ARC REVIEW: Four Days – by Jamie Campbell

Title: Four Days
Author: Jamie Campbell

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: October 5th 2015
Publisher: Eltham Press
Finished reading: June 17th 2017
Pages: 135

“In tennis, inches add up to miles. In life they add up that way too. The trick of it is to understand that fact.”

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

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I read Jamie Campbell‘s other short novel The Thankful back in January and enjoyed it, so I found myself looking forward to Four Days as well. This short novel actually has a complete different focus and is more of a contemporary romance story packed with sports and roadtrip elements. Four Days has less romance than I would have expected initially and is actually more focused on the main character Luci trying to deal with a broken relationship and her tennis career not going as well as she would have liked. Luci has to rediscover herself and the roadtrip can be seen as a symbol for this journey. I’m a big travel fan, so I really enjoyed the descriptions of the different parts of New Zealands the characters were driving though. And although I’m not a big fan of tennis myself (I prefer rugby!), I liked the way these elements play a big role in this story. Four Days definitely has a huge dose of sports incorporated into the plot! The story is also quite easy to read and I liked the fact Dutch words were used here and there. It might just be the philologist in me, but I always love when different languages are incorporated into the prose, although of course it’s important that the story is still understandable for those who don’t speak the other language like is the case with Four Days. All these points sound positive, so why only a three star rating, would you ask? Two things. First of all, I wasn’t able to connect fully to the characters and some of their actions were a bit annoying. I’m not sure if it’s because it didn’t feel natural or for a different reason, but I wasn’t sure if everything was all that credible. But the biggest reason would be the adult content. I have a huge aversion for any story that includes adult content and trust me, some of the scenes in Four Days are pretty steamy. This is 100% me though and I’m sure romance fans won’t mind them at all. But as this review is about my personal opinion and feelings, the rating reflects just that… There were a lot of things I did like about this story though, so definitely give this one a try if you like a good road trip/sports contemporary and don’t mind the steamy scenes!

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Luci Wijn has been having a lot of bad luck lately, both in her personal and professional life. Her partner cheated on her and her tennis career isn’t going as well as she would have hoped… Is the invitation to her friend’s wedding in New Zealand the escape she needed? Luci has to play in Auckland afterwards anyway, so she travels to the other side of the world to share her friends happiness even though she doesn’t feel great herself. But then there is a strike at the local airport, and her friend’s cousin Jamie has to step in and drive her if she wants to make it to Auckland in time…

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Four Days is without doubt less of a romance story and more of a road trip and sports-focused contemporary read. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the local scenery and the writing style was quite enjoyable to read. I liked the Dutch words popping up every once in a while and how sports played such an important role throughout the story. I wasn’t sure about the characters though and the steamy scenes were a huge turn off for me. But like I said before, if you don’t mind those you will probably enjoy this story a lot!


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ARC REVIEW: Guilty – by Laura Elliot @bookouture

Title: Guilty
Author: Laura Elliot

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 22nd 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: June 10th 2017
Pages: 348

“Does she not realise the past never goes away? It can swing a fist and knock us out with one blow.”

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

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I admit I was sold as soon as I saw the cover and read the blurb. What was the terrible mistake mentioned and how could this destroy a family? Guilty had all the signs of being an eventful and intriguing psychological thriller and I was really looking forward to finally pick it up. Unfortunately I ended up having mixed thoughts about it. There is no doubt Guilty has a plot that is both complex and filled with twists that will make things spin out of control. The story is separated in different parts, dividing the plot as the story evolves and the time passes. It shows a lot of time has gone into developing the plot and different events and consequences of those actions, and it was without doubt interesting to see how those mistakes and actions in general can have a huge impact on the future. That said, I did feel there was almost too much squeezed into the plot and the different events sometimes felt a bit rushed and lost part of their importance. Especially in the beginning it’s a little difficult to understand what is really important in the story and Constance’s case feels a bit rushed in general. I understand that the focus is rather on the past-present-consequence relation and what effect the past has on the rest of the story, but it did make it hard to get a proper feel for the story straight away. Furthermore, the pace is quite slow and it took me a lot longer than expected to finish Guilty. It was interesting to see the characters evolve over time, but I do have to say that I didn’t like the main characters at all. It definitely made it a lot harder to care for what happened when I just couldn’t feel a connection to the characters… And there were also various parts of the story that felt either forced, unnatural or rushed to me. It might just have been that I expected something a little more fast-paced though and in a way I did appreciate the complexity of the plot in Guilty. Like I said, I had mixed feelings so I guess this story can go either way for you… If you like slower paced psychological thrillers that follow characters over a bigger span of time and show how some actions can have huge consequences for the future, Guilty will probably be a right fit for you.

