ARC REVIEW: Bookishly Ever After – by Isabel Bandeira

Title: Bookishly Ever After
(Ever After #1)
Author: Isabel Bandeira

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: January 19th 2016
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Finished reading: July 19th 2017
Pages: 378
DNF at 32% (121 pages)

“I loved new books . The crisp pages, the smell, and the sense of potential as I carefully broke in the spine made getting them one of the best feelings in the world.”

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

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First of all I want to make clear contemporary romance isn’t really my thing and this may or may not have influenced my opinion. As much as I hate being negative in my reviews, I also made a promise to always give my 100% honest opinion and exactly that is reflected below. I also want to stress that I can’t remember ever wishing for a Netgalley copy of this novel in the first place and the granted wish message in my inbox came as a huge surprise. I’ve been wary to pick up Bookishly Ever After ever since, mostly because I wasn’t sure it would be for me… I liked the sound of a bookish main character though, because don’t we booklovers all love our bookish characters?! I approached Bookishly Ever After with caution, but unfortunately immediately realized it was going to be a struggle. Basically this contemporary romance story has one cheesy high school cliche stacked on top of another up until the point I felt like I was drowning in them. And Bookishly Ever After isn’t only stuffed with cheesy cliches, but also has an overdose of annoying romance tropes as instalove and love triangles. This alone is enough for me to run away and hide in a corner, but since I normally never DNF my ARCs I decided to give this story a chance. Trust me, I’ve tried really hard to like this story. REALLY hard. But in the end I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was never able to connect to the writing style and felt it simply didn’t flow. The plot wasn’t really present and the chapters didn’t seem to connect naturally… And the characters. One more annoying, flat and cliche than the other! I thought I would at least be able to like or relate to bookish Phoebe, but I was wrong. She only managed to frustrate me and it just all didn’t feel natural. Am I partly to blame for this DNF? Yes. The blurb should have warned me to stay far far away from this one… Still, I’ve read AND loved romantic contemporaries before and Bookishly Ever After definitely ticked a lot of no-go boxes for me. Approach with care! Romance lovers who don’t mind cliches will most likely have a more positive experience though.

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The sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martin can most likely either be found with her nose in a YA fantasy book with magic and a hot paranormal love interest or dreaming about its characters… In a perfect world, her life would be just like the books she loves to read, but real life doesn’t come remotely close. She has her crush-from-a-distance, but when someone a lot closer to her might actually like her she doesn’t know what to do. Phoebe turns to her friends and favorite books for advice…

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I’m going to be honest and say I don’t think I would have picked up this story if this wouldn’t have turned up on my Netgalley shelf. I’m not a big fan of (cheesy) contemporary romance in the first place and Bookishly Ever After makes it definitely VERY easy to overdose on the high school cliches and romance tropes incorporated into the story. I’ve tried really hard to see beyond the cliches, but found myself too frustrated to be able to continue and finish the story. And I tell you, it makes me very sad to call Bookishly Ever After my second DNF this year! Part of the problem is definitely me though and I can see why fans of the genre would be able to enjoy it a lot better. Oh well, I guess we can’t like them all, can we?


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ARC REVIEW: Little Monsters – by Kara Thomas @karatwrites @DelacortePress

Title: Little Monsters
Author: Kara Thomas

Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
First published: July 25th 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Finished reading: July 11th 2017
Pages: 336

“There’s only so much people are willing to forgive. That’s the truth the trumps everything else.”

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

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I’ve been wanting to read Little Monsters ever since I first heard about it, so I was over the moon when my request was actually approved. I admit I mostly read adult psychological thrillers, but reading a YA version of one of my favorite genres was a nice change of scenery. Because there is no doubt I very much enjoyed reading Little Monsters and I found myself literally flying through the pages. The first thing that stands out is the writing style, which is very engaging and draws you right in. I only had to read a few pages to find out I would probably going to love the story and these feelings didn’t change until the very end. The plot is quite interesting and packed with plot twists and intrigue that will make you wonder what is really going on. Little Monsters is high school drama and teenage manipulation at its best! Things change direction so many times that you start wondering what truly happened and the ghost/urban legend twist is a nice touch. Broken Falls is a town with a history an you are quickly trapped in its web of lies and secrets… And Little Monsters is without doubt an excellent psychological thriller. The only thing that made me lower the rating slightly was the fact that I didn’t particularly like the main characters and some of the drama started to annoy me. This might just have been me and my allergy for high school cliches and drama though! Because there’s no doubt that Little Monsters was a highly enjoyable and positively twisty read.

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Kacey has had quite a few rough years living with her volatile mother… Until it was impossible for her to stay there any longer. She moved in with her father she hadn’t had contact with before, and her new life in Broken Falls is strangely normal and almost charming compared to her life in New York. She know has a stepmother, stepbrother and a younger half sister who adores here… In fact, people seem so nice in Broken Falls and she even found herself two new very close friends. Bailey, Jade and Kacey do everything together and that’s why it’s so strange they don’t invite her to one of the biggest parties of the year… She never gets to ask why, because the next day Bailey is missing. What happened to Bailey? Has Kacey something to do with it?

