WWW Wednesdays #134 – April 26th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m finally making good progress with Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, and I will most likely end up finishing it some time today or tomorrow. I’m still kicking myself for waiting this long to pick it up, because it’s without doubt brilliant. Well written, intriguing story and a very important focus on racial problematics and racism as well as an interesting mix of characters. I’m also about to start another ARC, The Car Bomb by T.V. LoCicero, which sounds like an action-packed read. I’m also still reading Enchanters by K.F. Bradshaw, although I have put temporarily on hold until I’m in the mood for (high) fantasy again.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

* The first title I finished is the travel memoir Among Friends: Travels In Cuba by Heather Murray. Unlike other non fiction reads about Cuba, this memoir focuses mostly on the personal experiences of the author during her various trips to Cuba and what she could see of the daily life of the Cubans rather than on the complicated political and social-cultural situation. It’s a well written and enjoyable read and the descriptions of the various locations in Cuba made me feel as if I were visiting the country myself.
* I then picked up The Millionaire’s Wife by Shalini Boland, which has turned out to be yet another winner. I’ve been a fan of her work ever since I picked up The Girl From The Sea last year… This is my third suspense thriller and my opinion hasn’t changed a bit. This story is well written, filled with many plot twists, unrealiable characters and a very intriguing plot. The POV switches between past and present and the Swedish nationality of one of the main characters is very well used. Gripping until the very last page!
* Next up was (The Original) Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig, which I had heard lots of excellent things about. Ginny is without doubt one of the most original and interesting characters I’ve came across lately, although I do have to say I was a bit confused in the beginning. It took me a while to get used to the voice of the autistic Ginny, and while I feel the author did an excellent job of describing autism and what it is like to live and interact with someone autistic (I’m not surprised since he has personal experience), I did understand why her ‘Forever’ parent got so frustrated with her. I felt the same frustation as well and it made me enjoy the story slightly less than I thought I would, although like I said before I feel the author did a brilliant job of putting autism in the spotlight it deserves.
* The last book I finished is This Is Really Happening by Erin Chack, another memoir. I was surprised my request was actually approved last Saturday, especially since the publish date was that close (yesterday). I decided to give it priority since I was in the mood for a non fiction read anyway, and I ended up really enjoying this bundle of coming to age essays. The writing style really stands out and combined with the honest and personal tone and just the right dose of humor this is a very enjoyable read.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m slowly catching up with my pending ARCs, but I will probably be making May into another ARC month just so I can deal with most of the still pending backlog. Both Anything For Her by Jack Jordan and The Darkest Lies by Barbara Copperthwaite are pending Netgalley ARCs and thrillers I’ve been looking forward to. I also want to pick up the ARC Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel, which sounds like a fascinating read. And I want to read The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware soon as well, although I have been reading a lot of thrillers lately and I might read something of a different genre instead.


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ARC REVIEW: Among Friends – by Heather Murray

Title: Among Friends (Travels In Cuba)
Author: Heather Murray

Genre: Non Fiction, Travel, Memoir
First published: October 6th 2016
Finished reading: April 20th 2017
Pages: 298

“Ephemeral things are tragic because they are never repeated, but they are wonderful because they may be kept in memories in our brain, and they may be recollected as many times as we wish.”

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

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I’ve been lucky enough to travel quite a lot during my early twenties and exploring different cultures/countries is still something I’m really passionate about. When I was contacted about Among Friends: Travels In Cuba I immediately knew I wanted to read this memoir, especially since one of my best friends actually went to Cuba for a month in January and I wanted to compare experiences. I admit my knowledge of Cuban history and culture is pretty basic, since my University courses mainly focused on South America… So I was looking forward to learn more about this country. One of the first things that stands out in this travel memoir written by Heather Murray is the lack of political talk, something I’m rather grateful for to be honest. Instead, the author focuses on her own experiences while visiting Cuba various times during the span of eight years; the last time being in 2015. I agree it’s really hard (maybe even impossible) to get a proper feel of a country as an outsider/foreigner, but I enjoyed reading her experiences while visiting Havana and various other destinations in Cuba. Her friendship with Julian and other Cubans definitely help to shed some light on how life really was lived by the Cubans during those years… And I liked how detailed the descriptions of the various places she visited were. The prose was easy to read and all in all it was an enjoyable travel memoir. Low on social-cultural and political details, but highly entertaining for those who enjoy the genre!

