ARC REVIEW: Castle Of Water – by Dane Huckelbridge

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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ARC REVIEW: The Perfect Stranger – by Megan Miranda

brtheperfectstrangerTitle: The Perfect Stranger
Author: Megan Miranda

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: April 11th 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Finished reading: January 6th / April 4th 2017
Pages: 352

“The story doesn’t truly begin at first, not when the person disappears. It begins when they are found. Emmy had disappeared, and now I felt like I was waiting for something inevitable, a clock that I had no power to stop.”

*** 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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Ever since I finished reading All The Missing Girls last year I’ve been an instant fan of Megan Miranda‘s writing style. She was on my list of favorite 2016 discoveries and you might already guess I added her newest thriller The Perfect Stranger to my list of most anticipated 2017 releases as soon as I heard about it. Just imagine my happy-dance when I was actually approved for an ARC a few months ago… And even though I normally read my ARCs closer to the publish date, I just couldn’t resist temptation when I got my copy and decided to make an exception for this one. I read The Perfect Stranger for the first time back in January and it ended up being my very first 5 star read of 2017. Because even though my expectations were set high after her thriller debut last year, Megan Miranda managed to outdo herself with her newest story. Well written, fast-paced, lots of plot twists, suspense, interesting characters… In short an excellent psychological thriller! I decided to wait with my review and reread The Perfect Stranger closer to the publish date, and I have to say I enjoyed the story just as much the second time around. I found myself hooked right from the first page and she is without doubt one of my new favorite authors of the genre. The way the author is able to build suspense, add plot twists and slowly reveal more about the characters is simply impressive. It’s unreliable characters at its best and it took me a long time to figure out what was the truth behind it all as everyone seemed to be having something to hide. There’s no ‘backwards’ plot this time for those who didn’t enjoy that aspect of All The Missing Girls, so if you like the genre there really is no excuse to not grab a copy of The Perfect Stranger. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

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Journalist Leah Stevens finds herself in a tough corner after one of her articles causes her trouble. With a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit hanging over her head, she needs to get out of Boston and find a way to start over. Then she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, by chance and Emmy seems to have been looking for the same fresh start after ending a troubled relationship… She proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, and Leah decides she has nothing to lose. Leah is able to get a teaching position there and everything seems to be working out, until a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake… And not only that, Emmy disappears only days later. What happened to the two women?

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If you like suspenseful, well written and plot twist-filled psychological thrillers, you are in for a treat. The Perfect Stranger ticks all those boxes and more… And I’m not even talking about the gorgeous cover. I’ve read The Perfect Stranger twice now and the story still managed to keep me under its spell. Every main character seems to be having something to hide and you don’t get the full picture of what is going on until the very end. Suspense at its best!


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BOOK REVIEW: A Conjuring Of Light – by V.E. Schwab

Title: A Conjuring Of Light
(Shades Of Magic #3)
Author: V.E. Schwab

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: February 21st 2017
Publisher: Tor Books
Finished reading: March 22nd 2017
Pages: 624

“Love and loss,” he said, “are like a ship and the sea. They rise together. The more we love, the more we have to lose. But the only way to avoid loss is to avoid love. And what a sad world that would be.”

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I think I’m going to need more than a little help here to write a somewhat coherent review… It’s been over a week since I finished reading A Conjuring Of Light, and I still have a book hangover. I guess that’s a good sign right? That and the fact that I cannot start talking about this book and series without sounding like a bat crazy fangirl or possibly spoiling something for those who haven’t read this book/series yet. Or most likely both. So this is me trying to explain to you why the Shades Of Magic series is without doubt one of my all time favorite fantasy reads while being completely spoiler-free! Basically, I arrived a bit late at the party and only started reading A Darker Shade Of Magic less than a year ago. I was a goner as soon as I read the first chapter; the prose, the worldbuilding, the plot, THE CHARACTERS!! I had an instant crush on this series and an instant new favorite author as well… I read both books in quick succession and then added myself to the evergrowing group of people impatiently waiting for the third and final book to be published. And trust me, I still don’t understand why it took me almost a whole month to pick up my copy of A Conjuring Of Light. I guess I wasn’t ready yet to say goodbye to some of my all time favorite characters… But I’m SO glad I finally read this third book. Forget the 600+ pages, forget the romance, forget anything else I forgot to mention; the truth is that I savoured every single minute of A Conjuring Of Light and I’m going to miss this fictional world. How much? Let’s say I named my new kitten after Delilah Bard and leave it at that. All I can say is that if you haven’t tried this series and like the genre, you probably should! It’s so brilliant you’ll probably need sunglasses while you read.

