ARC REVIEW: Hollo – by Devon Michael

Title: Hollo
(The Magic Of Thedes #1)
Author: Devon Michael
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: January 1st 2016
Publisher: Snowfair Books
Finished reading: February 10th 2018
Pages: 204

“There is never enough time to live, no matter how many years you have in the world.”

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

myrambles1reviewqqq

This little magical story first appeared on my radar after a review and I was instantly charmed by the premise. It took me a lot longer than expected to finally get to it, but I’m glad I finally did so. Hollo and her world have completely won over my heart! Both the writing style and detailed descriptions of the magic of Thedes stand out right from the beginning. They are able to give the story a magical and whimsical feel and help you feel yourself right at home. I especially liked the descriptions of the magic itself and how it varies depending on the person and what element they use. Element, do you say? Yes, you’ll have your share of wooden, bronze and clockwork characters and a ‘wizard’ or two as well, although they are called differently in Hollo’s world. These characters all have their own story and help flesh out the world while also adding more dept to the plot. I really liked the relationship and dialogue between Hollo and her father! Both the development of Hollo in general and the plot itself are interesting and will definitely keep you interested until the very end. The story is a good balance of characters and actions and the magical battles are well described. Some parts of the story were simply adorable! Definitely recommended for the younger YA fantasy fans… Another bonus: there is no romance involved, since Hollo is only twelve!

shortsummary1reviewqqq

Hollo has always been different, but she doesn’t realize just how different from the rest of the world she really is… And now she’s twelve, she is about to find out. As a birthday gift, her father takes her outside for the very first time in her life, exploring the city like she has always wanted. But what she doesn’t realize is that the magic that comes so natural to her will actually endanger her outside. And soon she will see magic for what it really is.

finalthoughtsreviewqqq

If you are looking for an endearing, whimsical and magical read, Hollo is a great choice. From the writing style to the worldbuilding, characters and descriptions; you will be enchanted by Hollo and her magical world of Thedes and enjoy her journey. Hollo is perfectly suited for the younger YA fantasy fans despite the magical battles and some details, and it has another bonus in the form of a romance-free story! I can definitely recommend this one.


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. InstagramFacebookBloglovin’.

Advertisements

BOOK REVIEW: Lilac Girls – by Martha Hall Kelly #buddyread

Title: Lilac Girls
Author: Martha Hall Kelly
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: April 5th 2016
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Finished reading: February 11th 2018
Pages: 487

“There was no storm gathering in the east that day, no portent of things to come. The only ominous sign from the direction of Europe was the scent of slack water wafting off the East River.”

myrambles1reviewqqq

I know I have been saying for months I was going to pick up Lilac Girls, but even my TBR jar couldn’t help me doing so. That’s why I was stoked when Nicki @ Secret Library asked if I wanted to buddy read it: the perfect excuse to finally stop procrastinating and get the job done! I can definitely see why so many people seem to love this novel, and I’m glad I finally did pick it up. It did leave me with a huge book hangover though! Because there is one thing for sure, Lilac Girls doesn’t try to soften the emotional blows and sweeten the horrific facts of the holocaust. O no, you will get a full share of dreadfulness and shocking details of the happenings in the concentration camp Ravensbruck. Trigger warnings are in place for those with a weak stomach! Because especially the WWII camp scenes are both intense and gruesome.

Lilac Girls is divided into three different storylines and POVs, each contributing to the story in a different way. I had my doubts about how the different storylines would work together at first, but now I’ve finished it I can see the role of each one more clearly. I do have to say it took a long time for Caroline’s POV to fit into the story. Both the lack of this connection, the fact it took a long time warming up to her character and the romance made me enjoy her POV considerably less, although I do admit they were a perfect pitstop in between the intense Ravensbruck chapters. And Caroline’s chapters set after the war improved considerably. That’s why her POV ended up coming second place for me. My favorite POV by far was Kasia’s, not only because her storyline itself is fascinating, but her development and story as well. Emotional, heartbreaking, intense… Some chapters are not easy to read, but her POV is by far the strongest of the bunch. I really didn’t like Herta though, although I guess that is kind of natural with her being a camp doctor and doing the things she does? Still, I felt she was less developed than the other two and didn’t add as much to the story either. I guess she did serve as a perfect ‘tool’ to demonstrate the horrors of the holocaust and the ‘other’ side.

