ARC REVIEW: Bookishly Ever After – by Isabel Bandeira

Title: Bookishly Ever After
(Ever After #1)
Author: Isabel Bandeira

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: January 19th 2016
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Finished reading: July 19th 2017
Pages: 378
DNF at 32% (121 pages)

“I loved new books . The crisp pages, the smell, and the sense of potential as I carefully broke in the spine made getting them one of the best feelings in the world.”

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


First of all I want to make clear contemporary romance isn’t really my thing and this may or may not have influenced my opinion. As much as I hate being negative in my reviews, I also made a promise to always give my 100% honest opinion and exactly that is reflected below. I also want to stress that I can’t remember ever wishing for a Netgalley copy of this novel in the first place and the granted wish message in my inbox came as a huge surprise. I’ve been wary to pick up Bookishly Ever After ever since, mostly because I wasn’t sure it would be for me… I liked the sound of a bookish main character though, because don’t we booklovers all love our bookish characters?! I approached Bookishly Ever After with caution, but unfortunately immediately realized it was going to be a struggle. Basically this contemporary romance story has one cheesy high school cliche stacked on top of another up until the point I felt like I was drowning in them. And Bookishly Ever After isn’t only stuffed with cheesy cliches, but also has an overdose of annoying romance tropes as instalove and love triangles. This alone is enough for me to run away and hide in a corner, but since I normally never DNF my ARCs I decided to give this story a chance. Trust me, I’ve tried really hard to like this story. REALLY hard. But in the end I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was never able to connect to the writing style and felt it simply didn’t flow. The plot wasn’t really present and the chapters didn’t seem to connect naturally… And the characters. One more annoying, flat and cliche than the other! I thought I would at least be able to like or relate to bookish Phoebe, but I was wrong. She only managed to frustrate me and it just all didn’t feel natural. Am I partly to blame for this DNF? Yes. The blurb should have warned me to stay far far away from this one… Still, I’ve read AND loved romantic contemporaries before and Bookishly Ever After definitely ticked a lot of no-go boxes for me. Approach with care! Romance lovers who don’t mind cliches will most likely have a more positive experience though.


The sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martin can most likely either be found with her nose in a YA fantasy book with magic and a hot paranormal love interest or dreaming about its characters… In a perfect world, her life would be just like the books she loves to read, but real life doesn’t come remotely close. She has her crush-from-a-distance, but when someone a lot closer to her might actually like her she doesn’t know what to do. Phoebe turns to her friends and favorite books for advice…


I’m going to be honest and say I don’t think I would have picked up this story if this wouldn’t have turned up on my Netgalley shelf. I’m not a big fan of (cheesy) contemporary romance in the first place and Bookishly Ever After makes it definitely VERY easy to overdose on the high school cliches and romance tropes incorporated into the story. I’ve tried really hard to see beyond the cliches, but found myself too frustrated to be able to continue and finish the story. And I tell you, it makes me very sad to call Bookishly Ever After my second DNF this year! Part of the problem is definitely me though and I can see why fans of the genre would be able to enjoy it a lot better. Oh well, I guess we can’t like them all, can we?


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DNF REVIEW: You – by Caroline Kepnes


Title: You
(You #1)
Author: Caroline Kepnes

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Romance
First published: September 25th 2014
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Finished reading: January 9th 2017
Pages: 433
DNF at 5% (21 pages)
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“Work in a bookstore and learn that most people in this world feel guilty about being who they are.”


WARNING: Unpopular opinion ahead.

This book by Caroline Kepnes has been on my radar ever since I first found out it had a serial killer element, and I’ve seen lots of positive reviews about You ever since. I was really excited to be finally reading this one and I’m still wondering if I picked up a different story instead, because You left me confused. It’s probably just me, but to be honest I just couldn’t see the why behind the fact that so many people seem to love this story. I normally read at least 50 pages or 10% before I decide to DNF a book, but in this case I just couldn’t take it anymore. Why? First of all, I really disliked the writing style and its constant you, you, you was getting on my nerves. That and the constant swearing and sex talk/scenes left me no other option than calling You my very first DNF this year (and hopefully the last!). I keep feeling I might be missing out on something and it was just the beginning I struggled with, but then again sex talk/scenes and me just don’t go together. I wish I could have discovered more about the serial killer angle though!


When a beautiful, aspiring writer enters the bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he feels himself forced to Google the name on her credit card after she leaves. And there is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. Even better: she has a public Facebook account and Tweets, telling Joe everything he needs to know about her. Joe decides to create the perfect ‘chance’ meeting, and slowly takes control of her life by creating a series of events that should ensure her walking straight into his waiting arms…


I have to say that every time I read the blurb again, I want to give this story another try. I have actually tried to continue reading a few times, but especially the sex talk/scenes make me cringe before I finish the first pending page. I think You is a typical case of REALLY not-for-me, although I truly wanted to like this story. I have a weakness for serial killer thrillers, but even that weakness is not enough for me to tolerate adult scenes. Oh well, I guess you can’t like everything…


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DNF ARC REVIEW: Tipping Point – by Tomas Byrne


Title: Tipping Point
Author: Tomas Byrne

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Political
First published: October 3rd 2016
Publisher: Delta Stream Books
Finished reading: December 13th 2016
Pages: 414
DNF at 41%
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“The past is a tricky thing, Joe. Don’t pull the puzzle any more apart, or you might not fit the pieces back together.”

