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! ***

myrambles1reviewqqq

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!

shortsummary1reviewqqq

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.

finalthoughtsreviewqqq

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!


signature

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

BOOK REVIEW: The Little Prince – by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

brthelittleprince

Title: The Little Prince
Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Genre: Middle Grade, Classics, Fantasy
First published: 1943
Finished reading: May 27th 2016
Pages: 98
(Originally written in French: ‘Le Petit Prince’)
Rating 3qqq

“All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.

myrambles1reviewqqq

I think this is one of those cases where I should have either read this classic 15-20 years ago or have waited until I have kids of my own to read the story to… Because I didn’t enjoy The Little Prince as much as I thought I would. Sure, it’s an interesting enough middle grade story with illustrations and all, but I have to be honest and say I wasn’t exactly blown away by it. It is a quick read and I’m sure children will enjoy it, but I can’t say the story sticked with me. In fact, only a week after reading this story which was originally written in French, I’m having a hard time remembering specific details… Which isn’t exactly a good sign. I’m not saying The Little Prince is a bad read, but I do think this classic has to be read at the right time and wasn’t really ment for adults in the first place.

shortsummary1reviewqqq

A little boy decides to leave the safety of his own tiny planet to travel the universe, even though it means he has to leave behind his precious flower. He travels from planet to planet and learns more about the strange behavior of adults through the persons that live on those planets. Afer a long journey he finally ends up on Earth and meets the writer of this story in the middle of nowhere… And the writer is so moved by this meeting later on, that he decides to write down the little boy’s story.

finalthoughtsreviewqqq

I have been trying to read more classics lately and The Little Prince was high on my list. I somehow never read this middle grade story when I was younger (as far as I can remember), and unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this read as much as an adult. It’s not that the story is badly written and the illustrations will work perfectly with children, but I just didn’t find this classic by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry memorable at all. It might be the most translated book in the French language, but it sure isn’t my favorite.

BOOK REVIEW: The Reader On The 6.27 – by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

brthereaderonthe6.27

Title: The Reader On The 6.27
Author: Jean-Paul Didierlaurent
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
First published: May 5th 2014
Finished reading: May 12th 2016
Pages: 256
(Originally written in French: “Le liseur du 6h27”)
Rating 4qqq

“For all those fellow commuters, he was the reader, the bizarre character who each weekday would read out, in a loud, clear voice, from the handful of pages he extracted from his briefcase.”

myrambles1reviewqqq

I picked up my copy of The Reader On The 6.27 on a whim after I saw it mentioned somewhere on a list of books about books. I normally prefer reading the story in its original language, but since my French is a little (read: a lot!) rusty I had no choice but read the English translation. I still wish I would have been able to read Jean-Paul Didierlaurent‘s French prose, but that doesn’t take away this was one excellent story. It is true there isn’t that much of a plot to speak of, but that only brings more attention to the excellent prose. Part of the story almost felt like Fahrenheit 451 (especially the book destroying machine called ‘The Thing’ and the factory in general), but this novel is mostly something completely different that will appeal to most true book lovers out there. The main character Guylain Vignolles hates his job at the book pulping factory and decides to defy the system in his own small way by saving a few random book pages stuck in the bottom of the machine every day. Then every morning on his commute to the factory, he actually reads those random pages out loud to the other passengers! Such an inspiring idea… His quest to find the owner of the usb stick he finds on the train is quite entertaining to read as well, not to mention the random pages, multiple alexandrines and charm of the characters themselves. The Reader On The 6.27 is in one word ‘magnifique‘! Definitely worth reading if you are looking for something different and beautifully written.

shortsummary1reviewqqq

Guylain Vignolles doesn’t exactly have an exciting life. He practically doesn’t have any friends, shares his small appartment with his goldfish and hates his job at the book pulping factory to an extent that even his own mother doesn’t know how he really earns his money. The only thing he looks forward to on his seemingly endless days are his journeys on the 6.27 train. Each morning on his commute to the factory, Guylain opens his case, takes out a few pages he rescued himself from the book pulping machine he calls The Thing the day before and starts reciting aloud the words on those random pages. He doesn’t even make contact with the other passengers, but this daily escape from his reality helps him stay sane. Then one day Guylain finds an abandoned usb stick on the train. He tries to figure out who the owner is, but the only file on it is a diary without a full name or return address… Guylain falls in love with the voice of the young author Julie, and is determined to find her .

finalthoughtsreviewqqq

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first heard about The Reader On The 6.27, but I was more than pleasantly surprised with what I’ve found. This is without doubt a charming story with interesting characters, beautiful prose, a fast pace and many many bookish references. The random pages, diary entries and alexandrines didn’t distract at all from the main story and actually made me enjoy this book more. Recommended!

