ARC REVIEW: What Lies Between Us – by John Marrs @amazonpub

Title: What Lies Between Us
Author: John Marrs
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: May 15th 2020
Publisher: Amazon Publishing UK
Finished reading: April 21st 2020
Pages: 371

“We remain like two scorpions, each circling one another, poisonous tails aloft and waiting for the other to strike first.”

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

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Holy guacamole, what did I just read?! So dark, so twisted, and oh so glorious! I guess it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of John Marrs‘s writing and I have been looking forward to read What Lies Between Us ever since I first heard about it… And this story turned out to be exactly the dark psychological thriller dose I was craving right now! Oh yes, his newest title definitely didn’t disappoint, and I found myself to be absolutely speechless as well as shell-shocked by the time I reached that final page. Make sure to brace yourself for a dark, intense and twisted ride!

Let’s leave the superlatives for a little, and talk about why What Lies Between Us turned out to be yet another winner for me. The first thing that stands out when you read one of John Marrs‘ books is the quality of the writing and the plot development. From the very first chapter, both the writing and the plot are able to draw you right in, entice you and keep you hooked until the very end. In fact, I knew this was going to be another favorite even before I finished the first chapter; such is the power of his writing. As for the plot… Even though I do admit that I saw some of the plot twists coming very early on, strangely enough I wasn’t too bothered by that. The mystery and suspense around the past events and the complicated relationship between mother and daughter were enough to distract me from my suspicions and ultimately right guesses, and I was honestly too busy devouring this story to really care about the lack of surprises and 100% effective plot twist bombs.

The story is told with the help of a dual POV, switching between Nina and her mother Maggie as well as between the past and present. This way, we are presented with snippets of the past as well as the present, never discovering the full picture of the truth until after those final reveals. The POV switches and flashbacks are used to successfully build up the suspense until you find yourself biting your nails and continuously shocked about the events that took place both in the past and present. Trust me when I say that What Lies Between Us will go darker than the blackest night and this story isn’t for those with a weak stomach! The development and structure of the plot is excellently handled though, and really took the story to the next level for me.

Key in this pitch black psychological thriller are also the two main characters who star the show. The development of both Nina and Maggie is thorough and realistical; both women are extremely flawed and have mental issues as well as a bulk load of secrets waiting to be uncovered. Nina is an extremely troubled character and it was interesting to see her development and learn more about her past as well as discovering more how she became the woman she is today. Maggie is likewise intriguing, with her decisions in the past playing a key role in her present situations… I’d be lying if I said that I liked either character, but they definitely both make for a fascinating character study.

As you might have guessed, I had a fantastic time reading this dark dark and oh so disturbing psychological thriller. I can recommend What Lies Between Us to anyone who is a fan of the genre and doesn’t mind things getting pitch black and seriously twisted before you reach that final page.


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WWW Wednesdays #266 – April 29th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading The One-In-A-Million Boy by Monica Wood as I was craving another dose of contemporary… With the speed I’m reading right now, I’ll probably ended up finishing it before this post goes live haha. I’m also starting (finally!) Pet Sematary by Stephen King, a title I’ve been wanting to read for a while and decided to pick up so I can watch the movie afterwards.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon (2/5 stars) REVIEW 03/05
I really enjoyed When Dimple Met Rishi back when I read it, and I’ve been wanting to try more of Sandhya Menon‘s books ever since. I was craving a cute contemporary, so I decided to pick up From Twinkle, With Love on a whim as I thought it would be exactly the story I needed at the time. I guess I was wrong! Between the high school cliches, love square, despicable behavior of Twinkle and the writing sounding too forced, I really struggled reaching that final page… Oh yes, From Twinkle, With Love definitely didn’t have that spark for me.

2. The Creak On The Stairs by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir (4,5/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 09/05
Look out for my review during my stop of the blog tour next month!!

3. Danny The Champion Of The World by Roald Dahl (3,5/5 stars) NO REVIEW
I won’t be writing a full review for Danny The Champion Of The World… I’ve been slowly going through the books of one of my favorite childhood authors, Roald Dahl, rereading old favorites as well as some stories I missed when I was little. I did read Danny The Champion Of The World a couple times when I was little, and although it’s not my favorite I remember still enjoying the story quite a lot. It’s not as fantastical as some of his other stories, but I liked the relationship between father and son and the ‘secret’ and creative poaching ideas. It’s definitely a fun story for kids to read.

4. The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide (2/5 stars) REVIEW 08/05
I’ve been curious about this title ever since I finished The Travelling Cat Chronicles last year and saw it recommended under similar Japanese fiction titles… I think it’s no secret that I’m a huge catlover, so I was looking forward to dive into some cat infused fiction again. It’s easy to say that I ended up to be quite quite disappointed by The Guest Cat instead.

5. Good Samaritans by Will Carver (5/5 stars) REVIEW 05/05
It had been a while since my last 5 star read, and I really needed a story to completely blow my socks off again… I turned to my Orenda backlist and I couldn’t have picked better! Good Samaritans is dark, sexy and utterly disturbing; a complex and well written story that grabbed me from the start and was pitch black and twisted to the core. Say hello to a new favorite! I just can’t wait to read the sequel now.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

May is around the corner which means I need to focus on my ARCs again… I’m planning on reading my three remaining May ARCs next. First up is Swipe Right by Stephie Chapman, and then it’s two blog tour reads with Ash Mountain by Helen Fitzgerald and This Is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf. I will also read my latest TBR jar pick Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight somewhere in between.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #159 – The Girl In The Tree (DNF) & The Light Between Oceans

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around an ARC I had to sadly take the decision to DNF quite early on despite being excited to finally read it (The Girl In The Tree) and a backlist title I’ve been meaning to read for ages now and I definitely wish I would have picked up sooner (The Light Between Oceans).


