BOOK REVIEW: Beautiful Broken Things – by Sara Barnard

Title: Beautiful Broken Things
Author: Sara Barnard

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: February 11th 2016
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Finished reading: August 2nd 2017
Pages: 322

“Everyone says apologizing works, but it never really does. Not quickly enough anyway.”

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I’ve been meaning to pick up Beautiful Broken Things for quite some time now, so I was quite happy when my TBR jar decided for me it was time to read my copy. I always have mixed experiences with YA contemporaries, but I was drawn to this cover and blurb like a bee to honey. And to be honest, I initially really enjoyed reading it. The first thing that stands out is the writing style, which is very engaging and makes it very easy to read this story. I found myself literally flying through the pages at first. Even though the plot itself isn’t all that special and nothing I haven’t seen before in the genre, I had a great time reading it. There are quite a few high school cliches involved though which I could have done without as well as the jealousy and the whole new friend/third wheel theme. I had mixed feelings about the characters and as the story continued especially Caddy really started to bother me. Both her attitude and her idea that having bad things happen to you make you more interesting is not only frustrating but almost offensive. It’s one of the reasons I started to enjoy Beautiful Broken Things less and less and ended up having to give a lot lower rating than I initially suspected. Sure, Suzanne’s character is quite interesting and opens the way to talk about important themes as abuse and its consequences and mental health, but her reactions are also almost cliche at points and I’m not sure I’m happy with the final developments and the ending. All in all it wasn’t the reading experience I was hoping for… Beautiful Broken Things had a quite strong start because of the enjoyable writing style, but didn’t manage to convince me in the end. Part of the problem might have been me, so if you love the genre and don’t mind cliches it’s still worth giving a go.

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Caddy and Rosie have been best friends for years and even though they go to different high schools, they are inseparable. Caddy has always been the quiet one though and when she turns sixteen she wants to make some changes in her life. And then Rosie meets Suzanne, a new girl at her school and they become friends. Suzanne is everything Caddy wants to be and she is jealous of their friendship. Things are becoming a whole lot more complicated… Especially when Caddy starts to get knowing Suzanne better. What will happen to the three girls?

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Initially I thought I was really going to enjoy this story and the writing style is without doubt enjoyable at first. I can’t point out the exact moment I started to enjoy Beautiful Broken Things less, but there is no doubt that the final part of this story didn’t live up to the promising start. There were certain things that started to bother me: the cliches, some of the characters and the way they act and think, the way important (darker) themes are handled… All in all not what I expected.


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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! ***

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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.

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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…

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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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ARC REVIEW: What To Say Next – by Julie Buxbaum @juliebux @DelacortePress

Title: What To Say Next
Author: Julie Buxbaum

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: July 11th 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Finished reading: June 27th 2017
Pages: 272

“There’s a famous expression that if you’ve met one person with autism, then… you’ve met one person with autism.
So you met me.
Just me.
Not a diagnosis.”

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

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Forget the fact that the whole contemporary romance genre and me normally don’t get along. Forget the fact that normally I’m almost allergic to anything that can be possibly considered as cheesy. Forget the fact that I’m never a big fan of high school cliches in the first place. Because Julie Buxbaum has done it again and has proven to me I can actually absolutely love a slightly cheesy contemporary romance novel! I already had high hopes after falling in love with Tell Me Three Things last year and What To Say Next has only enhanced that love for her books. I do love it whenever an author is able to make me enjoy a genre that normally isn’t a right fit… What To Say Next is possibly even better than her previous story. Why? A very easy answer: because this story has David. Basically David won over my heart right from the very first chapter and he is without doubt one of my new all time favorite characters. He is just so unique, adorable and his character is extremely well developed! There aren’t all that many books out there with an autistic main character and Julie Buxbaum did a brilliant job portraying him realistically. Then again, the main characters were well developed in general and I really liked Kit’s character as well. The writing style is very enjoyable to read and the story is told in alternating chapters switching between David and Kit’s POV. Both storylines are interesting for completely different reasons, because this story isn’t just about David and his uniqueness. It’s also about Kit and how the sudden death of her father affects her, something that was again portrayed very realistically. I honestly couldn’t find anything negative to say about What To Say Next even though it has a few cheesy moments and high school cliches… Let’s just say that having a character like David makes you feel very forgiving.

