BOOK REVIEW: Memoirs Of A Teenage Amnesiac – by Gabrielle Zevin

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Title: Memoirs Of A Teenage Amnesiac
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
First published: August 21st 2007
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Finished reading: August 27th 2016
Pages: 288
Rating 3,5qqq

“Someday, we’ll run into each other again, I know it.
Maybe I’ll be older and smarter and just plain better. If that happens, that’s when I’ll deserve you. But now, at this moment, you can’t hook your boat to mine, because I’m liable to sink us both.”

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I’ve seen this book around a few times in the past and I decided to get a copy as well. And Memoirs Of A Teenage Amnesiac was without doubt a superfast and quite entertaining contemporary romance story with a twist. It wasn’t as good as I would have hoped though and I had mixed feelings about the whole amnesia theme. I just felt it was pushed into the background most of the time, which was a shame since it’s basically the most interesting thing about this story in the first place. Gabrielle Zevin‘s prose is easy to read, quite quotable and fans of the genre will probably end up flying through the pages. It could have done without the romance. It could have done without the sort of love triangle. It could have done without all the drama (especially the main character; boy she is annoying!). But I loved Will’s character and overall it’s definitely worth reading despite the flaws.

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If Naomi had picked tails, she would have won the coin toss and everything would have been different. But she picked heads, and had to go back for the yearbook camera. She then hit her head on the steps when she slipped, and woke up in an ambulance with amnesia. Naomi doesn’t remember anything from the last few years; not her boyfriend Ace, not why she’s with the yearbook in the first place and definitely not about her dad’s fiancée or her mom’s new family. She doesn’t really know how to deal with it all and the ‘mystery boy’ James that helped her when she fell is intriguing her as well. Will Naomi be able to figure out the truth about her past and overcome her amnesia? And will the people around her accept the changed Naomi?

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If you are looking for an entertaining amnesia themed YA novel, Memoirs Of A Teenage Amnesiac is a good choice. The amnesia unfortunately doesn’t play that big of a role in the story, but it does give you global idea of what a teenager with memory loss has to deal with. It’s all a bit superficial, stuffed with drama and I wish the romance wouldn’t have played such a big role in the story, but I liked the prose and the pace is superfast. Recommended!

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BOOK REVIEW: Heartsick – by Chelsea Cain

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Title: Heartsick
(Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell #1)
Author: Chelsea Cain
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Horror
First published: 2007
Finished reading: May 29th 2016 
Pages: 421
Rating 4,5qqq

“Even the most blatant assholes seemed to function in a state of grace when confronted with the brutal loss of a loved one. ”

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I have been having a lot of back luck with my mystery/thriller reads lately, but I decided to give Heartsick by Chelsea Cain a go anyway since various people have recommended this series to me in the past. And now I’ve read it I totally agree with them; this is definitely one of my favorite newly discovered whodunit reads! I will definitely be continuing this series soon, because this first book of the Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell series was fast-paced, entertaining and had just the right amount of plot twists and gruesome details. It is true that some of the scenes might not be for those with a weak stomach, but the descriptions are really well done and add to the character development and general plot. My only small point of criticism would be that the main character Archie is quite the stereotype for the typical detective story: he has a really messed up personal life and that seems to be the norm for just about every succesful detective in these kind of series. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing and it works rather well in this book, but it is not exactly original either. Still, the rest of the story is definitely good enough to make up for it. Recommended!

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Archie Sheridan had been hunting down the beautiful serial killer Gretchen Lowell for a long time before she decided to capture him as her latest victim. Somehow Archie survived the ten days of horrifying physical and mental torture, and what is even more remarkable is that Gretchen actually ended up saving his life and handing herself in. And even two years after the fact, nobody understands why she did what she did. Archie has been so traumatized by the events that he has been on medical leave ever since and no longer lives with his wife, but with a new killer on the loose he is asked to return to his job. He is not sure he is fit to return, but he seems to be the only person qualified to understand the mind of this new psychopath. Will Archie be able to finally confront his demons of the past and catch this killer before any more teenage girls are being kidnapped and killed?

