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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BOOK REVIEW: Love May Fail – by Matthew Quick

Title: Love May Fail
Author: Matthew Quick

Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance
First published: June 4th 2015
Publisher: Harper
Finished reading: July 31st 2017
Pages: 419

“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”

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I liked Matthew Quick‘s unconventional writing style and characters in Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, so when I was desperately looking for something different I turned to his work again. I found a copy of Love May Fail on my shelves and decided to pick it up; and I definitely got what I was looking for. This book is by no means conventional! I’m still not sure what to make of this book even days after finishing it. There were things/elements I liked or appreciated and there were others I wasn’t so sure about, but what is true that Love May Fail is different. Both the writing style and tone are very unconventional, blunt, brutally honest but also refreshing. That said, there was also a lot of swearing and negativity involved… So this unique feel can go both ways. The same thing goes for the characters. Most of them earn points for brutal honesty, uniqueness and having that ‘spark’, but I don’t think I actually liked them. Portia had all those elements (she definitely has balls), but somehow I never actually warmed up to her. It is true though that at least she was able to provoke strong emotions, even if those were mostly negative. I couldn’t stand Mr. Vernon though. What is true though is that important themes as mental illness, depression, suicide, midlife crisis and hoarding play an important role in the story and seems to be portrayed quite realistically. Matthew Quick isn’t afraid to step on a few toes and says things as they are in a blunt and brutally honest way. And I don’t think I have ever read about a hoarder before! In short I can applaude the diversity. I also liked the novel writing bits and insight in the publishing world. Still, I can’t say I actually loved reading Love May Fail. It won’t make it to my favorites list, but there is no doubt there is something about this story.

A little warning: don’t read Love May Fail if you are sensitive to darker themes, adult content and swearing.

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After Portia Kane finds her pornographer husband cheating on her with a girl half her age, she decides she has had enough. She is having a meltdown; escapes her fabulous life in Florida and then returns to her mother’s house in South Jersey. There she realizes things in her hometown haven’t changed all that much and she will have to face the memories of her unhappy childhood. Her mother is still a hoarder and Portia doesn’t know how to help her get better… So when she finds out what happened to her favorite English teacher, she decides to do something to help him instead. But how to help someone who doesn’t want to be helped in the first place?

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If you are looking for something different, there is no doubt that Love May Fail will deliver. There is nothing conventional about this story and I guess it is kind of refreshing. Love May Fail won’t be for everyone since it has a lot of trigger warnings for darker themes, adult content and swearing, but I’m sure the right person will appreciate the brutal honesty and blunt, raw and ‘out there’ feel of it all. I personally ended up having mixed thoughts about this one, but I do believe this book can go either way.


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ARC REVIEW: The Breakdown – by B.A. Paris @StMartinsPress

Title: The Breakdown
Author: B.A. Paris

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 18th 2017
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: July 15th 2017
Pages: 336

“I’m ashamed – ashamed that I’m no longer the strong person I once was, ashamed that I let the slightest thing get to me.”

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

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!! Happy publication day !!

I’ve had an ARC copy of The Breakdown collecting dust on my kindle shelf for months now… I was initially really excited to be granted a copy, especially after hearing so many wonderful things about Behind Closed Doors, but as mixed reviews started popping up everywhere I wasn’t so sure anymore. I’ve been hesitant to pick The Breakdown up ever since because I tend to have a bad relationship with hyped books in the first place. Thankfully this one turned out to be an exception to that rule and I now wish I would have picked it up sooner! I started reading The Breakdown with caution, but I soon realized this wasn’t necessary at all. I found myself enjoying this psychological thriller right from the very first chapter and was instantly convinced by the engaging writing style. I have a weak spot for any story with amnesia, dementia or mental health/illness elements and B.A. Paris was able to develop this element exceptionally well in The Breakdown. The main character is showing signs of early-onset dementia and this plays a huge role in both the plot and plot twists throughout the story. And I personally found this angle fascinating! True, I didn’t actually like every character, but there is no doubt that the character development of Cass is more than spot on. I had my guesses about the who and why and some of it turned out to be true, but the final part of this story without doubt came as a surprise and made me want to reread The Breakdown just to see if I missed the clues the first time. And I just love whenever that happens… I guess this story can go either way, but I recommend giving it a try anyway since you might be in for a surprise!

