ARC REVIEW: Goodbye Days – by Jeff Zentner

Title: Goodbye Days
Author: Jeff Zentner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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ARC REVIEW: The Impossible Fortress – by Jason Rekulak

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Title: The Impossible Fortress
Author: Jason Rekulak

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction
First published: February 7th 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Finished reading: February 3rd 2017
Pages: 304
Rating 4,5qqq

“So we stood up there for a long while, watching the sunset and discussing how it was one of those things you could never truly capture in 8-bit, not with the simplistic definition of violet (CHR$(156)), orange (CHR$(129)), and yellow (CHR$(158)). There were too many other colors, thousands of colors. The hardware could never do justice to it.”

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

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The Impossible Fortress caught my attention the very first time I laid my eyes on it, and not just because of the colorful cover. I love feel-good stories and this debut by Jason Rekulak promised to be chock full of 80s nostalgia and flashbacks. I’m a 90s child myself, but I guess I was born close enough to the the year the story was set in (I was only minus one!) to be able to connect to the story instantly. It’s simply such a brilliant read! I completely fell in love with the writing style, plot and characters and it’s just such a great feel-good story… I loved the computer/nerd talk and it definitely brought back memories of my childhood where I taped radio songs, had to use floppy disks and didn’t have internet access to write quick messages. I loved all characters, although Billy and Mary have just a little extra magic about them… And the plot of The Impossible Fortress is almost endearing as the three boys mess up again and again during their ‘mission’ to get a copy of the Playboy. I had so much fun reading this coming of age story and I can recommend it to any contemporary fan! A huge bonus: you can actually play the game that is created by the main characters at jasonrekulak.com!

shortsummary1reviewqqqIt’s 1987 and the Playboy has just published photos of Vanna White, popular for her role in the TV game show Wheel Of Fortune. The three teenage friends Billy, Alf and Clark don’t know a thing about women and the Playboy is almost like a Holy Grail for them: they are desperate to get their hands on a copy of the Vanna White photos and decide to create a plan to steal a copy of that month’s Playboy. But stealing a copy isn’t all that easy and the boys fail and fail again… Then they think up a new masterplan: swipe the security code to Zelinsky’s convenience story by seducing the owner’s daughter Mary. It’s up to Billy to become close to the girl and get the information they need, but Billy might need Mary for other skills instead. She loves computers and is actually a way better coder than Billy is… Mary might be able to save the game Billy is creating, but he is soon faced with the tough choice to either deceive Mary or break a promis to his best friends.

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If you are looking for a well written coming of age story that will bury you under a crate full of nostalgic feelings and 80s flashbacks, you have found your next read. The Impossible Fortress is basically a time machine in book form and will make you feel as if you went thirty years back in time… I was hooked right from the first page and both the writing style and main characters were simply lovely. I had so much fun reading this story!


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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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ARC REVIEW: Making Faces – by Amy Harmon

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Title: Making Faces
Author: Amy Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

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


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ARC REVIEW: Blink – by K.L. Slater

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Title: Blink
Author: K.L. Slater

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: February 16th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: January 26th 2017
Pages: 295
Rating 4,5qqq

“You don’t always know how you’re going to react to a sudden tragedy breaking your life into little pieces.”

*** 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 have been looking forward to read another K.L. Slater book ever since I finished Safe With Me last year, and this second book simply blew me away. Her debut psychological thriller was already good, but Blink was just BRILLIANT. Basically I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat the whole time trying to figure out what was going on, and I ended up being SO wrong about everything. This title is without doubt psychological thriller at its best! Excellent prose, excellent plot and plot twists, excellent use of suspense, excellent character development… Blink has all the right ingredients for a great story. The main characters are maybe not all that likeable, but I personally didn’t care. The fact that the main character seems to be paralyzed and in coma but is actually awake is truly fascinating and adds another excellent plot twist to the story. I loved every single minute of Blink and it doesn’t happen often that a plot is able to mislead me that much. More than recommended if you like the genre!

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Three years ago, Toni’s five-year-old daughter Evie disappeared after school. The police were never able to find a trace of the little girl; there were no witnesses or evidence to give them a solid lead. But Toni belives her daughter is still alive. And as she begins to piece together her memories of the events around her daughter’s disappearance, the full story of her past begins to reveal itself… Will Toni find a way to make herself heard and find her daughter before it’s too late?

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This title will definitely appear on my list of favorite psychological thrillers. Blink basically has everything I look for in a good thriller and I enjoyed every single minute of it. The ‘paralyzed’ chapters and the flashbacks are without doubt intriguing and add an extra original touch… The plot twists are excellent and had me guessing until the very end. Some of them are so shocking you would have never seen them coming!


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ARC REVIEW: Don’t Look Behind You – by Mel Sherratt

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Title: Don’t Look Behind You
(Detective Eden Berrisford #2)
Author: Mel Sherratt

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: January 31st 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: January 23rd 2017
Pages: 252
Rating 4,5qqq

“You don’t see it coming. They manipulate you, they smother you with love and affection, making out you’re the only thing that matters in their lives, and by the time you realise who they really are, it’s too late. They have you.”

*** 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 read the first book of the Detective Eden Berrisford series some time last year, and when I saw the sequel was about to be published I couldn’t help myself and grabbed a copy. I have to say Don’t Look Behind You by no means suffers from the so-called ‘weak-second-book-syndrome’! In fact, I enjoyed this psychological thriller sequel significantly better than the first book, and that says something. First of all, the writing style is excellent and really makes it that much easier to enjoy the ride. Don’t Look Behind You reads like a train and the amount of plot twists is just right. And while I had some minor problems with the main character Eden in the first book, she is really starting to warm up to me despite the fact that the recent problems in her private life does make her look more like the typical cliche detective character. Is this bad? In this case I don’t think so, because it makes her so much more ‘real’ and her private connection to the recent events is intriguing. I could also really appreciate the fact that the whole abuse theme was given such a big role and was portrayed so realistically. It’s a very important topic not nearly enough people are aware of, and on top of that it’s also refreshing to read about after one too many typical murder/missing person case. All in all a great read and I will be looking forward to the next installment of the series!

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Three women are brutally attacked within days of each other in the small city of Stockleigh, and it is up to Detective Eden Berrisford to figure out who is behind the attacks. Are they random acts of violence or are the cases linked? Eden also has to keep contact with the women at a safe house, all hiding from their abusive men, since there have been some problems lately. As the investigation closes in on the attacker, Eden might end up being in danger herself… Will she be able to stop him on time AND keep the women safe?

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If you are looking for a fast-paced and well written psychological thriller with a slightly different angle than usual, Don’t Look Behind You is without doubt a great choice. It’s actually the second book of a series, but in this case can also be read as a standalone without missing too much background information. The writing style, realistic feel of the story and the whole abuse topic definitely turn this title both a refreshing and entertaining psychological thriller!


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BOOK REVIEW: Mosquitoland – by David Arnold

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Title: Mosquitoland
Author: David Arnold

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
First published: March 3rd 2015
Publisher: Viking Children’s
Finished reading: January 8th 2017
Pages: 336
Rating 5qqq

“I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange.”

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

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

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

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


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