ARC REVIEW: Goodbye Days – by Jeff Zentner

Title: Goodbye Days
Author: Jeff Zentner

Genre: YA, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
First published: March 7th 2017
Publisher: Penguin Random House UK Children’s / Andersen
Finished reading: March 14th 2017
Pages: 416

“For the most part, you don’t hold the people you love in your heart because they rescued you from drowning or pulled you from a burning house. Mostly you hold them in your heart because they save you, in a million quiet and perfect ways, from being alone.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Penguin Random House UK Children’s/ Andersen in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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Birthday review! 😀 Because reading Goodbye Days this week was basically an early birthday present in the first place.

I absolutely loved reading Jeff Zentner‘s other novel The Serpent King earlier this year and I added Goodbye Days to my list of most anticipated releases as soon as I finished it. You can imagine my reaction when my Netgalley request was actually approved… I didn’t want to set my expectations too high after such a fantastic debut, and I kept telling myself it would be hard for Goodbye Days to outshine it. But I guess I shouldn’t have worried, because I think I have just found my new favorite Zentner novel. Basically, this story took my feelings, put them on the middle of the road and ran them over repeatedly with a bulldozer. It doesn’t happen often that a book actually manages to make me cry, but Goodbye Days managed to break my heart more than once. Brilliant prose, excellent characters and those feels!! I literally flew through the pages of this story and the characters were easy to love. And this isn’t just another YA contemporary story either; it also touches a very important topic. Thank you Goodbye Days for raising awareness to the dangers of using your phone while driving; is more dangerous than drunk driving and causes so many unnecessary accidents… Hopefully an eyeopener as well as a brilliant read! Recommended to any contempory/realistic fiction fan who doesn’t mind sad stories.

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Carver Briggs never thought something so simple as a text message could end the lives of his three best friends Mars, Eli and Blake. He didn’t think about possible consequences when he sent the text as they were driving to meet him, and while Mars was trying to answer the three friends ended up in a fatal car crash. Carver cannot stop blaming himself for the accident and it seems like he isn’t the only one… The authorities are looking into the accident to try and determine if they can press charges against him. Blake’s grandmother doesn’t blame him, and asks Carver to help remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. That leads to the idea to have memorial days for his other friends as well, but not everyone is willing to forgive… Can the goodbye days really help?

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Goodbye Days is without doubt one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. I don’t think I can find something negative about it, other than that it basically broke my heart and left me nursing a book hangover. The writing style is brilliant and will have you flying through the pages as you ride the emotional rollercoaster. The characters will win over your heart and the plot is both wonderful, sad and has an important lesson. If you like the genre, Goodbye Days is a must-read!


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ARC REVIEW: Making Faces – by Amy Harmon

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Title: Making Faces
Author: Amy Harmon

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: October 12th 2013
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Finished reading: January 28th 2017
Pages: 405
Rating 5qqq

“I don’t think we get answers to every question. We don’t get all the whys. But I think when we look back to the end of our lives, if we do the best we can, and we will see that the things we begged God to take from us, the things we cursed him for, the things that made us turn our backs on him, are the things that were the biggest blessings, the biggest opportunities for growth.”

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

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It’s been over two weeks since I finished reading Making Faces and I still find it difficult to put my thoughts properly on paper. It doesn’t happen all that often, but Amy Harmon was able to give me another book hang over with this little masterpiece. I’m ashamed to admit I have only recently discovered her work, but I’ve already become addicted to her lovely prose and diverse plots. Making Faces is no exception. I had already heard great things about this book and I basically broke down the request button as soon as I saw it was available at Netgalley. All the raving reviews were absolutely right: this story is simply brilliant. I fell in love with both the characters, writing style and plot and this story will definitely stay with me for quite some time. Sure, some of it might be a little cheesy if you think about it critically. But if you have characters like Fern, Bailey and Ambrose, it is really easy to put those thoughts aside. I loved the war veteran elements as well; it’s such an important topic and definitely deserves more attention, especially as they are often misunderstood by society. As you might have guessed already, I simply adored Making Faces and I can definitely recommend it to any contemporary fan. I promise you that you will fall in love with the characters and their story! This new edition published by Spencer Hill Press later this month has some nifty bonus content as well.

