BOOK REVIEW: I Was Here – by Gayle Forman

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Title: I Was Here
Author: Gayle Forman
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction
First published: January 27th 2015
Finished reading: September 3rd 2015
Pages: 288
Rating 3,5qqq

“Life can be hard and beautiful and messy, but hopefully, it will be long. If it is, you will see that it’s unpredictable, and that the dark periods comes, but they abate — sometimes with a lot of support — and the tunnel widens, allowing the sun back in. If you’re in the dark, it might feel like you will always be there. Fumbling. Alone. But you won’t — and you’re not.”

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I Was Here was one of my TBR jar picks and it’s also the first time I’ve read anything by Gayle Forman. I know a lot of people love her work, but I have been avoiding her books so far because I was afraid there would be too much romance involved. I’m definitely glad my TBR jar got me to read I Was Here, because I really enjoyed her writing style. It was an interesting read, although I have to admit I’ve read better books with the same suicide theme. That or maybe I’m suffering from a YA contemporary fiction overdose… The main characters are not exactly likeable, but at least they feel real. Meg and her depression, Cody trying to understand why her best friend would do such a thing and Ben who broke Meg’s heart and slowly wins over Cody’s… Each character is without doubt well developed. Not everything about the story is original or completely credible, but overal it’s quite an enjoyable read despite the serious topic. Recommended if you enjoy reading YA contemporary fiction.

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Meg decided she couldn’t stand living any longer and made a plan to end her life; drinking a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room. Her best friend Cody is devastated and simply doesn’t understand why Meg would do such a thing. They were supposed to share everything, but Cody never saw it coming. Where were the warning signs? Meg’s parents ask Cody to travel to her college town to pack up Meg’s things, but when she arrives there Cody discovers something more than just her belongings. Meg had a whole different life in her college town Cody didn’t know anything about, and it looks like Meg was hiding quite a few secrets… What were the real circumstances around Meg’s death?

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I Was Here is without doubt an interesting enough read and I enjoyed Gayle Forman‘s prose. I wasn’t exactly a fan of the main characters, but they help shine a light on a very serious topic: (teen) depression and suicide. Like with Meg, sometimes the signs are not all that clear and forums like the one that visited Meg can push people over the edge. It’s definitely a story that will leave its mark.

BOOK REVIEW: Five Weeks In The Amazon – by Sean Michael Hayes

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Title: Five Weeks In The Amazon
Author: Sean Michael Hayes
Genre: Non Fiction, Travel
First published: December 2nd 2014
Finished reading: September 2nd 2015
Pages: 270
Rating 2,5qqq

“Saying the jungle is amazing is like saying the Sistine Chapel is a masterpiece. In reality, they are both much more than words can describe, and the true essence of both can only be found through experiencing them.”

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Since the departure date of our backpacking adventure is coming closer (next Saturday!), I have been trying to read more travel themed books to really get in the travel mood. I found Five Weeks In The Amazon particularly interesting because I’ve been in Peru twice myself, although I’ve never actually visited the Amazon… It’s easy to say I really enjoyed the setting and it was nice to learn more about the Ayahuasca ritual and Sean Michael Hayes‘ experiences with the drug. It was a fast read as well, although I did have some problems with it. The most important one is the Spanish used in Five Weeks In The Amazon; it’s a real eyesore to a philologist like myself. I can understand crappy Spanish as long as he is trying to portray his own lack of knowledge of the language, but the locals speaking this way? I would actually have prefered reading the English translation of those dialogues. I couldn’t completely agree with his way of life either, but I guess that is something personal… That said, it is still quite an interesting and entertaining read if you want to learn more about the Ayahuasca ritual.

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Five Weeks In The Amazon tells the true story of the author’s adventures in the Amazon jungle. He travels to Peru to try and find the answers on some of his questions about life with the help of the Ayahuasca ritual. He spends various weeks going back and forth between Iquitos and the jungle to experience several Ayahuasca rituals. A local shaman is helping him with his journey and healing process, and we read more about how the drug is affecting both his body and those of the other people who participate.

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This non fiction story is without doubt an interesting read and is more about emotional than physical travel. If you want to learn more about the Ayahuasca ritual, Five Weeks In The Amazon is probably a good choice if you are not too focused on the spiritual journey. I did have some problems with the story and it wasn’t one of my favorite reads this year, but I’m still glad I’ve read it. I’m not sure I would want to have my own experience with Ayahuasca, but I definitely respect those who have been brave enough to try it.

