ARC Review – Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

I’d like to say a big thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House for providing me with this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Goodbye Days is released on the 6th of April, 2017.

goodbye days Goodbye Days is a novel about unfathomable loss. One day, Carver Briggs finds his world turned upside down after his 3 best friends – Eli, Mars and Blake, die in a car crash… a car crash Carver feels responsible for. Carver (or Blade as his friends warmly know him has), was the last person to send Mars, the driver of the car, a text message. Mars’ phone was found at the site of the crash with a half written reply to Carver. We follow Carver’s journey through the grief and the guilt after the passing of his friends, and also experience many flash backs to when the boys were still alive.

This story explores the power of friendship, family, guilt and grief. Jeff Zentner weaves the words so beautifully in this book, depicting what life in Nashville is like, and what I felt to be an accurate representation of being a teenager.

The characters were absolutely glorious. Eli, Mars, Blake and Carver collectively refer to themselves as “The Sauce Crew” and you have no idea how much I wanted to be a member of their group. All the boys are so ridiculously loveable, hilarious and unique. Within their characters we see themes of young love, being a person of colour and being “in the closet”. I also found the families of the boys really believable and amazingly written, especially Nana Betsy!

I loved the concept of the Goodbye Days, which are basically a day in which Carver would join each of his friend’s families to have a final day to say goodbye, share memories and celebrate the uniqueness of each friend. Each Goodbye Day had a different feel to it, which I think was a great reflection of the way different people grieve.

 “The world’s reliable absurdity is one of the few things that can distract me”.

I finally would like to talk about the way this book is written. It’s poetic and raw. It’s so honest; so believable. I found myself bawling my eyes out at one moment and laughing the next. I felt like I was experiencing the memories for myself. Carver is beautifully flawed – I hate to use that cliché but it’s true. Read this book guys, you won’t regret it. I know it will stay with me for a long time. I give it 5/5 stars.

March 2017 Wrap Up

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I’m very happy to say March was an amazing reading month for me. After only reading 2 books in February, I’m so pleased that I have logged a total of 10 books in March.

Physical Books:

Love & Misadventure by Lang Leav – 2/5
Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey – 3/5
James & the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl – 3/5
If You Knew Her by Emily Elgar – 3.5/5 Full review here
My Name Is Leon by Kit De Waal – 4/5 Full review here
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – 5/5

Audiobooks:

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi – 2/5 Full review here
The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer – 3/5
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher – 3.5/5 Full review here

E-Books:

Room Empty by Sarah Mussi – 3/5 Full review here

Please tell me below how many books you read in March! I’d also love to hear if you read any particularly good ones.

A x

ARC Review – Room Empty by Sarah Mussi

I received this eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
TW: anorexia, drug abuse, child abuse, suicide

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Room Empty by Sarah Mussi revolves around Dani and Fletcher, who are both inpatients at the Daisy Bank Rehab Centre. Dani is trying to recover from anorexia, whilst Fletcher is battling a drug addiction. This unlikely pair end up forming a romantic connection after they are grouped together as “Recovery Buddies”. Dani begins having flashbacks to her traumatic younger years which she has obviously repressed. Fletcher is by Dani’s side throughout this, urging her to delve into her flashbacks to hopefully identify how her eating disorder was born and why she is struggling to recover.


‘We’re going to peel back the layers of the onion until we find the core,’ says Judith.

I don’t point out that apples have cores and onions only have centres and that educated psychodynamic counsellors should not mix their metaphors when dealing with vulnerable, inner-screaming children.


I found the story to be both poignant and funny. Dani is wildly narcissistic and though it can be a little tiresome at times I still found her relatable. Fletcher, on the other hand, was a character I could really empathise with. His dialogue surrounding his childhood experiences felt very realistic when it came to his abusive mother.

There were a few things about the book that brought it down for me. Firstly, I thought the characterisation could have been better. We didn’t really get to know Dani and Fletcher that well outside of their illnesses. In a way, they were just their illnesses and nothing else. I also found it a little unbelievable how quickly they fell in love even though they had hardly spoken! Lastly, the pacing of the book just felt a little off to me, in a way I can’t quite put my finger on. The exciting bits were a bit rushed, while boring bits were dragged.

I recommend this book for fans of A Million Little Pieces! I give this book 3/5 stars.

The publication date for Room Empty is 6th April, 2017.
I’d like to thank Netgalley and Oneworld Publications for allowing me access to this ARC.

My Name Is Leon by Kit De Waal

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My Name Is Leon is an absolutely phenomenal and poignant novel. It is told from the perspective of Leon, a nine year old black boy growing up in England in the 1980’s. Leon, along with his baby brother Jake, find their lives upturned when they are entered into foster care, as their mum is too sick to look after them. Here’s the catch, where Leon is black, Jake is white AND a baby. Jake is easily adopted… and Leon is left behind. All he has left is a teddy of Jake’s and one photo.

We see the way these changes affect Leon, warping his world perspective and maturing him far beyond his years. Leon is a beautiful character. He’s a perfect mixture of curiosity and innocence; of wisdom and naivety. His foster carers, Maureen and Sylvia, are equally loveable and relatable. I love the fact that this book dealt with race, adoption, and families.