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I found myself really looking forward to Little Monsters and I had a great time reading this story. The writing style draws you right in and with its fast pace I found myself flying through the pages. The intrigue around Bailey’s disappearance and the many plot twists helped considerably as well and Little Monsters is without doubt a great psychological thriller. I wasn’t sure about the main characters and some of the drama/cliches started to bother me, but that is my only complaint of an otherwise highly entertaining read.


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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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BOOK REVIEW: Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe – by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Title: Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: February 21st 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: July 7th 2017
Pages: 359

“Another secret of the universe: Sometimes pain was like a storm that came out of nowhere. The clearest summer could end in a downpour. Could end in lightning and thunder.”


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I still can’t believe it took me this long to finally pick up my copy of Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe. Besides the simply stunning cover and font I have heard nothing but wonderful things about this story for YEARS, so the only plausible reason for waiting this long is probably my bad relationship with hyped books. Thankfully Aristotle And Dante doesn’t belong to the so-called ‘overhyped’ group. In fact, I can definitely understand the love for this story now! What probably makes this story so interesting is its characters. Both Aristotle and Dante are wonderful and quickly won over my heart. Their character development is very well executed and it was interesting to see them evolve over time and deal with their problems. Aristotle And Dante isn’t just another ‘typical’ diverse story, but also includes characters belonging to a minority, a war veteran who hasn’t been the same since he came back, family problems and several other topics making this into a truly unique and interesting read. The writing style is wonderful and very quotable, although I do have to say there were some parts that read a bit slow. In fact, the second half of Aristotle And Dante was significantly stronger and made my love for the characters only grow. I liked the ending as well, although it did feel a bit abrupt and I would have loved to see how things continue. Fingers crossed the rumors about a sequel coming out some time this year are true! I guess me being late to the party does mean I won’t have to wait that long for another dose of Aristotle and Dante though.

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The fifteen-year-old Aristotle isn’t the most friendly teen around and his attitude means he doesn’t really have friends. Dante on the other hand is a know-it-all with an unusual way of looking at the world… When the two first meet at the swimming pool, it seems like they have nothing in common. But when the two loners start spending time together, they discover they share a special bond that will change their lives forever. And they will learn important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

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I know it took me way to long to finally read this book, but I’m definitely glad I did. Although I didn’t LOVE love it myself and some parts were a bit slow, I can’t deny that both the characters and writing style are wonderful. Things only got better in the second half of Aristotle And Dante and I really loved to see their characters develop. The ending was exactly what I wished for while reading this story, although it did feel abrupt and I will be keeping my fingers crossed we will be able to read more about these characters in a sequel soon.


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

Title: What To Say Next
Author: Julie Buxbaum

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

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

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

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

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

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


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ARC REVIEW: Can’t Buy Forever – by Susan Laffoon

Title: Can’t Buy Forever
Author: Susan Laffoon

Genre: YA, Romance, Mystery
First published: June 1st 2015
Publisher: Page Publishing
Finished reading: June 16th 2017
Pages: 218

“Coincidences don’t add up, choices do. We build our life one choice at a time for better or for worse.”

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

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I’ve had Can’t Buy Forever on my TBR for longer than intended, but the cover and promise of a 1950s setting kept calling to me and I finally picked it up a few days ago. I found myself looking forward to it despite the low rating, especially since I’ve been in the mood for historical fiction lately… But I ended up being far from impressed. Honestly, I don’t think I would have made it to the end if this wouldn’t have been an ARC; unfortunately it was a tough battle just making it to the last page. Part of the problem might have been me and others might enjoy this story better, but I will explain below why I ended up having to give Can’t Buy Forever such a low rating.

1. The supposedly 1950s setting is almost non existent except for a few mentions of a date or important event here and there. As a historical fiction fan I felt a bit disappointed by this, especially since the setting is especifically mentioned in the blurb. If you leave out those few time references, this story could have easily been set in the present as well… Such a shame, because a well developed historical setting would have added credibility and dept to the story.

2. I had a lot of problems with the main characters in general. I wasn’t able to connect to them and this made following the story a lot harder. Furthermore, Odessa acts a lot younger than the 18-year-old she is supposed to be… She cries all the time and her feelings for Nicholas are cheesy, not credible and it almost feels as if I were watching a ten-year-old having her first crush on a senior quarterback.

3. The crying. Seriously, how many times do Odessa and the other characters cry during this story?! Once it started to annoy me I just kept seeing those crocodile tears mentioned, and it really started to get on my nerves. It also made their feelings less credible and more cartoonish.

4. It has a love triangle. Or in fact various love triangles if I am more specific. And you all know now much I despise those… I can tolerate them if they are done right, but these examples were quite cringeworthy and the feelings just felt unnatural.

5. I don’t feel there really is a plot and the events themselves don’t really seem credible or make sense. I mean, Roark is supposed to get away with all he does?? And Odessa just accepts all what happens? And we as a reader just have to accept everything that happens as well without a proper explanation? The lack of plot or at least a proper idea of what is going on also made it a lot harder to follow; it just didn’t feel like a coherent story at all and almost like a delusional ramble of one of the main characters on their deathbed.