Friday Finds #53 – September 11th

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FRIDAY FINDS is originally featured at A Daily Rhythm and showcases the most interesting books I’ve encountered during the last week and have added to my neverending TBR list on Goodreads. Below a selection of my newest additions; click on the book descriptions to go to its Goodreads page! 😀

My finds:

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Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: The Goldfinch – by Donna Tartt

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Title: The Goldfinch
Author: Donna Tartt
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
First published: October 22nd 2013
Finished reading: August 31st 2015
Pages: 771
Rating 3qqq

“And as much as I’d like to believe there’s a truth beyond illusion, I’ve come to believe that there’s no truth beyond illusion. Because, between ‘reality’ on the one hand, and the point where the mind strikes reality, there’s a middle zone, a rainbow edge where beauty comes into being, where two very different surfaces mingle and blur to provide what life does not: and this is the space where all art exists, and all magic.”

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I’ve had a copy of The Goldfinch on my TBR shelf pretty much ever since it came out, but somehow I have been a bit hesitant to actually start reading it. It’s quite a big read and although I normally don’t mind those, I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the slow pace (especially in the beginning). I will have to agree with those complaints. There is no doubt that The Goldfinch is a very well written novel and I enjoyed Donna Tartt‘s prose in general. But the mere fact that it took me almost two months to actually finish the novel and I was able to finish no less than 44! other novels while I was ‘not’ reading this one says a lot about The Goldfinch… The story itself is very interesting and I liked the idea of the journey of both the main character and the painting, but the pace was so slow that it took me a hard time to stay focused. I have the feeling that I would have liked the novel a lot better if it would have been at least 200 pages shorter. Sure, that way it loses some of its literary value, but it would be way more pleasant to read. Would I recommend this one? If you like literary fiction, love art and don’t mind a big book with a slow pace, The Goldfinch is without doubt an interesting read.

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Theo Decker survives an explosion in a New York museum and a valuable painting comes into his possession. His mother didn’t survive the accident and his father had abandoned them some time before, so Theo finds him without a real home. He is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend and is having difficulties adapting to this new strange life without his mother. The only thing that reminds him of her is the small captivating painting of a goldfinch; a painting the whole world has been looking for ever since the explosion. The goldfinch travels with Theo throughout the years and brings him to different cities, adventures and even countries. As an adult, the painting has become dangerous and is his actions all those years ago came back to haunt him…

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The Goldfinch is without doubt a beautifully written novel and I can understand why it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Still, the pace was so slow in the beginning that it is very hard to stay focused and continue reading until the pace finally picks up. The last part set in Amsterdam is without doubt the part with the most action in it, and I really enjoyed the many cultural references. It made me crave some of the local food; boy do I miss zuurkool! The prose is very well written and I found many inspiring quotes while I was reading. That said, I don’t think The Goldfinch is a read for everyone. If you have the time and don’t mind the effort, it can be an interesting read though.

BOOK REVIEW: The Girl On The Train – by Paula Hawkins

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Title: The Girl On The Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: January 13th 2015 
Finished reading: August 28th 2015
Pages: 336
Rating 3,5qqq

“It’s ridiculous, when I think about it. How did I find myself here? I wonder where it started, my decline; I wonder at what point I could have halted it. Where did I take the wrong turn?”

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There has been a mayor hype around this book ever since it was published back in January and it already broke all kinds of records. I normally prefer to stay away from overhyped books, mostly because they tend to disappoint me. I was told to start reading The Girl On The Train with low expectations, and that is probably why I was able to enjoy it a lot better than I initially thought. I don’t think it’s actually worth the huge hype around it, but it is still quite an entertaining read. Paula Hawkins uses an unreliable narrator to tell the story and has you guessing for a long time what really happened to Megan. I like the idea of an unreliable narrator, but like with Gone Girl, I didn’t actually like the main characters and I just couldn’t connect to them. The prose is quite easy to read and the many plot twists make you want to continue reading to find out what really happened that day, but I found especially the whole Anna-Rachel scenes really annoying and repetitive. If you like the genre and enjoyed Gone Girl, you will probably love The Girl On The Train as well. Just remember not to set your expectations too high…

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Rachel’s husband left her for another woman after she became depressed and started drinking. To make things worse, the new woman Anna was pregnant; something Rachel has been wanting for years. Her drinking problem is getting out of hand, and she is not sure how long she can go on… Rachel was fired months ago, but still takes the same commuter train every morning to make her flatmate think she goes to work. Every day she travels past the neighborhood she used to live. The train stops at the signal that allows her to see both her old house and that of a couple that seems to have the perfect life. Rachel never met them, but she starts to believe she really knows them. And then she sees something shocking. Even worse, the woman she ‘knows’ as Jess disappears the next day… Rachel wants to tell the cops what she has seen, but will they believe a drunk? And can she truly trust her own memories?

