Like a Love Song by Gabriela Martins (ARC Review)

Publisher: Underlined
Page Count
: 303
Release Date: August 3, 2021

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

Everything I knew about this book before I started reading it just made me want to dive into it even more. From the fake-dating-trope to the setting among the LA music and film stars – I truly thought Like a Love Song was written for me, because it basically covered everything I love. I’m so very happy to report that it didn’t disappoint!

Natalie, as a narrator, has a fun and easy voice. She effortlessly manages to make herself relatable to the reader, even though she has a couple diva-moments, which the people in her life notice and even shade a little at times. All of that is part of her journey though and what a sweet one that is. Because when you are followed by paparazzi all the time and every moment of your life gets captured for the internet (be it in a professional capacity or by the shoddy phone camera of a fan), it may happen that you lose sight of who you really are. Natalie was vulnerable and anxious, constantly overthinking what the public, but also her friends and family, were thinking of her, and that made her so beautifully human. I really enjoyed watching her find her way back to herself.

Now, enter William. I sometimes wished we had gotten to know his family and his struggles on an even deeper level, but he was so easy to fall in love with regardless. There was a certain dorkiness and cluelessness to him that felt so endearing, but most of all I appreciated his willingness to keep it real despite the circumstances. Even when Natalie sometimes doubted him, I think his sincerity shone through. However, I’d like to add that I will not tolerate any slander of superhero movies, especially not from indie movie snobs.

So much about this story was cute and funny, but it really had a lot of heart as well. I read it in just one day and that’s because it flowed really nicely, but also because it didn’t always go into great depth. Natalie’s feelings were very clear and I loved the glimpses at family and friends, funny text chains and hints at their life off the page, but sometimes I also wanted even more. I’m forever greedy that way.

The one final thing I will say is that the characters didn’t really feel like 17-year-olds to me. They could have just as easily been in their early twenties and I don’t see how that would have changed the story, but then again, I really didn’t mind that they sometimes seemed older in my head. Maybe I even preferred that in some scenes …

Lastly, Like a Love Song will officially release on my birthday and I think that is an especially good omen. I hope that date will put it under a lucky star, because I really think that a lot of people could potentially enjoy this fun story!

Fazit: 4/5 stars! If you like tropey (in the best sense of the word) teen romances, you should check this out!


Do you plan on reading Like a Love Song? What’s one of your favorite romance tropes? Let’s chat!

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass (ARC Review)

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Page Count
: 256
Release Date: July 13, 2021

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: racism, homophobia, bullying, school shooting, graphic violence/death, suicide and suicidal ideation, physical and emotional abuse, mental illness, parental neglect and abandonment, attempted rape/child molestation, drug use, possession

Ever since I saw the cover for this book (shout out to Jessica Jenkins, who designed it, and Corey Brickley, who did the cover art), I knew I had to pick it up. Horror is still a new-to-me genre and I’m slowly easing myself into it, unsure where I truly stand on it, but I have no regrets reading The Taking of Jake Livingston.

While it may seem short, The Taking of Jake Livingston packs quite the punch. From the get go, Jake’s narration style mixed with the diary entries from Sawyer manage to create great tension and suspense. Although Sawyer gave me the creeps, I enjoyed how reasons for his behavior were explained but not excused. I felt like it was really easy to connect to the teen voices, which were casual but also had some really beautiful lines included. I was barely a couple pages in and I wanted to know everything that had happened and was about to happen.
I have to say that you barely get a breather while you read, with heavy topics such as abuse, racism, bullying, etc. being around every other corner. It became quite a lot at some point, but, at the same time, perfectly portrayed Jake’s dire circumstances. He was about to be stripped of everything, even his self, and you really felt that along with him. All of that made the lighter moments, especially those with Fiona and Allister, who were like bright spots in the ever-growing darkness, all the sweeter. I often wished they had been featured even more prominently, just to give Jake someone to lean on, although I understood that wasn’t the main plot.