What that stood out for me is the fact that this story is actually based on true events and both Caroline and Herta did exist. (Kasia and her sister are close matches). This fact makes the story that much more fascinating and the impact of the horrific details that much stronger. The writing is very well done as well as the plot itself. And what I also loved is that Lilac Girls doesn’t just show us the events during WWII, like most novels with a similar theme do, but also show the aftermath and consequences for the persons involved. These final chapters (the latest set in 1957-1958) add a whole new level to the story and made this story that much more unique.

All in all, despite the fact that I initially didn’t like Caroline all that much and wasn’t sure of the romance in her POV, and despite the fact I couldn’t stand Herta as a character, I do think this is a fascinating historical fiction read. If you are a fan of the genre and can stomach the horrific facts of the holocaust, Lilac Girls is definitely for you.

shortsummary1reviewqqq

Caroline Ferriday works at the French consulate in New York, and has her hands full with her post. Then her world is changed forever when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939… And France might be next. Caroline has to work harder than ever to try and help all those people at the consulate. And some of the cases are rather too close to heart.

In Lublin, Kasia is a Polish teenager that decides to help the underground resistance movement after Hitler invaded Poland. Somehow the unthinkable happens and she is sent to Ravensbruck, the Nazi concentration camp for women. Will she be able to survive?

Young German doctor Herta wants to have a chance to show her talent and be seen as an equal to other male doctors, but this isn’t easy in Nazi Germany. When she sees an ad for a government medical position, she thinks it’s the chance to finally prove herself… But she ends up being trapped in a male-dominated Nazi concentration camp instead. She is still determined to reach her goal though…

finalthoughtsreviewqqq

Lilac Girls is without doubt a story you will have to be in the mood for, because it is not an easy read. This historical fiction read will leave you emotionally drained and shock as you try to assimilate the many horrific facts and happenings in the Ravensbruck camp… No doubt excellent research and well written, but not for the weak hearted. Thankfully the Caroline chapters are there to bring some relief of the horrors… And the final part set after the war will help you breathe again as well. No doubt a great read, even if it did leave me with a book hangover!


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. InstagramFacebookBloglovin’.

ARC REVIEW: Black Heart – by Anna-Lou Weatherley @bookouture

Title: Black Heart
(Detective Dan Riley #1)
Author: Anna-Lou Weatherley
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: January 31st 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: February 6th 2018
Pages: 307

“They say you dig two graves when you seek revenge and for the most part of my life I have agreed with this statement.”

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

myrambles1reviewqqq

I couldn’t resist requesting a copy of Black Heart after certain bloggers (hint hint) kept going on about how great this detective thriller was… And I definitely agree for the most part. It’s refreshing to follow a male detective again for a change, even though he has the ‘usual’ complicated past baggage with him… And I do have a weak spot for a serial killer thriller. The writing draws you right in and it was without doubt a lightning-speed fast thriller ride… Just the way I like them. The plot was a bit predictable though and it was quite clear early on who the killer really was. There just weren’t all that many plot twists and surprises? There is more focus on the development of the serial killer and her background as well as some fleshing out of our new star detective… The ending didn’t came as such a big surprise either, although if you somehow manage to not see the clues you will be in for a good twist. Black Heart was without doubt a very entertaining read and has a healthy dose of creepy and disturbing serial killer. The writing is great and I’ll be looking forward to find out what will happen next… Detective Dan Riley’s personal life surely raised some questions. And while Black Heart wasn’t that intense and didn’t have the expected plot twists and suspense of a typical serial killer, it shows that the characters were the main focus of this story and fans of more character-driven thrillers will have a blast reading this one.

