BOOK REVIEW: The Wrong Side Of Right – by Jenn Marie Thorne

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Title: The Wrong Side Of Right
Author: Jenn Marie Thorne

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: March 17th 2015
Publisher: Dial Books
Finished reading: January 30th 2017
Pages: 400
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“It’s amazing how much one person can change the world, even if they don’t know they’re doing it.”

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Confession: I snatched up a copy of The Wrong Side Of Right 100% based on the gorgeous cover and had no clue what the story exactly was about when I finally picked it up. I was actually browsing my kindle and picked up this story on a whim… And it turned out to be a bittersweet read after all the immigration chaos that has been going on lately in the US. This hint to real-life connection was actually almost spooky considering the fact this book was written back in 2015… But I guess it did make the plot in The Wrong Side Of Right a tad more interesting. That said, I have to admit I ended up having mixed feelings about this story despite the fact that I could really appreciate the immigration elements. The story had a fast pace and was easy to read, but it took me a long time to actually connect to the main characters and it all just felt a bit too cheesy for me. The Wrong Side Of Right wasn’t exactly a bad read and had its charming elements, so maybe this book just wasn’t for me? Contemporary romance fans will probably enjoy this story a lot more than I did.

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After Kate Quinn’s mother died last year, she thought she was now an orphan. That all changes when someone discovers the truth about her mother’s past and Kate is forced to come to terms with a new reality. She does have a father. But that is not the biggest shock: he is one of the most powerful politicians of the country and currently in the race to become the next US President. To keep the little scandal from blowing up, her father invites her to join a family she never knew she had… Including a brother, sister, stepmom and a campaign to support a father she hardly knows. Kate suddently finds herself in the middle of the spotlight, and there is no room for mistakes. Will she be able to get used to this new life? And what does her new family really think of her?

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If you are looking for a light, fluffy and fast-paced contemporary romance read, The Wrong Side Of Right is probably a great choice. It does read superfast, but I have to admit it took me a long time to warm up to this story. The main problem I had was probably with the main characters. Especially Kate was quite annoying and I felt she started out having little to no character. There were also a lot of cheesy cliches involved I couldn’t care about, but that might just be me not being a fan of the genre in the first place. The immigration elements were definitely a strong point of this story though.


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BOOK REVIEW: Unhooked – by Lisa Maxwell

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Title: Unhooked
Author: Lisa Maxwell

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Retelling
First published: February 2nd 2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Finished reading: January 22nd 2017
Pages: 352
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“Hers might never be calm or easy paintings, but those canvases are the way she keeps herself centered. She needs to create, or she will lose herself bit by bit to her fears and delusions.”

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I had this book by Lisa Maxwell on my radar for a long time, so I was really excited when I saw it was offered as one of the free reads at RivetedLit. I read a sample of Unhooked some time last year and remember being thoroughly impressed by the beginning of this Peter Pan retelling. I was more than excited to be finally continuing this story, but as things advanced and the revamped Neverland worldbuilding was revealed things fell a little flat for me. The beginning was without doubt the strongest part of this book even though it has a minimum amount of ‘magical’ elements. The rest just didn’t live up to expecations… It might be the hint at a love triangle, it might be the whiney main character, but I didn’t enjoy Unhooked as much as I thought I would. The writing style was very enjoyable to read in general; the pace was fast in the beginning, but slowed down considerably later on despite the action scenes. In fact, it took me a lot longer than expected to read it and I barely finished it on the last day the book was available. Such a shame, because it sounded so promising!

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Gwendolyn Allister has been on the run her whole life, all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. This time her fear has brought them to London, far away from the life she had trying to build for the last two years, but luckily she will still have her best friend Olivia with her for the summer… Their vacation won’t be what they were expecting though; both Gwen and Olivia end up being kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world that cannot be real. Has Gwen’s mother been right all this time after all? Gwen finds himself in Neverland, but it’s nothing like the original stories. Will she find a way to rescue Olivia and go back to her own world before it’s too late?

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I have to admit, both the cover, blurb and preview had me literally ‘hooked’. I was really looking forward to continue reading Unhooked, but unfortunately the story started to fall flat for me as I continued reading and discovering more about the revamped Neverland. It’s not that I don’t like the mixed up ‘good’ and ‘bad’, but both the romance and some of the main characters were really starting to get on my nerves. The ending wasn’t really satisfying either… What was a very promising and enjoyable start with a spark, soon started to sizzle out and didn’t manage to convince me in the end.


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ARC REVIEW: That Burning Summer – by Lydia Syson

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Title: That Burning Summer
Author: Lydia Syson

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Romance
First published: January 24th 2017
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Finished reading: January 8th 2017
Pages: 336
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“It wasn’t his strength he needed. Nerve. That was what had deserted him. Like water into sand, it had seeped away while he wasn’t looking, and left him drained.”

