ARC REVIEW: Bull – by David Elliott

Title: Bull
Author: David Elliott

Genre: YA, Poetry, Mythology
First published: March 28th 2017
Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: March 16th 2017
Pages: 200

“Minos says I’m nothing more than Nothing.

Can Nothing take a form and call it me?

But Nothing is ever what it seems.

Watch Nothing laugh.

See Nothing cry.

Hear Nothing scream.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and HMH Books For Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I have a weak spot for (Greek) mythology retellings, so I knew I had to request a copy of Bull as soon as I saw it mentioned last year. Like the title already suggests, this story written by David Elliott is a mythology retelling of the classic Greek Minotaur story I’m sure most have at least heard about. I actually translated part of it during high school so I was looking forward to revisiting the story! One thing is for sure: Bull definitely wasn’t the mythology retelling I was expecting. I’m still not sure what to make of it all, but there is no doubt it was at least both an entertaining and very original retelling. Why? Bull is a story full written in verse and each character in the story has its own unique style; very creative indeed. The writing style made me laugh more than once, although the humor might be a bit unorthodox and I’m still not sure the tone was actually appropriate. To get an idea what I mean, here’s how the story started:

“POSEIDON

Whaddup, bitches?

Am I right or am I right?
That bum Minos deserved what he got.”

Not exactly what you would expect when starting a Theseus and the minotaur retelling, right?! Still, I would recommend this story to anyone searching for an original and slightly bizarre story and to those who enjoy reading in verse and don’t mind a swearword or two.

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A story completely told in verse… Minos wanted to be king and asked for the help of Poseidon, only to deny the God his sacrifice when Minos gets what he wants. Poseidon is furious and decides to punish Minos, but the best revenge is one that’s properly planned and needs time. Minos doesn’t know it yet, but his future will change forever… Because instead of a little boy, Minos’ wife and queen will give birth to the Minotaur. And that sure is something else!

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It personally took me some time to get used to the original and unorthodox way Bull narrates the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, but I can also really appreciate the direction the author decided to take with this retelling. There is no doubt that teenagers will find it easier to connect to Bull than the original story and it has without doubt a high entertainment factor. It’s not for everyone, but the right person will definitely have a blast reading this Minotaur retelling told in verse!


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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: Renegade Red – by Lauren Bird Horowitz

Title: Renegade Red
(The Light #2)
Author: Lauren Bird Horowitz

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: March 14th 2017
Publisher: Papaloa Press
Finished reading: March 7th 2017
Pages: 420

“Some scars are necessary.”

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

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For the longest time, I remember a few fellow bloggers including Ashley and Maren saying lots and lots of wonderful things about the first book in this series (Shattered Blue). In fact, it made me wonder why I didn’t see the series mentioned more often… I admit it took me way too long to make true on my promise to give this series a go, but I’m so glad I finally saw ‘the light’. Because this series is without doubt one of the most underrated ones I’ve read to this date! True, it does have a love triangle and lots of going back and forth between the two ‘candidates’, but somehow Lauren Bird Horowitz made me forgive the story for it. And trust me, it doesn’t happen often I actually tolerate a love triangle. How? You just have to read a little sample of the prose to get an idea. The writing style is lyrical, flows and is simply so beautiful! And not only is this series well written, it also has a fast pace and an interesting plot and main characters… I can definitely undersand the love for this series now, and I will be waiting impatiently for the third book to come out so I can read all three books together. If you like YA romantic fantasy, make sure to check out this series! It’s without doubt a hidden gem.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first book yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

The story continues right where it ended in Shattered Blue… Noa Sullivan jumps into a collapsing Portal desperate to try and rescue her little sister Sasha. Noa and the Fae brothers Callum and Judah will have to find a way to survive, but it’s not only the different world that complicates things… Their search for little Sasha will take them to dangerous and treacherous places and even their own minds will start working against them. The battle has to be fought both on the inside and out; will they be able to succeed before it’s too late?

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This series isn’t exactly widely known and now I’ve had the chance to experience it myself I really don’t understand why it hasn’t received more attention. I’m sticking with my belief that The Light trilogy is probably one of the most underrated series I’ve read so far! The lyrical writing style will manage to put most YA fantasy fans under an instant spell and even though it does have a slightly annoying love triangle, the rest of the story will make up for it. More than recommended!