shortsummary1reviewqqq

When the body of a wealthy banker is found in an expensive London hotel room, it appears to be a suicide. His wrists are slashed and there is a note, but detective Dan Riley suspects there is more to the case than just a ‘simple’ suicide. His instincts are right as the pathology report confirms the victim was first poisoned… And the crime scene evidence didn’t add up either. Dan Riley and his team has to deal with a murder case that is getting more complex as they find new clues… And things will escalate when the body of a woman is found in a similar way.

finalthoughtsreviewqqq

Black Heart is fast-paced and reads like a train. The plot and case are interesting, although I do feel it lacked the tension and suspense serial killer thrillers tend to have. It shows the focus was more on the characters rather than on the plot twists and the creating of false clues and a highly suspenseful read… But there is no doubt Anna-Lou Weatherley was able to great a creepy and intriguing serial killer in this first detective thriller of a new series. I will be looking forward to see more of Detective Dan Riley in the future!


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. InstagramFacebookBloglovin’.

ARC REVIEW: The Lot Of A Nobody – by Dave Johnston

Title: The Lot Of A Nobody
Author: Dave Johnston
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Humor
First published: March 22nd 2017 
Finished reading: February 5th 2018
Pages: 256

“Lot often thought he’d make a great Where’s Wally, cos even in red stripes he was difficult to spot.”

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

myrambles1reviewqqq

I admit I’ve had this title on my list way longer than originally planned, and I’m kind of kicking myself now for not reading this sooner. The Lot Of A Nobody first appeared on my radar after a glowing review, so I was happy to give it a go myself. The other day I needed something fun to brighten up my day, and this was EXACTLY the read I needed in my life. I already knew I was probably going to like it after seeing a couple of positive reviews from bloggers with a similar taste in books, and I’m definitely a new member of the Lot Nobody fanclub. I was able to take to the main character straight away and the writing style is just spot on. Engaging, quirky, direct, funny, a little blunt… The right kind of tone for a story I didn’t even know I was looking for when I started reading The Lot Of A Nobody. Between the writing and main character this story had me enchanted straight away… Although the plot played a role as well. This story is a perfect balance of contemporary and fantasy elements and maybe even a big of magical realism, although only in the best possible way. What seems to be another typical high school story with a quirky outsider as a main character soon takes an interesting turn that makes the story very much original. And it’s definitely my kind of humor that is used in The Lot Of Nobody! Very funny indeed… Also, I just loved the Nobody quotes at the beginning of each chapter. Such an original touch! This story is without doubt a winner.

shortsummary1reviewqqq

Lot Nobody is average in every possible way, and so lonely that it seems like he has become invisible. He is almost like a ghost floating through his high school experience, but that changes after his sixteenth birthday. Not only is he able to make a friend, but he also suddenly starts disappearing for real. And not in his dreams either, but somehow he finds himself sent to a magical island and back to reality again repeatedly. The catch of these unexplained adventures? He always seems to arrive at his destination fully naked, making for some very embarrassing situations… And that is not the only thing that has been going on.

finalthoughtsreviewqqq

If you are looking for a fun, quirky and well written mix of contemporary and magical elements, you will be in for a treat with The Lot Of A Nobody. The main character is very easy to like and it has been fun seeing his character develop over time. The story starts out as a contemporary, but the appearance of the magical island adds a little something extra to the story and I just loved the descriptions of the life there. The plot itself is quite interesting as well, and leaves room for quite a lot of funny moments. Recommended!


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. InstagramFacebookBloglovin’.

YVO’S SHORTIES #17: Under Rose-Tainted Skies & Station Eleven


Another day and another round of Yvo’s Shorties… This time around two Beat The Backlist titles I managed to read last month. The first, Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall, I mostly picked up on a whim because I was in the mood for a YA contemporary read. I didn’t remember it had a mental health angle, which was a nice surprise, but I did feel the story was way too similar to Everything, Everything. The second title, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, is one of those books I have been wanting to read for ages, but always felt slightly intimidated by. I’m glad I finally did pick it up, because the writing was wonderful!


