ARC REVIEW: PLUS+ – by Bethany Rutter

Title: PLUS+
Author: Bethany Rutter 
Genre: Non Fiction, Fashion, Photography
First published: February 15th 2019
Publisher: Ebury
Finished reading: November 27th 2018 
Pages: 224

“So let this book be a record of how far we’ve come, filled with people who know we have so much further left to go and are having so much fun getting us there.”

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

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I know, I know, you are probably as surprised as I am to see this title pop up on my blog. PLUS+ isn’t just a little out of my comfort zone, it’s waaaaaay out. But, as someone who has struggled with her weight her whole life, there was just something about this title that drew me in. I was in desperate need of both some body positivity and fashion inspiration, because let’s face it: it’s not easy at all to find good plus-size clothes out there that are affordable, look good and are comfortable as well. Although I wish PLUS+ would have had more text and more fashion advice handed to us by the different models futured in this collection, the forward was brilliant. The photos themselves are wonderful, showing the world us plus-size girls have the right to wear whatever the heck we want and that we don’t have to hide our body. Body positivity to the win! I admire all these beautiful women for not being afraid to show everyone there style and looking fabulous while doing it. And I definitely felt inspired by quite a few photos.


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ARC REVIEW: A Woman Of War – by Mandy Robotham

Title: A Woman Of War
Author: Mandy Robotham
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: December 7th 2018
Publisher: Avon
Finished reading: November 30th 2018 
Pages: 352

“When you saw so much horror, destruction and inhumanity in one place, it was the simplest things that broke your resolve and reminded you of kindness in the world.”

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

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I always have a weak spot for WWII historical fiction… As soon as I recognized the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp entrance I was able to see with my own eyes a few months back on the cover, I just new I had to read A Woman Of War. Although I admit I was a bit disappointed to not see that particular camp featured, there is no doubt that the author has a very interesting premise here. The plot of A Woman Of War is a proper fictional one and more a what if? story than one based on true events. It also shows some pro-Nazi characters in a very positive light; something you don’t see often in historical fiction, but also something I’m not sure how I feel about. The writing style flows and makes it quite easy to read this story rapidly despite the sometimes heavy topics and more graphic scenes. It shows that the author is a midwife herself, as there are detailed descriptions about women in labor and birth itself. The main character Anke is a midwife and her role is key in A Woman Of War. It brings forth a very interesting ethical and moral question: either Anke helping one of Hitler’s inner circle’s women during her pregnancy and betraying her own beliefs, or her refusing and being responsible for the death of her family. Seeing pro-Nazi characters in a positive light makes me feel uncomfortable and I could have done without the romance, but overall it was quite an interesting read. Anke’s flashbacks of her life before working as a midwife and during her time as a prisoner in Ravensbrück were a good balance to the more ‘fictional’ present narrative. Fans of the genre will no doubtly find A Woman Of War an interesting read.

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Anke Hoff used to work as a midwife in Berlin, but she was caught helping a Jewish woman deliver her baby and sent to camp Ravensbrück as a political prisoner and enemy of the Reich. Then one day she is called with the request to serve as the midwife of one of Hitler’s inner circle, with a clear threat that if she refuses or doesn’t do her job, her family will die. Soon after her arrival at the Berghof she learns nothing is as it seems, and she finds herself torn between her duty as a midwife and her hatred for the regime.

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There is no doubt that A Woman Of War offers quite an original take on a what if? situation that could have changed everything. I’m not sure what to make of the way the pro-Nazi characters are portrayed, but it is definitely quite unique no matter how you feel about it. The writing was solid and I especially enjoyed Anke’s flashbacks even though the parts set in Ravensbrück were quite brutal. All in all an interesting although a bit unorthodox WWII historical fiction read.


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ARC REVIEW: Heresy – by Melissa Lenhardt

Title: Heresy
Author: Melissa Lenhardt
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: October 2nd 2018
Publisher: Redhook
Finished reading: November 26th 2018
Pages: 384

“But you’ve always got choices, Grace. And every single choice you make ripples out through your life and every other person you meet.”

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

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I can’t even remember the last time I read a Western inspired historical fiction story, so I was really excited when I first saw Heresy. And it’s not just another historical setting with a Western vibe, because it follows a gange of female outlaws and that’s something you don’t exactly hear about every day. Unfortunately, somehow Heresy failed to grab me completely. I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but the fact is that it took me a lot longer than expected to reach the final page, and I wasn’t enjoying myself as much as I thought I would. This slower pace made the story drag in parts, and this has a lot to do with the format of the story. Instead of a ‘simple’ storyline or even ‘simple’ POV switches, we have to learn the story about Margaret Parker through for example diaries, case notes and an interview with one of the gang members sixty years after the fact. In a way very interesting, but for me it didn’t really work in the end and it mostly made me feel that the story lacked proper cohesion. There were also facts being repeated and not everything was linear; again not a bad thing on its own, but it ended up bothering me. Don’t get me wrong, the story behind Heresy is fascinating and learning about a gang of female outlaws in the 1870s was a true pleasure. I just wasn’t completely convinced by the writing style or format, and with the story dragging in parts it wasn’t the easiest read. If you like slower paced stories and Western inspired historical fiction stories, you would probably enjoy Heresy though.