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Ambrose Young’s looks and talent have made him really popular during his high school years. He isn’t just tall, muscular and good at sports, he also seems to have walked right off the cover of one of those romance novels. Fern Taylor should know, because she has been reading them since she was thirteen. Fern has had a crush on him for years, but she isn’t exactly the ‘prettiest’ girl in town and she doesn’t think Ambrose would ever look at her that way. But life isn’t just about physical attraction and works in funny ways. After the 9/11 attacks, Ambrose and his four friends decide to join the cause and were sent off to war. Only one comes back… And the whole town struggles to deal with the loss; each in their own way.

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I kind of feel I’m not doing the story justice with this summary, but I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot… This line in the blurb describes the general idea behind Making Faces beautifully though: “a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast where we discover that there is little beauty and a little beast in all of us“. It’s contemporary romance with a healthy dose of realistic fiction, a cup of tears and mixed with lovely characters and a very important topic. I basically loved everything about it and this story has confirmed Amy Harmon is one of my new favorite authors.


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ARC REVIEW: The One Memory Of Flora Banks – by Emily Barr

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Title: The One Memory Of Flora Banks
Author: Emily Barr

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction
First published: January 12th 2017
Publisher: Penguin
Finished reading: January 14th 2017
Pages: 303
Rating 5qqq

“I am really here. Yet I know I am not. I am inside something that must be buried in my head. I am layers deep in my own brain.”

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

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After I read Claire‘s review at Art and Soul, I basically had no other choice but rush to Netgalley and request a copy of this new novel by Emily Barr as well. I literally did a happy dance when my request was approved soon after, because I had heard nothing but wonderful things about The One Memory Of Flora Banks (and not just because of the gorgeous cover). I picked up my copy straight after receiving it, and I completely agree with all the other raving reviews out there. This book is brilliant! I loved LOVED the main character and the fact that amnesia plays such a big role in the story. Sure, there is a hint of a love triangle and she doesn’t seem to care much about hurting her best friend’s feelings when she kisses the boyfriend. Sure, if you think about the plot critically it’s not exactly all that credible. But to be honest, I didn’t really care. Flora managed to win over my heart from the very first page and I loved both the writing and how Flora managed to do so many things suffering with anterograde amnesia like she does. And that ending! I’m already having a feeling this one will appear on my list of 2017 favorites.

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Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks suffers from anterograde amnesia ever since a tumor was removed from her brain at the age of ten. She has no short-term memory and is unable to make new memories; her mind has been resetting itself several times a day ever since the operation. But that is until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the day before he leaves town. Somehow Flora is still able to remember every detail about their conversation and kiss the next day, and the memory sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is the key to restoring her memory and making her whole again… So when an encouraging mail from Drake suggests to meet him far far away, Flora finally listens to the two words on her hand: ‘be brave’. Will Flora be able to find him?

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If you look critically, The One Memory Of Flora Banks actually has a plot that isn’t all that credible and even has a hint of a love triangle. I’m normally not a big fan of either, but in this case it was all completely forgotten thanks to the lovely writing and more importantly: Flora Banks. Flora is basically what makes this story and is without doubt one of my new favorite characters! I love how she is able to overcome her anterograde amnesia and do all the things she does. The One Memory Of Flora Banks is definitely a story that is worth the hype and more than recommended!


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BOOK REVIEW: Mosquitoland – by David Arnold

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Title: Mosquitoland
Author: David Arnold

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
First published: March 3rd 2015
Publisher: Viking Children’s
Finished reading: January 8th 2017
Pages: 336
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“I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange.”

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Dear, dear Mosquitoland. I have been wanting to read you ever since you were published, but somehow I have managed to neglect you for almost two long years. I have no proper reasons, not like the ones you mentioned in your story, but I will try to explain why I was wrong to not read you sooner.