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One morning, the thirteen-year-old Constance Lawson is reported missing. She had a row with her parents the night before and wasn’t in bed when her mother checked on her. Nobody has seen her since, but there are a lot of rumors starting to go around. Then journalist Amanda Bowe starts a media frenzy implying that Constance’s uncle Karl Lawson is the prime suspect… In such a way that six years later, Karl’s life is in ruins. Amanda is thriving though and seems to have everything she can wish for: a successful career, husband and a healthy son. Her life seems to be complete, but one day everything changes with just one phone call…

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Guilty has without doubt a lot of potential and the plot itself is both complex and intriguing. The pace was a bit slow though and I had a hard time connecting to the main characters. They are not exactly likeable and this made connecting to the story a lot more difficult. The development of the characters over time is interesting, although I’m not sure up to what point some actions are actually credible. In short I ended up having mixed thoughts, but I can definitely understand why the right person would love this psychological thriller. And a last random note: the plinks just sound lovely!


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ARC REVIEW: Enchanters – by K.F. Bradshaw @ReadingAlley

Title: Enchanters
(Enchanters #1)
Author: K.F. Bradshaw

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: March 1st 2017
Publisher: Wishbox Press
Finished reading: May 9th 2017
Pages: 590

“We don’t get to decide what we bring into this world with us. But you have a gift, Andrea, and you should consider using it for something useful.”

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

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I enjoy reading a proper high fantasy read every once in a while and the cover and blurb of Enchanters managed to catch my attention immediately. It somehow took me longer than expected to finally pick it up, mostly because I wasn’t in the mood for the genre and I didn’t want that to be a bad influence on my experience with this story. I’m glad I finally decided to give it a go though and I have to say I really like the idea behind the worldbuilding and plot in Enchanters. The worldbuilding of the fictional Damea is extensive and I like the clash with the ‘real’ world that represents Cassie’s character. This without doubt adds a whole different dimension to the story and I like how K.F. Bradshaw portrays this difference in worlds and customs in the characters. That said, I do think the story itself is overlong and I feel it would have been more enjoyable with more focus on the action and less on the ‘insignificant’ details and dialogue. These elements slowed down the pace considerably and sometimes even distracted from the plot itself. I also wasn’t completely convinced by the characters and some of them even started to annoy me; especially the bantering between Cassie and Andrea. I did appreciate that it’s a YA high fantasy read with a proper glbt angle though; it’s something you don’t see every day. In short, I ended up having mixed thoughts about Enchanters. The worldbuilding and plot is without doubt interesting, but I did feel the story was overlong and I had some problems with the (sometimes) forced dialogue and characters.

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The people of Damea have had access to magic for centuries, using it to improve their everyday lives. The so-called enchanters have the power to wield it and magic has been woven into their societies for a long time, but now everything has changed. The magic is dying, and Damea is slowly dying with it… Nobody seems to know how to reverse this, but Andrea is determined to find a way to bring it back. She is an enchanter’s apprentice and has been helping another enchanter for years… But it might take a stranger from another world to actually try and restore the magic. Will they be able to?

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I was looking forward to read Enchanters, but I ended up having mixed thoughts instead. While I liked the worldbuilding, plot and general idea behind this story, I still think it was also overlong and even dragged at points. That might just be because the dialogue didn’t feel all that natural and I didn’t really like some of the characters in the first place though. The pace did pick up in the second half and there was a lot more action… All in all an interesting read, although I did have my problems with it.


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ARC REVIEW: All The Good Things – by Clare Fisher

Title: All The Good Things
Author: Clare Fisher

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery
First published: June 1st 2017
Publisher: Penguin Books UK
Finished reading: May 4th 2017
Pages: 280

“When I was done with crying, I saw that things wouldn’t change on their own; you had to change them. You had to rise up out of that lazy part of yourself that did what it had done before just because it was easier, and do the new thing, the strange thing, the thing you were scared of.”