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Heartsick turned out to be one of the best whodunit reads I’ve read in a while. I will definitely be reading more of this series! While Archie might be a bit of a stereotype and not exactly original, there is no doubt that Gretchen is one of the creepiest and most messed up serial killers I’ve read about in a long time. Actually, some of the scenes might be a bit gruesome if you have a weak stomach… But they do add something to the story. If you are looking for a good whodunit, definitely consider reading this series.

BOOK REVIEW: Thirteen Reasons Why – by Jay Asher

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Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction
First published: October 18th 2007
Finished reading: August 5th 2015
Pages: 288
Rating 4

“Sometimes we have thoughts that even we don’t understand. Thoughts that aren’t even true—that aren’t really how we feel—but they’re running through our heads anyway because they’re interesting to think about.”

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I have been wanting to read Thirteen Reasons Why for a while now, mostly because a lot of people have been recommending it to me over the years. This novel by Jay Asher is definitely not an easy read, but very interesting. Lately I’ve seen a lot of YA contemporary novels dealing with suicide, but Thirteen Reasons Why without doubt stands out from the rest. The prose is very original: the main character Clay ‘interacts’ with the voice of the deceased girl on the tapes. The plot is intriguing and with Clay coming over as a good kid it really makes you wonder why he is on the tapes… Because supposedly the thirteen people mentioned on the tapes are the reasons why Hannah decided to end her life. This novel is definitely not for everyone, but if you don’t mind a ‘heavy’ read, Thirteen Reasons Why is highly recommended. It will make you think on how something small can have a huge impact on someone’s life!

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Hannah Baker decided to end her life two weeks ago, but not before sending a bunch of casette tapes to the first out of thirteen people she wants to send a message to. Thirteen people and thirteen reasons Hannah couldn’t live with herself anymore and committed suicide… When Clay Jensen returns home after school one day, he finds out he is one of them. He doesn’t understand why he would be on the list, because he feels that he has always been a supportive friend. But Hannah tells everyone that if they don’t listen to the tapes, an extra copy will be made public and everyone will know their secrets… So Clay and the other twelve have no other choice than listen to them. And soon he will find out why he and the others made the list.

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Thirteen Reasons Why is what you call a ‘heavy’ read. Suicide is never and easy topic to write about, but I think Jay Asher did an excellent job with this novel. The dialogue between Clay and Hannah’s voice on the tape is what makes this novel original. Some of the things people did to make it to the tape seem only minor events, but like Hannah says: the snowball effect makes small rumors turn into something big and destructive. A very interesting YA contemporary novel if you ask me!

BOOK REVIEW: Unwind – by Neal Shusterman

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Title: Unwind
(Unwind Dystology #1)
Author: Neal Shusterman
Genre: YA, Dystopia, Fantasy
First published: November 6th 2007
Finished reading: May 12th 2015
Pages: 335
Rating 4,5

“You see, a conflict always begins with an issue – a difference of opinion, an argument. But by the time it turns into a war, the issue doesn’t matter anymore, because now it’s about one thing and one thing only: how much each side hates the other.”

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I added Unwind to my wishlist on a whim last year and I’m glad I did, because I ended up really enjoying this read. Sure, it took me some time to get used to this dystopian world and the idea of teenagers being forced to ‘unwind’ is in a way macaber. But I like the idea behind the world Connor, Risa and Lev are forced to live in and what it stands for. Neal Shusterman forces you to think about life and what it’s worth; would it really be possible and above all legal to give away your own children with the knowledge they soon won’t be existing anymore? Can it be true that when all parts of a teenager’s body are reused their soul will continue to exist? Unwind is not just another dystopian novel. The prose, characters and worldbuilding are very convincing, and I would definitely recommend it to those who enjoy a good dystopian story without the sometimes annoying sappy romance scenes.

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After the Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights, the governments have decided to solve the problem in a very special way. Abortions are no longer legal and the life of all children is garantueed from the moment of conception until the age of thirteen. Unwanted babies can be given away by their mothers and have to be cared for by those who find it… But between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, children are no longer safe. When they are not following rules or a burden in general, it can be decided to have them ‘unwound’. Each and every part of the child will be transplanted into different donors, so that their life technically doesn’t end… But not everybody sees it that way.