Despite the heaviness and the gruesome scenes, some of which had me in literal tears, the book does end on a hopeful and lovely note. I don’t know if I could have handled a glum ending, but I was really pleased and even happy at what I got. This was a story about ghosts, control and letting go of things/people that hurt you, but it was also about self-acceptance and even queer Black love. While the romance surely wasn’t the main plot, the author managed to incorporate it perfectly, making it something that eased the heavy parts without ridiculing what was happening.

In the end, I was impressed by how much intensity could fit into such a “short” book. Some parts felt a bit disjointed and rushed, lacking consequences at times, but the discomfort and creepiness of some scenes will continue to haunt me. I’ll try to just think of the nice ending instead …

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! Gripping and haunting story you will surely fly through!


Do you intend to pick up The Taking of Jake Livingston? Are you interested in YA horror?

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (ARC Review)

Publisher: Ballantine Books
Page Count
: 384
Release Date: June 1, 2021

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: alcoholism, parental abandonment, loss of a loved one, adultification, mention of drug use, cheating

Many of my friends would probably gasp at the statement, but Malibu Rising was my first full length novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I had always meant to check out her books, had made plans so many times before, especially because I had enjoyed her novella Evidence of the Affair a whole lot, but apparently never followed through. I’m so very glad I remedied that now.

As we follow the Riva family through the decades, it is somehow easy to fall in love with all these characters. They felt real and flawed and relatable. With so many mentions of people that actually exist(ed), you were almost tempted to look up if their story was based on someone’s actual life.

As you alternate between the siblings Nina, Jay, Hub and Kit as grown-ups in the 80s and their parents June and Mick falling in love in the 50s, it becomes clear early on how these people shaped each other. While I first worried that some of the characters would get lost, there was a great balance between all of them and it felt astonishingly easy to follow their tale. Character traits as well as relationships to others but also money make a lot of sense when you consider the decisions made by those who came before you. It is all interwoven and shows how you can become the person you want to be because of or despite of your upbringing. My heart broke for these characters over and over and over again. I really just wanted to hold them and was proud of how they continued to trust in people and gave their love so freely even after the hardships they endured.

I have to say, as much as the book had me in the first half, it kind of lost me at times in the second one. I was so invested in the fate of the siblings, in their life story, I didn’t even really care if there was a bigger plot to it all. Just following their struggles and growth, seeing them get through it together, was enough for me. However, as much as I had forgotten the big life-changing party was going to take place later on in the book, it still came barreling in in the second half.
While I thought it was already bordering on too many POVs when we just had the siblings as well as their parents, Taylor Jenkins Reid doubled down and introduced many one-off POVs to show just how crowded and wild the party was getting. I understood that some of the fleeting perspectives added to the atmosphere, but overall, they weren’t necessary to further the story in my opinion. It all just became a bit too much and too disjointed for me.

Still, I cannot help but feel touched by all of it! Family and all its intricacies is one of my favorite topics to read about and Taylor Jenkins Reid managed to really bring that home. Each of the siblings was unique in their own way, but it was easy to find part of myself in each of them. The style of writing is engaging and manages to capture the flair of the setting and time period perfectly. I could picture everything in my mind as if I was watching a movie from back in the day. It’s rare that I read about a bunch of siblings who all love to surf with all their heart (something I know nothing about) and still feel so very connected to them. Definitely a read I will continue to cherish!

Fazit: 4/5 stars! Very strong start with a bit of a jumbled second half, but still SO MUCH heart!


Do you plan on reading Taylor Jenkins Reid’s latest novel? What is your favorite one by her you’ve read so far? Let’s talk!

The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin (ARC Review)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Page Count
: 362
Release Date: June 1, 2021

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

Advertised as “Practical Magic meets Twister“, The Nature of Witches immediately grabbed my attention when I first heard about it (those are legit two movies I adore with my whole heart). As much as I enjoy immersing myself in a high Fantasy concept, there’s something special about magic meeting our contemporary world, which this book does instead.
In this specific instance, witches have always lived among humans and helped them regulate the atmosphere and climate. But humans, as they tend to do in every reality it seems, wanted more. They went against the witches’ recommendations and tried to inhabit parts of the planet that should have been left to nature, always trying to push the limits further, until the Earth could take no more and the atmosphere became too erratic to be tamed by magic even.