6. I wasn’t able to connect to the writing style at all. I don’t see the lack of grammar and mistakes mentiones in many reviews I saw on Goodreads, but the sentences don’t flow and it was really hard to keep track of the story and read more than a few pages at a time. The writing style was one of the reasons I considered a DNF various times during this story… And I’m still wondering if that would have been a better choice.

Enough of the negative… There were some interesting aspects about this story, especifically Nicholas’ history and the gypsy references. I can’t go into details without revealing too much, but a focus on those and further development of those elements would probably have improved the story considerably. Without a proper explanation, the credibility of it all was simply lost. I really wanted to like this story, but as you might have guessed of this rather lenghty (for me) list, unfortunately I just couldn’t.

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Odessa Drake decides to change her destiny and moves in with her widowed great aunt Flo in Mineville, New York. Her aunt owns a boarding house and Dessa spends her days helping her out, working to keep the house running when she isn’t at school. Then Nicholas shows up and he is given the attic for lack of other space; four years later, he is one of the few boarders still in the house. They have grown fond of each other despite the fact that Dessa really doesn’t know a lot about Nicholas… But Nicholas has a reason to keep the past buried, and things might become dangerous when he gets too close. What secrets does he keep and how do they affect Dessa?

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I was actually looking forward to Can’t Buy Forever as the blurb sounded quite interesting, but unfortunately I ended up having a completely different experience instead. I won’t repeat all the details I’ve mentioned above since I’ve already talked about each point extensively, but it does become clear it was far too easy to find things that didn’t work for me in the story. Was it just me or is the book to blame as well? I won’t be the judge to read the sentence, but at least I’ve put in my two cents.


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ARC REVIEW: The Book Of Whispers – by Kimberley Starr

Title: The Book Of Whispers
Author: Kimberley Starr

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
First published: October 3rd 2016
Publisher: Text Publishing
Finished reading: June 15th 2017
Pages: 386

“I have a voice, I have words. I run to a future where there’s the possibility of using them.”

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

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I admit I have a weird obsession with any title that has the word ‘book’ or anything book-related in them, so combined with a stunning cover The Book Of Whispers was immediately on my radar. I requested a copy of this story mostly based on this obsession, and didn’t realize before I started reading it that it had such a low Goodreads rating OR the fact that demons play such a big role in the story. To be honest, now I reread the blurb I don’t understand how I could have missed that part… Because what I thought would be a historical (medieval) fiction about a mysterious book actually turned out to be more of a demon-infested fantasy read. Stories involving demons are always  a hit or miss for me, so I guess I have myself to blame for that part… It wasn’t just the demon overload that didn’t work for me though, but also the way they were incorporated into the story. Especially in the beginning this mix of historical and fantasy felt awkward and the many many descriptions of the demons and all their strange forms slowed down the pace considerably. Trust me, there were many many eyebrow raises before the story started to flow better! Luckily the book itself made its appearance quite early on; otherwise I’m not sure if I would have decided to continue this story. I liked the medieval setting and the crusade and the idea behind The Book Of Whispers is without doubt an interesting and original one. I appreciate what the author wanted to do by mixing a traditional crusade story with fantasy and its complexity when trying to balance those elements; I just didn’t enjoy actually reading it. Mind, this could have been just me and my aversion to demons… Although I had a hard time connecting to the writing style or characters as well. Apart from the awkward demon descriptions that slowed down the pace, the writing style in general didn’t flow and felt a bit like trying to drive a car that is running out of fuel. This haltered feel did fade away a bit towards the ending, but all in all I struggled considerably reaching the final page. As for the characters: like I said, I had a hard time connecting to them and some of them were quite annoying. I liked that the demons were connected to the seven sins, but some of the characters were basically caricatures of those sins and maybe not that credible. Also, the romance. Boy, did I struggle with that feature. I know I’m almost never a fan, but besides the fact that this story has a love triangle, I found the romance in general didn’t feel credible at all and mostly a cliche. I can’t go into details without spoilers, but insta-love and all those sappy and cliche descriptions and feelings? Definitely could have done without that. There were some twists though and I liked the historical elements. The ending was interesting enough as well I guess. And there is no doubt this book surprised me, although in my case not in a good way…

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Set in Tuscany, 1096 AD, Luca is the young heir to the title of Conte de Falconi. He has a problem though: he can see demons and has strange dreams that sometimes predict the future. Luca is forced to keep this a secret since people either don’t believe him or are afraid of him… But when he sees his father murdered in one of those dreams, he is determined to stop this vision from coming true. This means following him on the great pilgrimage to capture the Holy Lands against his wishes… But will also be complicated when his father gives him an ancient book that holds a lot of mysteries just before they leave.

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I like stories with a medieval setting and I was definitely looking forward to The Book Of Whispers, but in the end it just wasn’t for me and not just because of the demon overload. The writing style, the demon descriptions, the characters, the romance… There was a lot that unfortunately didn’t work for me and the historical setting couldn’t make up for this. The idea behind The Book Of Whispers is very original though and it must have been a lot of work to mix both elements. There is no doubt this story had a lot of potential…


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