Connor is a troublemaker and his parents don’t know what to do with him. He used to be their only child until his stepbrother was found on their doorstep… His parents decide to have Connor unwound, choosing his brother over their own blood. But Connor doesn’t plan on ending up being cut into pieces, and he decides to escape. Soon he finds himself running with two other teenagers. Risa is a ward of state that wasn’t talented enough to be worth keeping alive, but Lev is a whole different story. He is a tithe, conceived and raise to be unwound. But all that matters now is escaping the autorities and try to survive…

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I wasn’t too sure if I would like Unwind, but I ended up really enjoying this read. The fact that there aren’t a lot of romance scenes is refreshing, since most YA dystopian books I’ve read lately have been packed with it. The prose and fast pace made me finish this read quickly, and I will definitely continue this series soon. A copy of Unwholly is already waiting on my shelf!

BOOK REVIEW: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – by J.K. Rowling

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Title: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows
(Harry Potter Series #7)
Author: J.K. Rowling
Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: July 21st 2007
Finished reading: April 29th 2015
Pages: 608
Rating 5

“Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love.”

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Magical. Just magical. It’s been a long time since I last read the seventh and last book of the Harry Potter series, and it turns out that I had forgotten quite a few details. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows is probably the book I’ve read less of the series, but not because I didn’t love it. This last book is the darkest story of all where Harry and his friends have all grown up and have to face their worst challenge yet… J.K. Rowling truly delivered with this ending and I want to thank her for all those magical years reading about the life of Harry Potter. Growing up without these seven books wouldn’t have been the same… The prose is simply brilliant and the fast pace just makes you keep on reading. It is true that the books get darker as Harry grows up and it shows in the prose, but I guess that is part of the charm of this series. The main characters are written in a way that you think of them as your friends, and I think that every teenager and Harry Potter fan would have liked to visit the Hogwarts School Of Magic themselves. This series is definitely recommended for those who enjoy YA fantasy!

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WARNING: Spoilers! I’ve tried to keep this summary short, but it’s almost impossible to keep it without spoilers… Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the previous books yet!

Harry and his friends are supposed to start their last year at Hogwarts, but after all that happened in the previous year they decide not to return to the magical school. Dumbledore has left Harry, Ron and Hermione with a special mission that they cannot tell the rest of the Order Of The Phoenix about… Voldemort has split his soul in order to survive and left the different pieces inside Horcruxes hidden in various places. It is up to the three friends to find the remaining Horcruxes and destroy them, because if they don’t Voldemort cannot be truly defeated. It is not an easy quest as they don’t know where the objects are or how to destroy them… And Dumbledore hasn’t left them with many easy clues. Will they be able to solve the puzzle on time and finally beat Voldemort?

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Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows is probably one of my favorites of the series. Even though there are so many sad moments and it was hard to accept this was actually the end of the series, J.K. Rowling did an amazing job with this last book. The final battle left me without words, as well as the epilogue… Those who have read this one already will understand why. This series is part of my childhood and I will always love revisiting the magical world of Harry Potter. The prose, the characters, the setting… Everything is just magical.

BOOK REVIEW: Vampire Academy – by Richelle Mead

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Title: Vampire Academy
(Vampire Academy #1)
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: August 16th 2007
Finished reading: April 28th 2015
Pages: 332
Rating 2

“The greatest and most powerful revolutions often start very quietly, hidden in the shadows. Remember that.”

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I already knew I probably wasn’t going to enjoy reading Vampire Academy before I actually started reading it. I’m normally not a fan of vampire novels, especially when they include teenage vampires and cheesy romance scenes. But since I needed a Forgotten Fridays Pick for my Bookish Bingo Spring challenge and I already had a copy of this novel by Richelle Mead on my shelf, I decided to give it a go anyway. I must admit I nearly ended up DNFing Vampire Academy. The main character Rose is such an annoying, arrogant and despicable pain in the *** that I had a really hard time concentrating on the story itself. The idea of having different types of vampires itself is interesting and I like the idea of the teenagers having to go to an academy to train. Lissa being different from the other Moroi (living vampires) didn’t bother me and the bond between Rose and Lissa could have been something special. But the fact that I absolutely despised the main character completely destroyed this story for me. I was frustated up to the point that I almost threw my kindle against the wall… And that would have been painful. As you might have guessed, I would definitely not recommend reading this one.