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ARC REVIEW: Traitor To The Throne – by Alwyn Hamilton

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Title: Traitor To The Throne
(Rebel Of The Sands #2)
Author: Alwyn Hamilton

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: January 31st 2017
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Finished reading: February 18th 2017
Pages: 528
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“But then, this was what the desert did to us. It made us dreamers with weapons.”

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

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I had heard a lot of great things about the first Rebel Of The Sands book, so when I saw a copy of the sequel at Netgalley I decided to go ahead and request it. When (to my surprise) the request was approved, I hurried to read the first book. And it was love at first chapter. Both the writing style, plot and characters managed to convince me right from the beginning, and I had an excellent time reading the first book. I was more than excited about Traitor To The Throne after that, and Alwyn Hamilton didn’t disappoint. This has without doubt become one of my new favorite fantasy series! Traitor To The Throne by no means suffers from the so-called ‘weak-second-book’ syndrome and was possibly even better than the first book. The writing, the worldbuilding, the plot, the characters, the magic… Everything just works. The sequel has a lot less desert and is mostly set inside the palace, but I personally liked the change of scenery. And despite the fact that the story doesn’t end in that big of a cliffhanger, it is going to be a long wait for the third book… Because I sure will be missing the main characters and their world in the mean time. If you like the genre, I can definitely recommend this series!

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first two books of this series yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Nearly a year has passed since that memorable day in Fahali… Amani has had time to get used to her powers during the months that passed, and both her reputation as the Blue-Eyed Bandit and the Rebel Prince’s message have spread across the desert. Things are getting out of control, and Amani will soon find herself in a very complicated situation. One day, she finds herself stripped of her powers and identity, and Amani will have to rely on her desert instincts again to survive… Because the Sultan’s palace is a dangerous place. What will happen to Amani and the other rebels?

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When I start reading a new fantasy series, I’m always looking for a few key elements before I decide to continue with the sequel. The most important ones are: well written prose, excellent worldbuilding, interesting/likeable characters with a believable development and a little something extra that makes the story stand out from the rest. Rebel Of The Sands basically has it all, and the sequel is just as good as the first book. Amani is partly your typical strong female heroine, but I’ve grown to love her character and I like that she isn’t just a strong desert girl with great weapon skills, but also has her ‘special’ powers. I will definitely be looking forward to the third book next year!


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BOOK REVIEW: The Paris Mysteries – by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

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Title: The Paris Mysteries
(Confessions #3)
Author: James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

Genre: YA, Mystery, Fiction
First published: October 6th 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Finished reading: February 20th 2017
Pages: 320
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“It was a crazy theory. But when Angels are involved, crazy is almost normal.”

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This is me trying to live up to my promise to finally start finishing at least a few pending series… I started the Confessions series last year and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the first book. The prose doesn’t read like a train; it’s probably closer to a rocket launch! Besides the lightning fast pace, the first book was also very entertaining even though the main character was quite annoying. I was looking forward to the rest of the series, but unfortunately the books so far don’t exactly live up to the first book. And while The Private School Murders was still ok, I can’t say the same of The Paris Mysteries. In fact, even though the prose reads just as fast as the first book, the beginning of this third book had me almost DNFing it. There is a LOT of cheesy romance involved in this one, topped with a VERY annoying main character I seem to have no further patience for. Tandy Angel managed to convince me in the first book, but now the only thing I wanted for her to shut up or disappear… Or both. I also felt the focus of this story was all wrong. For example, the whole ‘superpills’ angle is very intriguing, especially with such a rich potential subplot involving the ‘guinea pigs’/victims. But no, the focus is on Tandy, her messed up romance and her messed up family. The Paris Mysteries is by far the weakest book of this series so far, and I’m seriously afraid of what the final book will bring.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first two books of this series yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Tandy Angel and her brothers have been through a lot, with their parents murdered and Tandy investigating multiple homicides back home. They are ready for a fresh start, and they are about to begin a new adventure in Paris. The Angels have moved into their grandmother Hilda’s mansion, but their new life in France doesn’t mean they won’t be getting into trouble. What about Tandy’s lost love? And what really happened to their long-dead sister Katherine?

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There is no doubt that this series is a superfast read, but I’m having the feeling the Angel family would have worked better as a stand-alone. The sequels seem to be losing their quality and I actually struggled to finish The Paris Mysteries. Even an easy read is difficult when you despise the main character and feel the urge to vomit whenever another cheesy scene makes its appearance… And the only truly interesting angle has only been touched briefly. All in all quite a disappointment unfortunately.


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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
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“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
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“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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