Mount TBR challenge

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Conspiracy Of Blood And Smoke (Prisoner Of Night And Fog #2) – Anne Blankman

Published January 16, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

The gripping sequel to Prisoner of Night and Fog. The epic tale of one young woman racing to save the man she loves during one of history’s darkest hours. For fans of The Book Thief and Beneath a Scarlet Sky.’

It’s terrifying and incredible to think how much of this story is true’ Elizabeth Wein, author of Code Name Verity on Prisoner of Night and Fog 

Gretchen Muller has three rules for her new life:

1. Blend into the surroundings
2. Don’t tell anyone who you really are
3. Never, ever go back to Germany

Gretchen Whitestone has a secret: she used to be part of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle. When she made an enemy of her former friends, she fled Munich for Oxford with her love, Daniel Cohen. But then a telegram calls Daniel back to Germany, and Gretchen’s world turns upside down when he is accused of murder.

To save Daniel, Gretchen must return to her homeland and somehow avoid capture by the Nazi elite. As they work to clear Daniel’s name, they discover a deadly conspiracy stretching from the slums of Berlin to the Reichstag itself. Can they dig up the explosive truth and escape in time – or will Hitler find them first?

What did I think?:

Conspiracy Of Blood And Smoke is the second book in the Prisoner Of Night And Fog duology and if you like young adult historical fiction with a strong focus on Germany just prior to World War II, this is definitely the series for you. I’ve always had an interest in that period of history and love to indulge myself in a mixture of fiction and non-fiction so when I thoroughly enjoyed Prisoner Of Night And Fog recently, I was determined to find out what happened to Gretchen and Daniel in the follow up novel. Now, there’s always a worry for me that the second book in a series isn’t going to match the first but luckily Anne Blankman has written another stellar outing for our star-crossed lovers and it was wonderful to be back in Gretchen’s world once more, particularly when she returns to 1930’s Germany. The research the author has done into this period of time shines through in a believable, frightening and super atmospheric story that I devoured in about two sittings.

I’ll try to be kind of vague for those of you that haven’t read the first novel in the series yet but basically all you need to know is that Gretchen, former pet and golden girl of Adolf Hitler is forced to return to Germany with her Jewish boyfriend, Daniel after he receives a telegram in England that makes him worry for his friends and families lives. They return back to Germany in absolute secrecy and in disguise as Daniel is now a wanted criminal and Hitler is obviously very sore at the fact that his former Nazi protégée Gretchen is now in love with a Jewish man. Being discovered would mean certain death for both of our protagonists but they are determined to first of all, clear Daniel’s name for a murder he never committed, and to expose Hitler for the psychopath he is suggested to be to the British authorities before he can have the chance of ruling Germany and starting a war.

This series was recommended to me by my wonderful sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads and I literally jumped at the chance to read it when she told me the synopsis. You might know that I’m not the biggest fan of romance but for some reason, Gretchen and Daniel’s romance just touches my heart. I’m not sure if it was because she was raised by Hitler to hate all Jewish people and when she eventually met Daniel, she realised that Hitler’s propaganda was completely false and incredibly dangerous. I have to say, I am a bit of a sucker for a Romeo/Juliet type love story and this is exactly what this relationship feels like. However, I also adore that the author challenges normal gender stereotypes (especially in 1930’s Britain/Germany) by making our lead female protagonist quite the brave heroine that thinks nothing of risking her own life in order to save Daniel.

