WWW Wednesdays #166 – March 7th

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’ve recently started reading Graffiti Palace by A.G. Lombardo, another ARC that is scheduled to be published soon. It’s still really early days, so we’ll see how things go with that one… And I’m also starting The Art Of Fear by Pamela Crane, both because I’m in the mood for a thriller and I’m trying to clean out my NG shelf before our trip. Fingers crossed I’ll enjoy both!

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. All Things Bright And Strange by James Markert (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW
When I started reading All Things Bright And Strange, I actually thought I was going to enjoy it even better than What Blooms From Dust. Between the WWI veteran element and grumpy Ellsworth himself, it had all the signs of becoming a true winner… I mean, I even compared Ellsworth to one of my all time favorite characters Ove (A Man Called Ove). These feelings stayed for a long time, but slowly something started to irk me. I’m not a fan of a high dose of religious elements in a story, especially when it starts to sound like preaching. And there just was too much of it in All Things Bright And Strange… Especially in the second half. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but I would have liked to see a label calling it Christian fiction. The writing is wonderful though with lots of magical descriptions and a well developed historical setting.

2. The Last Star by Rick Yancey (2/5 stars) REVIEW 09/03
I was warned about this one by various bloggers, even though who unlike me did enjoy the first two books. Unfortunately, they turned out to be right. From the religious introduction, to the chaotic POV changes, the icky romance scenes and Cassie being her annoying self… I definitely didn’t have a great time reading this one. But I guess at least I was able to cross off another series right?

3. My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 
My Sweet Friend is the perfect example of a novella done right. With a well developed plot with interesting and fleshed out characters and a writing that simply flows it’s hard not to like this story. The manipulation element is incorporated in a way that feels completely natural and instead of it being forced on you, it shows up gradually. The switching back and forward between Rosie and Alexa helped set the right atmosphere as well as show the different sides of the effects of a manipulative relationship. The story will also have some surprises in store for you! Definitely recommended.

4. No Safe Place by Patricia Gibney (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 22/03
If you are looking for a well written, fast-paced and intense detective thriller series with a consistent quality and complex and well developed plots, Detective Lottie Parker will be a perfect fit for you. No Safe Place has another intense and complex investigation with many layers and twists to keep you guessing and entertained. I had my guesses, but didn’t find out the full truth until the very end and I was wrong in many occasions. I just love it when a story is able to mislead me! No Safe Place was another excellent detective thriller and I will already be looking forward to the next book.

5. Lies That Bind by Diana Rodriguez Wallach (3,5/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 15/03 
I read and enjoyed the first book of the series last month, and now it was time for me to read the sequel for the blog tour. It took me a bit longer than expected to get into the sequel, but I guess that was because the first half was used to create a base the rest of the story will be able to stand on. I wasn’t a fan of the high dose of drama, but the final part returned to the default action-packed and superspeed pace I had been getting used to in book one. And there is no doubt that the ending left me wanting for more.

6. With Malice by Eileen Cook (4/5 stars) REVIEW 09/03
I picked this one on a whim after seeing it mentioned somewhere. I had my doubts since I’ve seen mixed reviews out there, but in this case I think having let the hype die down has worked it its advantage. Because somehow I really enjoyed reading this one. I’m a sucker for a good amnesia angle plot and this one definitely ticked all the right boxes. Amnesia and aphasia played a big role in the story, and I liked how the author not only used it to keep us guessing about what happened, but also showed how it was like for the main character not to remember everything. Interesting ending as well!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

Like I said before, I’m trying to clean out my NG shelf as much as I can before I start my trip, so the ARCs The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton and The Elephant Keeper’s Daughter by Julia Drosten are next. A memoir and a historical fiction read; I’ll be looking forward to them! I also want to read My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult soon, although I’m waiting until I’m in the mood for a tearjerker before I do. 😉 My latest TBR jar pick is still Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke. I was going to pick it up earlier this week, but then I saw With Malice and I randomly picked up that one instead haha.


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ARC REVIEW: All Things Bright And Strange – by James Markert @tnzfiction

Title: All Things Bright And Strange
Author: James Markert
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian, Magical Realism
First published: January 30th 2018
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Finished reading: February 28th 2018
Pages: 336

“The beauty of the Bellhaven woods was like a desert mirage – an optical phenomenon inviting trouble, an illusion of light rays that disguised the truth.”