Title: Under Rose-Tainted Skies
Author: Louise Gornall

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: July 7th 2016
Publisher: Clarion Books
Finished reading: January 29th 2018
Pages: 330

“We can assume the best, but we can’t choose how people perceive us. We can, however, chooce how those views affect us.”


myrambles1reviewqqq

I kind of picked up this title on a whim while I was browsing my kindle looking for a YA contemporary since I was in the mood for the genre. I didn’t look up the summary before I started reading, so it was a pleasant surprise when I discovered Under Rose-Tainted Skies has a very prominent mental health angle. I can always appreciate when a story focuses on this illness and helps spread the word… In this case, the main character suffers from agoraphobia and OCD, and her situation plays a very big role in the story. The main focus of Under Rose-Tainted Skies is on Norah, how she is trying to live with her illness and how it affects those close to her. I think the author did a good job portraying this element as well as addressing a few misunderstanding and cliche reactions along the way. The writing and pace made this story easy and fast to read and overall it is an engaging and entertaining read. BUT. I did feel it just all felt too similar to Everything, Everything. The girl ‘trapped’ inside her house due to her illness, the single mom, the cute neighbor… Even the unnatural ‘fast’ development of the relationship felt kind of the same. Also, I wasn’t too sure about the ending or credibility of certain parts of the plot. In short, I ended up having mixed thoughts about Under Rose-Tainted Skies, but I do think contemporary romance fans will enjoy this one better than I did.


Title: Station Eleven
Author: Emily St. John Mandel

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: September 9th 2014
Publisher: Knopf
Finished reading: January 31st 2018
Pages: 336

“First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.”

myrambles1reviewqqq

Station Eleven is one of those books that has been on my shelf for years and somehow I just kept posponing it. One of the reasons is probably that this story by Emily St. John Mandel is such a popular one and I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to the hype… Even 3+ years after the publish date. You can also say I was a bit intimidated by it. I’m glad I did finally pick it up though, because I ended up enjoying it considerably. I went in with no idea what to expect whatsoever and the whole dystopian setting came as a huge (but pleasant) surprise. I don’t think I was expecting the story Station Eleven ended up delivering, but that doesn’t mean I enjoyed it less because of it. I always love my surprises! The first thing that stood out for me was the writing style, which had me under its spell immediately. Station Eleven starts out as a contemporary and then suddenly throws the bomb (or should I say, Georga Flu) on you and turns dystopian. This ‘after’ is in fact the most dominant storyline and I really liked reading about the different characters and how their stories connect or overlap. There will be a few plot twists in story for you as well! I do have to say that, while I really enjoyed this story, I do think the plot felt a bit disjointed with all those flashbacks and different storylines. Especially in the beginning it was hard to put each storyline and character in its correct place and this might slow down the pace a little. This is only minor compared to how I felt about Station Eleven overall though, and I can recommend it to anyone who appreciates a good dystopian story with a perfect character/plot/background/action balance.


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. InstagramFacebookBloglovin’.

ARC REVIEW: The Camera Lies – by AB Morgan @Bloodhoundbook

Title: The Camera Lies
Author: AB Morgan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: February 3rd 2018
Publisher: Bloodhound Books
Finished reading: January 26th 2018
Pages: 301

“Whoever said ‘the camera never lies’  was wrong.”

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

myrambles1reviewqqq

!! Happy publication day !!