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Margaret Parker and Hattie LaCour never intended to be outlaws, but after they lose everything to a greedy neighbor their family is left without a penny. As women alone they only have a few choices, and they don’t see marriage or lying on their backs for money as an option. They opt for holding a gun. Together with a few others, they form the first and only all-female gang in the American West… And though the newspapers refuse to give them credit, their actions don’t go unnoticed. Will they finally have to face the consequences?

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The idea of a historical fiction read with a Western vibe about a gang of female outlaws sounded absolutely fascinating, so I’ve been looking forward to Heresy. While I still think the idea behind this story is fascinating, somehow I wasn’t able to enjoy the execution as much as I thought I would. Between the slower pace, lack of cohesion and parts that dragged, it took me a relatively long time to reach the final page. And while I rooted for Margaret and her gang, I also somehow just wanted to get it over with… And that’s never a good feeling. I do think this was mostly me though, so if you don’t mind a slower pace and an unusual format, you will probably enjoy this one.


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ARC REVIEW: Babel – by Gaston Dorren

Title: Babel
Author: Gaston Dorren
Genre: Non Fiction, Linguistics
First published: December 4th 2018
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
Finished reading: November 25th 2018
Pages: 320

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


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Happy publication day!!

Some of you might already know I’m actually a philologist and linguistics has always been one of my favorite areas of study. Therefore I thought Babel would be perfect for me… I mean, traveling the world through twenty languages that together can make you communicate with at least half of the world population? Sounds like pretty much a dream topic for philologists to me. Sadly, this book failed to hit the mark completely for me. There were a lot of editing errors in my ARC copy, with not only spelling errors and words stuck together without hitting the space bar, but also more critical ones like all the missing numbers and facts that haven’t been incorporated yet (hopefully they will in the future). This made it a lot harder to read and slowed down the pace considerably. Also, I felt I was missing out by not having all the fun facts, numbers and comparisons. Editing issues aside, I had also problems with the writing style in general. Both the tone and style of each chapter seemed to vary considerably and simply didn’t feel consistent to me. From a memoir style approach to an informal interview style and a history lesson; I just didn’t feel I was getting to know each language equally. Not every chapter was as pleasant to read either as some didn’t flow that well and had quite a slow pace. There were some interesting facts as well of course and I think philologists and language fans in general will still be interested in the title. I just hope at least the editing issues will be dealt with so we get the full package of information and little fun facts.


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DNF ARC REVIEW: Not A Clue – by Chloe Delaume

Title: Not A Clue 
Author: Chloe Delaume
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
First published: December 1st 2018
Publisher: University Of Nebraska Press
Finished reading: November 16th 2018
Pages: 276
DNF at 9% (25 pages)
Originally written in French: ‘Certainement Pas’

“I’m Dr. Black, I’m dead. There are six of you, and you killed me.”

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


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The truth is that I have been looking forward to read this one. I like reading international authors and I was completely fascinated by the blurb. A mystery, a crime and a mental health angle? Sounds like a pretty good recipe for a successful read to me. Sadly, it wasn’t ment to be. As soon as I started reading Not A Clue I knew we won’t be able to get along. Why? The writing style. Right from the very first sentence, I found myself scratching my head and wondering what the heck I just started reading. The writing style is just one big humble bumble of random words and nonsense being woven together, short ‘sentences’ mixed with randomness and endless weird descriptions and repetitions over and over again. I get that the patients have mental health problems, but that doesn’t mean I should feel so confused they could lock me up myself along with those patients, right? And I also get it, they killed him. But who on earth are they in the first place? And how am I supposed to make sense of this mess? I’ve decided to include a sample to give you a hint of what the writing looks like.

“There are six of you, you are alone, a stuffed mynah bird stands in for your memory, your tartarclot tears scratch your corneas plow your cheekbones into furrows more sterile than horror could ever be.”

Someone please make sense of that sentence for me? Or the rest of the sentences for that matter? I’m not sure if this is a case of ‘lost in translation’ or a writing style that is 200% not for me, but I just couldn’t bring myself to keep struggling through the pages. I almost never make the decision to DNF, especially this early in a story, but sadly Not A Clue and me just weren’t ment to be.