*** I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. ***

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There is just something about the cover that immediately intrigued me, and this book has been on my radar ever since I first heard about it. After I finished another book by the same author, What Blooms From Dust, I just knew I had to read All Things Bright And Strange as soon as possible. Magical realism can kind of be a hit or miss for me depending on how the elements are developed, but I really like how James Markert incorporates them into his stories. All Things Bright And Strange is another example of how I can actually really enjoy magical realism when it’s done right. The story starts out as a typical historical fiction read mostly set in the years after WWI. The main character, Ellsworth, is a WWI veteran along with several other characters, while others have lost someone during the war. I think this is probably my favorite element and the after effects of the war are very well described in the different veterans. A very important topic as well since there isn’t enough awareness when it comes to what veterans are going through! Grumpy Ellsworth really grows on you and he even reminded me a bit of Fredrik Backman‘s Ove (HUGE compliment!). The characters in general are well developed and each plays its role in the events in Bellhaven. Some of their names even have special meanings… But that is something for you to discover as you are reading it  to avoid spoiling surprises. The magical elements mix quite nicely with the historical fiction parts, and the author did a great job creating the right atmosphere for the time period. And the descriptions of the chapel in the woods are wonderful. BUT. There was way too much religious talk to my taste, and All Things Bright And Strange should be classified as Christian fiction. True, a lot of different religions are making their appearance in the story, creating diversity, but I simply feel there was too much religious talking going on and some of it sounded almost like preaching. Which is why I ended up enjoying this one less than What Blooms From Dust, but if you don’t mind a healthy dose of religion in your story, you will enjoy it even better than I did. The descriptions of the strange things that are happening in Bellhaven are simply magical.

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The people of Bellhaven have always looked up to Ellsworth Newberry, asking for his guidance whenever problems arise in town. But after he lost his wife in the town fire and he came back from the war with his hopes for a future as a professional pitcher destroyed, he hasn’t been the same old self. Then he finally sees something strange is going on in Bellhaven… A small chapel is discovered deep in the Bellhaven woods, and it seems to have mysterious healing powers. People keep returning to find peace of mind, but is the chapel really a miracle or a potential problem in disguise?

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When I started reading All Things Bright And Strange, I actually thought I was going to enjoy it even better than What Blooms From Dust. Between the WWI veteran element and grumpy Ellsworth himself, it had all the signs of becoming a true winner… I mean, I even compared Ellsworth to one of my all time favorite characters Ove (A Man Called Ove). These feelings stayed for a long time, but slowly something started to irk me. I’m not a fan of a high dose of religious elements in a story, especially when it starts to sound like preaching. And there just was too much of it in All Things Bright And Strange… Especially in the second half. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but I would have liked to see a label calling it Christian fiction. The writing is wonderful though with lots of magical descriptions and a well developed historical setting.


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WWW Wednesdays #165 – February 28th

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 still reading All Things Bright And Strange by James Markert, a historical fiction read with a touch of fantasy and magical realism. I’m hoping to finish it by the end of today! As soon as I do, I will continue with The Last Star by Rick Yancey. I had put it on hold to read a few urgent NG ARCs first, but I should be able to squeeze it in now and just get it over with (does it show I’m not all that excited to finally read it? xD)

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Visitor by K.L. Slater (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW
It doesn’t really come as an surprise, but K.L. Slater has done it again and created a brilliant psychological thriller. The pace is slower and the main focus is on the characters, but the plot, secrets and plot twists will help you keep focused until the very end. Because you will soon discover that key information about Holly’s past is being held back on purpose, making you want to keep reading to find out what really happened as well as making you wonder what it has to do with her current situation and fear. The final plot twists and reveals are mindblowingly good! I definitely didn’t see those coming… Although the ending did feel a bit too neat. Still, this was without doubt a very good read.

2. Proof Of Lies by Diana Rodriguez Wallach (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW
I have a weak spot for both an international setting and the whole spy/conspiracy theory element, so reading Proof Of Lies was an easy choice. Both these elements were what made this first book of a new series into a succesful and entertaining read for me. While I can’t say I liked the main character, not only because she is over dramatic and whiny, but also because she is quite naive and doesn’t seem to care about possible consequences of her actions, I somehow still very much enjoyed reading about her search for her sister. The non stop action and international setting in the second half definitely had a lot to do with that. I did wonder about the credibility of it all (A teenager in Europe without supervision?? Everything that happens to them in general??), but I guess at least the second part can be explained away by the conspiracy itself. All in all without doubt still a very entertaining read and I will be looking forward to read the sequel.

3. Barbed Wire Heart by Tess Sharpe (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 06/03
Boy, this book was GOOD. It’s not the easiest story to read and there are a lot of trigger warnings involved for those who are sensitive to violence, abuse etc, but if you can stomach them, you will find Barbed Wire Heart is one hell of a ride. It’s a trigger-happy crime story with a high dose of girl power, adrenaline, action, a splash of family drama and plot twists that you won’t see coming. From the writing style to the underlying feminist message, the originality of the plot and the excellent character development… This story simply blew me away.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I need to read Lies That Bind by Diana Rodriguez Wallach soon to get the review ready for my very first blog tour… And after browsing my backlist, I’ve decided to read My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult soon as well. I really enjoy reading her books, so I’m looking forward to it! I’ve heard it’s a real tearjerker though. I also need to read My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel soon. My newest TBR jar pick is still Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke.