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

The delicate balance between the different Londons seems to have been disturbed in such a way that it has reached its breaking point. Red London is starting to lose its red vibrant feel of magic and darkness casts a shadow of the Maresh Empire… Who is trying to take control over the city and empire? And will our favorite characters be able to stop the change before its too late? Their whole world might be on the line…

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I guess my review has turned into a fangirl ramble in the end after all… Oops?! Although I guess it’s really had to talk about the plot and what happens to the characters without giving too much away to those who haven’t read it yet. Let’s just say that while I loved the second book a tiny bit less than the first book, A Conjuring Of Light came back strong again. It’s a bit long, especially if you compare it to the first book, but I personally didn’t mind because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the characters yet anyway. The ending was also satisfying and I really hope this won’t be the last we’ve heard of this fictional world.


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ARC REVIEW: Goodbye Days – by Jeff Zentner

Title: Goodbye Days
Author: Jeff Zentner

Genre: YA, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
First published: March 7th 2017
Publisher: Penguin Random House UK Children’s / Andersen
Finished reading: March 14th 2017
Pages: 416

“For the most part, you don’t hold the people you love in your heart because they rescued you from drowning or pulled you from a burning house. Mostly you hold them in your heart because they save you, in a million quiet and perfect ways, from being alone.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Penguin Random House UK Children’s/ Andersen in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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Birthday review! 😀 Because reading Goodbye Days this week was basically an early birthday present in the first place.

I absolutely loved reading Jeff Zentner‘s other novel The Serpent King earlier this year and I added Goodbye Days to my list of most anticipated releases as soon as I finished it. You can imagine my reaction when my Netgalley request was actually approved… I didn’t want to set my expectations too high after such a fantastic debut, and I kept telling myself it would be hard for Goodbye Days to outshine it. But I guess I shouldn’t have worried, because I think I have just found my new favorite Zentner novel. Basically, this story took my feelings, put them on the middle of the road and ran them over repeatedly with a bulldozer. It doesn’t happen often that a book actually manages to make me cry, but Goodbye Days managed to break my heart more than once. Brilliant prose, excellent characters and those feels!! I literally flew through the pages of this story and the characters were easy to love. And this isn’t just another YA contemporary story either; it also touches a very important topic. Thank you Goodbye Days for raising awareness to the dangers of using your phone while driving; is more dangerous than drunk driving and causes so many unnecessary accidents… Hopefully an eyeopener as well as a brilliant read! Recommended to any contempory/realistic fiction fan who doesn’t mind sad stories.

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Carver Briggs never thought something so simple as a text message could end the lives of his three best friends Mars, Eli and Blake. He didn’t think about possible consequences when he sent the text as they were driving to meet him, and while Mars was trying to answer the three friends ended up in a fatal car crash. Carver cannot stop blaming himself for the accident and it seems like he isn’t the only one… The authorities are looking into the accident to try and determine if they can press charges against him. Blake’s grandmother doesn’t blame him, and asks Carver to help remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. That leads to the idea to have memorial days for his other friends as well, but not everyone is willing to forgive… Can the goodbye days really help?

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Goodbye Days is without doubt one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. I don’t think I can find something negative about it, other than that it basically broke my heart and left me nursing a book hangover. The writing style is brilliant and will have you flying through the pages as you ride the emotional rollercoaster. The characters will win over your heart and the plot is both wonderful, sad and has an important lesson. If you like the genre, Goodbye Days is a must-read!


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ARC REVIEW: Making Faces – by Amy Harmon

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Title: Making Faces
Author: Amy Harmon

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: October 12th 2013
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Finished reading: January 28th 2017
Pages: 405
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“I don’t think we get answers to every question. We don’t get all the whys. But I think when we look back to the end of our lives, if we do the best we can, and we will see that the things we begged God to take from us, the things we cursed him for, the things that made us turn our backs on him, are the things that were the biggest blessings, the biggest opportunities for growth.”

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

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It’s been over two weeks since I finished reading Making Faces and I still find it difficult to put my thoughts properly on paper. It doesn’t happen all that often, but Amy Harmon was able to give me another book hang over with this little masterpiece. I’m ashamed to admit I have only recently discovered her work, but I’ve already become addicted to her lovely prose and diverse plots. Making Faces is no exception. I had already heard great things about this book and I basically broke down the request button as soon as I saw it was available at Netgalley. All the raving reviews were absolutely right: this story is simply brilliant. I fell in love with both the characters, writing style and plot and this story will definitely stay with me for quite some time. Sure, some of it might be a little cheesy if you think about it critically. But if you have characters like Fern, Bailey and Ambrose, it is really easy to put those thoughts aside. I loved the war veteran elements as well; it’s such an important topic and definitely deserves more attention, especially as they are often misunderstood by society. As you might have guessed already, I simply adored Making Faces and I can definitely recommend it to any contemporary fan. I promise you that you will fall in love with the characters and their story! This new edition published by Spencer Hill Press later this month has some nifty bonus content as well.

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Ambrose Young’s looks and talent have made him really popular during his high school years. He isn’t just tall, muscular and good at sports, he also seems to have walked right off the cover of one of those romance novels. Fern Taylor should know, because she has been reading them since she was thirteen. Fern has had a crush on him for years, but she isn’t exactly the ‘prettiest’ girl in town and she doesn’t think Ambrose would ever look at her that way. But life isn’t just about physical attraction and works in funny ways. After the 9/11 attacks, Ambrose and his four friends decide to join the cause and were sent off to war. Only one comes back… And the whole town struggles to deal with the loss; each in their own way.