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

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I always enjoy reading historical fiction, especially if the story is set during or around WWII, so that explains why I found That Burning Summer by Lydia Syson an easy choice. I was really looking forward to another WWII story, but unfortunately I wasn’t too convinced by this one. I’m not saying it was a bad read, but it took me a long time to get a proper feel for the story and I struggled to focus on the plot. I cannot put my finger exactly on the why though… It might have been the tone, it might have been the pace, but it just wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. The premise of That Burning Summer is interesting even though I’ve read about characters hiding soldiers in the past. The Polish airman Henryk has an interesting background, but I felt the focus of this story was too much on the ‘childish’ romantic feelings between him and Peggy instead of what is happening in the war. That angle would have been much more interesting, especially since as far as I could tell the descriptions of the war are very accurate and seem well researched. Instead, both the childish feelings of Peggy for the soldier and her annoying little brother distracted from what could have been such an intriguing story. Most people seem to enjoy That Burning Summer though, so it might just have been me…

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It’s July 1940 and the soldiers are struggling to keep the war out of England. Then one day a plane crashes in the march somewhere on the south coast of England, and it is the sixteen-year-old Peggy who finds the pilot. She is supposed to report the event, but Peggy feels for the young Polish airman who is afraid to return to the fight. She decides to help him find a place to hide, and leads him to a remote and abandoned church. Peggy knows what she is doing is illegal and tries to keep it a secret… But it is turning out to be really hard to hide a soldier when her younger brother follows her everywhere and she has to steal food at home to feed him.

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I really wanted to enjoy That Burning Summer, but unfortunately my experience wasn’t as positive as I thought it would be. I’m having a hard time putting my finger exactly on the way, but I’m quite sure the ‘childish’ romance scenes and slow pace did have a lot to do with. The historical elements are great though and it’s nice to see a Polish airman playing such a big role in this story.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde – by Robert Louis Stevenson

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Title: The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde
Author: Robert Louis Stevenson

Genre: Classics, Science Fiction, Horror
First published: January 5th 1886
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Finished reading: December 4th 2016
Pages: 96
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“I learned to recognise the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both.”

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I’m ashamed to admit I have been mostly neglecting the classics this year, and I made a promise to myself to at least read a few before the end of 2016. It was the perfect time to read one of my pending classics on my kindle: The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde. I was only vaguely familiar with the story, but this is the first time I’m actually reading the original version of this story. I had a bad experience reading another of Robert Louis Stevenson‘s books, Treasure Island, but luckily I found this classic to be a lot more enjoyable to read. Sure, it took me a while to get into the story, but the second half of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde was without doubt very entertaining. There is an interesting concept and message behind this story that will definitely make you think. I don’t think it’s my favorite classic ever, but I enjoyed it a lot better than I thought I would.

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Dr. Jekyll has discovered the ultimate drug; a chemical that can separate good from evil and turn him into something else. The sinister Mr. Hyde is born, and is causing trouble all over the city. People wonder who Mr. Hyde is and why Dr. Jekyll would want to interact with such a shady character. But they do not know about the doctor’s secret… Will Jekyll be able to keep Hyde under control?

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I think most people are probably already aware of what this story is about, especially since so many references to it have been made ever since it was published back in the 19th century. The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde has an interesting concept and especially the second half is quite enjoyable to read. It took me a while to get into the story though… And I don’t think I will be rereading it any time soon.

ARC REVIEW: The Girls Next Door – by Mel Sherratt

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Title: The Girls Next Door
(Detective Eden Berrisford #1)
Author: Mel Sherratt

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime
First published: October 27th 2016
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: November 17th 2016
Pages: 318
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“No one in the shop came to her aid. She had been condemned the same as her daughter. Guilty until proven innocent.”

*** 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 am always a sucker for a good crime thriller, so it was easy to say yes to another new detective series. The blurb of The Girls Next Door had me intrigued right away, and the story had without doubt quite a powerful start. The beginning of this story was just as gripping and edge-of-your-seat as the cover has promised, but unfortunately I don’t think the story was actually able to maintain that level of intensity. I think the main problem was the sheer amount of characters that is introduced throughout the story, which can get quite confusing at times. I personally had a hard time identifying where each character stood in the story, and that made it a little more difficult to enjoy the story. The amount of characters also made their individual stories seem a bit rushed at points. What I did like was the fast pace and the new main character of this series. Eden Berrisford is one of the exceptions to the detective cliche and she doesn’t have a messed up private life distracting from the case. In fact, she doesn’t really play that big of a role in the story… Which makes The Girls Next Door into the first book of a refreshing new detective series I will definitely be keeping in mind despite the few things that bothered me.

