Little Match Girl

By Dianne Hartsock

This book was provided to me for free by IndiGo Marketing in exchange for an honest review.

After the death of his mother Dani has no one left except his abusive, constantly drunk father and the last couple of candles his mother used to make and they used to sell together. But before he’d ever sleep under the same roof as his father he’d sleep on the street. That’s where Chris, the cute guy from the sandwich shop finds him and their finding one another – losing – finding one another again… story starts.

It’s actually a story with a lot of stuff happening and a lot of side topics that are just touched upon which leaves the impression of stereotyping and additionally reading through a summary and not a proper story. Neither do the characters get a chance to really get to know each other nor does the reader get really attached to them since it all seems kind of superficial. So although Dani’s fate is really heartbreaking it didn’t really get to me. I mean, please don’t get me wrong, thinking of a guy like him of course makes me sad but just reading about him in that story didn’t get to me.

But all in all, it’s actually a cute and quick and easy to read Christmas story, that doesn’t go into any depth, although the content would certainly give it away, or even demand it in my opinion.

Dreidel to the Grave

By Yoel Bereket

I got a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Nine years after WWII the Israeli Gal, a self-declared Nazi-hunter, has one huge aim in his life and that is finding and killing Hitler.

Disregarding the backstory, it’s a fast-paced action thriller. It tells the story in the third person – mostly from Gal’s perspective. Emotions or feelings are not described. They somehow emerge from the plot and you can guess what they are, but you never read about them. If it weren’t for the horrible times in the background, on which this thriller is based, the story probably wouldn’t have really gotten to me either. I would have just enjoyed another action thriller from a guy who experienced something tragic in childhood and that would have been it.

But living in Austria and having grandparents and great uncles and aunts who still have experienced that time made it really difficult for me reading through the lines and enjoying the plot. Those times were simply horrible and killing all those people who did those horrible things isn’t the solution. So the question which was on my mind all the way through the book was: “What makes Gal any better than the Nazis?” And what is accomplished by continuing the killing? People shall receive their justified punishment for their deeds. But what makes the actual good people any better if they do it the same way the bad people did it? What makes Gal the better (as in less sinful) serial killer?

I find the story of Gal’s childhood, which is no doubt horrific, a bit cliché. Yes, there were some Jewish people who wanted to defend their businesses and were murdered for it, but many were murdered or taken to concentration camps simply for their beliefs.

Perhaps, or even probably, I am the wrong person to review this book, as I cannot view it disregarding its historical context. If the thriller took place in modern times, I would certainly give it 4 stars, but as it is, the highest I can give it is 3 stars. It’s just too close a reference to one of the most horrific times in history for me.

Tipping the Balance

by C. Koehler

This book was provided to me for free by IndoGo Marketing in exchange for an honest review. 

This story is the second in the series CalPac Crew. I think it could be read as a standalone but it definitely helps reading book 1 ‘Rocking the Boat’ first. First there are many references to book one, second the main characters of ‘Rocking the Boat’, Morgan and Nick, play an important role in that book too, although they are side characters now, and third Brad and Drew, the two main characters of this book, are already introduced and start crushing on each other in the first book.

But now let’s concentrate on ‘Tipping the Balance’. It’s a cute book, although I liked part one slightly more and it gets kind of long in some parts.

Drew St. Charles an openly gay guy and Nick’s best friend has a crush on one of Nick’s ex-students/athletes Brad Sunderstorm. 

Brand Sunderstorm, who had recently graduated university and has never questioned his heterosexuality so far, suddenly can’t stop thinking about Drew St. Charles. 

Both men like to question their friends Nick and Morgan about the other but never get the guts to call each other until one day Brad does. And although admitting his feelings for Drew doesn’t take Brad real long, thinking of it… and thinking of being gay really freaks him out. Even more since he has grown up with a kind of psychological abusing, homophobic father. But eventually Brad comes to terms and commits to a relationship with Drew, but one step at a time… Or like Drew calls it: ‘babysteps’. Brad slowly gets used on kissing a man and having sex with him, but two things he can’t bring himself to is being the ‘top’ and being openly gay and seen in public with his boyfriend, which eventually leads to a fight between the two men. Up till this part the book was real great and smooth, but then there was this cut and it started getting a kind of boring. I mean it was obvious that something still had to happen and it was also predictable that there’d come a break up or a huge fight, so I was prepared to it. And there were some real good ideas there, but it somehow didn’t fit anymore.

So Drew and Brad have a huge fight about being public, which leads to Drew going dancing with Nick and Morgan and Brad going home. But at the club Drew gets beaten up and is really injured badly and his mobile is damaged. So far so good, but then no one calls Brad to tell him about the accident until three days later, although Nick and Morgan haven’t left Drew’s side. Once in hospital they didn’t think about calling Brad. When Nick finally calls Brad he tells him visiting Drew wouldn’t be a good idea and forgets to mention that Drew’s mobile had been damaged during the accident. So Brad is sure Drew wants to break up and has therefore even his changed telephone number since he can’t reach him. So he really stays away… so easily, he isn’t even fighting for the man he loves. 