As far as general premises go, this was something that interested me right away, because I loved the idea of mirroring our real life climate crisis in a magical way. However, the book only carried this idea as an underlying theme to propel the main character, Clara, further in her journey of accepting herself. Told from her POV, you mostly deal with her inner and very personal struggle. As an Everwitch, she can control magic no matter the season, whereas other witches are at their strongest or weakest depending on the time of year. Clara’s not just the only Everwitch there is, but because it has been so long since the last one lived, no one really knows what her powers entail, just that she is stronger and more dangerous and their only hope at counteracting the humans’ destruction. The danger in her abilities manifests specifically whenever she loses control, because her rampant magic seeks the people she loves the most and kills them, hence why she is reluctant to form any attachment to the people in her life.

While reading the book, I understood where Clara’s trauma came from. Imagine having powers you never asked for and that no one knows how to control, just to see them take every person you love from you at the slightest mistake. The conclusion that you would need to isolate yourself makes sense, but it still put the story in a repetitive loop, because not getting attached to anyone simply isn’t realistic. We are not even talking about romantic love here, but any kindness can make the heart grow fonder. Still, Clara focuses a lot on her romantic entanglements, which include her ex-girlfriend Paige and her current love interest Sang. I was personally more invested in Paige’s side of things, simply because she seemed like one of the few people willing to call out Clara when she was being self-centered and their history was really interesting. Sang, on the other hand, was one of the loveliest and sweetest characters. He was so supportive and exuded a calm that I wish I possessed too, but somehow I didn’t feel the depth of their love as much as it was described on the page.

All of this was a surprisingly quick read as you breeze through the seasons, but despite the dangerous situations the characters were put in, I didn’t feel the urgency of the plot. Usually, when it comes to magic, I try to just accept what I’m told, but I struggled a bit with the logistics. Here are a couple of examples that didn’t make sense to me entirely:

  • Every witch has their own seasons (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter) in which they are born, their personality is affected by and their magic is the strongest. However, seasons aren’t technically bound to certain months. They are marked by weather patterns and daylight hours, completely different depending on where you live on the planet. So, if a Summer witch didn’t want to see her powers wane after three months, wouldn’t they just be of better use in a different geographical area?
  • Clara had to live in a shed in the woods all by herself after a fatal incident with her powers, to make sure she wouldn’t get attached to any of her other classmates who lived together in dorms. This technically seems logical, but then they pair her with one person to train her alone, be it a teacher for years or a newly introduced person her age. If you spend time with someone in close proximity and they are your only close contact, you will form an attachment. People tend to grow on you over time, so this course of action was an odd choice for me, because it obviously counteracted what they were trying to do.
  • The big final plan (which I won’t go into detail about) was reckless, could have backfired so badly and was purely based on a hunch. Never mind that we don’t fully understand what happened or why it was necessary exactly, but it seemed to be a cure all.

Finally, this may not have been everything I’d hoped it would be, but the writing was beautiful, especially when it came to the weather and plant life. I also really liked the little quotes at the beginning of each chapter. They were a nice touch and I don’t want to reveal anything, but loved how it came full circle in the final chapters. Something about them worked so well as affirmations, you didn’t even have to be a witch to feel like they could be helpful to you as well.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! Very interesting concept and quick read, although it didn’t live up to my expectations!


Do you plan to read The Nature of Witches? What is your take on contemporary magical stories? Let’s talk!

Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin (ARC Review)

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Page Count
: 368
Release Date: April 13, 2021

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: racism, Islamophobia, racially motivated hate crimes, loss of a loved one

Hana Khan Carries On releases soon and I cannot wait for everyone to get a chance to read this book. Set in one of my favorite places on this planet (Toronto), the book is a bold romantic comedy playing out in the world of rivaling halal restaurants, but it is also so much more than that. Let me explain!