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Six months after that terrible night where sixteen-year-old Deanna Barker was stabbed, someone is coming after the teenagers of Stockleigh. A wave of vicious assaults troubles the community, and everyone is left wondering why those teenagers were attacked. Was it because of what happened to Deanna? Or is something more going on? Detective Eden Berrisford has to race against the clock to catch the person behind the attacks, but the case gets personal when her own niece goes missing…

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This story is without doubt a fast-paced and easy-to-read thriller, although it did lose its intensity later on in the story. There were too many different characters involved to my taste, or at least they managed to confuse me at times as it was hard to figure out where each of them stood in the story. I also wasn’t sure about the credibility of part of the plot, although the case itself is quite interesting. Eden Berrisford has won points for originality as a detective character! In short, while The Girls Next Door has its flaws, I have the feeling it’s still the start of a refreshing new detective series. Make sure to give it a go if you like the genre.

ARC REVIEW: Before You Leap – by Keith Houghton

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Title: Before You Leap
Author: Keith Houghton

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: November 1st 2016
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: November 9th 2016
Pages: 302
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“Well-wishers will tell you that wounds heal over time. Don’t believe them. The only thing time heals is other people’s memories.”

*** 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 have to admit I couldn’t believe my eyes when I received a message from Netgalley that they granted my wish and sent me a copy of Before You Leap. I’ve wanted to read this title ever since I first heard about it, so I’m glad I was given the chance to do so. Unfortunately, I did end up having mixed thoughts about this novel by Keith Houghton. It is without doubt a very interesting psychological thriller and I liked the general plot, but it wasn’t all good.  First of all, the prologue is a quite confusing and it took a long time before it started to make sense. I feel the start of Before You Leap would have been a lot stronger without the prologue, because it kind of feels more like a ‘filler’ than something that adds a little extra to the story. I liked the prose and creative descriptions, but the plot twists were all over the place. Some of the twists definitely add the right amount of suspense to the story, but others were a bit farfetched. The ending was quite predictable, maybe even disappointing, and Greg’s character development wasn’t that strong either. That said, I still managed to enjoy most of the story, and fans of the genre will most likely do so as well.

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Greg Cole hasn’t been the same since the murder of his twin sister, Scarlett. He escapes his old town and tries to start a new life in Florida. For years he seems to have succeeded, but old wounds are reopened when Scarlett’s killer is released early from prison with a cast-iron alibi. Greg realized his past is about to come back to haunt him. As a talk therapist, Greg knows all about dark secrets and he is not sure up to what point he can actually trust his own memories. His life is starting to come apart and he is starting to loose his grip on reality… Will Greg discover the truth before it’s too late?

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While Before You Leap without doubt has a lot of potential, I did have a few problems with it. The prose and general plot are without doubt intriguing and I liked the psychological twist as well, but unfortunately the prologue and beginning were quite confusing and it took me a while to properly understand what was going on. The plot twists in especially the second half were a bit weak and the ending wasn’t as strong as I thought it would be. It’s still an entertaining read though for those who enjoy the genre.

ARC REVIEW: Love You To Death – by Caroline Mitchell

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Title: Love You To Death
(Detective Ruby Preston #1)
Author: Caroline Mitchell

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: November 11th 2016
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: October 30th 2016
Pages: 315
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“She lived and breathed the streets, and would lay her neck on the line to protect its occupants. But how did she tell an idealist that the world was not black and white?”

*** 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’ve heard great things about Caroline Mitchell‘s books, so when I saw Love You To Death mentioned at Netgalley, I just HAD to request it. I had high expectations for this crime thriller, but unfortunately the story didn’t turned out to be as good as I thought it would be. I have been reading a lot of detective series lately and Love You To Death doesn’t really stand out from the rest. I know I’m in the minority when it comes to my opinion since most of the reviews I’ve seen are really positive, but it seems like I had a completely different experience. I had a hard time getting a proper feel for the story and the first part was a bit slow. That might just be because the POV switch between chapters was a bit confusing in the beginning though. That said, the plot and plot twists are great and Lucy has a lot of potential. She sure has a very twisted mind! I wasn’t really convinced by most of the other characters though. Especially Ruby felt a bit weak as a main character and I had a hard time warming up to her. Nathan’s role in the story makes for a nice twist, although I didn’t really appreciate the romance OR love triangle. In short, while not perfect, Love You To Death offers without doubt still quite an entertaining story with a very promising plot. And I definitely wouldn’t say no to reading the sequel either.

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Detective Ruby Preston and her team are called in after a body was found. And what seems to be an easy case, soon turns out into something a whole lot more complicated… And it seems like they are having a serial killer on the loose. Ruby and her team will have to find out who is to blame before the killer can strike again, but that’s easier said than done. The killer seems to be targetting women who gave up a child for adoption, but it’s a race against the clock to connect the dots on time. And when Ruby receives a sinister email, the case takes a terrifying personal twist… Will she be able to find the killer on time? And what secrets does she hide herself?

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The general plot and plot twists are without doubt excellent and the killer has a lot of potential as a character. Lucy is the perfect ‘crazy’ serial killer and without doubt carries a healthy dose of creepy with her. I actually liked her better as a character than detective Ruby, is that weird? The Ruby chapters are not as strong as Lucy’s, mostly because of the romance/love triangle and the fact that I found her a bit weak as a main character. Aside from that, Love You To Death is still a solid thriller.