Sunday, July 23, 2017

Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry


Hello readers,

I know there are probably thousands of reviews for this one already out there but since it  has been a recent read for me I wanted to get my thoughts out there too.
I know that the Giver by Lois Lowry has been read frequently in english classes as a dystopian but when I was back in school we read Fahrenheit 451 and although I already loved dystopians back then I kind of never dived deeper into them.
No wonder I hadn`t heared of this one before I had watched the movie a while ago. I decided right away I have to read the book too, which sometimes can be a bad idea but in this case it wasn`t.
I am pretty sure I will take up the other three books of The Giver Quartett for today lets just talk about my thoughts on this first book of the series.

Jonas lives in a world of regulations. Everything is planned out for the people, they do not have a say in the choices of their life, like who they are marrying, how many children they will have, how they will name their children, their professions, etc..
It is a colourless world, because colours give you choices and you could make the wrong. It also makes sameness impossible.
The community claims all this is to protect the people in their community.
When Jonas is named the new Memory Keeper which is the greatest honor he recieves the Givers memories which opens his eyes about the world he is living in.

I honestly loved it. I feel it is a solid dystopian although I somehow missed that little final "spark" in it.
The ending felt a little bit rushed and got me a bit confused at first.

I really liked the Giver and Jonas but felt at a complete loss with the other characters and I guess that maybe was the little spark I missed.

Overall however I enjoyed this one so much. It is such a fast paced read and really gets you thinking.
So I gave this 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you for reading and let me know your thoughts on the book in the comments below!

I will see you again on Thursday (yes I couldn`t get the Wednesday for that one!) with an amazing guest post by Merryn Allingham.

Take care,
📚Nadja

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Top 5 Recommendations: Hard Topics "Non-Fiction"

Hello readers,

as a throwback to last week I wanted to show you five books today dealing with hard topics. Now I have read so many books dealing with hard topics over the years that narrowing them down was really hard, but I decided to devide them in non-fiction and fictional reads. So this week I will recommend to you five Non-Fiction reads, although two of them are actually fiction but dealing with real events and as I wanted to include them I decided to include them here.

So starting with the three Non-Fiction reads dealing with hard topics.


1. Unbearable Lightness by Portia De Rossi


Portia De Rossi is mostly known for her role in Ally McBeal and for being the wife of Ellen DeGeneres, at least she was for me.
What I didn`t knew was her story. Portia De Rossi suffered from eating disorders for many years, telling her story in this wonderful book. She isn`t sugar coating a thing in this novel. She is honest and open about it from the start to the end. How it developed and how it controlled her life. She didn`t left out a thing. The pictures that were added to this book were heart breaking to see and at the same time it made me really understand how dangerous it is and how easy it can be to cross the line from dieting to going over to an eating disorder. I went through so many emotions reading this book and I absolutely think every woman should read this book, especially before you consider dieting, because it will prepare you, it will yet know when you get too obsessed with your weight (I can say that from my own experience of loosing 35kg). It is a book that I reread a couple of times although it is a hard topic to read about.

2. Zoo station by Christiane F.


Is actually a german book. Christiane F. got introduced to marihuana at age 14 at a christian children home in Berlin, from there it didn`t took her long before she tried heroin for the first time and became a drug addict. To get the money for her drugs she became a child prostitute. Zoo station is telling her story. Again not sugar coating one thing this novel is an absolute must read in my eyes. Yes it has a lot of trigger warnings, but I read it at age 14 for the first time and it influenced me in the right direction. I never ever got interested in drugs and I can`t imagine anyone would after reading this. Her descriptions of trying to become clean, of hiding her double life from her mother who didn`t knew about her addiction for 2 year, who also didn`t knew that her child was working as a prostitute, are shocking and yet I would absolutely recommend to read it.

3. Waiting to be heard by Amanda Knox


Amanda Knox story was all over the world and I always wondered what was behind it.
I picked this book up two years ago and I was honestly shocked. I really never wanted to make my mind up wether she was innocent or not, but the way she got treated and that the italian authorities obviously weren`t trying to find evidence that might lead them to the real murderer but instead were trying to find evidence to pin it on her were scandalous to me.
Reading about her time in an italian jail and through her trial were really tough to read and made me really think about how many people might suffer innocent in jail.

On to the two books with fictional takes.

4. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut


Kurt Vonnegut survived the Allies' firebombing of Dresden in World War II as a prisoner-of-war in a slaughterhouse. The protagonist of Slaughterhouse Five does too, it is a central event in Billy Pilgrims life, which is why this novel is considered semi-autobiographical and I why I added it to my non-fiction recommendations. Vonnegut tells the experiences of World War II and Billy Pilgrims journeys through time, from being an American soldier and chaplains assistant to postwar in a satirical way. I felt the satirical elements did lighten it up but to me it stayed in the hard topics section. I read this actually when I was about 16 but it stuck with me.

5. Give a boy a gun by Morton Rhue


Is actually fiction but I felt it could be seen as a retelling of the school shooting in Columbine. I read this the first time when I was about 12 and honestly can still only recommend it. Bullying is such a central topic in todays society, this book takes it up and also shows some of the outcomes of it. Which in this case is a school shooting. It is definetly a shocking a read and it gave me the chills at times. But I re-read it so often, that the book looks like falling apart some time soon. Although it is fiction it felt incredible real to me.

That were my 5 recommendations for non-fiction hard topic reads. Let me know what you would recommend and if you have picked up any of these.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.
I see you again on Sunday for another bookish post.

Take care,
📚 Nadja

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Review: The New Recruit by Elise Abram


Hello readers,

to finish of this weeks blog tour by Elise Abram in celebration of her new novel The New Recruit I of course want to let you know my thoughts on her novel.

If you haven`t followed along with the blog tour you will find more on The New Recruit and Elise Abram here. You can also read how Elise got the idea for The New Recruit here.

Now lets jump into my review.

The New Recruit is in my eyes a YA Contemporary dealing with the topic of ecoterrorism and how terrorist organisations and cults recruit their people.
This book tells Judiths story, a teenage jewish girl, who has grown up very protected. After her mothers death and her father loosing his well paid job, trying to make ends meet, Judith has to switch from a private jewish school to a public school.
She immediately finds a great friend, but keeps suffering from social anxiety. To help her father she tries finding a job at the mall, where she gets approached from Cain, a so called recruiter who hides a dangerous secret, that Judith completely blinded from his beauty can`t see.

Now the topic of this novel is absolutely intriguing. It is something I always wondered. What is it that people draw to cults or organisations like this one? How do they pick their people? And why can`t people see the truth behind those organisations before they are way too far in it.

I honestly think Elise Abrams portayes the answers to these questions very well which makes it regardless of the heavy topic an enjoyable read. I however kept struggeling with the characters or maybe better said I wondered how naiv Judith can be. The romance was sweet at times, but since you already knew how it would end it was a bit annoying as well. However all those things that annoyed me were actually the answers to the question above! I simply got annoyed because I couldn`t relate to Judith and wanted to shake her and see what was going on. So Elise executed it very well and I absolutely think that this book is a great read.

I rated this book 3.5 out of 5 stars as I struggled so much with the main character Judith, I however think that the plot is very intriguing and it was a really quick read for such a heavy topic.

Thank you very much to Elise for touring Fit & Beautiful heart reads and for providing me with a review galley.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and I will see you again on Wednesday for another bookish post.

Take care,
📚Nadja

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Elise Abrams *Blog Tour* The Truth Behind the Fiction

Hello readers,

welcome to the 2nd Day of this weeks blog tour to celebrate the new novel of Elise Abram. If you have missed out on the first day, where we took a closer look at Elises` novel The New Recruit and Elise herself you can check it out here.

Have you ever wondered how an author came up with the idea for the novel you have just read? Elise will answer this question today in her post about the truth behind the fiction of The New Recruit.

I hope you enjoy her post and I will see you again soon for another bookish post...and a giveaway!



The Truth Behind the Fiction

When I was a teenager, my family business had a booth at the Canadian National Exhibition in the Food Building. My brother and I ran the booth during the day and my cousins at night. I was very insecure as a teenager, I wasn't popular, I didn't like the way I looked, I didn't like who I was, and I didn't date. So when a cute boy approached me to strike up a conversation at the counter one day, I was incredibly flattered. When he left, he said he'd come back a few days later to continue our conversation, which he did, only this time, he started spouting religious dogma in the middle of the conversation, which turned me off.