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ARC REVIEW: Her Final Confession – by Lisa Regan

Title: Her Final Confession
(Detective Josie Quinn #4)
Author: Lisa Regan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: November 28th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: November 11th 2018
Pages: 306

“Sometimes people get it wrong. Even when there is no good reason. Even when it’s the very last thing you’d expect them to do.”

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

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!! Happy publication day !!

I always have a weak spot for a good detective thriller series, and Detective Josie Quinn has quickly grown into one of my favorites. I have been enjoying spending time with his main character in the fictional city of Denton, and book number four is without doubt another great addition to the series. If you like your detective thrillers fast, intense and basically similar to crazy rollercoaster rides, you definitely have to try this series. What a ride! I wasn’t sure what else could be happening after all Denton and its habitants have already gone through, but Lisa Regan has another surprise in store and the plot intensifies. One of the reasons the series works this well is that the main characters are easy to like and connect to. Between this, the writing style and a gripping plot you will definitely want to free some of your time when you start reading Her Final Confession. Did I think some aspects of the plot were a bit too farfetched and not everything was credible? Without doubt. Does this take away from the overall credibility of the story and made me raise my eyebrows at points? Maybe. But the fact is: Her Final Confession is still one heck of an entertaining and intense ride and the story had me at serial killer. (Ok, technically long before that.) It was fascinating to find out more about both Gretchen’s past and learn more about Josie… Even though some plot twists and facts were a bit too convenient and farfetched. This is the only minor flaw of what has been an excellent detective thriller series so far, and I’m already looking forward to the next installment.

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

When the body of a young student is found on the driveway of Gretchen Palmer, a valuable member of Detective Josie Quinn’s team, Josie is sure Gretchen is innocent. But with Gretchen missing and no real clue as to what happened, Josie is forced to treat her as a suspect anyway. Even when Gretchen finally shows up and even confesses to the crime, Josie doesn’t believe she has killed the boy. And Josie is determined to find out the identity of the real killer instead. This means digging into Gretchen’s past, something that turns out to be more dangerous than they thought…

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I have consistently enjoyed the books of this detective thriller series so far and book number four is no different. Her Final Confession is fast, suspenseful and filled with plot twists and shocking surprises. Intense is an understatement! While not everything about the plot and twists is exactly credible, it’s still quite easy to forget about the credibility and enjoy the ride anyway. The writing style and the characters have a lot to do with this! Entertaining, intense and full of suspense: Her Final Confession is without doubt another excellent addition!


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ARC REVIEW: Hunting Annabelle – by Wendy Heard

Title: Hunting Annabelle
Author: Wendy Heard
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
First published: December 18th 2018
Publisher: MIRA
Finished reading: November 24th 2018 
Pages: 336

“Every day I feel like I’ve lost another grain of myself, like I’m a mist settling over the ground and getting burned off by it.”

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

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Hunting Annabelle is one of those titles I have been looking forward to for quite some time now. The blurb sounded fantastic, with a mental health angle and a potentially dangerous and unreliable main character. And there is no doubt that Hunter Annabelle isn’t your ordinary thriller read. While I do think the story read more YA than adult despite the twenty-something characters, this doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it any less. And the fact that the story is set in 1986 instead of the present is an interesting touch, because although not as present in the plot as a whole, it does show in the little details (mostly referring to the developments in mental health and police investigation). All in all it definitely wasn’t the story I was expecting, but mostly in a good way. The writing on its own is engaging and the use of the unreliable narrator method well developed. The main character Sean is the perfect unreliable narrator candidate and him being both the good and bad guy at once is refreshing. While I did have some issues with the credibility and some of the plot twists, I do think that overall it was quite an interesting and original read. I wasn’t sure about the final twists and chapters though… It seemed a bit farfetched and too big of change for me. But all in all I can still recommend Hunting Annabelle to any mystery/thriller fan looking for something different and refreshing.

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Sean Suh had to spend three years in a psychiatric prison, and now he is released he is determined to never go back. He wants to stay away from temptation, still punishing himself for what happened in the past… But he can’t resist Annabelle, who is both beautiful and the only person who can see past the monster he feels he is. Then Annabelle is kidnapped, something that happened right before Sean’s own eyes. But is he a reliable witness? Why doesn’t anyone seem to believe him? Sean is determined to find Annabelle no matter what it costs…

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If you are looking for an interesting thriller read with an original touch, Hunting Annabelle is a good option. Set in 1986, this story doesn’t follow the typical thriller structure and plot and with the help of unreliable narrator Sean you will find yourself spinning in circles while you try to figure out what is happening. The final twists were a bit too farfetched and over the top to be credible for me, but it definitely isn’t something you will see coming… Dark, intriguing, a healthy dose of blood and serial killer and a very interesting mental health angle: Hunting Annabelle has it all.


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