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Spread over a period of eight years, Heather Murray travels to Cuba various times to visit her friend Julian. What started out as two collegues writing letters grew into a friendship when she traveled to Cuba for the first time for a conference… The country and its people made a big impact and various visits followed afterwards. Both Havana and other provinced to the west and east are explored with the help of Julian and other Cubans; and the country definitely shows some changes over the years. This memoir is packed with personal experiences and many detailed descriptions of the various destinations in Cuba.

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If you are looking for a well written, entertaining and ‘light’ travel memoir that focuses on the travel and daily life of the locals rather than the more serious topics, Among Friends is without doubt an excellent choice. The descriptions of the various destinations and excursions are very well done and I could almost imagine being there myself as well. As stated in this memoir, it shows that Cuba has been through some changes in the last ten years and it shows… At least that is what my friend told as well. Recommended!


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WWW Wednesdays #133 – April 19th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading three books, although I’m going to finish the ARC Among Friends: Travels In Cuba by Heather Murray first. It’s a non fiction read about Cuba I’ve started last night and I’m only a few pages into the story so far… It will be interesting comparing the experiences of the author with one of my best friends who went to Cuba back in January. I’ve also finally started reading Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, a story I have been wanting to pick up for ages now and decided to just pick up even though I have more ARCs pending. The last one is Enchanters by K.F. Bradshaw, which I’ve put temporarily on hold because I wasn’t in the mood for (high) fantasy.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

* The first title I finished is What Doesn’t Kill You by Ed James, the third book in a detective series and one that unfortunately didn’t live up to the previous two books. It took me a while to warm up to the story, the amount of swearing crossed the line to excessive and I felt that both the ending and the whole progress of Fenchurch’ personal life was a bit rushed. Not bad, but definitely not as good as the first two.
* I then picked up The Start Of Me And You by Emery Lord on a whim, trying to put an end on the list of ‘mediocre’ reads. I really enjoyed When We Collided last year, but this one was a little too sweet and cheesy for me. Probably also because of the annoying love triangle, although I did adore Max as a character.
* Afterwards I picked up what is going to be probably my last vampire story ever: Life Sentence by Lily Luchesi. It’s the third book of the Paranormal Detectives series and I enjoyed it better than the sequel. No more annoying love triangle and again I enjoyed the many flashbacks to the past. Fast-paced, entertaining and full of supernatural creatures; if you like the genre you will probably enjoy this series!
* I then decided to read Castle Of Water by Dane Huckelbridge, which has SUCH a beautiful cover! I just love that color combination. The story itself is just as wonderful; both the character development and plot are brilliant and I loved the writing style. A very interesting read about how two unlikely characters end up on an deserted island together and how they manage to survive… A modern ‘Robin Crusoe’ twist and I loved loved the characters bantering and the many French elements!
* The last book I finished is The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger, another gorgeous cover. This one started out a bit slow and it took me some time to connect the different storylines, but as soon as the pace picked up… BAM! Instant psychological thriller. Fascinating story!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m going to make the most of April ARC month and try to read these four ARCs before the end of this month. First up is The Millionaire’s Wife by Shalini Boland, a title I have been looking forward to especially since I loved her other two thrillers. I also want to read The Original Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig, Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel and The Darkest Lies by Barbara Coppertwaite, which I’ve all heard great things about.


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WWW Wednesdays #132 – April 12th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading three books, although I’m going to finish the Netgalley ARC What Doesn’t Kill You by Ed James first. It’s the third book in a detective series and so far without doubt fast-paced and entertaining, although I feel part of the ‘spark’ of the previous two books is missing. The other two titles are ARCs as well. The first Life Sentence by Lily Luchesi, the third book in a paranormal romance series. It’s also probably the last time that I’m reading a vampire story, because this series has yet again confirmed me I seem to be allergic to those fanged creatures. Luckily this series has other creatures as well, but that doesn’t take away my feeling that these kind of books just aren’t for me and to keep reading them wouldn’t be fair to the authors. The other title I’m about to start is Enchanters by K.F. Bradshaw, another fantasy read and a Reading Alley ARC.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