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Teaser Tuesdays #167 – February 27th: All Things Bright And Strange

TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme hosted at The Purple Booker. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

I’m currently reading one of my pending ARCs: All Things Bright And Strange by James Markert. I just couldn’t resist requesting this one after enjoying What Blooms From Dust earlier this month, and the premise of this story sounds really interesting. I love the setting just after WWI and the fact the main character is a veteran! Looking forward to see how historical fiction mixes with the magical realism/fantasy elements.

My teaser (8%):

“Berny didn’t react much to anything anymore. After delivering eleven death telegrams during the war and comforting each new widow at their doorstep, his will to smile had been siphoned.”

What are you reading right now?


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ARC REVIEW: What Blooms From Dust – by James Markert @tnzfiction

Title: What Blooms From Dust
Author: James Markert
Genre: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism
First published: June 26th 2018
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Finished reading: February 16th 2018
Pages: 352

“The land was just too strong and mean and too determined to break them. Just as they had broken it.”

*** I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. ***

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I admit I was sold the minute I saw that beautiful cover and read the blurb. What Blooms From Dust promised magic and mystery in a historical setting, and what more can I wish for? This story is set in the United States of the 1930s, a time I’ve always been interested in but haven’t read all that much about. Both the setting in Nowhere, Oklahoma and the timeframe are interesting, although the emphasis of this story isn’t on the year (1935) everything took place in Nowhere. You get that feel of the past, but the focus of What Blooms From Dust is more on the town Nowhere itself and the main character Jeremiah. I must confess that I was feeling mighty confused in the beginning, and I wasn’t sure what to make of this story. It was definitely a slowburner for me, but once the dust that had blown in had settled down a bit, I suddenly found myself hooked. This initial feeling of being lost probably has to do with the magical realism of the story, which I always need some time with before I’m used to it, but in the case of What Blooms From Dust these magical realism elements really worked. From the coin-flipping to Jeremiah himself and the aftermath of the Black Sunday… All less than credible elements on its own, but together they create that magical and mythical atmosphere that simply makes this story work. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but please don’t let the mention of magical realism dissuade you! The writing, like the magical elements, may take some time to get used to, but once you do it is fantastic. It sets just the right tone and atmosphere for this story, and definitely helped make this story into what it is. The plot is quite interesting, but what truly stands out is the deeper message of What Blooms From Dust, a message of finding hope in the darkness and the power of kindness. Without doubt a wonderful story!

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Jeremiah is about to meet his fate in the electric chair, but a tornado tears down the prison walls and he escapes. Using his famous flip of a coin, he returns to his home town of Nowhere, Oklahoma, where he has unfinished business with his twin brother Josiah. But a lot has changed since he went away three years ago. Nowhere has been overtaken by the Dust Bowl, and the gift he once relied on to guide him no longer seems to work properly. What will happen to Jeremiah and his home town?

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Like I said before, What Blooms From Dust was a slowburner for me, but once the dust had settled down I found myself completely and utterly hooked. This is an example of a story where magical realism simply works, and only enhances the reading experience instead of complicating it. Magical, mystical and a healthy dose of mystery around Nowhere and its inhabitants… You will want to keep reading until you reach the final page and find out all about Nowhere and its mysteries. Recommended!


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WWW Wednesdays #164 – February 21st

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 The Visitor by K.L. Slater, one of my most anticipated releases this year and I story I have been looking forward to. And so far it is definitely a winner! Her books are excellent in general, and The Visitor has the same high standard I’ve become used to over time. I also picked up The Last Star by Rick Yancey, but since I’m not really looking forward to it, I will most likely end up putting it on hold temporarily and read a few upcoming NG ARCs instead.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Art Of French Kissing by Brianna R. Shrum (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW
If you like fun, light, cute, slightly cheesy and entertaining YA contemporaries with a healthy dose of romance, you will be in for a treat with this one. The Art Of French Kissing incorporates the whole cooking competition theme very well and all that food talk is probably one of the reasons I loved this book the way I did. The bantering and revenge element between the main characters worked better for me than I thought it would, and definitely added it’s own spice to the plot.