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


I was invited to join Reading Alley last month, and I picked Tipping Point by Tomas Byrne as my very first Reading Alley ARC. Even though political stories are normally not really my cup of tea, I was really intrigued by the blurb of this story and the potential connections to the actual world climate change situation. I had high hopes for this story, but unfortunately I ended up having to make the though decision to DNF it. I’m not saying Tipping Point is a bad read and the right person will probably love the story. In fact most reviews I have seen so far are really positive, so the main problem is most likely me and not this political thriller. That doesn’t take away I had a hard time to stay focused on the story and plot, both because the pace was quite slow and the ‘preachy/dry’ feel of all elements related to politics and climate change. I had put the story on hold two or three times before deciding not to finish it, and that made me conclude that this story simply isn’t for me. If you like political thrillers and don’t mind a slowish pace, I would definitely suggest giving Tipping Point a chance though. The story has without doubt a lot of potential!


Both Joe Hawkins and Kate Farrow used to work for the government, and are now whistleblowers wanted by the US and UK authorities. They have been exiled from their homelands after divulging information relating to a corrupt arms-for-oil deal, and are currently on the run. They are getting tired of running though, and they finally get a chance to fight back as they learn about the dubious events at the headquartes of an environmental group in California. Will they be able to find a way to finally stop running?


I don’t often decide to DNF a book, but I had such a hard time reading Tipping Point that I made an exception. I’m by no means saying it’s a bad read, but sometimes you just know a story isn’t for you. The slowish pace and ‘dry’ political elements made it impossible for me to properly enjoy this novel, which is a shame because I liked the sound of the plot. I seem to be in the minority though, so if you like the genre I suggest giving Tipping Point a shot.

DNF REVIEW: Careless In Red – by Elizabeth George


Title: Careless In Red
(Inspector Lynley #15)
Author: Elizabeth George
Genre: Mystery, Fiction, Crime
First published: 2008
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Finished reading: August 30th 2016
Pages: 568
DNF at page 80
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WARNING: upopopular opinion ahead!! Honestly, I’ve tried. I think this is only the second or third book I have ever DNFed and I still feel a bit guilty for doing so… I must have started reading Careless In Red at least four or five times before over the last two years, but I just can’t bring myself to keep reading. There are too many storylines and the pace is slower than a sleeping snail. On top of that the descriptions are superlong, dull and the story itself just doesn’t grab my attention either. It’s honestly a shame because this book belongs to one of my favorite genres… And I’m aware Careless In Red is actually book nr. 15 in a series, but after this sample I don’t think I want to read the first book after all. I know a lot of people seem to enjoy this series, but it definitely isn’t for me.


Detective Superintendent Thomas Lynley retreated to Cornwall after his wife was murdered. There he spends six solitary weeks hiking the coastline, but he cannot seem to escape his memories. On the forty-third day of his walk, Lynley discovers the body of a young man who seems to have fallen to his death. He has no choice but to abandon his solitary life and has to ask for reinforcements. While the closest town seems to be an unlikely place for murder, it soon becomes clear that a killer is indeed at work. And this time, Lynley is not a detective but a witness, and even a possible suspect…


I always enjoy reading a good mystery/detective story, but somehow I never managed to read but a few pages at the time of this fifteenth book in the Inspector Lynley series. The pace is so slow and the descriptions are so long that it’s really hard to stay focused, and I also found that it had way too many storylines going on. That said, I’ve only managed to read the first 80 pages, so things might improve later on. I guess I will never know…

DNF REVIEW: The Liar’s Chair – by Rebecca Whitney


Title: The Liar’s Chair
Author: Rebecca Whitney
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary
First published: December 15th 2014
Finished reading: March 22nd 2016
Pages: 224
DNF at 42%

“In every room the recollection of my childhood is slight, and fireflies of memory disappear as soon as I turn my mind to them. I passed through my past, I didn’t or couldn’t savour the time, and now my history is huge and vacant, like a film I never finished watching.”


I know I NEVER DNF a book, but I’ve made a promise to myself this year to stop reading those stories that are starting to feel like voluntary torture. It hasn’t been easy to take the final decision to DNF The Liar’s Chair, but I really couldn’t bring myself to waste any more time trying to finish this read. Do I feel guilty? Yes. But that doesn’t take away I feel releaved that I’m finally able to put a book down unfinished. I normally love a good mystery/thriller read, so I was actually looking forward to this novel by Rebecca Whitney despite the low Goodreads rating. Unfortunately, as soon as I began reading the unnatural and forced prose started to irritate me. I don’t mind an unreliable or unlikeable character if it’s done well, but Rachel Teller crossed the border to I-simply-cannot-stand-you land. Both her voice and her actions really annoyed me and I truly struggled to keep reading this story. The plot itself is unbelievable and both the characters and their development don’t feel natural. I hate being this negative in a review and I’m glad other people seem to have enjoyed The Liar’s Chair better, but sadly I don’t belong to that group.


Rachel and her husband David seem to have the perfect life with a big house and a successful business, but not everything is as it may appear. David is desperate to control his wife, but Rachel is not exactly the woman that can be kept on a leash. She is quite skilled in hiding her secrets, but as she kills a man in a hit and run after she left her lover’s house drunk, the image of their perfect life is starting to crack. David insists they pretend nothing happened and makes all evidence of the accident disappear, but Rachel has a hard time living with the guilt of having killed someone. Her behavior becomesincreasingly self-destructive… Can Rachel confront both her past and present and find peace with herself before it’s too late?


The general idea behind The Liar’s Chair sounds really interesting and there have been a lot of good books published using the unreliable narrator technique lately. Unfortunately I don’t think this book belongs to that group. I didn’t like the characters, Rachel’s ‘voice’ and the prose in general were really annoying and the plot is not exactly credible. I really wanted to like The Liar’s Chair, but I really couldn’t bring myself to finish it; resulting in my very first DNF read.