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David Drucker and Kit Lowell don’t really know each other that well. Kit is relatively popular and has her own group of friends, while David is basically socially isolated and a loner. Then one day Kit decides to sit with David at lunch, unable to keep faking her feelings with her friends… Her dad has recently died in a car accident and she just can’t handle the reactions anymore. David seemed like a safe bet since he normally doesn’t really talk to others, but somehow the two connect anyway. But will this unlikely friendship last?

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Even though this normally isn’t my genre, I ended up absolutely loving What To Say Next. This story has once again proven to me Julie Buxbaum is an exception to my rule and I will be looking forward to her future books. Her writing style is very enjoyable to read and she is a master in creating the most wonderful characters. David is basically what makes this story into something special and he will stay with me for a long time, although it was really easy to connect to the characters and story in general. In short I can highly recommend What To Say Next!


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ARC REVIEW: Feel Me Fall – by James Morris @XpressoTours

Title: Feel Me Fall
Author: James Morris

Genre: YA, Mystery, Adventure
First published: May 2nd 2017
Publisher: XPresso Book Tours
Finished reading: May 25th 2017
Pages: 260

“Books have given me an escape from my own forgettable life. They’ve taken me to places I’ll probably never see. They’ve introduced me to people and events and made me feel less alone. Words aren’t just words; they’re alchemy.”

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

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I’ve read and enjoyed a few of James Morris‘ stories in the past, so when I was approached with the question if I wanted to read Feel Me Fall I was sold as soon as I read the blurb. I like books with a different setting and this survival story (partly) set in the Amazon jungle definitely triggered my curiosity. Feel Me Fall is basically about a bunch of teenagers first surviving a plane crash and then having to find a way to survive in the middle of the Amazon jungle until help arrives. These survival scenes are mixed with typical high school scene flashbacks and short chapters where the sole survivor Emily tells her story. This mix of contemporary and adventure definitely made Feel Me Fall into a very interesting read! The story started out strong and I really enjoyed the writing style; it’s very engaging. It’s a quick read with a fast pace and especially the survival chapters stood out for me. One thing though: I would have probably enjoyed this story even better without the many high school cliches and more importantly multiple love triangles. The first I can live with, but the love triangles and ‘forbidden’ love parts didn’t really add anything substantial to the story and distracted from the main plot (which is interesting enough on its own). That doesn’t take away I still very much enjoyed this story and Feel Me Fall will also have a plot twist or two that will surprise you. And that ending!

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Emily Duran is the sole survivor of a plane crash that left her and a few other teenagers alone in the middle of the Amazon jungle. They will have to try and survive until help arrives… And hope people will actually find them in the middle of nowhere. The group is lost and they are slowly losing hope as they struggle against the elements and also each other… Because they weren’t exactly all friends back home, and it’s hard to trust each other when in full survival mode. Why is Emily the only one left alive? What happened to the others?

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Feel Me Fall is without doubt a superfast and entertaining read. I really liked the mix of Amazon survival/adventure chapters with contemporary high school flashbacks and those set in the hospital after Emily is rescued. It’s just the right balance and makes this story that much more interesting to read. I could have done without the cliches and love triangles, but overall this is definitely a great read. The writing style is very engaging!


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ARC REVIEW: One Of Us Is Lying – by Karen M. McManus @writerkmc @DelacortePress

Title: One Of Us Is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus

Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
First published: May 30th 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Finished reading: May 18th 2017
Pages: 368

“Nobody could stand him, but they’re all holding candles like he’s some kind of martyr instead of a gossipy douchebag.”