First of all, I loved LOVED the prose in Mosquitoland! David Arnold‘s writing is without doubt excellent and I enjoyed every single minute of the ride. This is not your average story and its uniqueness just radiates right off the page. The main characters are BRILLIANT, although my special love goes out to Mim. She is hands down one of my new favorite characters and I just loved the quirkiness and unique feel of her character and development. She is basically what makes Mosquitoland so special, along with the writing and switches in between the ‘letters’ and the ‘actual’ plot. Mim has to face a lot of unlikely situations during her roadtrip away from what she calls Mosquitoland, but instead of doubting the credibility I found myself drawn right into the story. The writing is truly enchanting, and along with the fast pace I found myself literally flying through the pages. If you like YA contemporary reads and haven’t tried Mosquitoland yet, please do! You won’t regret it.

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Mim Malone used to call northern Ohio her home, but after something happened in her family she is dragged away to Mississippi. There she has to live with her dad and her new stepmom, with no ‘real’ contact with her mom whatsoever… Then she finds out her mother is sick back in Cleveland, and Mim decides to take fate into her own hands. She boards a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and real mother, and will meet quite a few quirky fellow travelers along the way… And her journey will not exactly go as planned either.

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Now I’ve finally read Mosquitoland, I cannot stop asking myself why I haven’t read it sooner. Because boy, this story has literally blown me away. Mim has won over my heart with her quirkiness and strange habits and all, and I enjoyed reading ever single moment of her road trip and adventures. The writing is more than excellent and has an unique feel about it; the characters are what make this story stand out from the rest as well. More than recommended!


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BOOK REVIEW: This Savage Song – by V.E. Schwab

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Title: This Savage Song
(Monsters Of Verity #1)
Author: Victoria (V.E.) Schwab

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Dystopia
First published: June 7th 2016
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Finished reading: December 5th 2016
Pages: 464
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“I mean, most people want to escape. Get out of their heads. Out of their lives. Stories are the easiest way to do that.”

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I think I have mentioned my love for Victoria (V.E.) Schwab‘s books once or twice already this year, and I still don’t know what took me so long to finally pick up this copy of her newest novel and first book of a new series This Savage Song. People kept telling me I should just read this one and that I would love it as much as the other books I had already read, and they were totally right. A Darker Shade Of Magic is still my absolute Schwab favorite, but this one came in a close second! Brilliant, just brilliant. The prose is just excellent and I love LOVE the worldbuilding. Like in Shades Of Magic, the worldbuilding isn’t all that complicated, but this simplicity just WORKS. The idea of Verity with its three types of monsters is intriguing, and I LOVED the main characters August and Kate. Both the dynamics between the characters and their development is very well done and I can’t wait to read the sequel next year. It’s going to be a long wait for sure… V.E. Schwab has definitely proven to be worthy to be in my TOP 10 of all time favorite authors!

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The world has become a dangerous place and the the violence in the city of Verity has begun to breed actual monsters. Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to this divided city… And they are both in danger. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who has made a deal with the monsters and makes the humans pay for his protection. And all August wants is to be human and play a bigger role in protecting the innocent, but he is actually one of the monsters. The two finally meet as August is giving the task to keep an eye on Kate, who has just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned to the city. Nobody can know about his secret, but it’s a hard one to keep…

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I have to admit I’m having a hard time writing something coherent about this book. I feel like a fangirl blabbering all over the place, but This Savage Song is just THAT good. The worldbuilding is quite simply, but excellently done and it makes it really easy to just dive into this story and relate to the main characters. Both Kate and August are well developed and I loved their characters, although August is my absolute favorite. I love the idea of the different monsters and the plot is excellent as well… The story doesn’t end with that big of a cliffhanger either, but I will definitely be waiting impatiently for the second book. It looks like it will be a duology, so I will be rereading this little masterpiece before the sequel next year. And in case you haven’t guessed it yet, I can more than recommend this book!

BOOK REVIEW: A Man Called Ove – by Fredrik Backman

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Title: A Man Called Ove
Author: Fredrik Backman

Genre: Fiction, Humor, Contemporary
First published: August 27th 2012
Publisher: Atria Books
Finished reading: November 22nd 2016
Pages: 337
(Originally written in Swedish: “En man som heter Ove”)
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“We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like ‘if’.”