He told me the name of the organization he worked for and I went to the Coliseum Building to check it out. He wasn't there when I went, so I approached, questioned the people working there, and collected some flyers.  It turns out they were in the business of seeking out teens for the purpose of converting them to their way of thinking. I liken their organization to a cult, because in later years, a number of deprogramming stations for their organization and similar ones, popped up around the GTA. I was worried, but we came up with a plan:  the next time he came around, if I was in the back, someone would tell him I was busy, and if I was at the counter, someone would call me into the back on some "urgent" business. It just so happened that when he next came, I was in the back room and my brother told him I no longer worked there. He never came back.

When I was brainstorming for THE NEW RECRUIT, I thought about this experience and what might have happened if I hadn't had the support system I did. What if I'd ignored the warning signs and went with the recruiter because I was lonely, or if he had something to offer me that I couldn't find on my own?

THE NEW RECRUIT explores this question. Judith, my protagonist, is sixteen-years-old and she feels like an outsider. She's lonely because her mother has passed away, her father is always at work, and she only has one friend. She desperately wants to find a job so she can help her father with the finances and so he will be around more often. When she meets Cain at the mall, he strikes up a conversation with her, offers her a job, and eventually recruits her into his cult of ecoterrorists, which he is able to do because he makes her feel special, offers her something she can't find on her own, and she doesn't have a support system in place to protect her from going with him.

THE NEW RECRUIT is timely in that it deals with the question of how a child with a seemingly normal upbringing can easily separated from her family, brainwashed, and coerced into doing something that horrifies the majority of the population. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

The New Recruit by Elise Abram *Blog Tour* Author Close up and Book Blurb


Hello readers,

this week I am happy to welcome Elise Abram to Fit & Beautiful heart reads to celebrate her new novel The New Recruit.

Lets take a closer look at Elise`s novel before we jump to a little author close up.

Here is the blurb I got from Elise:


When sixteen-year-old Judith meets Cain, she has no idea what she's getting herself into. Cain is the most beautiful human being Judith has ever seen, but he hides a dangerous secret. When Jo-Jo, Cain's surrogate father, offers her a job, she accepts, unaware she's been recruited as a pawn in Jo-Jo's ecoterrorist plot.

THE NEW RECRUIT is a timely story, exploring how, without love and support from those around them, our disenfranchised youth can be so easily misguided.



 Sixteen year old Judith Abraham feels like an outsider. She has just transferred to a new school, has only one friend, and suffers from social anxiety, but when recruiter Cain Barrett offers her a job, her whole life changes. Things are great at first, but the more she learns about Cain's world of climate crusaders, the more she questions his motives behind singling her out. Will Judith find a way out before it's too late?

THE NEW RECRUIT is the first book of a trilogy (followed by Indoctrination) by author Elise Abram, winner of the 2015 A Woman's Write competition for I WAS, AM, WILL BE ALICE. THE NEW RECRUIT is a young adult contemporary romance for the new millennium. In a time when jobs are scarce, politics are unstable, and the future is uncertain, millennials are ripe for recruitment by cults, groups offering a stable world view in exchange for total devotion. THE NEW RECRUIT is meant to be a cautionary tale exploring how, without love and support from those around them, our disenfranchised youth can be so easily misguided.

The New Recruit is for sale at AmazonGoogle PlayiBookstoreKobo and Barnes & Noble Nook.
And trust me when I say it is really intriguing.

Now while working with Elise on this book tour and while reading her novel I kept wondering who is Elise?
Luckily she provided me with a little bio of herself which I find really fascinating.

So prepare yourself to get to know Elise Abram:




Elise Abram is high school teacher of English and Computer Studies, former archeologist, editor, publisher, award winning author, avid reader of literary and science fiction, and student of the human condition. Everything, she does, watches, reads and hears is fodder for her writing. She is passionate about writing and language, cooking, and ABS`s Once Upon a Time. In her spare time she experiments with paleo cookery, knits badly, and writes. She also bakes. Most of the time it doesn`t burn. Her family doesn`t seem to mind.

If you want to get in touch with Elise check out her Social Media: BlogFacebook Author PageTwitter and her Amazon Author Page.


Now this Blog Tour isn`t over yet!!! There is a little more to come this week by Elise. Make sure to stay tuned for her guest post on Wednesday where Elise will talk about The Truth Behind the Fiction.
You will of course get my thoughts on The New Recruit on Sunday.