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

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It’s been a few days since I finished All The Good Things and I’m still struggling to put my thoughts together. Because the truth is: I’ve been having mixed thoughts about this story and its main character ever since I first started reading it. I can’t deny Clare Fisher has written a powerful story with a very interesting character and I can see why so many people seem to love All The Good Things. That said, I personally struggled to get a clear picture of Beth or at least couldn’t properly connect to her character. That might be one of the reasons it took me a while to make sense of the story and unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this story as much as I thought I would. But while this sounds negative, I also found myself fascinated by Beth’s character, history and development. I understand why the complete picture of Beth isn’t revealed until the end, but I also do think I would have actually enjoyed this story better with a little more background information in the beginning. The use of the diary entries is a nice touch, I like the reference to the title and it does create a great opportunity to learn more about Beth, but in the end I just wasn’t fully convinced. Apparently All The Good Things is a book that can go both ways though, so definitely give it a try if you like intriguing and unique characters.

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The twenty-one year old Beth is in prison after doing something so bad she thinks she doesn’t deserve to ever feel good again. Her counsellor Erika thinks otherwise though, and tries to help her feel better. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life, and reluctantly Beth starts to write down her story. As she talks about the good things, we slowly learn more about her… But at the end of her journey, she will have to confront the bad thing. What did she do that was so bad? And how did she get to that point in the first place?

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There is no doubt Beth is a fascinating character and one worthy to have a story written about, and that’s probably why it pains me so much I wasn’t able to properly connect to her. I really wanted to love All The Good Things and it definitely has all the right elements, but the story as a whole just didn’t blow me away. Would I have enjoyed it better with a little more information about Beth so it would be easier to connect? Maybe. Would I have liked it better if the story would have been told in a different order/format? Perhaps. But I’ve seen others loving her story, so it might just have been me.


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ARC REVIEW: What Doesn’t Kill You – by Ed James

Title: What Doesn’t Kill You
(DI Fenchurch #3)
Author: Ed James

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: April 20th 2017
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: April 12th 2017
Pages: 398

“Remind me why I do this job again?” “Because when you stop hitting your head against the brick wall, there’s a surge of relief.”

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

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I read the first two books of this detective series last year and enjoyed them, so it was an easy decision to request a copy of the third book as well. I was looking forward to another entertaining and intense ride, but found myself struggling to get a proper feel for the story instead. Like in the first two books, What Doesn’t Kill You starts right in the middle of the action, but I had a hard time connecting to the story this time. Part of the problem was the excessive use of ‘colorful’ language… I don’t mind a bit of swearing if it adds something to the story (in fact, it didn’t bother me in the first two books), but I felt the swearing crossed the line of tolerance in What Doesn’t Kill You. DI Fenchurch started to annoy me as well, even though the case itself is quite interesting. In the second half of this third book the pace picked up considerably and the story became a lot more intense and easier to enjoy. You will definitely have to prepare yourself for some very shocking plot twists! I’m not sure everything about the plot is exactly credible though, and it also felt like too much action and too many plot twists were squeezed together in the final part. Overall I guess I feel the ‘spark’ of the previous two books is missing. I’m not sure what I feel about the ending either, although at least it doesn’t end with a big cliffhanger this time.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first two books of this series yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

When the body of a young lawyer is discovered on an East London building site, the investigation initially leads DI Simon Fenchurch to a driver employed by a new app-based cab company called Travis. The woman was assaulted and brutally murdered, and the team struggles to find something truly solid on the suspect. Then another woman is found murdered close to where she lives, and she turns out to be a Travis driver. Are the two cases connected? And what has Travis have to do with all of it? Something a lot bigger than just the two murders seems to be going on…

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I was looking forward to this third DI Fenchurch book, but I can’t say it exactly lived up to expectations. While I struggled to get a proper connection to the story in the first part, the second half of the story felt almost rushed at points and there was just too much going on. Sure, some very shocking revelations are made and there is no lack of action especially in the second half, but I don’t think What Doesn’t Kill You is actually as good as the first two books. Such a shame! I’m going to keep my fingers crossed book four will restore my faith in this series…


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BOOK REVIEW: Never Fade – by Alexandra Bracken

Title: Never Fade
(The Darkest Minds #2)
Author: Alexandra Bracken

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Paranormal
First published: October 15th 2013
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Finished reading: April 10th 2017
Pages: 507

“Sometimes you’re the one speeding along in a panic, doing too much, not paying attention, wrecking things you don’t mean to. And sometimes life just happens to you, and you can’t dodge it. It crashes into you because it wants to see what you’re made of.”

