BOOK REVIEW: The Light That Gets Lost – by Natasha Carthew

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Title: The Light That Gets Lost
Author: Natasha Carthew

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction
First published: November 5th 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children
Finished reading: February 16th 2017
Pages: 320
Rating 1,5qqq

“His life had been set upon by circumstances beyond his control. He wasn’t ad for the kick of things; he’d grown bad like bacteria on foul meat.”

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As part of the Beat The Backlist challenge I’ve joined this year, I’ve been browsing my kindle a lot lately. I stumbled upon The Light That Gets Lost just as I was looking for my next read, and I was intrigued by the the title and the cover. Confession: I didn’t check what the book was exactly about nor did I realize it had a very low goodreads rating, or I might have doubted my rash decision. Because I ended up being just as lost as the light in the title. Basically it’s a miracle I even made it to the end, because I had a REALLY hard time reading this story. First of all, I had a really strong dislike for the writing style. The dialogue overflows with ‘slang’ and bad grammar and instead of creating a ‘youthful’ vibe the only thing I felt was extremely annoyed. It’s also quite confusing what’s really going on with the main character, what on earth he is doing at the camp and how such camp even exists in the first place. Is The Light That Gets Lost actually set in an dystopian world? Is Trey just messed up or has he really a demon inside him? If I have to be honest, in the end I think I just really don’t care… Because instead of losing me halfway through, I think The Light That Gets Lost has never had me in the first place.

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When Trey is only a little boy, he witnesses something no child should ever see. Because as he is hidden in a cupboard, he hears his mother and father being killed brutally at home. And even though he is small, he makes a promise to himself he will get revenge one day. Years later, he might be able to come closer to that goal. Trey enters a strange camp meant for troubled teenagers. He has been in and out of trouble ever since he witnessed the murders, but he isn’t at the camp to be saved. Instead, he is sure he will find the man who killed his parents at the camp. Will he be able to do just so?

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The title and cover draw you right in and the blurb still sounds pretty good, but I can’t say I actually enjoyed reading this novel. The Light That Gets Lost has a writing style that either works for you, or will curl your toes as the ‘slang’ and bad grammar dialogues pile up. The story doesn’t really make a lot of sense and I’m still not exactly sure if this is supposed to be dystopian or just a really messed up ‘realistic’ fiction story… I’m sure the right person will probably enjoy this a lot better, but The Light That Gets Lost definitely wasn’t my cup of tea.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Five Stages Of Andrew Brawley – by Shaun David Hutchinson

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Title: The Five Stages Of Andrew Brawley
Author: Shaun David Hutchinson

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: January 20th 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Finished reading: February 14th 2017
Pages: 297
Rating 3,5qqq

“I realize that adults are just as fucked as the rest of us. No one really grows up. No one unravels all of life’s many mysteries. They just grow up older and become better liars.”

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The Five Stages Of Andrew Brawley has been on my TBR pile for a while now, and recently my TBR jar thought it would be about time to finally pick it up. I still posponed it for way too long, but I’m glad I finally gave it a go in the end. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first picked up this novel by Shaun David Hutchinson, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. True, some of the story was a bit too weird to my taste, but in general I enjoyed reading it. The Five Stages Of Andrew Brawley is part graphic novel, part GLBT contemporary romance and part magical realism (which includes all the weird parts). I don’t mind a touch of surrealism, but the whole Death thing and even the main character Andrew himself made me raise my eyebrows more than once. I also had some difficulties with the credibility of part of the plot. I mean, how on earth is Andrew to be able spend so much time at the hospital without raising suspicions? And what about the total disregard of protocol and protection of the seriously ill characters/friends when Andrew banters into their rooms and even takes some out of the ward? Health risk much? That said, I can’t deny it’s an entertaining and original read and I really liked the graphic novel bits with patient F.

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Andrew Brawley was supposed to die that night his parents and sister passed away. But he survived, and he now lives in the hospital. He serves food in the cafeteria, is friends with the nurses and sleeps in a forgotten supply closet. Nobody knows who he really is and I tries to hide his past from everyone. Because if Death finds him, she will take him too. Then one night Rusty is wheeled into the ER, a teenager with half of his body burned by hateful classmates. Andrew feels a strange connection to Rusty, and decides he needs to protect him from Death. Because Death is always looking for her next victim, and Andrew refuses to lose Rusty too.

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I like that The Five Stages Of Andrew Brawley is actually a mix of different genres that work quite well together. The surreal elements were a bit too weird to my taste, but there is no denying they were original. The contemporary romance bit can be a bit cheesy at points, but I liked the dynamics between the main characters in general. I’m still wondering about the title though, because the supposedly ‘five stages’ weren’t mentioned anywhere… The graphic novel bits were definitely a highlight though and I liked how the pages were incorporated into the rest of the story. All in all a very interesting read!


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BOOK REVIEW: The Rest Of Us Just Live Here – by Patrick Ness

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Title: The Rest Of Us Just Live Here
Author: Patrick Ness

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: August 27th 2015
Publisher: Walker Books
Finished reading: February 4th 2017
Pages: 343
Rating 3,5qqq

“Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.”