I hope to see you soon with another bookish post.

Take care,
📚Nadja

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Review: Hope Dies Last by Megan Webb



Hello readers,

my first final exam is done and I just have three more to go.
During all the studying it is really relaxing to sit down with a fun read during the evenings. A couple of weeks ago Megan Webb approached me and offered me her book Hope Dies Last for review.

Hope Dies Last is an Alaskan adventure. Mekana works at a pet-store when one day her Super extroverted sister talks her into following her friend Chessy  along to Alaska to a funeral.
Socially introverted Mekana doesn't like the idea at first, but soon Chessy and her sister make it such an interesting idea to her that she can't say no to it.

In Alaska Mekana finds herself soon in the Alaskan wilderness as the victim of a crashed sightseeing plane. The survival battle starts soon but more interesting is what brought her in this situation in the first place.

As serious as this whole story sounds as interesting was it portrayed or maybe just perceived by me. After a funny start of conversations held in movie quotes it was hard for me to feel the seriousness of the situation once the plane crashed. I mean...come on, it is a serious situation and I just found it ridiculously funny at times, lacking eventually the tension of an adventure. Not saying it was bad, because after all I felt a serious situation got portrayed in a light way making it an absolutely enjoyable easy and quick read.
I definitely had some issues with it but that is due to personal preferences.

It is a solid 3 out of 5 stars.
It is funny, intriguing, easy to read and fast paced. So perfect for a quick beach read or a nighttime pick.

If you have picked up this book please let me know in the comments below.

Next week is a special!!!
I got a blog tour for you on the blog, so stay tuned for a guest post, a closer look at the author and finally my review on Sunday. If you want to know which author stops by make sure you check in during the week.

See you again soon for another bookish post.

Take care,
📚 Nadja

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

5 Reasons you should quit writing your novel

Hello readers,

today I am thrilled to welcome Stephen Clark to Fit & beautiful heart reads for a guest post celebrating the release of his debut novel Citizen Kill. It is available on Amazon.
There's plenty of tips out there for those who want to write  their first novel. But Stephen will share five reasons why you should think twice.


Ready to Pen That Next Great Debut Novel? Not So Fast

We’ve all heard the saying: Everyone has at least one good book in them. Some interpret that as a call to action. What am I waiting for?” they think. “Time to get started on that masterpiece.After completing my debut novel, slated for release on Independence Day, I have a different message for would-be novelists: Don’t get crazy. Building a snowman in the depths of hellwould be more practical. Or climbing Mt. Everest with one hand tied behind your back. If you’re about to embark on writing that great debut novel, here are five reasons why you should reconsider.

• IT’S HARDER THAN YOU THINK
The big appeal of writing a novel is that anyone can do it. No degrees required. No tests to pass. No funding necessary. Just grab a pen and paper or get in front of a screen and start pounding awayThere’s even a National Novel Writing Month that challenges participants to crank out a 50,000-word draft from scratch in just 30 days every November. But writing a novel with commercial appeal or literary value is a different story entirely. 

When I decided to pen my novel in the summer of 2013, I thought it would be a breeze – at least for me. With nearly a decade of professional writing experience at the time, including a stint with the Los Angeles Times, I was confident I knew what I was doing

Boy, was I wrong. 

I “finished” my manuscript the following summer, but I quickly discovered that I was just getting started. I went through countless more revisions over the next three years to address just about every rookie mistake imaginable. Head hopping? Check. Too many narrators? Check. Misused flashbacks? Check. In the end, all the material that landed on the cutting room floor actually exceeded the length of my final draft. It takes an incredible amount of hubris to write a novel. But it takes even more humility to do it the right way.

• YOU LIKE YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY – AND THEY LIKE YOU
I used to be the life of the party. Whether it was family barbecues, after-work drinks or sports gatherings with the boys, I always kept the jokes and stories comingBut a funny thing happened after I started writing my novel. I stopped going to the parties. Pretty soon, I no longer got invitations. Everyone knew I was too busy hanging out with my fictional buddies. It’s hard to say exactly how much time with my family and friends I sacrificed to write my novel. All I know for sure is at one point, I couldn’t pick my 7-year-old son out of a lineup – and my wife will never forgive me. Make sure you’re willing to lose time with family and friends because once it’s gone, you’ll never get it back.