Hana is a fantastic narrator, which makes sense as she hosts her own podcast and pursues a career in the radio industry. I loved following her thoughts and quarrels from the get go. We quickly learn that she is a South Asian Muslim woman in her twenties and daughter to immigrant parents, who juggles many things in her life even before the real drama starts. While there were always hints at what all this book would ultimately deal with, it starts out with all the makings of a romantic comedy that promises rivals to lovers excellence. There was an immediate attraction and familiarity between Hana and Aydin even when they clashed. They are not afraid to play dirty in order to come out on top, which leads to many a regretful decision. The fire and sparring between them was definitely fun, even when it was easy to guess the big revelation they’d both eventually have to face.

Around the halfway point of the book, the story shifts into something more serious though. As I said, the groundwork for this was laid, because this book was never going to be “just” a romantic comedy. While out with Aydin and her cousin, Rashid (who is visiting from India), Hana encounters a group of hate-filled racists and the situation soon escalates on a much grander scale than she could have ever anticipated. It’s never easy having to come to terms that there are people out there who want to harm you and push you out of a country you were literally born in. It was even more painful when no one came to Hana’s aid (please never be that person when you see someone being attacked. Not doing anything is being complicit), that is until she found the courage to seek refuge in her community.

As much as Hana Khan Carries On is about love and finding your place in the world, it is also about family – the one you are born with and the one you choose. This was an excellent example of how gratifying being part of a community can be and how they can help you through the darkest times. Hana always had to deal with people who were willing to talk over her (a boss using covert racism to undermine her ideas, a co-worker so desperate to fit in that they sold out and a myriad of other characters that show up and will have you wringing your hands not to punch them), but she also had people in her corner willing to go to bat for her and you were right there with them, rooting for her when she found her voice and spoke up. And that’s not an easy thing to do, to stand up to people knowing that it will leave you vulnerable. But she had a life made up of choices, choices she was very grateful to have, and she wanted to make the right ones.

I really loved reading this book and to follow along as Hana uncovers family secrets and finds her voice. I cannot possibly put myself in her shoes, but I was filled with pride and joy at her development regardless. There’s no denying that I would understand if people would rather not be faced with reliving that particular trauma when seeking out a romantic comedy, but I personally appreciated that there was no sugarcoating of racist situations like it happening still. Those parts will never get easier, but we’re not doing anyone a service by ignoring them either.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! An amazing romantic comedy, if you are also prepared for hard-hitting reality.


Would you like to read Hana Khan Carries On? I seem to pick up at least one “You’ve Got Mail”-esque book per year now and I have no regrets! Let’s talk!

The Summer of Broken Rules by K.L. Walther (ARC Review)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Page Count
: 386
Release Date: May 4, 2021

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: loss of a loved one

Sometimes a book comes around and it just sweeps you off your feet. The Summer of Broken Rules was definitely that for me! It’s not easy for a story to be fun as well as moving, but somehow this one struck the perfect balance and just made it an incredibly engaging read.

You meet Meredith and you can easily relate to her. I think anyone who has ever lost someone close to them understands the way you yourself get lost in your grief. Every corner you turn, you see that person and remember how things used to be, but can’t be anymore. The Summer of Broken Rules managed to make this story a beautiful exploration of grief, while also the journey of reemerging from that cloudy haze that comes with loss, without it ever feeling too heavy. I may have shed a tear or two, but I laughed and smiled even more.

From the get go, I was just in love with the setting. I haven’t been on a vacation in forever and definitely have never been to Martha’s Vineyard (it feels like a rich people destination in my head and I cannot explain why?), but I could almost feel the sun on my face, smell the ocean breeze and couldn’t shake that odd feeling when you just know it’s unavoidable to get sand everywhere. Add to that a huge group of relatives and friends, where you sometimes lose track of just how you are related, but you know you are family either way because of the shared bonds and you have captured my heart. At times, I had trouble following the who’s who, but never when it came to the important players.