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I had Gone Girl flashbacks while reading The Girl On The Train. For me both books have suffered from the huge hype around them and I don’t think they actually lived up to expectations. I do like the fact that the story has an unreliable narrator, but I wasn’t a fan of the main characters and some of their actions where annoying and repetitive. Rachel has a drinking problem and there is quite a lot of domestic violence included in the story; it’s not exactly a light read. Still, The Girl On The Train is quite a fast read with a lot of plot twists and entertaining enough if you forget about the hype.

WWW Wednesdays #56 – September 9th

wwwwednesdaysWWW WEDNESDAYS is hosted by Sam at Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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Wait, only one book?! It’s been a while since I haven’t started more than one book at a time… But I really want to enjoy Queen Of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas without reading other stories in between. So far I’m loving it!

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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Six finished books since last week, which is quite a decent number.
The first is a travel memoir; Five Weeks In The Amazon by Sean Michael Hayes. I enjoyed the setting and it was nice to learn more about the Ayahuasca ritual. It was a fast read as well, although I did have some problems with it.
I read I Was Here by Gayle Forman next, which was my previous TBR jar pick. It was an interesting read, although I’ve read better books with the same suicide theme.
I continued with Legend by Marie Lu, a series I have been wanting to read for ages. I really enjoyed reading it and I will probably read both sequels soon as well. Still, I felt something was missing to turn it into something mindblowing.
The next book None Of The Above by I.W. Gregorio was just as good as people kept promising me. A very interesting topic and beautifully written; definitely recommended!
I then read End Of Days by Susan Ee. I’m still not sure I have been waiting this long to finish this series! I really enjoyed it, although it wasn’t as good as the first two.
The last book on this list is Breakfast At Cannibal Joe’s by Jay Spencer Green, an ARC that was sent to me last week.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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The Kill Order by James Dashner is still high on my list, although I will probably try to read Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer first. I was actually going to start it last weekend, but I got my hands on a copy of End Of Days and Queen Of Shadows and I just HAD to read those first. My newest TBR jar pick is The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski; a series I have been looking forward to start, but I’m not sure I will actually be able to read it before I leave…

BOOK REVIEW: The Mind Readers – by Lori Brighton

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Title: The Mind Readers
(Mind Readers #1)
Author: Lori Brighton
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: December 7th 2010
Finished reading: August 26th 2015
Pages: 226
Rating 3,5qqq

“If there was one thing I’d learned early on in life it was that normalcy, as we thought of it, didn’t exist.”

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I was able to get a free Amazon kindle copy of The Mind Readers a few months back . I have been trying to read more freebies lately, because I have been neglecting them mostly so far. The Mind Readers turned out to be more than a pleasant surprise. This novel by Lori Brighton is a very entertaining and fast read even though I had some minor problems with the characters and plot. What do I mean with problems with the characters? Basically the fact that the main character Cameron decides to trust the complete stranger (Lewis) almost immediately and goes with him to a secret place full of other mind readers; for someone with her power she seems terribly naive and it gets annoying as the story goes on. I wasn’t completely convinced by the plot either; some of it just didn’t seem credible. That said, it was still entertaining enough for me to probably get a copy of the sequel some time in the future. Recommended if you enjoy reading YA paranormal romance stories.

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Cameron has a secret she has been trying to hide for a long time: she can read minds. Her father died years ago and her mother dumped her to live with her grandmother. She is desperate to protect Cameron and makes sure Cameron hides her power to keep her safe. If she doesn’t, the people who are looking for Cameron will find and harm her… But as she meets the mysterous Lewis, Cameron is not so sure she can believe her grandmother anymore. It turns out they are not the only ones out there that can read minds… And Lewis is offering her a way to embrace her hidden talents and meet others like her. But is he really who he claims to be and what are is true intentions? Who can Cameron really trust?

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The Mind Readers is a great choice if you are looking for something quick, easy and entertaining. It’s not exactly perfect and some parts lack credibility, but overall it’s quite enjoyable if you like the whole YA paranormal romance genre. This first book of the series is still available for free for Amazon kindle in case you are interested, and the rest of the series can be purchased cheaply as well.

