little Women – by Louisa May Alcott

Title: Little Women
(Little Women #1)
Author: Louisa May Alcott

Genre: Classics, YA, Contemporary
First published: September 30th 1868
Finished reading: June 30th 2017
Pages: 284

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”

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Looks like it’s ‘unpopular opinion’ time again! I really wanted to love this classic, but I found myself not enjoying it nearly as much as I thought I would instead. After a little investigation (and help from fellow book bloggers), I now understand that Little Women actually has two different parts, the second part written one year after the original story and also published separately under the name Good Wives. The kindle version I have does include both parts, but after long deliberation I have decided not to continue with it. Why? Even though I really wanted to enjoy this classic, I had a hard time reading it and it took me ages just to finish the first part. I’m not saying Little Women is a bad read, just that it either wasn’t the right time or simply just not for me. And since I have read quite a few negative reviews about Good Wives in the first place, I’m just not up for another struggle. I can’t deny it’s a very well written story and I can see why so many people actually love it. I might actually have enjoyed Little Women a lot better if I would have read it 15-20 years ago… But right now the story unfortunately didn’t appeal to me. I was surprised I found myself unable to truly connect to the characters and it took me weeks and finally reading one chapter at the time just to make it to the end of Part One. This is most definitely me and not this classic, but still… Not a very pleasant reading experience. So I’m sorry to all of those who call this classic their favorite! Trust me, I’ve REALLY tried to love Little Women.

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Little Women is the story of four sisters trying to continue with their lives after their father has gone to war. Jo, Meg, Bath and Amy March are young ladies growing up and their different personalities clash at times, but they all want to do their best helping their mother to keep things running smoothly at home. It’s a coming of age story filled with daily situations, friendship, struggles and life lessons.

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Like I said before, I feel actually quite bad I wasn’t able to enjoy Little Women better. I had really high hopes for this classic, but I found myself struggling to continue instead. This is definitely me and not the story, because I could see Little Women was well written as well as its appeal to many readers. I guess I just wasn’t one of them in the end. I don’t think I will ever read the second part, but I’m glad I at least now know what everybody is talking about when they mention this classic.


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