When it comes to the love story, I thought it was interesting how easily I was swayed by Wit. Many times, I have complained about insta-love and insta-lust, but somehow the connection between Meredith and Wit just felt natural. You basically just follow them through the course of a week, but every interaction felt authentic and made me root for them rather than roll my eyes at their quick attachment.
I’d also like to praise that there was a discussion, albeit brief, about how Meredith tends to latch on to her love interests and detach from her friends as a coping mechanism for her grief. Having scenes with that as a context puts them in a different light and, in this instance, makes them work all the better. With the characters being aware of how fast things are developing and even questioning their behavior, I thought it was refreshing. In the end, it didn’t change how I felt about them though and I was happy to see them grow together through the hurdles they had to overcome.

I can’t say I’ve ever been as competitive or invested in a game as the entire extended Fox family is when it comes to “Assassin”, but what a treat it was to follow them for a week. As serious as they take it, it also created some hilariously brilliant moments and I understand how it became a tradition for them. It’s almost something you’d want to revisit yourself every year to see how everyone was doing, which was why I was so grateful for a little epilogue from the future!

As a final note, this was my first time reading a book by K.L. Walther, but I heard that there are lovely little easter eggs to her previous novel “If We Were Us”. I adore when authors put in those tiny references for readers and it has me very tempted to check out her debut novel.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! Fun and moving – a great summer read along the lines of Morgan Matson books!


Could you see yourself picking up The Summer of Broken Rules? What are some summer reads you enjoyed a lot? Let’s talk!

Any Place But Here by Sarah Van Name (ARC Review)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Page Count
: 336
Release Date: May 1, 2021

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: underage drinking

Any Place But Here is my first encounter with Sarah Van Name’s writing and I immediately felt drawn into the world of her characters. You meet June and Jess at an evening that feels like it could be any night of the week for them, beyond tipsy and definitely drunk, just that it’s at a school venue and things are spiraling fast after they get discovered with booze in the bathroom.

After that, no matter what June says, her parents don’t trust her anymore and send her off to live with her grandmother (lovingly called Oma, which is also what I have always called my grandmothers too) to attend an all-girls-school. In the beginning, I struggled a bit with that punishment. I understand the concern of June’s parents and the way they mostly blame it on her “friendship” with Jess, but June is literally a straight A studen and … I come from a country where the legal drinking age is 16, so I always roll my eyes a bit at American laws. Of course, there is a difference between drinking responsibly and just getting wasted and I don’t condone the reckless kind since I’m not much of a drinker myself, but it’s always a bit difficult for me to wrap my head around why it is such a huge deal. I literally had bartending classes at my school when I was 16, but I’m veering off course. This conflict sets up the rest of the novel and does so really well.

Who would want to leave behind everyone they know, including the person they care about most, to live in a town where they know no one and nothing ever happens? I can tell you that the answer is not June.

As we see the world through her eyes, it quickly becomes clear that June’s relationship with Jess was more than “just” a friendship. Whenever she speaks about her, their shared bond seems undeniable, but the longer they spend apart, the harder it becomes. And you also start to wonder what held them together in the first place. Things become even trickier when June’s new friends bring up the question of her sexuality (in an intimate and non-pressure related setting) and June has no real answer for it, especially since she finds herself drawn to one of the new acquaintances. I find it’s not often that bisexuality is explored in young adult books, but I enjoyed the way it was done here.

I have spent my fair share of time away from family and friends and I always felt like I was a different person when I came back. Sometimes I was shocked to see how much had changed in my absence, other times I found myself annoyed with the lack of change in my environment when I felt so utterly different. This book perfectly mirrored my emotions and dealt with how hard it can be to let go or fight to keep someone in your life. It’s always a decision you have to make and sometimes you don’t ultimately get what you want.

When you meet new people that enrich your day to day and you find new hobbies that bring you joy, it can be hard to arrange and combine this with your old life. Things change and so do people. Aside from this beautiful exploration of love and friendship, it was also a great but nonchalant portrayal of family. The messiness of it, but the love that was woven through all decisions really warmed my heart. Even with them being miles apart, June’s younger siblings were always present in her thoughts and the struggle with her parents was so relatable. They always made her feel like she had to compete for their approval, but when she lived with her grandmother she experienced such a different parenting style and through that could actually find things she enjoyed.