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I kind of feel I’m not doing the story justice with this summary, but I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot… This line in the blurb describes the general idea behind Making Faces beautifully though: “a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast where we discover that there is little beauty and a little beast in all of us“. It’s contemporary romance with a healthy dose of realistic fiction, a cup of tears and mixed with lovely characters and a very important topic. I basically loved everything about it and this story has confirmed Amy Harmon is one of my new favorite authors.


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ARC REVIEW: The One Memory Of Flora Banks – by Emily Barr

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Title: The One Memory Of Flora Banks
Author: Emily Barr

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction
First published: January 12th 2017
Publisher: Penguin
Finished reading: January 14th 2017
Pages: 303
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“I am really here. Yet I know I am not. I am inside something that must be buried in my head. I am layers deep in my own brain.”

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

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After I read Claire‘s review at Art and Soul, I basically had no other choice but rush to Netgalley and request a copy of this new novel by Emily Barr as well. I literally did a happy dance when my request was approved soon after, because I had heard nothing but wonderful things about The One Memory Of Flora Banks (and not just because of the gorgeous cover). I picked up my copy straight after receiving it, and I completely agree with all the other raving reviews out there. This book is brilliant! I loved LOVED the main character and the fact that amnesia plays such a big role in the story. Sure, there is a hint of a love triangle and she doesn’t seem to care much about hurting her best friend’s feelings when she kisses the boyfriend. Sure, if you think about the plot critically it’s not exactly all that credible. But to be honest, I didn’t really care. Flora managed to win over my heart from the very first page and I loved both the writing and how Flora managed to do so many things suffering with anterograde amnesia like she does. And that ending! I’m already having a feeling this one will appear on my list of 2017 favorites.

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Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks suffers from anterograde amnesia ever since a tumor was removed from her brain at the age of ten. She has no short-term memory and is unable to make new memories; her mind has been resetting itself several times a day ever since the operation. But that is until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the day before he leaves town. Somehow Flora is still able to remember every detail about their conversation and kiss the next day, and the memory sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is the key to restoring her memory and making her whole again… So when an encouraging mail from Drake suggests to meet him far far away, Flora finally listens to the two words on her hand: ‘be brave’. Will Flora be able to find him?

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If you look critically, The One Memory Of Flora Banks actually has a plot that isn’t all that credible and even has a hint of a love triangle. I’m normally not a big fan of either, but in this case it was all completely forgotten thanks to the lovely writing and more importantly: Flora Banks. Flora is basically what makes this story and is without doubt one of my new favorite characters! I love how she is able to overcome her anterograde amnesia and do all the things she does. The One Memory Of Flora Banks is definitely a story that is worth the hype and more than recommended!


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BOOK REVIEW: Mosquitoland – by David Arnold

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Title: Mosquitoland
Author: David Arnold

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
First published: March 3rd 2015
Publisher: Viking Children’s
Finished reading: January 8th 2017
Pages: 336
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“I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange.”

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Dear, dear Mosquitoland. I have been wanting to read you ever since you were published, but somehow I have managed to neglect you for almost two long years. I have no proper reasons, not like the ones you mentioned in your story, but I will try to explain why I was wrong to not read you sooner.

First of all, I loved LOVED the prose in Mosquitoland! David Arnold‘s writing is without doubt excellent and I enjoyed every single minute of the ride. This is not your average story and its uniqueness just radiates right off the page. The main characters are BRILLIANT, although my special love goes out to Mim. She is hands down one of my new favorite characters and I just loved the quirkiness and unique feel of her character and development. She is basically what makes Mosquitoland so special, along with the writing and switches in between the ‘letters’ and the ‘actual’ plot. Mim has to face a lot of unlikely situations during her roadtrip away from what she calls Mosquitoland, but instead of doubting the credibility I found myself drawn right into the story. The writing is truly enchanting, and along with the fast pace I found myself literally flying through the pages. If you like YA contemporary reads and haven’t tried Mosquitoland yet, please do! You won’t regret it.

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Mim Malone used to call northern Ohio her home, but after something happened in her family she is dragged away to Mississippi. There she has to live with her dad and her new stepmom, with no ‘real’ contact with her mom whatsoever… Then she finds out her mother is sick back in Cleveland, and Mim decides to take fate into her own hands. She boards a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and real mother, and will meet quite a few quirky fellow travelers along the way… And her journey will not exactly go as planned either.

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Now I’ve finally read Mosquitoland, I cannot stop asking myself why I haven’t read it sooner. Because boy, this story has literally blown me away. Mim has won over my heart with her quirkiness and strange habits and all, and I enjoyed reading ever single moment of her road trip and adventures. The writing is more than excellent and has an unique feel about it; the characters are what make this story stand out from the rest as well. More than recommended!


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