Teaser Tuesdays #59 – September 8th: Queen Of Shadows

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TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme originally featured at A Daily Rhythm. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

Yessss!! It took me only a week to give in and get my copy of Queen Of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas. I have been looking forward to this one for months and I can’t wait to finally read it. I’ve only just started it, but I have a feeling it’s going to be good! 😀

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My teaser (3%):

He could recall horror and despair – only because of the solitary moment that kept interrupting the blackness like the steady beat of a drum: a few minutes of screaming and blood and frozen wind. There had been people he loved in that room of red marble and glass…

What are you reading right now?

Find Me Book Tag

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I saw this tag over at Stephanie’s Book Reviews and I decided to join the fun. I’m going to cheat a bit and not use pics of my own books, partly because my camera doesn’t seem to be wanting to take proper pics and partly because most of these books are on my kindle anyway. I’ve decided to make it a litle more difficult and pick only those books I’ve actually read… Here we go!


1. A Book With A Sunset: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey.
REVIEW (2,5 stars)

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2. A Book With Water: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia.
REVIEW (5 stars)

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3. A Book With A Flower: Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas.
REVIEW (4,5 stars)

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4. A Book With A Heart: My Heart And Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga.
REVIEW (4,5 stars)

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5. A Book With Gone in the title: A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah.
REVIEW (4,5 stars)

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6. A Book With a Moon: Kiera’s Moon by Lizzy Ford.
REVIEW (2 stars)

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7. A Book With A Weapon: Heir Of Fire by Sarah J. Maas.
REVIEW (4,5 stars)

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8. A Book With a Girl in a White Dress: Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.
REVIEW (4 stars)

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9. A Book with a Couple Kissing: The Geography Of You And Me by Jennifer E. Smith.
REVIEW (2,5 stars)

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10. A Book with Headphones: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.
REVIEW (4 stars)

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Two of these (Eleanor & Park and Dangerous Girls) were the same ones Stephanie used in her tag, but I couldn’t find any other titles that fitted the description… And I have cheated a little with the one with a couple kissing; I just don’t have a lot of books with a couple on the cover in the first place since I don’t read a lot of romance novels. I was going to pick Gone Girl for the one with Gone in the title, but it just seemed too easy. 😉

Consider yourself tagged if you want to do this one as well. Have a great week everyone!

BOOK REVIEW: All Fall Down – by Ally Carter

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Title: All Fall Down
(Embassy Row #1)
Author: Ally Carter
Genre: YA, Mystery. Thriller
First published: January 20th 2015
Finished reading: August 24th 2015
Pages: 320
Rating 4,5qqq

“Power has always corrupted, my dear. Even the promise of power. It is a hard thing to look at through the fence for hundreds of years without wondering what it would be like on the other side.”

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To be honest, I wasn’t completely sure what to expect of this novel and All Fall Down ended up to be more than a pleasant surprise. I loved the international setting and the fact the main characters lived in the different embassies in Adria. Ally Carter‘s prose is easy to read and the past is fast, making this first part of the Embassy Row series a quick and entertaining read. The story is full of action and the whole mystery around the death of Grace’s mother is intriguing. Grace clearly suffered after her mother died and people think she is crazy when she claims it was actually murder. When she goes back to the US Embassy to live with her grandfather, she is determined to find proof she’s right… Clearly, Grace is a very interesting character and I liked most of the other main characters as well. If you like YA mystery/thriller stories with a lot of action and an international setting, you would probably enjoy All Fall Down as much as I did. The only minor drawback is that the sequel has yet to be published…

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After Grace saw her mother die in a fire, she is certain that it was actually murder. She tells everone she saw the man that killed her mother, but people believe she’s simply overreacting and losing her mind. Grace doesn’t care and is determined she will find the killer one day and make him pay for what he did. But since nobody actually believes what she saw, there is no one she can completely trust. When she is sent to the US Embassy in Adria to spend with her ambassador grandfather, Grace is ready to go looking for answers. She is not like her mother and doesn’t exactly feels herself at home in this new formal diplomatic world. They can’t really control her and she has a tendency towards trouble; will she be able to keep safe as her past comes back to haunt her?

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I was looking forward to this novel ever since I first heard about it and I’m glad I’ve finally read it. It wasn’t exaclty what I was expecting, but I actually ended up enjoying it even better! The prose, plot and characters make All Fall Down into a very entertaining and fast read that I would definitely recommend if you like the genre. The ending is a mayor cliffhanger though; I need the sequel NOW!!! Hopefully the new publish date this December won’t be posponed…