* The first title I finished since last week is The Color Purple by Alice Walker, a modern classic I decided to pick up for various challenges. I had high hopes for this one as I had heard a lot of things about it, but I guess this was another case of unpopular opinion for me. I struggled a lot with the writing style in the beginning; up to the point that I even considered DNFing it. The plot itself is without doubt both intriguing, shocking, in your face and full of raw emotions, but I had a hard time with Celie’s POV. Not because of the shocking/graphic elements, but because her dialogue was really hard to read with all those broken sentences, bad grammar etc. I know it’s because she is an uneducated child wife of the South and it does feel authentic, but it doesn’t take away I struggled a lot to keep reading.
* I then read Sleep Tight by Caroline Mitchell, the second book in the Detective Ruby Preston series. It took me some time to warm up to the main character in the first book, but I had no such problem in the sequel. I was hooked right from the start and it was one hell of a ride! Well written prose, interesting characters, twisted serial killer, possible Jack The Ripper reference, lots and lots of plot twists… What’s more to ask? I’ll definitely be waiting impatiently for the next Ruby Preston adventure.
* Afterwards I decided to pick up another pending ARC: Miranda’s Rights by Lily Luchesi. It’s also a sequel and a paranormal romance story with lots of supernatural creatures, although the main focus is on vampires. And those fanged creatures might be the main reason I liked this story less than most other readers… Although it does have a love triangle as well. It is a fast read though and fans of the genre will probably enjoy it a lot better than I did.
* The last book I finished is Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken, another sequel and part of my Beat The Backlist challenge. To be honest, I enjoyed this sequel a lot less than I thought I would. I found it overlong, almost boring and the plot a bit thin. Basically it’s about Ruby trying to find someone and messing up a lot along the way, with various people betraying her or not being what they seem to be… Not at all as good as the first book (which I really enjoyed), and Ruby started to annoy me with the whole ‘I’m dangerous/I can’t be around others/I need to be alone’ thing. The writing style is as good as ever, but it sure took me a lot longer than expected to finish this one…

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

Next up are three more ARCs… All for the April ARC month. Among Friends: Travels In Cuba by Heather Murray was sent by the author and sounds like an intriguing travel read. Both Castle Of Water by Dane Huckelbridge and The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger are Netgalley ARCs and are a case of coverlove and intriguing blurb combined. I also still want to read Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult; I’ve been mentioning this title for way too long now and I’m picking this up as soon as I finish this months Netgalley titles!


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WWW Wednesdays #131 – April 5th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading three books; the first two being for the Beat The Backlist challenge because I have been neglecting this challenge terribly in March. The Color Purple by Alice Walker is a (modern) classic I somehow never picked up before and I’m still deciding what to think of it. And I’ve been wanting to read the sequel ever since I finished the first book, so I’m hoping to continue Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken as soon as I finish  the first. Although I might read the ARC sequel Sleep Tight by Caroline Mitchell first, because I’m in the mood for another thriller.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

* I first finished The Yellow Envelope by  Kim Dinan, which didn’t turn out to be as good as I was hoping for. Instead of a travel memoir, it was more of a self-discovery journey and I had a lot of problems with the tone, focus of the story and (negative) cliches. More details in my review
* I then read the collection of short horror stories Silence Under Screams by Collin Henderson, and it sure turned out to be a proper horror read. There are four stories in total and each is unique in its own way and represents a different subgenre. Warning: some of them have very graphic descriptions!
* The last book I was able to finish in March was History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera and I can definitely understand why so many people seem to love this book. I enjoyed reading this book, although it kind of feels bad to say that since part of it is really sad. Excellent character development and loved the prose! Not a 5 star read as expected (it felt a bit messy), but definitely more than recommended for fans of the genre.
* My first April read was an ARC: Blood Moon by John David Bethel. The fact that this story is somewhat based on a true event is without doubt shocking, because the main character sure has to go through a lot. Interesting read with a lot of action and graphic scenes (warning if you don’t like those!), and I liked the use of Spanish even though there were quite a lot of mistakes.
* My last read was actually a reread: The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda. Back in January I couldn’t help myself and had to read this ARC as soon as I got a copy, and I decided to reread it before writing my review, since it’s going to be published soon. I enjoyed this thriller just as much the second time around. She is definitely one of my new favorite authors of the genre. I love LOVE her writing style.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

Next up are three more ARCs… All for the April ARC month. What Doesn’t Kill You by Ed James is a Netgalley ARC and part of a detective series I’ve been enjoying so far. Among Friends: Travels In Cuba by Heather Murray was sent by the author and sounds like an intriguing travel read. Enchanters by K.F. Bradshaw is a Reading Alley ARC and will give me just the dose of fantasy I need (hopefully). I also still want to read Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult , probably after I finish these three ARCs though.


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