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After reading and enjoying the first book back in January, I made a promise to read both sequels as soon as possible. It took me a bit longer than expected, but I finally picked up book number two this month… And I have to say that unfortunately Never Fade doesn’t live up to the first book at all for me. While I enjoyed The Darkest Minds even though the plot isn’t all that original anymore, I found Never Fade to be overlong and at times even on the border of boring. The writing style was as good as ever, but it sure took me a lot longer than expected to finish this one… And that is probably due to the fact that both the plot felt a bit thin and some of the characters started to annoy me. Basically, the sequel is about Ruby trying to find someone and messing up along the way, with various people betraying her or not being what they seem to be. Which might still be interesting, but it mostly felt like a ‘copy-repeat’ plot to me instead. Warning: this feeling might also be caused by the fact that Ruby started to frustrate me with the whole ‘I’m dangerous/I can’t be around others/I need to be alone’ thing. It does have a pretty explosive ending though! All in all not what I was expecting at all and yet another series that suffers from the ‘weak-sequel-syndrome’… I will still be reading the final book some time soon though, and I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed In The Afterlight will make me enjoy this series again.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first  book yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Ruby never wanted her abilities in the first place and doesn’t like using them, but now she’s in the Children’s League she is forced to use them on a daily basis. She has to go on dangerous missions and get the truth out of their enemies, and she only agrees because it’s a way to keep the others safe. But then she finds out something that will change everything… And this new secret mission might just be the most dangerous one yet.

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I was really looking forward to this sequel, especially since I enjoyed The Darkest Minds that much. Unfortunately Never Fade turned out to be another case of ‘weak-sequel-syndrome’. I actually struggled to continue at points as the plot just felt too drawn out; I feel that a similar story could have been told with 150-200 pages less and would probably have been a lot more entertaining. This has nothing to do with the writing style itself though, because Never Fade is without doubt well written. It’s one of the reasons I’m still hopeful for the third book!


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ARC REVIEW: Miranda’s Rights – by Lily Luchesi

Title: Miranda’s Rights
(Paranormal Detectives #2)
Author: Lily Luchesi

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
First published: January 8th 2016
Publisher: Vamptasy Publishing
Finished reading: April 8th 2017
Pages: 128

“Angelica commented that they looked like the most fucked up family in the world. A full vamp, a vamplet and a human, sitting in a bar. They were the start of a bad joke.”

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

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I read the first Paranormal Detectives book back in January and finally found time to continue the series this month. I have to be honest and say I’m not a fan of vampire stories, and that is probably one of the reasons I’m enjoying this series a lot less than other readers. In fact, I’ve decided this series will be the last time I read a story involving these fanged creatures, because it just doesn’t seem fair to the authors reading a genre that doesn’t seem a good fit in the first place.

That said, what probably saved the Paranormal Detectives series and this sequel for me is the fact that it’s not just about vampires; there are a lot of other supernatural creatures involved as well. Werewolves, witches and even demons make their appearance, although the main focus is on vampires as one of the main characters is a vamplet. For a paranormal romance story, there isn’t all that much romance involved (although this sequel does have a love triangle, more romance scenes and it can get a bit sappy). The main focus is on the action, revenge and fights though, and I can really appreciate that. The flashbacks to the different points in history are interesting as well; they are probably my favorite part of the story and explain more about the characters as well. Miranda’s Rights is also a fast read and fans of the genre will probably enjoy it a lot better than I did.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first  book yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Danny Mancini has never truly come to terms with the fact that paranormal creatures actually exist, and what he would like most is just forget about the last few months of his life. But that wish doesn’t seem to come true as cursed werewolves show up at his doorstep and try to kill him. He is forced to go back to the Paranormal Investigative Division as his life is at risk… And they need all the help they can get against a powerful old enemy.

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As I said before, my experience with Miranda’s Rights and this series has probably more to do with the fact that I hate vampire stories than the actual story. The story itself is easy to read and has a lot of action; the flashback moments are an interesting way of learning more about the characters. There was a considerable increase in the amount of romance scenes though, and I’m not a fan of the love triangle. Maybe because Miranda felt a bit flat as a character? I’m still curious about what happens next and like I said, if you like the genre definitely give this series a try.


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