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There has been a lot of hype around Fredrik Backman‘s work this year, and I thought it was about time to find out just exactly what everybody was raving about. And boy do I regret not having picked up my copy of A Man Called Ove earlier! This originally Swedish book was in one word BRILLIANT. I fell in love with both the prose and main character from the very first page and it’s been a while since a book has been able to make me laugh and cry at the same time. Ove has managed to win over my heart, grumpiness and all, and he is hands down one of my new favorite characters. He really reminded me of Carl, the grumpy old man from the movie Up! And Ove’s character is just as endearing in his own grumpy way. Apart from the prose itself and the fabulous character, Fredrik Backman is also able to combine heartbreaking and sensitive topics with a humor that is right up my alley. The humor might not be for everyone, but even so I would suggest trying A Man Called Ove if you haven’t already. It’s without doubt one of my favorite reads this year!

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Ove is a grumpy man who finds his solitary world turned upside down when a young family moves in next door. He is the kind of man with strict routines and a short fuse. People around him call him ‘the bitter neighbor from hell’, but is he really bitter just because he doesn’t seem friendly all the time? Behind his cranky exterior is a story and a sadness that will slowly be revealed as random things start happening when the family next door moves in.

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This is not the first time I have been blown away by a Swedish book, and A Man Called Ove has definitely been added to my list of all time favorites. I’m having a hard time writing a coherent review, but what I can say is that I strongly suggest reading this story. It’s just that good! I’m aware the humor I myself loved might be a turn off for some, but even so I would say it is worth the try. I will be looking forward to read his other books soon.

BOOK REVIEW: It Ends With Us – by Colleen Hoover

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Title: It Ends With Us
Author: Colleen Hoover

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: August 2nd 2016
Publisher: Atria Books
Finished reading: November 12th 2016
Pages: 367
Rating 5qqq

“All humans make mistakes. What determines a person’s character aren’t the mistakes we make. It’s how we take those mistakes and turn them into lessons rather than excuses.”

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Colleen Hoover has done it again! Those who know me are already aware of my not-so-good relationship with the romance genre, but this author has convinced me yet again I can actually enjoy romance when it’s done right. I seem to be having a love-hate relationship with CoHo‘s work, but that doesn’t take away I did LOVE November 9 last year. I decided to give It Ends With Us a go after seeing nothing but raving reviews everywhere, and those reviews were absolutely right. This title just became the second 5 star CoHo book on my list, and that is no small achievement for a genre I normally tend to avoid. Why is It Ends With Us so brilliant that it deserves the highest rating? First of all, there is no denying the fact that Colleen Hoover is a master in creating realistic and believable characters that you can easily relate to. It Ends With Us is filled with strong characters, and on top of that it’s an exceptionally well written story with an intriguing plot. This novel isn’t just another fluffy contemporary romance story either. Instead it deals with a very important and probably very sensitive topic: (abuse). It’s not an easy topic to write about, but the author has done an excellent job of describing it realistically. Have I managed to convince you to read It Ends With Us yet? I certainly hope so, because it was hands down one of the best books I’ve read this year.

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Lily hasn’t always had an easy life, but that has never stopped her from trying to find a way to succeed in life. She managed to escape the small town in Main where she grew up in and after graduating from college she decided to move to Boston. She first started to work at a firm, but then someone inspired her to follow her dream to start her own business. And that is not the only positive thing that is happening in Lily’s life… When she feels a spark with the gorgeous neurosurgeon Ryle Kincaid, everything seems almost too good to be true. Sure, he doesn’t do relationships and might be stubborn and even a bit arrogant. But Ryle seems to have a soft spot for Lily and she is having a hard time to resist… But is he really who Lily thinks he is?

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I’m having a hard time writing a proper review for this one without it sounding like I’m just blabbering all over the place, but It Ends With Us is just THAT good. Forget the fact that I’m normally not a fan of romance. Forget the fact that I normally detest love triangles. This book is simply brilliant! Realistic and strong characters (Lily is such an awesome character), extremely well written prose and intriguing plot… It Ends With Us just has it all.