ARC REVIEW: Jilliand – by Clare Gutierrez

Title: Jilliand
Author: Clare Gutierrez
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: April 17th 2018
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group
Finished reading: April 3rd 2018
Pages: 298

“I keep my word. My word is all I have left to me.”

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

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I admit I was sold as soon as I saw the cover and mention of vikings. I’m a huge fan of the TV show Vikings and I don’t think I’ve ever read a story about vikings before, so I was really excited to be reading Jilliand. And it was by no means a bad read, just that it didn’t manage to blow me away. There was just something about the tone and writing style that felt a bit distant and made it harder to connect to the story. Also, I felt there were sudden changes between scenes and POV that either didn’t feel natural or simply didn’t connect with each other. More than once I found myself wondering suddenly what was happening, where they were or who the story was talking about… Not a good sign. This also happened more than once with sudden changes between a first and third person POV, although those might be solved in the final version. Still, these incoherences made it hard to concentrate on the story and slowed down the pace. I also felt the characters lacked some dept, and I was kept wanting for more when it comes to background and general character information. That said, it does show the author has investigated the time period and I realize it is hard to get solid information of a period there isn’t all that much ‘neutral’ information available of in the first place. The story follows two main characters in particular over a large span of time. While it was interesting to see the changes in both character and environment, I also thought there were almost too many things happening in the amount of pages available. This is probably why I felt a lack of dept as a consequence; long periods were sometimes skipped and other scenes were not as detailed as I would have liked. Still, Jilliand is quite an interesting read set in a time period that hasn’t been written about that frequently. It’s a story of survival, (forbidden) love, vikings, war and plundering… And although the ending came a bit sudden, I bet most will be able to appreciate it.

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Jilliand hasn’t had an easy life so far, losing her mother at birth and having to live with a father who wanted a son instead. She has been locked up and beaten for years, only barely surviving… Until one night she manages to escape her prison just in time with some help. But life outside is by no means easy either, and Jilliand is ill prepared for what is to come. And she definitely didn’t know how to act when Vikings start plundering the village she took refuge in.

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I really wanted to love Jilland, and I admit it was nice to see some similarities to the traditions and customs I’ve become used to after watching the Vikings TV Show. While Jilliand had an interesting premise and background story, using the forbidden love element to weave two different stories and cultures together, I almost felt there was too much going on at once, resulting in a lack of dept instead. There was just something about the writing style and tone that didn’t manage to grab me either, and all in all I didn’t end up enjoying it as much as I hoped I would. It’s not a bad read, but unfortunately didn’t manage to wow me either.


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WWW Wednesdays #170 – April 4th

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 first detective Kay Hunter book Scared To Death by Rachel Amphlett, a title I’ve been meaning to get to for ages and I’m SO excited to be finally doing so!! I’ve also started my first Dutch read of the year, partly in preparation for our Europe trip, although I admit I haven’t been picking it up much so far. Het Laatste Offer (the final offer) by Simone Van Der Vlugt is a thriller partly set in Egypt, but I’m having a hard time getting used to the writing style and tone so far (although part of the reason is me not being used to reading in Dutch and feeling awkward when doing so. xD)

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Good Twin by Marti Green (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 
There is no doubt whatsoever that The Good Twin has everything I look for in a psychological thriller and more. A well developed plot, interesting characters, just the right amount of suspense and plot twists to keep me guessing… And of course a writing style that is engaging and flows naturally. The premise of The Good Twin is fantastic, and the execution without doubt lives up to expectations. It’s easy to say I can recommend it to any psychological thriller fan. You will be in for a treat with this one!

2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (4/5 stars) REVIEW 08/04
I’ve been meaning to read this one for years, but there has been such a hype around this title that I’ve been a bit afraid to actually pick it up. I read Armada first last year, and wasn’t really blown away… But I was still determined to read Ready Player One one day. And I’m so glad I did, because I loved it so much better! From the setting to the characters, the worldbuilding and the game references… Such a great, well written and entertaining read!