2. What Blooms From Dust by James Markert (4/5 stars) REVIEW 22/02
What Blooms From Dust was a slowburner for me, but once the dust had settled down I found myself completely and utterly hooked. This is an example of a story where magical realism simply works, and only enhances the reading experience instead of complicating it. Magical, mystical and a healthy dose of mystery around Nowhere and its inhabitants… You will want to keep reading until you reach the final page and find out all about Nowhere and its mysteries. Recommended!

3. Wires And Nerve by Marissa Meyer (3/5 stars) REVIEW 26/02
While it was great to visit the original characters again, I do think a lot of them felt really different from the way they behaved in the original books. Take Thorne: he was one of my favorite characters, but I seriously couldn’t stand him in the graphic novel. Also, I wasn’t a big fan of the graphics in general. The lack of detail, overly simply graphics and overall blue tone just didn’t manage to convince me. As a whole, I feel this graphic novel was quite a disappointment and doesn’t live up to The Lunar Chronicles.

4. The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter (5/5 stars) REVIEW 26/02
I am almost ashamed to admit it, but I had never read a Karin Slaughter book before I started The Good Daughter even though her books are wildly popular and they belong to one of my favorite genres. But no longer, because now I’ve tried her work I have become an instant fan. WOW! That woman can write… It was without doubt a highly intense read with a lot of complicated, disturbing scenes and elements and trigger warnings are in place for violence, abuse, rape among other things. The school shooting scenes are also a painful reminder of what happened in Florida recently… There is no denying the story and it’s many subplots, twists and turns are brilliantly executed and I take my hat off for it. Say hello to my very first 5 star read of 2018!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I have been misbehaving on NG recently, so I have three NG titles coming up next as a result. The first, Proof Of Lies by Diana Rodriguez Wallach, is the first book of a series I need to read so I can get on track for the sequel I will be joining the blog tour of in March (due March 15th!). Next is Barbed Wire Heart by Tess Sharpe, a thriller that sounds SO good and can’t wait to dive into. I also need to read All Things Bright And Strange by James Markert. I just couldn’t resist requesting it after What Blooms From Dust… My newest TBR jar pick is still Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke.


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WWW Wednesdays #163 – February 14th

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?

It is likely I’ll actually finish The Art Of French Kissing by Brianna R Shrum before this scheduled post goes up, since I don’t have all that many pages left… But as I’m typing this, I still haven’t finished it yet. 😉 I needed something light and fluffy after Lilac Girls and picked up this title on a whim after browsing the NG Read Now section. YA contemporary romance isn’t really my genre, BUT I can really enjoy them if they are done right or if I’m in the right mood. And this one was definitely a perfect match for me. Sure, it’s a bit cheesy and there are cliches, but it’s easy to read, cute and there is a LOT of food talk involved. Basically, this book makes me crave all kind of delicious food! I also read a few pages of What Blooms From Dust by James Markert, which I will pick up again today. I’m mighty confused so far though!

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Take The Key And Lock Her Up by Ally Carter (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 18/02
Unfortunately, Take The Key And Lock Her Up is by far the weakest book of the trilogy and it’s sad to see a series end on this note as it started out so promising. One of the biggest problems I had was with the main character Grace. Her whole attitude, dialogue and actions seriously annoyed me and it was one of the reasons the final book didn’t work for me. I wasn’t 100% convinced by the writing either, but this is probably mostly related to Grace and her dialogue. And the whole love triangle and romance put a damper on things as well. As for the plot… If you look critically, nothing much is actually happening during this final adventure, or at least I missed the intensity and suspense.

2. Hollo by Devon Michael (4/5 stars) REVIEW 19/02
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.

3. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly (4/5 stars) REVIEW 16/02
This was actually a buddyread with wonderful Nicki @ Secret Library. I’m so glad I finally got the chance to read this one! I can definitely understand the love for this historical fiction read now, although I do admit it left me with a huge book hangover. Especially the WWII holocaust camp scenes are intense and gruesome! My favorite POV of the three is definitely Kasia, although I did warm up to Caroline as well after a while. Her chapters were without doubt a welcome break in between the other two POVs… 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? Her POV does add dept to the story. More in my review…

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m SO excited that after my current reads I’ll be finally picking up my very first Karin Slaughter book The Good Daughter! I know I’m more than fashionably late to the party, but I’m having high hopes of becoming an instant fan of her work. I also need to read The Visitor by K.L. Slater, a title I have been looking forward to a LOT. I also should pick up The Last Star by Rick Yancey to get rid of another unfinished series on my list… I can’t say I was a fan of the first two books, so it will probably be a bit of a struggle reading that one though. And I have a new TBR jar pick after waaaay too long! *drumroll* Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke. This one does have a low rating and a lot of mixed reviews, and this was definitely a cover buy. 😉 I’m curious what I will make of it though.


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