I was immediately drawn to this psychological thriller and not just because of the cover. The whole TV angle sounded fascinated and made me want to add it to my wishlist straight away… And I have been looking forward to The Camera Lies ever since. There is no doubt that this thriller delivers. The fact that the main character is a TV presenter making documentaries investigating miscarriages of justice is refreshing and definitely makes The Camera Lies stand out from your typical psychological thrillers. This story goes full speed and never slows down… There is a lot of action involved in the plot and it will have some surprises in store for you. BUT. And here comes the reason I had to take away a star from what is otherwise a booming thriller: I was able to see a huge plot twist/revelation coming REALLY early on… And this kind of put a damper on the whole reading experience. I kept hoping I was wrong, and it might just be I read too many psychological thrillers in the first place, but I like being surprised and I was disappointed when I realized that my suspicions were right. Still, there were other elements that did manage to surprise me and the whole case is without doubt both intriguing, twisted and disturbing. Trigger warnings for adult content and graphic scenes! All in all I can definitely recommend The Camera Lies to those who like their psychological thrillers fast, action-packed and twisted.

shortsummary1reviewqqq

Konrad Neale is a TV presenter who is trying to have his comeback a series of documentaries that investigate miscarriages of justice. He and his team are currently working on the case of Matthew Hawley, a man who has been convicted of the brutal murder of his wife Helena. He remembers nothing of that evening and keeps insisting he would never have killed her willingly… Is he lying or is something more complicated at hand? And what about the threatening texts Konrad receives as they are investigating the case?

finalthoughtsreviewqqq

There is no doubt that both the TV documentary angle and the murder case itself make The Camera Lies a very refreshing, intense and action-packed read. Even though I did see a mayor plot twist coming, there were other things I never would have guessed. There are some disturbing things going on for sure! The story reads superfast and you will be wondering what will happen next and how things will end until the very last page. Entertaining and thrilling for sure!


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. InstagramFacebookBloglovin’.

YVO’S SHORTIES #14: Hide And Seek (ARC) & The New Hunger


Oh yes, it’s time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! And I’m happy to say that with today’s edition I will be finishing my last pending 2017 review; Hide And Seek by M.J. Arlidge is the (un)lucky book to win that title. No more backlog, woohoo!! It was an interesting enough thriller that can be read as a stand-alone as well. The New Hunger by Isaac Marion I finished earlier this month, a zombie novella that will hopefully make me get a copy of book number two some time this year (although I saw there is going to be a third book, so I might wait until there is more news about that one).


Title: Hide And Seek
(Helen Grace #6)
Author: M.J. Arlidge

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 8th 2016
Publisher: Berkley Books
Finished reading: October 14th 2017
Pages: 416

“In prison it is the hope that kills you, not despair.”

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


myrambles1reviewqqq

I kind of messed up when I requested a copy of this one, because I totally didn’t realise Hide And Seek was actually book number six of a series. Oops? Thankfully (at least for me), Hide And Seek can also be read as a stand-alone without missing too much of the background information. What I liked in this thriller is the fact that the main character is actually a cop trapped inside a prison… Call that original! Helen Grace is framed for a murder she didn’t commit and now has to survive in a prison full of enemies; more than one inside thanks to her and they are not happy. This setting and plot makes for some very interesting reading and the writing only makes it easier to emerge yourself fully in the problems Helen Grace has to face while trying to survive. And it’s not just the daily life that is challenging, because on top of that there is a killer on the loose on the inside. Hide And Seek definitely ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to a thrilling read.


Title: The New Hunger
(Warm Bodies #1.5)
Author: Isaac Marion

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Horror
First published: January 28th 2013
Publisher: Atria
Finished reading: January 17th 2018 
Pages: 170

“Nothing is permanent. Not even the end of the world.”


myrambles1reviewqqq

I read the first book Warm Bodies ages ago (read: 2015) and wasn’t aware a sequel came out last year until recently… So I thought it was about time I picked up the novella while I wait until there is more news on book three so I can read both sequels together. The New Hunger is a prequel novella and I think I actually enjoyed it better than the first book. It might have been because of the lack of romance in this one, but The New Hunger turned out to be quite an interesting read despite the fact I’m not really into zombie stories. The writing and pace make it into a superfast read and I enjoyed reading about the background of the Warm Bodies characters and how it is to survive in this dystopian world in the first place. Get ready for a bunch of zombie attacks, dystopian scenes and characters in survival-mode when you pick up this one! Short, but sweet with a healthy dose of fresh brains.


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. InstagramFacebookBloglovin’.