• THERE’S NO POT OF GOLD AT THE END OF THE RAINBOW
Most novelists dream of getting a life-changing advance that validates their brilliance andcompensates them for all the blood, sweat and tears that shaped their manuscripts. I know I do. But if you’re lucky enough to even earn an advance, you can expect, on average, anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to $10,000. Even if you get a six-figure advance, as some of my author friends have, they’ll tell you it barely adds up to minimum wage when you factor in all the time spent on your baby. Don’t expect to make enough money to quit your day job any time soon, if ever. This is a labor of love.

• NO ONE WANTS TO READ YOUR BOOK
More than a million books are published in the U.S. each year, including 300,000 new titles from traditional publishers. That doesn’t include the millions of existing titles still available for sale. Meanwhile, overall book sales remain sluggish. Bottom line: There’way too many books out there and not enough readers. The only people waiting with bated breath for an unknown writer to release a debut novel are probably that writer’sparents and best friends. And I’m sure even they can wait.

It’s pretty hard, if not impossible, to gain attention when you’re competing in a super crowded marketplace for a limited number of eyeballs. That’s a big reason why writers so often face rejection on the road to publication, from agents to small presses to the Big 5 publishers. Even if your novel is a masterpiece, you’re going to need some luck in finding a substantial readership

• YOU CHERISH YOUR SANITY
When it comes to crafting a masterpiece, everyone knows writing is the fun part. Who doesn’t enjoy creating colorful characters, building new worlds and springing shocking plot twists on unsuspecting readers. But editing? (Big sigh) That’s the hard part and it’s what can drive some writers into madness. If you want your manuscript to shine bright, skillful editing is the only way. Writing is rewriting and rewriting and rewriting. At some point, though, reading and rewriting the same line over and over again will test the limits of your sanity.

As much as I self-edited my manuscript over the years, I was fortunate enough to work with a publisher that values editing and accepts nothing less than the absolute best. But that meant I had to go through my 85,000-word novel with a fine-tooth comb over and over again until I was begging for a session of waterboarding over another round of edits.I’ll probably never read my novel again without a few involuntary twitches.

The road to publication isn’t for the faint of heart. If you read this and you’re still determined to pursue this path, then that means only one thing: you’re truly a writer and nothing’s going to stand in your wayWelcome to the club and good luck with that great debut novel.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Review: Walk on earth a stranger by Rae Carson



Hello readers,

I am right before my finals and reading is sometimes hard for me during those weeks of crazy study hours and exams. Thankfully there aren't too many exams in one week this time, so I still managed to read a fair bit.

Today's review is on Walk on earth a stranger by Rae Carson but before I jump into the review I wanted to remind you all that I am going to kick off my new Wednesday posts with a guest post, so stay tuned for that one.

Now Walk on earth a stranger by Rae Carson is a young adult historical fiction novel with magical elements taking place during the Goldrush.
Leah "Lee" Westfale is a young girl who grew up in a loving family. With her dad sick she is forced to help with even the manly tasks which makes her a strong young girl, who can hunt and track. But Lee can do so much more. She can sense Gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth, small nuggets in a stream, even gold dust.
But what would someone do to control a girl with her powers?

One day Lee looses everything when her parents get murdered and she decides to flee west.
Who can she trust?

With this book I felt like a typical first book of a series. The characters get introduced and the adventure starts and that is really it. This book is really just the journey from Georgia to California, which do not get me wrong, is interesting to read about, but I really felt although I saw a great adventure there was not much happening.
I saw some great character developement and felt in the end very well introduced to the series (is it a duology or a trilogy or? Does anyone know? Let me know in the comments!) and I really hope this picks up in speed and adventure and action the second book.

As of now I am rating this book with 3 out of 5 stars. It was a really easy and quick read although I felt it moved slow and I really like the characters but somehow something is missing for me to give a higher rating.

Let me know how you enjoyed this book.

I will see you again on Wednesday with a guest post by Stephen Clark who's debut novel Citizen Kill will be released on Tuesday July 4. Stephen will talk about the 5 reasons why you should quit writing your novel and I really thing this will be an interesting and humorous post that is coming your way.
So make sure to check it out on Wednesday!

Take care,
📚 Nadja