This book feels so real when you read it – and that’s because it is. Kit De Waal has been surrounded by the foster care system her whole life. Her mum was a foster carer, and she then went on to advise Social Services on the care of foster children. I find it so refreshing to read a book that is so well researched and loved this book so much! I give it 4/5 stars.

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A x

How I beat reading slumps…

Reading Slump: the phenomenon that occurs among book-readers who inexplicably find themselves unable to read.

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From the age of 7, I have been a passionate reader. Ever since the day my mum procured a copy of ‘Ginger’ from the Aussie Bites series I have been addicted to the simple act of reading, inclusive of the heart-break that undoubtedly is included. I have also found myself in my fair share of ‘reading slumps’. Some have lasted a few days… some I’m embarrassed to say have lasted years.

In 2016, I decided enough was enough. I was sick of the shame that came with reading slumps and I wanted out! I came up with a method to beat them, and its so ridiculously simple that it’s hardly worthy of a blog post.
Here’s how it works:
I read for 20 minutes every single day. No matter if I’m working, am depressed or am caught up in a fantastic TV show (hello How To Get Away With Murder!), I make myself read for just 20 minutes. Sometimes, I really don’t feel like it, but I still pick up my book… and it’s worked every time! I’ll have a couple of days where the 20 minutes is an absolute struggle of watching the clock. But then, miraculously, I find myself loving the act of reading again. This is what works for me! If you’re having a reading slump, why not give it a go?

Please tell me in the comments what you do to beat reading slumps.

A x

If You Knew Her by Emily Elgar

If You Knew Her is a debut “psychological thriller” by Emily Elgar. I put psychological thriller in quotations because, to me, it didn’t quite hit that mark, although it was fairly gripping. The story is told from 3 different perspectives:

  1. Alice, who is a nurse working on 9B, an ICU/HDU type ward. She’s a highly experienced nurse who is also dealing with the struggle of trying to get pregnant.
  1. Frank, a patient on 9B who suffers from “locked-in syndrome”, a coma-like state in which the person is cognitively there, however cannot move or communicate in anyway. Frank observes what happens around him. Frank is believed by the medical team to be in a permanent vegetative state (they believe he has no cognition of his surroundings), and thus people on the ward are very open around him and he observes a lot of secrets.
  1. Cassie, a young woman, brought in post hit and run. She is currently in a coma and it is unclear who hit her, and if it was an accident or more sinister than that.

Through the perspectives of these 3, we begin to discover the truth behind what happened to Cassie. The story is told at a pace that is both steady but enthralling. I couldn’t put it down to be honest! It was a nice change to see this kind of book told from the medical perspective, rather than the investigative perspective… although we do get a fair bit of investigation as well. Alice is dead-set on figuring out what happened to Cassie, and definitely breaks her professional boundaries to do so.

So generally, I loved the pace, though I do think the first half of the book was a lot stronger than the second half. It is obvious to me that Emily Elgar is an extremely talented writer and either did a lot of research for this book, or possibly has experience in the medical field. For a bit of insight, I myself am a registered nurse. It’s understandable that I often get pissed when authors get medical terminology wrong. The author has done a fantastic job for the most part in regards to the medical side of things. The book was about 95% correct which is a breath of fresh air for this nurse/avid reader.

Personally, I did find the ending to be a bit of a let down. Considering the slow build, I would have liked the ending to be a little less obvious. I also felt one of the big things that happened in the book to be unrealistic and just plain crappy for that character… but I can’t say what it was without giving the story away! Just another small note is that it annoyed me that Alice was terrible at maintaining patient confidentiality, which I felt didn’t suit her character as she was passionate about patient wellbeing. Overall, I liked the book and would recommend it to those who like crime and slow builds. I would gladly read another book by Emily Elgar, as her talent absolutely shines and I feel like she’ll only improve her writing style! 3.5/5 stars.

The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

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The Bone Sparrow is a Middle Grade novel focused on the life of Subhi, a 9 year old refugee living in an Australian detention centre, along with his Mother (Maá) and sister (Queeny). To say this novel is heart-breaking is an understatement, and that’s coming from someone with the cold heart of an ice queen.

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So, why is this story so heart-breaking? Because, it’s more than just a story. This book is a cold hard truth that I know a lot of Australian’s (admittedly, including myself) try to avoid. And it’s not just Australia, all around the world those who flee death and persecution in their own countries are treated like criminals. They’re locked up in detention centres and treated more poorly than murderers and rapists. The Bone Sparrow really gave me pause, especially as a nurse, about how we value the lives of some over others. But, I digress… It’s time for my thoughts on the book!

The Bone Sparrow is written poetically, but still remains raw. It’s honest, but doesn’t use gruesome tactics. I think it’s the perfect book to read in school tbh. I would have much preferred to read this book over The Great Gatsby. It’s highly relevant to the lives of Australians, while being educational as well. It teaches the importance of family and friendship, and focuses on the humans ability to survive. I also urge you to make sure to read the Author’s Note at the end, which is a powerful message within itself.

I’ll leave you with some of the resources mentioned by Zana Fraillon in her Author’s note if you’re interested in finding out more about asylum seekers and how to help:

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