Another thing I love about this series is that not everything is tied up with a bow. We know as a reader, there isn’t necessarily going to be a happy ending, we realise from history that Hitler DOES end up becoming Chancellor of Germany and obviously, we understand that World War II did happen and a huge number of people lost their lives. The “bad guy,” cannot be vanquished in this case but Gretchen and Daniel do manage to carry out a great deal of good that alerts certain individuals to exactly how dangerous in fact Hitler really is. This novel feels for me like one big adventure with such fast-paced action that at times it almost left me breathless. Expect the unexpected, suspend your disbelief slightly and just enjoy the evocative world that Anne Blankman has created.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Conspiracy Of Blood And Smoke by Anne Blankman is the third book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest for the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

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The Thirst – Jo Nesbo

Published January 13, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

The murder victim, a self-declared Tinder addict. The one solid clue—fragments of rust and paint in her wounds—leaves the investigating team baffled.
Two days later, there’s a second murder: a woman of the same age, a Tinder user, an eerily similar scene.
The chief of police knows there’s only one man for this case. But Harry Hole is no longer with the force. He promised the woman he loves, and he promised himself, that he’d never go back: not after his last case, which put the people closest to him in grave danger.
But there’s something about these murders that catches his attention, something in the details that the investigators have missed. For Harry, it’s like hearing “the voice of a man he was trying not to remember.” Now, despite his promises, despite everything he risks, Harry throws himself back into the hunt for a figure who haunts him, the monster who got away.

What did I think?:

The Thirst is the second book in the Richard and Judy Spring Reads 2018 book club and how happy am I that they’ve picked this book?! Well, very happy I’ll tell you. I do love a bit of Jo Nesbo and have previously enjoyed a number of books in the Harry Hole series in my pre blogging days including The Redbreast, The Snowman and The Leopard. However, I’ve kind of got out of sync with the series and haven’t read any for the longest time. I’m a bit of a stickler for wanting to read things like this in order, as you might know but when Richard and Judy chose Jo Nesbo’s latest book featuring the stalwart and determined detective Harry Hole, I thought I would loosen my rules and regulations slightly and give it a go. I have to admit, I was a bit dubious at the start, especially as it has a certain “vampirish” element which isn’t really my bag (I was expecting some Twilight-esque horrors!) but after a mere fifty pages – WOW. I slipped right back into the author’s characteristic and entertaining writing style, was bowled over by the characters and plot and am determined to go back and re-visit the series, including any books I’ve missed along the way.

As with most thrillers, it would be giving too much away to tell you everything but if you’ve never come across Harry Hole before, you’re in for a treat. At the time of the story, he is working as a lecturer to young, keen, up and coming police officers and is called back into the force when a case arises that he may have a personal invested interest in. The one that got away. The murderer that continues to haunt his dreams is back and has a score to settle. The perp has a very peculiar M.O. that involves Tinder users and a pair of specially made, deadly iron teeth. The investigating detectives must use all the skills and prior knowledge from Harry Hole if they are to catch a vicious predator that puts a whole new spin on the word “psychopath.”

Jo Nesbo is one of the very few authors for me who writes characters that really get under your skin. Of course, I have an especially soft spot for our main man, Harry but he seems to have also developed his female characters wonderfully, including the lead detective on the case, Katrine Bratt and can I just take a moment to applaud the construction of his villain? Sadistic, twisted, terrifying – this is one man it would be quite easy to have a nightmare about when you finish reading this novel! Even the background characters that have less of a prominent role are drawn to perfection, all have distinct personalities and all of them feel incredibly authentic.

Now I want to talk about the plot (and also tell myself off a little bit for being so SMUG). I thought I knew where this book was going. In fact, I was so sure that I knew who the villain was and their motive that I was actually going to reduce my rating of this book by half a star as I thought I had it all worked out! Shame on me because I actually didn’t and I was completely taken back and delighted to be proved wrong. I was also left reeling by all the twists and turns, which were numerous and completely unexpected but so intricate and obviously beautifully planned by the author. The sign of a good book in my mind is when you keep thinking about it when you’re not reading it and can’t wait to return to it. This is how I felt whilst reading The Thirst. It’s a bit of a beast at just over 600 pages but every single page is worth your effort, I promise. I couldn’t get the story or the characters out of my head and I cannot give it any less than the full five stars. If you’ve never read any Jo Nesbo before, this can definitely be read as a stand alone although I would always suggest starting from the beginning of the series (in this case, The Bat) to get the full flavour of Harry’s back story. However, if you’ve read and loved Jo Nesbo before, what are you waiting for?!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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The Thirst by Jo Nesbo is the second book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in The Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018!