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One night Cass decides to take the shortcut home even though the weather is horrible and going down that rural road is dangerous in the middle of a storm. She is more than surprised when she sees a car in the woods, but since the woman doesn’t react and Cass is scared, she decides to drive home instead and forget about the incident… Until the next day she finds out the woman in question was killed. Cass feels guilty she didn’t do anything, but convinces herself it’s probably for the best to keep what she saw that night a secret. The murder has been affecting her terribly though and she’s been forgetting things since that dreadful night. Little things as where she left her car, what the alarm code is, meetings with their friends… And that is not the only thing that worries her. Because who can she trust, if she can’t even trust herself?

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I’m aware that The Breakdown has been receiving a lot of mixed reviews, but I personally had a really positive experience reading this psychological thriller. Then again I’m a sucker for any story with an amnesia/dementia angle and I found this element very well executed in The Breakdown. I didn’t particularly like Cass or the other characters, but the character development and growing forgetfulness and paranoia was brilliantly executed. In short I would definitely recommend giving this one a chance if you like the genre.


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ARC REVIEW: Reported Missing – by Sarah Wray @bookouture

Title: Reported Missing
Author: Sarah Wray

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: July 14th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: July 10th 2017
Pages: 356

“My guts clench, a phantom pain where my instinct used to be, telling me what to do, showing me the way. Nowthe needle just spins and spins.”

*** 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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Ever since I first saw that cover and read the blurb I have been looking forward to pick up Reported Missing. I’m a sucker for a good psychological thriller and this story had all the signs of being another winner. Unfortunately I ended up having a completely different reading experience. This is going to be a though review to write… I’m still surprised to say this myself, but this is the first Bookouture thriller ever that actually ended up disappointing me. It’s such a shame, because I do feel the concept itself has a lot of potential. Reported Missing is ment to be more of a character driven story than a fast-paced thriller, something that can go both ways with me because the main character has to be very strong to keep me interested. And this was exactly one of my problems: I was never able to connect to the main character and I actually found her mostly dull and annoying even. Her reaction to her husband going missing under suspicious circumstances and the aftermatch is understandable in a way, but unfortunately actually reading about it didn’t seem to do the trick for me. Instead of a fascinating characterization with mental health/illness elements and a dose of suspense, I found myself rather struggling to keep interest in Reported Missing. The pace is considerably slow and basically nothing much is happening during the story. Part of this can be explained by the fact that Reported Missing is mostly focused on the character development, but this doesn’t take away that I really struggled to keep focused and continue reading. Things did improve slightly in the second half, making things a little more interesting, but overall I don’t think I would have reached that part in the first place if it would have been an ARC. Because unfortunately the urge to DNF was real… All in all not the thrilling experience I was expecting.

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Four months ago, Rebecca’s husband disappeared and he hasn’t been heard from since. But he wasn’t the only one that day: 14-year-old Kayleigh also disappeared without a trace. Is this just a coincidence or are the two connected? Rebecca wants to believe so, but the rest of the town seems to think otherwise as the police start to think the two cases might be connected. It’s getting harder to trust his innocence, and the angry town blames her for what her husband might have possibly done. But did he actually have something to do with Kayleigh’s disappearance? And where are the two in the first place?

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I was really looking forward to Reported Missing, but unfortunately I ended up having a completely different reading experience. While the concept sounded really promising, there wasn’t much happening during the story and the pace is considerably slow. This psychological thriller is mostly focused on the character development, but I found myself unable to connect to the main character and this made it really hard to keep interested in the story. In short unfortunately not what I was expecting at all.


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ARC REVIEW: Slip – by David Estes

Title: Slip
(Slip #1)
Author: David Estes

Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: December 1st 2014
Publisher: CreateSpace
Finished reading: July 8th 2017
Pages: 416

“I AM weak. We all are. Only through our positive thinking and actions do we become strong. Even the weakest person in the world can become the strongest in their own mind.”