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The Strigoi, very dangerous undead vampires, are always looking to kill the still living Moroi vampires. Moroi have control over magic, and they learn more about how to control and use that magic at St. Vladimir’s Academy. This school is hidden away from normal humans and it’s the place where vampires and half-humans are trained to protect and fight the Strigoi… The half-humans or Dhampirs will be future bodyguards for the Moroi vampires.

Rose is a dhampir and has a special bond with her best friend Lissa. Lissa is a Moroi princess who hasn’t specialized her magic power yet, but she and Rose are connected in a way dhampirs and moroi haven’t been for a long time. When something dreadful happened two years ago, Rose and Lissa decided to escape the academy to protect the princess from harm. But they are discovered in the end and brought back to the academy. Soon the two friends find out that someone in the academy knows Lissa’s secret… Will Rose be able to protect her this time?

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I already saw it coming before actually reading Vampire Academy, but I just couldn’t enjoy this novel. It wasn’t even because of the vampires, because I actually liked the idea of having different types of vampires and the magic the Moroi vampires have. But the main character Rose… I. Just. Couldn’t. Stand. Her! The sappy romance scenes didn’t help either, but Rose alone made me almost DNF this novel. The rest of the story might just be a case of not-for-me, but the main character is a different matter. Not recommended unless you enjoy teenage vampire stories and don’t mind a despicable main character…

BOOK REVIEW: The Husband’s Secret – by Liane Moriarty

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Title: The Husband’s Secret
Author: Liane Moriarty
Genre: Mystery, Romance, Contemporary
First published: October 1st 2007
Finished reading: April 1st 2015
Pages: 402
Rating 4

“None of us ever know all the possible courses our lives could have and maybe should have taken. It’s probably just as well. Some secrets are meant to stay secret forever. Just ask Pandora.”

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When I first saw The Husband’s Secret mentioned, I thought it was just a simple romance novel I most likely wouldn’t enjoy. I decided to give it a go anyway, and this novel by Liane Moriarty turned out to be so much more than that. I have to admit I wasn’t convinced straight away and it took me some time to take in all the different characters. But soon I was sucked right into the story and her prose and plot twists had me turn pages like there was no tomorrow. The different storylines slowly come together and the mysterous letter and secret will change everything. It’s my first Liane Moriarty read, but I will definitely try to read more of her work in the future. The Husband’s Secret is without doubt recommended for those who enjoy a good mystery story mixed with romance. The plot twists alone make this novel worth reading!

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Cecilia Fitzpatrick believes her life is perfect as she is able to find a perfect balance between her Tupperware job, the community and the tasks as a wife and a mother. But everything is about to change as she finds a letter when she is cleaning out the attic… A letter that seems to have been written by her husband and is addressed to her to be opened only in case of his death. When Cecilia confronts him with the letter, he asks her not to open it and throw it away… Cecilia finds it strange and while she doesn’t open it, she decides to keep the letter just in case. When her husband comes back from his business trip and he desperately starts looking for the letter, Cecilia decides to open it. Her husband had spilled out his darkest secret in the letter just after their oldest daughter was born… And now Cecilia knows why he was so desperate to hide the letter and his secret, her life will never be the same.

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I originally made the summary way longer, but since there are so many possible spoilers I’ve decided to only include the main plot. There are two other storylines that will all merge together as the story advances, but telling about them will possibly reveal too much. Better safe than sorry! 😉 The Husband’s Secret is definitely a good read; the easy-to-read prose, fast pace and many plot twists make you want to keep on reading. The end is bittersweet and makes you think about the consequences of your actions… Whether that means not doing anything or deciding to take action. Definitely recommended, even if the beginning reads a bit slow.