 

Mount TBR Challenge 2018

Published January 9, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good New Year so far? In my Bookish Goals/Resolutions for 2018 I mentioned that I had seen the Mount TBR Reading Challenge on Jo’s Book Blog. Well, I’ve decided to go for it and participate in this challenge! This challenge is in it’s seventh year and was designed by My Reader’s Block (check out the sign up post and full rules HERE).

The reason I’d like to participate is that I have four full bookshelves of mostly unread books just begging to be read and I would really like to get on top of them/reduce the numbers slightly this year! I’ll just go through some of the basic rules here so that you can have an idea of what the challenge entails if you’re interested:

There are a number of levels or mountains to conquer that you can choose to fit in with the number of books that you’d like to read. For example:

Pike’s Peak: Read 12 books from your TBR pile/s
Mount Blanc: Read 24 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Vancouver: Read 36 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Ararat: Read 48 books from your TBR piles/s
Mt. Kilimanjaro: Read 60 books from your TBR pile/s
El Toro: Read 75 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Everest: Read 100 books from your TBR pile/s
Mount Olympus (Mars): Read 150+ books from your TBR pile/s

Now, I don’t know if this is just crazy talk and I might live to regret this but I’m going to go for Mount Everest – 100 books from my TBR. Aaaagh!

The Rules (from My Reader’s Block site):

*Once you choose your challenge level, you are locked in for at least that many books. If you find that you’re on a mountain-climbing roll and want to tackle a taller mountain, then you are certainly welcome to upgrade.  All books counted for lower mountains carry over towards the new peak.

*Challenge runs from January 1 to December 31, 2018.

*You may sign up anytime from now until November 1st, 2018.

*Books must be owned by you prior to January 1, 2018. No library books. If you’re looking for a library book challenge or one that counts books on your non-owned TBR list, then there may be challenges out there that do that. This one does not.

*Rereads may count only in the following circumstances: If you did not own the book when you read it long ago and far away [based on your age, you can decide what that might mean] and you bought the book pre-January 1, 2018 intending to reread it now that it’s your very own.  [To clarify–the intention is to reduce the stack of books that you have bought for yourself or received as presents {birthday, Christmas, “just because,” etc.}. Audiobooks and E-books may count if they are yours and they are one of your primary sources of backlogged books.]

*You may count any “currently reading” book that you begin prior to January 1–provided that you had 50% or more of the book left to finish when January 1 rolled around.  I will trust you all on that.

*You may count “Did Not Finish” books provided they meet your own standard for such things, you do not plan to ever finish it, and you move it off your mountain [give it away, sell it, etc. OR remove it from your e-resources]. For example, my personal rule (unless it’s a very short book) is to give a book at least 100 pages. If I decide I just can’t finish it and won’t ever, then off the mountain it goes and I count it as a victory–the stack is smaller!

*Books may be used to count for other challenges as well.

*Feel free to submit your list in advance (as incentive to really get those books taken care of) or to tally them as you climb.

*There will be quarterly check-ins and prize drawings!

I’m really looking forward to reducing my TBR and reading some of the books that I’ve had on my shelves for the longest time. Hoping to conquer that pesky Mount Everest so….

Bookish Resolutions And Goals For 2018

Published January 8, 2018 by bibliobeth

Image from: http://msbookish.com/2015-goals-bookish-goals-for-the-new-year/

Hello everyone and welcome to a post that I don’t normally do but for some reason, I thought it might be nice to do for 2018. I don’t normally like to make too many rules and regulations for my blog but due to the sheer volume of the books that I own, the back-list of reviews I still have to write etc. I thought it might be time to set some things down, just to give me some sort of direction for the year ahead. I’ve written down TEN major resolutions and then I’ve slotted in another FIVE general ones (just because once I started I found it quite difficult to stop…oops!) So, here we go!