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

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I’ve had this series on my radar for a long time, so when I saw a copy pop up on Netgalley earlier this year I thought it was the perfect excuse to finally get to it. And although it still took longer than expected to pick up my copy of Slip, it was just the story I was looking for when I did. I admit I have been trying to avoid the whole dystopian genre this year, mostly because in general they seem to have lost their originality and ‘spark’ for me. The blurb of Slip triggered something though and now I’ve read the story I still think the idea behind this story is very interesting. I’m not sure if I can call it original, but this alternative world seems to be well developed and the ‘new’ government and their methods to control without doubt controversial. I did have some difficulties adapting to the somewhat childish tone of the writing style; especially in the first bit of the story when the main character is younger. Things did improve later on, although I felt the tone was slightly off throughout the story. The writing style is quite fast to read though and I liked how this alternate world had its own vocabulary for things. The pace did slow a bit due to the many different storylines and characters making their appearance during the story. I actually found myself to be a bit confused about where everybody fit at points, although that feeling mostly went away in the second half of Slip. Another bonus: there is only limited romance involved! True, there is a slight hint of a love triangle as well, but in this first book those with love triangle allergies (like me) are still safe. All in all it wasn’t a bad read and dystopia fans will probably enjoy this one quite a lot.

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After the floods part of the USA is now permanently under water and the Reorganized United States of America has to implement drastic population control measures to control the situation. The threat of not having enough resources and food to sustain the growing population is the main reason there is now a new law: someone must die before another can be born, and birth authorization must be paid before having a child. Experts have discovered the optimal population number, and with this new law this number should stay the same. The government organization Pop Con is responible for making sure everyone sticks to the law… Meaning terminating any children resulting from unauthorized births no matter what age. But what happens if one of them manages to slip through the cracks?

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There is no doubt the concept behind Slip is very interesting even though I’m not sure if the story is actually all that original. With so many storylines and characters the plot feels a bit chaotic at points and it can get a bit confusing, but I guess it does add some dept to the story. The tone was a little off for me as well, but in general this was still a solid dystopian read. Plus, not having to deal with a huge dose of sappy romance was an added bonus!


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ARC REVIEW: The Stolen Girls – by Patricia Gibney @trisha460 @bookouture

Title: The Stolen Girls
(Detective Lottie Parker #2)
Author: Patricia Gibney

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 6th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: July 3rd 2017
Pages: 459

“Sometimes what’s in front of our eyes is so close, we can’t see the full picture.”

*** 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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!!!Happy publication day!!!

I have been a Lottie Parker fan ever since I finished The Missing Ones and likewise I have been looking forward to read more about her next adventure. Now I’ve read The Stolen Girls there is no doubt left: Lottie Parker has that special something that makes her into one heck of a detective AND main character. Sure, things can be said about her messed up private life being a cliche, but I personally like her style and attitude while trying to solve a case. And she will have her hands full in The Stolen Girls, that’s for sure! This sequel is once again a bit longer than your average psychological thriller, but this only enhanced the richness and complexity of the plot without slowing down the pace. There are a bunch of different storylines and lots of different things happening that might or not be connected… Keeping you on the edge of your seat as you try to figure out what is really going on, who is who and who is behind it all. The flashbacks to the past and the whole Kosovo angle in general were probably my favorite part of the story and I liked how well these elements were connected with the rest of the story. The Stolen Girls is packed with plot twists and misleading details that will keep you guessing about the truth and it took me a long time to figure it all out. I just love when that happens! In short I can really recommend this series to anyone who enjoys a well written detective thriller with a complex and rich plot, a lot of action and a healthy dose of kickass personality!

Just little trigger warning for those who are sensitive to graphic/violent scenes, abuse, self harm/cutting and animal cruelty; some of the scenes in this book are potentially shocking. 