Overall, I loved being on this ride with June and seeing her find her own way. It also got me really interested in photography, which I didn’t expect, but hey, maybe I’ll find my own Sam there.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! A great read about changing relationships, family and expectations. Enjoyed it a lot!


I know the release is still a while away, but could you see yourself pick up Any Place But Here? Have you had experiences with toxic relationships? Let’s talk about it!

My Year Abroad by Chang-rae Lee (eARC Review)

Publisher: Riverhead Books
Page Count
: 496
Release Date: February 2, 2021

Further synopsis taken from Goodreads:

In the breathtaking, “precise, elliptical prose” that Chang-rae Lee is known for (The New York Times), the narrative alternates between Tiller’s outlandish, mind-boggling year with Pong and the strange, riveting, emotionally complex domestic life that follows it, as Tiller processes what happened to him abroad and what it means for his future. Rich with commentary on Western attitudes, Eastern stereotypes, capitalism, global trade, mental health, parenthood, mentorship, and more, My Year Abroad is also an exploration of the surprising effects of cultural immersion–on a young American in Asia, on a Chinese man in America, and on an unlikely couple hiding out in the suburbs. Tinged at once with humor and darkness, electric with its accumulating surprises and suspense, My Year Abroad is a novel that only Chang-rae Lee could have written, and one that will be read and discussed for years to come.

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: parental abandonment, suicidal ideation, mental illness, forced labor, forced sexual intercourse, sex work

Let’s get it out of the way. Unfortunately, I was not the right reader for this book.

I had been very eager to pick up this novel, because of my own experiences abroad. Be it during my formative High School years or later on in life, every time I went to a different country for a longer period of time, I learned something about the world, about people and most importantly myself. No matter where I stayed, it changed me and taught me valuable lessons. I cherish those experiences and thought it would be a great connection to this story. But no matter how hard I tried, I constantly found myself losing interest.

Told between alternating timelines of now and the adventure that got Tiller to his present situation, I couldn’t always quite make the connection between the different scenarios. I felt that the story was disjointed and didn’t evoke the emotional effect I had hoped for. The journey abroad and its aftermath were so important, yet Tiller doesn’t even leave his country until about 40% into the book.

While everything Tiller describes has a purpose, it’s still hard to follow him as he finds value in situations you wish he had never gotten into. I don’t think anything ever goes smoothly when you set out for something potentially life-changing, but where he found himself along the way was among the worst that could happen. There are some clear themes around parenthood, taking action (which Tiller does very late in the book, mostly being an inactive protagonist who things happen to rather than someone who makes things happen – but that’s all part of the journey!) kinship and the privilege of certain opportunities. And yet, I still couldn’t always grasp the fondness for certain people and experiences I would have rather never thought of ever again, while Tiller had them on the highest of pedestals.

Ultimately, I think that this style of writing just wasn’t for me. I can see many literary fans rejoicing in the details, but I found myself drifting off mid-sentence as the descriptions became ever more elaborate and lengthy. In general, this book was just too long, offering pages of minute details of various foods and drinks or other things, just information on top of information, but not the connection to me as a reader I really sought. I am certain others will be able to appreciate Lee’s craftsmanship and skill more than I could. 

Fazit: 2/5 stars! Unfortunately, My Year Abroad failed to capture me.


Have you spent some time abroad? What was it like for you? Can you see yourself picking up a book like this?

Don’t Tell a Soul by Kirsten Miller (eARC Review)

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Page Count
: 384
Release Date: January 26, 2021

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: parental death, sexual assault/rape, drug/substance abuse, mentions of suicide, mentions of non-descript mental illnesses, gaslighting, parental neglect

I’ve been slowly but surely drifting into a territory of picking up one book after another revolving around what sounded like haunted houses, but with a much more complex stories underneath. I am not quite sure what draws me to these kind of books, but Kirsten Miller managed to create a wonderfully creepy ambiance reminiscent of gothic classics. There’s an unease in the house and especially in the beginning, you have no idea what to expect from it. As often as the people of Louth keep saying that they don’t believe in ghosts, it still seems like something is off about the manor.