1.)  Put less pressure on myself to blog every day.

I came a little way to doing this last year when I was ill. I did get to the stage where I just thought: “Oh *%$* it!” but there was still that residual guilt when I didn’t get a post done every day. 😦

2.) Gradually reduce review back-list by continuing to do mini-pin it reviews.

I came a long way doing this last year – to date I’ve done 16 mini-pin it reviews which means sixty-four books that were originally on my review back-list are GONE! Definitely will continue this.

3.) Use notebook to make notes on titles “currently reading” so when I come to review them, things are fresher in my memory.

I recently bought a lovely notebook from Faye at Daydreaming Designs and used it to compile this list and a few other things already this year in the attempt to make me a little more organised!

4.) Be honest with myself if I’m unable to take on a review title especially those requested by authors directly that are not really my cup of tea.

When I first started blogging, I used to love that authors requested me to read their books and used to accept EVERYTHING. Then I realised how stupid this was and that I couldn’t possibly do this and read the things I WANTED to read as well. I have got better at refusing review requests but need to stop feeling bad about it too.

5.) Be better about commenting on other bloggers reviews.

Again something I have got a little better with last year but I still perhaps don’t comment as much as I should. Sometimes I think I’ve got nothing else to say except “Great review!” but even if I just say that it’s letting the blogger know I enjoyed their post.

6.) Attend more bookish events/author talks.

I love doing this and unfortunately chronic illness slows me down in this A LOT. I work in London and there is the potential to attend events after work however if I do that and get home late I’m likely to knacker myself for work the next morning. However, once in a while wouldn’t hurt!

7.) Continue with “Shelfie by Shelfie” meme and hopefully encourage others to participate.

I’ve really enjoyed developing my little meme last year, something I thought I could never do. I have a lot of shelves so there are many, many more shelfies to come and hopefully I can inspire someone else to join in too.

8.) Experiment with making reviews a little “fresher” i.e. use of images relevant to post.

I love bloggers that use images/GIF’s which highlight their content and break up the text a little bit. I’ve been thinking of doing something like this myself but we’ll see how it goes…

9.) Read some of those books I’ve been meaning to get to for years.

For example, A Song Of Fire And Ice by George R.R. Martin, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty and Tipping The Velvet by Sarah Waters. Some of these books have been on my shelves/Kindle for FAR too long!

10.) Start doing some buddy reads/join an online bookclub.

I’ve never done a buddy read before and it looks like such fun! I already have tentative plans with the lovely Janel from Keeper Of Pages to read The Fireman by Joe Hill this year so I’m really hoping that takes off. Just saying it right here, right now, if I mention a book and you’re open to a buddy read with me – let’s do it!

OTHER CHALLENGES:

  • Increase NetGalley ratio to a more acceptable level. – you don’t want to know my ratio…it’s shameful.
  • Participate in Mount TBR challenge. – I saw this on Jo’s Book Blog and it looks like a lot of fun!
  • Continue to enjoy Banned Books and Kid-Lit with Chrissi. – this should be easy, I’ve done this every year since I started blogging.
  • Read and review Richard And Judy book club picks. – also something I’ve done every year since I started blogging.
  • Read and review Daunt Books from annual subscription each month. – my wonderful boyfriend got me a Daunt Books Annual Subscription for Christmas so I get one new paperback each month. I’m determined to read and review them each month they come in. Let’s see how I do.

So everyone….

Image from: https://www.appbrain.com/app/wish-me-luck/com.Starlab.WML

 

Blog Tour – The Missing Girl by Jenny Quintana

Published January 7, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

When Anna Flores’ adored older sister goes missing as a teenager, Anna copes by disappearing too, just as soon as she can: running as far away from her family as possible, and eventually building a life for herself abroad.

Thirty years later, the death of her mother finally forces Anna to return home. Tasked with sorting through her mother’s possessions, she begins to confront not just her mother’s death, but also the huge hole Gabriella’s disappearance left in her life – and finds herself asking a question she’s not allowed herself to ask for years: what really happened to her sister?