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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…

The body of a pregnant young women is found one Monday morning and Detective Lottie Parker and her team are on the case. Then later the same day a mother and her son visit Lottie Parker’s house begging for help to find a lost friend… Could this be the same girl? Then a second body is found by the same man, and things are getting more intense. Both girls met their ends in a similar way and Lottie and her team will have to work fast to find a way to connect the two murders… Because two more girls go missing soon afterwards. Is it another serial killer they are hunting or is something bigger going on?

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There is no doubt that The Stolen Girls is just as strong as the first book and one hell of a ride. The books of this series are a bit longer than average, but besides the fact that the stories are very well written they have the added bonus of having a complex, rich and intriguing plot and different storylines without slowing down the pace. Some of the themes might be potentially shocking/intense, so a little warning if you aren’t up for that, but I personally had a great time reading The Stolen Girls. I just loved the complexity of the different storylines, how everything connected in the end and the Kosovo flashbacks in general! The Stolen Girls is without doubt another winner and I can’t wait for the next Lottie Parker adventure.


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ARC REVIEW: Devastation Road – by Jason Hewitt

Title: Devastation Road
Author: Jason Hewitt

Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: July 3rd 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Finished reading: July 1st 2017
Pages: 384

“Strange how memories were breaking through as if he’d slipped under ice and now there were patches of it starting to melt so he could see snippets of the life he once had on the surface. Just when he thought his memory was improving, just when he thought he could retain the events of a day, something always disappeared in turn.”

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

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!! Happy Publication Day !!

This is going to be my third ‘unpopular opinion’ review in a row; what is happening to me?! I enjoy reading historical fiction in general and actually have a special interest in any story related to WWII. Devastation Road sounded particularly interesting due to the fact that the main character has amnesia and I found myself really looking forward to read this novel. Devastation Road has received a lot of praise so far and I was expecting to be adding another positive review to the mix myself, but unfortunately I didn’t have the same reading experience as most people. First of all I want to make clear that the idea behind this story is without doubt fascinating: an English soldier in 1945 who has amnesia and doesn’t remember that last four years nor can retain new memories. I could also really appreciate the many descriptions of the places the characters passed through, flashbacks and historical details in general. But. And there is where the tricky part comes in… I REALLY struggled with the writing style. Instead of luring me in, the first pages and chapters only managed to frustrate me and disconnect me from the story with the constant repeat of he, he, he in the sentences. Somehow the prose didn’t flow and I had a hard time figuring out what was going on… This is possibly ment to portray the main character and his amnesia, but it made it really hard for me to properly enjoy the story. That said, apart from the writing style I found it also extremely hard to connect to the characters AND plot itself. It’s not that the main character aren’t intriguing and each has their own history, but somehow I found myself mostly detached from them. And while I normally love the use of foreign languages in a story, I think in the case of Janeck it only made it more difficult to connect to him. I mentioned the flow of the writing style before, and I think I had the same problem with the plot itself. The story goes from memory to present to past and completely different scenes without warning and although this once again can be seen as a representation of amnesia, I found myself really struggling to keep track instead. Devastation Road had all the signs of being an excellent read and the problem might have been just me since so many seem to love this story, but unfortunately I struggled along with the characters to reach the final page. And I still feel kind of sad I wasn’t able to enjoy it more.

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In the final stretch of WWII, a man wakes up in a field in a country he doesn’t know. He is injured and can’t seem to remember how he got there in the first place… In fact, only flashes of memory come back to him and he only has a vague recollection of joining the war he is currently in the middle of. His name is Owen and he is trying to get back to England, although this isn’t easy with his amnesia. He finds help in unlikely places, although he is not sure why exactly they help him or what they want from him. Will his memory get better and will he make it to safety?

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I really wanted to enjoy Devastation Road, especially since it is a combination of two topics that fascinate me: WWII and amnesia. Unfortunately I found it extremely hard to connect to the writing style, characters AND plot… And honestly I think I would probably have opted for a DNF if this weren’t an ARC. I seem to be in the minority though since most reviews have been really positive, so give this one a chance if this sounds like your cup of tea!


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