3. Jilliand by Clare Gutierrez (3/5 stars) REVIEW 09/04
I admit I was sold as soon as I saw the cover and mention of vikings. I’m a huge fan of the TV show Vikings and I don’t think I’ve ever read a story about vikings before, so I was really excited to by reading Jilliand. And it was by no means a bad read, just that it didn’t manage to blow me away. There was just something about the tone and writing style that felt a bit distant and made it harder to connect to the story. Also, I felt there were sudden changes between scenes that either didn’t feel natural or simply didn’t connect with each other. More than once I found myself wondering suddenly what was happening, where they were or who the story was talking about… Not a good sign. I also felt the characters lacked some dept.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m trying to read all the ARCs due during the upcoming hiatus, so I have three NG ARCS lined up next. The first is a translation of an older Dutch book I think I have read before: The Letter For The King by Tonke Dragt. It’s also going to be my first MG read this year! I’m also looking forward to A Secondhand Life by Pamela Crane since the blurb sounds brilliant. The Air Raid Killer by Frank Goldammer is another translation and set during WWII, so fingers crossed it will be a good one. My latest TBR jar pick is still Summer Of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider.


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WWW Wednesdays 169 – March 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 started reading one my pending ARCs The Good Twin by Marti Green yesterday evening, and although it’s still early days, I’m having high hopes for this one. I’m also about to finally pick up Ready Player One by Ernest Cline… I’ve been saying this for ages, but now the time has finally come! Definitely looking forward to it.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Deadly Secrets by Robert Bryndza (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 30/03
I had high expectations for this newest DCI Erika Foster story and I’m happy to say those expectations were more than met. I enjoyed every single minute of Deadly Secrets! Book number six takes a bit of a different direction and Erika Foster is not as present as normal, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of action and a very interesting police investigation to follow. This case is another disturbing one that will lead to many misleading twists as the team is trying to untangle the lies and secrets that surround the life of the victim. Very much recommended for fans of the genre!

2. Wing Jones by Katherine Webber (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 29/03
Wing Jones is a YA contemporary romance story with a twist. You will find a healthy dose of drama, with the main character Wing’s brother being in a coma after a car accident he was to blame for. There will be romance scenes as well, which can be distracting, but gladly at least did not include a love triangle. But the main element of Wing Jones, besides showing how they have to live with the aftermath of the accident, is running. I just love how important running is in this story and how Wing uses this newly found talent to try to move on and make a life for herself.

3. The Elephant Keeper’s Daughter by Julia Drosten (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 31/03
I really wanted to like this one and I still think the plot itself has a lot of potential. The worldbuilding and descriptions of the era and setting are thorough and it shows the background of The Elephant Keeper’s Daughter was very well researched. Sadly, I’m still on the fence about this one, as I didn’t manage to enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Part of the problem was the tone and writing style as well as the fact the story didn’t really flow… Which made it hard to properly connect to the story. The setting is fascinating though as well as the time period the story is set in with its consequences of the British invasion.

4. Salt To The Sea by Ruta Sepetys (4/5 stars) REVIEW 08/04
I have a weak spot for WWII historical fiction in general and I hadn’t heard about the Wilhelm Gustloff incident before, so that was a double bonus for me. It truly shows in the little details just how well researched this novel is and the descriptions made it feel as if you were there yourself along with the characters.  I admit it took me a while to get used to the multiple POVs and remembering who is who, which slowed down the pace inicially, but each different character and POV does show a different view on the situation and add something to the story.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I have two pending ARCs lined up next. The first, Jilliand by Clare Gutierrez, I’m super excited about since it’s a historical fiction read about vikings that made me think of the TV show Vikings immediately (which is a good thing, since it’s one of my favorites!). I’m looking forward to A Secondhand Life by Pamela Crane as well since the blurb sounds brilliant. And I’m superhappy to be finally starting with the Kay Hunter series! I will definitely be starting with Scared To Death by Rachel Amphlett ASAP. My latest TBR jar pick is still Summer Of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider.


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