Drew isn’t better, when he wakes up from his coma and Nick tells him of the damage he has done by telling Brad not to come and visit him, he is of course angry with Nick but doesn’t call Brad either.

Reading through those scenes really got me lose my patience. There are two men who had one fight (no one talked about breaking up then) but love each other are eventually breaking up by not talking while one is in a coma. I mean seriously, if my boyfriend whom I love had an accident I’d go and try visiting him for whatever it takes… But that’s little old me and obviously not those two characters. So the question is: will they find their hea together?

Ruby and Alfie – Don’t Push That Button!

Hil Gibb

This book was provided to me for free by Free and Fast Reviews in exchange for an honest review. 

As you can imagine, I‘m normally not really into kids’ books *lol*. But since you’ve got to do a lot of story reading as an aunt of several nieces and nephews, I’m always happy for some new books I haven’t come across yet. So, I decided to read and review this one when I was asked.

First of all, it has to be said that Ruby and Alfie is a series. But since I’d never heard about it before, it was the first book I read but I think I gonna read some more in the future when my smaller nieces or nephews are over. 

Ruby and Alfie are twins who seemingly don’t understand the word ‘don’t’ quite well. So you experience a day in the life of those two kids where they do a lot of stuff they shouldn’t do and are always told not to do it. Like ‘Alfie don’t push the button’ or ‘Ruby don’t speak with your mouth full’. And of course, all the kids really understand is: ‘push the button’ or ‘speak with your mouth full’. It’s like in real life – a ‘don’t’ easily turns into a ‘do’ in a kid’s mind. So, at the end of the day everyone is mad with Ruby and Alfie and they are sent to bed early. Of course, they don’t understand why because they don’t know what they have done wrong. But luckily there is the family’s dog who can perform some magic and so he turns back time and lets the whole family live through the day again. This time the kids aren’t told what they shouldn’t do but what they should do and why. For example: “Leave the button alone, Alfie. It’s a very important button that…”. And this time the kids follow the instructions and they get through the day without any trouble. 

At the end of the story there are some tips and explanations for parents. In this book they explain why you shouldn’t tell your kids what they shouldn’t do but instead tell your kids what you want them to do.

All in all, the story was quite cute, but I think it was a bit too long. In my opinion the book is suited for kids between the age of 4 to 7. And I think kids will need some explaining or at least talking about the story after you’ve read it to them the first time if you want them to learn something out of it. So, kids should be able to sit through all of that.

Immaculate Conception

by I.J. Miller

This book was provided to me for free by the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Physically abused Alice meets mentally abused Maddie and the two of them deicide getting a child and giving it all the love in the world.

Tbh at the beginning I absolutely didn’t get into the story. It all starts in a cheap motel room where Maddie and Alice try to protect their Babyboy Jesse from the police who have already surrounded the motel they are in.

The scene is the told form Maddie’s, Alice’s and the Police officer’s point of view, but for me it somehow felt like a simple description of what everyone is doing since I didn’t get any feelings.

Every other chapter in the first part is alternately about Al’s or Maddie’s childhood. So between the scenes in the motel-room we get to know about Al’s dad who started abusing Al when she was 8 years old and how she experienced her teenage years. And Maddie’s childhood and teenage years with a mother who mentally abused her and at the same time made Maddie through autoaggressive acts to stay with her. Yet although both stories are really horrible and you get kind of goosebumps while reading, something was missing. It’s hard to describe but I was reading through these chapters, thinking ‘how awful’ but didn’t feel sad for one of the girls or angry with one of the parents.

Then the second part starts and it’s all about Maddie and Al getting to know each other. That was the moment I slowly started getting into the story. But still didn’t feel with or for Maddie or Al but for Wynn, a Canadian student who saved Al from a bunch of his mates and whose career as an athlete comes to an abrupt end through a car accident. Al later marries him – still out of thankfulness for rescuing her – so that he doesn’t have to go back to Canada. Later Al also gets his sperm so that she and Maddy can have their baby.

And that leads us to part three – Maddie’s and Al’s escape from their baby’s daddy and rich grandpa who wants to have custody. Now the story really had me. I got Al’s feelings, I got Maddy’s feelings and I felt with them, I hoped with them, I feared for them through their whole journey through the states till they see the skyline of New York.

Through this chapter you see parallels between Al and Maddie’s mum – both women want to rule over Maddie. But Maddie has her baby boy now who she has to protect – Will she manage to escape another person who tries to influence her and make her own decisions or will she do whatever Al demands even if it meant killing her and the baby?