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I’ve been wanting to pick up another Patrick Ness novel ever since I finished The Knife Of Never Letting Go, but somehow it took me 18 months to finally do so. I’ve heard a lot of people say The Rest Of Us Just Live Here isn’t his strongest work, and now I’ve read it I probably agree. But hey, he sure sets the quality bar to an Olympic high with his other books! I was really looking forward to this one and maybe my own expectations were simply too high, but I wasn’t as blown away as I thought I would be. But like I said: he might just be a victim of his own success… The Rest Of Us Just Live Here wasn’t a bad story and I enjoyed reading the prose as always. I do have to say I struggled with the chapter introductions in the beginning (mostly because I couldn’t connect them to the actual chapters), but that might just be explained by the fact I wasn’t in the mood for fantasy. This story is kind of a contemporary/paranormal/urban fantasy story and I liked the mix of reality and fictional elements. It was interesting to read about the group of friends trying to live their lives as crazy stuff was happening around them; that’s probably the true charm of this story. It did take me a lot longer than expected to finish it though…

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Weird, dangerous things are happening, but that doesn’t mean the group of friends have to do anything about it. That’s up to the Chosen Ones. The ones that are supposed are fight zombies, soul-eating ghosts, bloodsucking vampires or whatever new is happening at the moment. But somehow the group of friends end up getting involved in the newest situation anyway. What are those blue lights exactly? And are they in danger?

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No, this book is by no means a bad read. I’ve just been spoiled by the Chaos Walking series, that’s all. It took me a while to warm up to The Rest Of Us Just Live Here and its characters, and that might just be the reason it took me longer than planned to finish reading it as well. The relation between the chapter introductions and the rest of the story was a bit confusing at the beginning… I think I might reread the introductions alone some day to see if I enjoy them better as a ‘separate novella’. All in all this one might just be the best book to start with if you haven’t read Patrick Ness‘ books yet; that way things will only get better!


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BOOK REVIEW: Rebel Of The Sands – by Alwyn Hamilton

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Title: Rebel Of The Sands
(Rebel Of The Sands #1)
Author: Alwyn Hamilton

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: March 8th 2016
Publisher: Viking Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: February 13th 2017
Pages: 320
Rating 4,5qqq

“The world makes things for each place. Fish for the sea, Rocs for the mountain skies, and girls with sun in their skin and perfect aim for a desert that doesn’t let weakness live.”

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Dear Rebel Of The Sands, why have I managed to ignore you for nearly a year?! I’m still kicking myself for not picking up this first book of a fantastic new YA fantasy series… But I guess it does mean I can read the sequel straight away! I admit I have heard mixed things about this story in the past, and that might just be why I was so hesitant to pick it up in the first place. I normally tend to have bad luck with popular books, but I’m glad that Rebel Of The Sands has proven to be an exception. I’m glad I finally gave this story a chance and I loved even better than expected! I’ve basically fallen in love with the worldbuilding, characters and writing style from the beginning… Alwyn Hamilton writes in a way that draws you right in and even though the whole strong-female-character thing in YA fantasy isn’t all that original, I was thoroughly charmed by Amani anyway. Together with Jin, Shazad and many other characters she managed to win over my heart and I had a blast following them on their journey through the desert. The worldbuilding is so interesting! I’ve heard complains about the ‘mythical’ being lost by the ‘western’ feel of the descriptions and some of the scenes, but I personally really liked the mix of two different elements. Great prose and characters, interesting plot and worldbuilding, lots of action, a healthy dose of action and magic: Rebel Of The Sands has all the ingredients to enchant you.

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Amani Al’Hiza lives in the small desert town of Dustwalk and basically learned to shoot like an expert when she was only a little girl. There is not much to do in Dustwalk and Amani has become a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim… But that won’t help her escape before she either loses her freedom or her life. When another bad decision brings her to a shooting contest, she meets the mysterious foreigner Jin. Amani sees him as the perfect escape route, although it won’t be easy to escape with both their lives… And she definitely didn’t imagine escaping riding a mythical horse she didn’t know still existed. And she will soon learn a whole lot more about her country as they try to find their way to safety.

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Thank you Traitor To The Throne for finally making me read the first book! I’m so glad I was approved for an ARC of the sequel, because I still feel I have been missing out by not reading Rebel Of The Sands sooner. I know this story has a lot of mixed reviews, but if you ask me it’s definitely worth the try. This series has the perfect combination of interesting worldbuilding, great characters and well written prose; the magic and mythical elements make Rebel Of The Sands into something special. I will be looking forward to read more about Amani and Jin’s adventures for sure!


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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
Rating 3qqq

“It’s amazing how much one person can change the world, even if they don’t know they’re doing it.”

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

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

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


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BOOK REVIEW: Unhooked – by Lisa Maxwell

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Title: Unhooked
Author: Lisa Maxwell

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

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

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

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


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