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

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I had actually wrongly assumed One Of Us Is Lying was a contemporary romance read the first time I saw it and wasn’t sure it would be for me, so I didn’t add it to my wishlist straight away… So I guess I have to thank Ashley @ Socially Awkward Bookworm for putting this book on my radar with her review. One Of Us Is Lying is without doubt one of the best YA mystery stories I’ve read so far this year. This is unreliable narrators and plot twists at its best; I did kind of guess part of the ending early on, but there is no way this story won’t at least partly surprise you. The story starts out strong and it sets the tone for the rest of the story. The main characters start out as high school cliches, but as you continue reading they slowly start to evolve and their development is very well executed. Despite the cliches it’s really easy to connect to the four suspects and they are one of the reasons this story works so well. My favorites would be Cooper and Bronwyn, but all four have their charm. The plot twists are excellent and definitely make you wonder what is true and who is lying; the ending wasn’t a complete surprise but was still satisfying. If you like the genre and you’re up for a healthy dose of high school secrets and excellent twists, One Of Us Is Lying is the book for you!

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Five students at Bayview High walk into detention, and only four walk out alive… Had any of the four something to do with the dead of Simon, an outcast and creator of the notorious Bayview High gossip app? The investigators say his death wasn’t an accident, and they are looking at the four students for their suspect. Bronwyn is the brain and never breaks a rule, Addy is the beauty and a homecoming princess, Nate is the criminal and on probation for dealing and Cooper the athlete and all-star baseball pitcher. Did one of them kill Simon? Because it seems like they did have motive, because Simon had planned to post juicy reveals about all four of them the next day…

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One Of Us Is Lying ended up being even better than I thought it would be. Sure, the characters started out as cliches, but they were really easy to connect to and ended up growing into something so much more… The writing style is highly enjoyable and only adds to the fast pace of this story. The plot twists are excellent as well and all in all I had a great time reading it. More than recommended!


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BOOK REVIEW: The Start Of Me And You – by Emery Lord

Title: The Start of Me And You
Author: Emery Lord

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: March 31st 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Finished reading: April 14th 2017
Pages: 376

“In books, sometimes the foreshadowing is so obvious that you know what’s going to happen. But knowing what happens isn’t the same as knowing how it happens. Getting there is the best part.”

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Confession: contemporary romance is not really my thing and I normally tend to avoid the genre… But I was in desperate need for a change of genre and I enjoyed Emery Lord‘s other story When We Collided, so I decided to give The Start Of Me And You a go. I didn’t read the blurb before I started and I thought it was going to be a ‘happy’ read, so it’s easy to say I was surprised when I was confronted with another case of grief instead. Although the sad part was mostly in the beginning. The writing style itself is very enjoyable to read and I literally flew through the pages. Like many YA contemporary romance novels I’ve read in the past, the plot of The Start Of Me And You is quite cheesy and predictable and unfortunately this is yet another story with one of the most annoying romance tropes possible: a love triangle. And quite a frustrating love triangle as well as the main character Paige is SO blind during most of the story! I had mixed thoughts about the characters (LOVED Max, wasn’t so sure of Paige for example), but I did enjoy all those little geeky elements that were included. Like I said before, about 90% of the story is way too cheesy for me and the plot was quite predictable, but I can see why fans of the genre would love The Start Of Me And You. I personally didn’t love it, but I did enjoy it better than I thought I would. Without doubt an easy, entertaining and fluffy read!

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Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident last year, and she is still struggling to get her life back on track. People still feel sorry for her and give her THAT LOOK all the time, but Paige has a plan this time for a fresh start at her high school. Five simple steps that should help her convince everyone she’s back to normal… Including finally getting her old crush Ryan Chase to date her. But that plan will not work out as she thought it would… And she might end up doing something completely different instead.

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If you are a fan of slightly cheesy, predictable but incredibly fluffy YA contemporary romance stories, you will probably end up loving The Start Of Me And You. Personally it was a little too sweet to my taste, but it was a rather welcome break from more ‘serious’ books… This story starts out a little sad, but is mostly about Paige trying to get her life back on track. It’s a cute read, but the love triangle did get quite annoying after a while (especially since Max is so adorkable!). All in all not the best I’ve read, but without doubt still satisfying.


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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
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“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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