BOOK REVIEW: The Nightingale – by Kristin Hannah

brthenightingale

Title: The Nightingale
Author: Kristin Hannah
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
First published: February 3rd 2015
Finished reading: April 30th 2016
Pages: 440
Rating 4qqq

“If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: in love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.”

myrambles1reviewqqq

Historical fiction is probably one of my favorite genres, especially when the story is set during WWII. After hearing so many great things about The Nightingale and several recommendations, I just knew I had to pick it up as soon as possible… And I agree this is without doubt a very well written, beautiful and heartbreaking story that is a must read for any WWII historical fiction fan. Ever since finishing this novel by Kristin Hannah, I have been doubting the final rating, especially since the ending simply blew me away. Why the seemingly ‘low’ 4 star rating? I did have some small issues with the story that I couldn’t ignore. First of all, it actually took me a lot of time to finish The Nightingale and initially I wasn’t completely convinced by some of the characters either. The plot is intriguing from the start, but some of the actions and dialogues of the main characters (especially Vianne and Isabelle) just didn’t feel all that ‘natural’ in the beginning. And even though that feeling went away mostly as the story continued, it was only in the end that I started to feel a proper connection with Vianne. Why? The fact that Vianne seemed to rely so much on her husband and both feels helpless without him and is quite ignorant in general during most of the story is actually quite annoying… But she did make up for it in the end. Isabelle managed to convince me a lot sooner and like I said the story itself is more than excellent. The Nightingale is without doubt a novel I won’t be forgetting any time soon!

shortsummary1reviewqqq

Vianne Mauriac and her sister Isabelle didn’t exactly have an easy childhood. Their father was never the same after he came back home when WWI ended, and their mother passed away not long after. Vianne ended up marrying young and lives with her husband and daughter in a quiet village named Carriveau. Isabelle was a lot younger when all this happened, and she grew up to be a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl that doesn’t like to be told what to do… A dangerous thing with the threat of the Nazis invasion becoming more real every day. Vianne has to say goodbye to her husband Antoine, who has been called to fight at the Front. She doesn’t believe at first that the Nazis will actually invade France, but soon finds out what kind of trouble they soon will be in. Vianne is forced to take an enemy soldier into her house and her every move is watched… And without food, money or hope, things are becoming desperate. The fact that her sister Isabelle is forced by their father to stay with her doesn’t help either… But Isabelle doesn’t want to sit tight and wait until the war is over. No, she wants to do something to help the cause and fight the Nazis from within France. Joining the Resistance can have deadly consequences for those she loves though; something Isabelle doesn’t seem to fully realize… What will happen to both seemingly so different sisters?

finalthoughtsreviewqqq

The Nightingale is without doubt an excellent WWII historical fiction novel and I’m still not sure whether to add an extra 1/2 star to the rating or not. The only real ‘problem’ I had with this story is that the first part read quite slow and the characters didn’t completely convince me in the beginning. The last part of this novel is exceptional though and the ending simply blew me away. Also, I loved the fact that Kristin Hannah wrote about the woman’s side of the war. Recommended!

BOOK REVIEW: The Conspiracy Of Us – by Maggie Hall

brtheconspiracyofus

Title: The Conspiracy Of Us
(The Conspiracy Of Us #1)
Author: Maggie Hall
Genre: YA, Mystery, Romance
First published: January 13th 2015
Finished reading: April 8th 2016
Pages: 330
Rating 5qqq

“Toska.” He leaned forward, too. “It’s a Russian word. It has no translation into any other language, but the closest I’ve heard is the ache. A longing. The sense that something is missing, and even if you’re not sure what it is, you ache for it. Down to your bones.”

myrambles1reviewqqq

I normally don’t like it when a book is compared to the work of a different author, but in this case I totally agree The Conspiracy Of Us bears similarities to one of the Ally Carter books I read last year (All Fall Down). And like with that series, I ended up loving The Conspiracy Of Us as well. I’m so glad my TBR jar decided it was time to start reading this series, because I haven’t felt this way about a fiction read in way too long! It’s true I didn’t care for the romance scenes and the ‘almost’ love triangle, but in this case the rest of the story more than made up for it. It’s easy to say Maggie Hall‘s writing had me hooked right from the first chapter; the story is fast-paced with just the right amount of plot twists, adrenaline and mystery. More importantly, since I love traveling and discovering new cultures myself, I could especially appreciate the Paris and Istanbul descriptions and the many historical references. I liked the main characters and their development as well (if you don’t count the romance scenes), and I’m really looking forward to find out what happens next. In short, The Conspiracy Of Us is basically just about everything I want in a good story. If you haven’t read it yet and like the genre, I strongly suggest trying out this series!