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to the lovely Annabelle Wright and Mantle publishers for getting to touch to ask me if I’d like to read a copy of debut novel The Missing Girl, in exchange for an honest review and to be part of the blog tour. Well of course I jumped at the chance, especially when I saw it getting early rave reviews from bloggers I know and trust, like the wonderful Cleopatra Loves Books who wrote a fantastic review HERE. I trust Cleo implicitly as we tend to have a similar taste in books, particularly crime fiction so I knew I was in for a great reading experience even before I started. Luckily, this book was everything I had anticipated it to be. From a quiet build up that became even more menacing as the story unfolded, I loved everything about this novel. The writing, the plot, the characters….all these factors combined to make this story an unforgettable read that I didn’t want to end.

I’m not going to go too deeply into the nuances of the plot as obviously, with this sort of genre, the less you know the better and I prefer to go into these kinds of books knowing as little as possible. Basically, it follows our main female protagonist, Anna Flores who has returned home after her mothers’ death to deal with everything in the house, the family business – all those horrible, sad little things we have to deal with after someone close to us passes away. Coming back to her home town after being abroad in Athens, Anna is reminded of a terrible event thirty years ago when her older sister Gabriella went missing that she is now forced to confront. Nothing was ever discovered about what happened to Gabriella and who, if anyone was to blame. However, Anna now makes it her mission to uncover exactly what happened to her beloved sister.

As the reader, we are taken along a dual time-line, the present, where Anna is performing one last house clearance for her father’s old business, The House Of Flores and then we are also whisked back to 1982 and see the last months/days/hours just prior to Gabriella’s mysterious disappearance and how this affects the whole family. As this is such a steady build-up before any “big reveals,” I really felt we got to know the characters intimately, particularly Anna who became such a three-dimensional person and almost bounced off the pages for me with her vibrancy. She isn’t a perfect character, not by any stretch of the imagination and is particularly awful to one of the background characters, Martha. This is not why I liked her so much though. I thought she was written in a completely authentic way, she made mistakes, said horrible things but also felt intensely guilty afterwards for her actions and tried to make amends. Her adoration for her older sister was one of the sweetest parts of the narrative and I really felt sorry for her at points as she felt sometimes on the outside in the family unit.

Growing up in the 1980’s I also adored all the eighties references in this novel which were incredibly nostalgic to read i.e. Margaret Thatcher, The Falklands War (which my dad served in as a soldier) and classic songs like “Come On Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Runners. Alongside all this, the sense of foreboding throughout the story is eerie and tantalising and makes you want to read “just one more chapter” just to figure out what’s going on. We have no idea what’s happened to Gabriella until the very end and it’s obvious more than one person is hiding a secret which makes the unveiling all the more exciting in an ending that was gripping and incredibly surprising. I’m really looking forward to seeing what this author is going to do in the future and I’ll certainly be watching out for her next novel.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

The Missing Girl by Jenny Quintana is my first book in my attempt to conquer Mount Everest on the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Jenny Quintana grew up in Essex and Berkshire, before studying English Literature in London. She has taught in London, Seville and Athens and has also written books for teaching English as a foreign language. She is a graduate of the Curtis Brown Creative writing course. She now lives with her family in Berkshire. The Missing Girl is her first novel.

Find Jenny on GoodReads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17206031.Jenny_Quintana

or on Twitter at: @jennyquintana95

Thank you once again to Annabelle Wright and Mantle publishers for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. The Missing Girl by Jenny Quintana is out now, published by Mantle in hardback and priced at £14.99. The blog tour is running from Thursday 28th December until Thursday 11th January so don’t forget to check out my fellow bloggers stops for some more fantastic reviews!

GoodReads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36261291-the-missing-girl

Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Missing-Girl-Jenny-Quintana/dp/150983950X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1515173893&sr=8-1&keywords=the+missing+girl+jenny+quintana