People say the house is cursed.
It preys on the weakest, and young women are its favorite victims.
In Louth, they’re called the Dead Girls.

When you first meet Bram, it becomes instantly apparent that something bad has happened to her. Even without knowing the details, you just know. That girl has built up a wall of defense a mile high and while that was completely understandable considering her history and upbringing, it still felt irritating during some earlier points in the story. The way she went from starting to like and warm up to people to completely distrusting them and looking for weapons to defend herself in case of an emergency could give you whiplash, although I again want to stress that it makes sense because of her past. But still, as long as you don’t know her, it makes it hard to warm up to her entirely sometimes. Her reasons for wanting to be in the manor so badly kind of eluded me at first, because I did not completely understand her obsession with what happened, but then this also gets explained and uncovered. I think one of the main objectives with the book is to just stick with it and things will eventually get resolved.

Aside from Bram, there was an assortment of interesting characters, all keeping you on your toes the entire time. I feel like we could have gotten to know a couple of them better, but with Lark’s wall up, you get most of your information through second-hand gossip and later confrontations. Trust is a scare commodity in Louth, especially with so many girls having vanished and/or died in the small community over the years. However, my initial feeling for most people was correct, which either made the novel predictable or my gut instinct is just rocking.

Overall, I enjoyed many of the twists and was far from guessing everything. I felt a certain distance to the characters and the story for a long time, but it did all come together in the end. Some might say it came together a bit too conveniently, but I didn’t mind that too much. Just be prepared for a story full of gaslighting and people blaming mental illness for all sorts of things, without anyone being diagnosed or actually having a mental illness in some cases. It can easily rub you the wrong way, but is a huge part of exposing who the good and bad guys are in this story.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! A whirlwind of a resolution!


Have you heard of Don’t Tell a Soul? Do you plan on picking it up? Let’s chat!

Admission by Julie Buxbaum (eARC Review)

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books/Delacorte Press
Page Count
: 352
Release Date: December 1, 2020

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

I have not read any book by Julie Buxbaum before, but know a couple of friends who quite enjoy her style and I was excited to check out Admission. As far as I gathered, this story was inspired by the very much real admission scandal but is an entirely fictitious version of similar events. Neither research nor any association with real people exists and since the author makes a point of mentioning that very clearly, I thought I should too.

Julie Buxbaum did not choose an easy topic, that much was obvious from the get go to me. You have this family steeped in privilege and while you do want to allow the reader to connect to the characters, you don’t want to redeem them or excuse their actions. I am not quite sure how, but Buxbaum managed this balancing act phenomenally.

With an alternating Now and Then POV, you get to explore the events that led up to Chloe’s life and that of her family imploding, while at the same time seeing the very concrete fallout from it. I didn’t really wonder whether Chloe knew what was going on or not, but I enjoyed the debate on what it means to be complicit. Buxbaum managed to humanize her without sugarcoating that she is the villain in a lot of people’s stories. I feel like a lot of authors have that need to not just give their characters a redemption arc, but also one that absolves them of their wrong-doing, which thankfully wasn’t done here. I don’t want to say you empathize with what happened, because I was downright disgusted by some of the conversations that family had, because screw them for their entitlement, but it made you understand how their thought process was and that weirdly made sense in turn.

I don’t think this is one of those books where you fall in love with very many characters, however, I have found great pleasure in the way friendships and family are portrayed. I liked how inconsequential the romantic love interest was, because in the end, it’s very doubtful that it would be a priority in such an extreme situation. Instead it focused on so many different kind of relationships and I especially appreciated the one between Chloe and her best friend Shola as well as the one to her sister Isla (both of which were my favourite characters if I am being completely honest).

While definitely not the easiest of topics and quite frustrating to read about sometimes, it was still a page turner I quite enjoyed. I’m glad that no excuses were made and consequences were implemented. It once again made me really, really, really glad that I did not have to deal with the stress of going to university/college in the US though.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! An intense look at how far some people go for their children and how it all blows up!

Do you want to read Admission? Do you have university admission horror stories of your own? Feel free to ask questions about the system in my country if you want to!