shortsummary1reviewqqq

Avery West grew up thinking her father abandoned them when she was a baby. They have been moving around a lot because of her mother’s job and she always tries to keep a distance to the people around her so it won’t hurt too much when she has to say goodbye again. This time seems to be different though as she meets Jack, and it seems like he isn’t exactly who he claims to be. Soon her life is being turned around and she finds herself on a plane to Paris on her way to her newfound family… Although things are not as simple as Avery thinks. Apparently, her family is part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle, and Avery might be the key to an ancient prophecy. While she is trying to unravel the mystery, Avery soon realizes she is in more danger than she thought… And the trail of clues leads her from Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul and other places she never would have imagined visiting, let alone with someone chasing her. Who can she really trust and will she unravel the mystery on time?

finalthoughtsreviewqqq

It’s been a long time since I have love a series (that isn’t YA fantasy) this much. Besides the romance scenes I didn’t particularly care for, The Conspiracy Of Us is basically an example of what I would call a perfect read. A fast pace, easy-to-read prose, an interesting plot with just the right amount of plot twists, an international atmosphere, characters I can connect to… Check. Check. CHECK! As you might have guessed already, I really enjoyed this first book and I have already started reading the sequel as I’m writing this review. Recommended!

BOOK REVIEW: Atonement – by Ian McEwan

bratonementa

Title: Atonement
Author: Ian McEwan
Genre: Historical Fiction, WWII, Romance
First published: 2001
Finished reading: June 22nd 2014
Pages: 351
Rating 4,5

“He thought about telling them of his own single, haunting detail. But he didn’t want to add to the horror, and nor did he want to give life to the image while it remained at a distance, held there by wine and companionship.”

myrambles1review

Wow. I knew already this book was probably going to be good after various people recommending it to me, and I must say Ian McEwan didn’t disappoint at all with his novel. Atonement is devided into three parts, and each part has its own identity, appropriate action and writing style. The first part is in a way a bit slow, but it is beautifully written and it’s content necessary to understand the actions of the main characters during the second part. The second part is all about the second world war and its consequences, while the last part is about feelings of guilt and looking back on events of the past. All together those three parts form a recipe for a great book and one of my favorites this year. The only thing that refrained me of giving the full five stars is the slowness of the first part of the book, even though I still quite enjoyed it.

shortsummary1review

The story starts when we meet a thirteen year old girl Briony Tallis, an aspiring writer and blessed/cursed with a rich imagination. She lives comfortably with her family somewhere in the English countryside, and spends most days living in her own fantasy world. Then one evening everything changes as she accused having witnessed Robbie Turner, the son of a servant, attacking her niece Lola in the garden. The same young man that succesfully tried to seduce her sister Cecilia was now led away to prison because of her lie. A lie she only had told in order to protect her sister… Briony had believed Robbie was molesting her sister, but they were actually falling in love; a love that would last even when Robbie was sent to prison.

In the second part we follow Robbie, who was released from prison to become a soldier during the Second World War. He was sent to France in 1939, but the mission failed and he was forced to retreat to Dunkirk. We follow him on a agonizing journey back to Dunkirk, where he thinks he will find his safety. We also learn that the love still exists between him and Cecilia, and her letters are what is keeping him alive. She was asking him to come back, and he couldn’t disappoint her…

We then get introduced to a young aspiring nurse, who turns out to be Briony. She followed the steps of her big sister and is training to be a nurse at a hospital, mostly out of penance. Briony is having trouble living with what she did; the mayor consequences of one little lie… Although she knows they would never forgive her, she does her best to try and set things right. But it turns out it might be a little late for that. The story then ends with a seventy-seven year old Briony, who is looking back on life, her mistakes and the impossibility of making things right before she dies…

finalthoughtsreview

The three parts of Atonement are connected by the events of one tragic evening in 1935, intertwining their life stories as we follow the main characters in their struggle with the consequences of those events. While the first part is a bit slow, the other parts definitely make up for it and turn this book into one of my favorite reads so far this year.