Title: The Girl In The Tree
Author: Şebnem İşigüzel

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: December 2016
Publisher: Amazon Crossing
Finished reading: April 16th 2020
Pages: 360
DNF at 11% (40 pages)
(Originally written in Turkish: ‘Ağaçtaki Kız’)

“Laughter is the wind of the mind and soul – it picks you up and whisks you far away.”

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


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I was actually really looking forward to The Girl In The Tree, as the blurb sounded intriguing and I always love discovering new international authors. I certainly wasn’t expecting to have the reaction I had when I finally started reading it… But it is what it is I guess. I hate DNFing this early in a story and I feel more than guilty, but I just couldn’t take it anymore… I will keep this DNF review short as I only managed to read 11% (about 40 pages) before I threw in the towel, but I’ll try to explain shortly why I made the difficult decision to DNF this early on.

First of all, I struggled to connect with the writing. And with struggle, I mean REALLY struggling, and I wasn’t able to enjoy it at all. But more importantly, there was no plot whatsoever to speak of and the story seemed more like a collection of brain farts, random thoughts and random facts about characters you don’t know being thrown at you… Mixed in with random pop culture elements including Twilight and (the death of) Amy Whinehouse. I sadly found the whole ordeal to be tasteless, chaotic, confusing and I really couldn’t be bothered wasting more of my time to see if things would improve later on. Oh yes, this story definitely hit a nerve, and not in a good way. Such a shame, because I was actually looking forward to reading this… Don’t give up on The Girl In The Tree on my account though, as it seems like you will either love or hate this story depending on how you react to the writing style. It’s a book of extremes and most certainly not for everyone… And that includes myself sadly.


Title: The Light Between Oceans
Author: M.L. Stedman

Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: July 2012
Publisher: Scribner
Finished reading: April 17th 2020
Pages: 356

“There are times when the ocean is not the ocean – not blue, not even water, but some violent explosion of energy and danger: ferocity on a scale only gods can summon.”


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I’ve been meaning to pick up The Light Between Oceans for years now. I’m not sure why it took me this long to actually read it, as I’m a big fan of historical fiction and settings that enable me to travel to places I’ve never been… But what I do know is that I regret not reading this story sooner now. The post WWI setting on a small island near the Australian coast, the lighthouse keeper element, the strong presence of the ocean… These elements really gave The Light Between Oceans a more than solid base to build the rest of the story around, and especially the Janus Rock setting and lighthouse references made the story stand out for me. The main focus of the story is on family life, both grief and struggles related to multiple miscarriages and the arrival of the ‘mystery’ baby on the small island and its consequences for the future. It was interesting to follow both Tom and Isabel as they try to overcome the struggles life keeps throwing at them… And although I don’t agree with some decisions and certain behavior, I still had a great time reading about both their lives. The Light Between Oceans is a mostly character driven book with a fascinating setting that gives the story the perfect backdrop to develop both plot and characters. And while there were certain elements/details especially in the second half that started to irk me, I still ended up really enjoying my time with this historical fiction read.


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ARC REVIEW: Broken Branches – by M. Jonathan Lee

Title: Broken Branches
Author: M. Jonathan Lee
Genre: Mystery, Horror
First published: July 27th 2017
Publisher: Hideaway Fall Publishing
Finished reading: April 14th 2020
Pages: 329

“Ian had no recollection of whether he was actually responsible. He didn’t trust his memory anymore. In fact, he didn’t trust his mind at all.”

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

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I’ve seen Broken Branches mentioned in the past and I’ve always been curious about it… So when the opportunity arose, I couldn’t resist adding a copy to my shelves on Netgalley. Between the ominous cover and the promise of a curse, I was looking forward to what seemed like a dark and creepy read… But somehow I ended up having mixed thoughts about this story instead. I’ll try and explain why I felt this way briefly below.

While I did like the writing itself, I sadly enough found the actual story to be rather lacking, as there was no real plot to speak of and the characters were impossible to like or connect to. The idea of the curse as well as the premise of Broken Branches itself is intriguing, and I really wish both characters and the plot would have been more fleshed out in the story. As it is, I was unable to connect to any of the main characters, which was a real shame. The fact that the story switches POVs between chapters and goes back and forth between past and present without proper warning doesn’t really help either, as things can become confusing and you don’t always know which character and which moment in time you are reading about straight away. I did like the idea of the flashbacks in the story, as they helped shine a light on Ian’s family, past, secrets and the curse of course, but I kind of wish the flashback chapters and POV changes would have been marked more clearly. This would have avoided those moments of possible confusion…

As I mentioned before, I did enjoy the writing on its own, but sadly the beautiful writing did not make up for the fact that the story itself lacked development in both plot and characters. On top of that, I wasn’t really satisfied with the ending either, and I guessed part of the final reveals quite early on. All in all it wasn’t a bad read and both the premise and the writing were a bonus, but the actual story didn’t quite hit the mark for me.


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Stacking The Shelves #111 – April 25th

Stacking The Shelves is hosted at Tynga’s Reviews and is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Soooo… What has been the ARC damage since my last STS post two weeks ago? Of course I couldn’t keep the promise to myself to stop requesting new titles for a while… I’ve been in the mood to read contemporaries lately, and I just couldn’t resist hitting that request button when I read the blurb of Swipe Right. For the same reason I couldn’t resist requesting a copy of How To Save A Life, especially as the blurb sounded intriguing. Afterwards, an old request came through (I honestly didn’t think I would be approved); I’m looking forward to read The Catch!

I also made the ‘mistake’ of opening a blog tour invite email for five upcoming Park Row Harlequin titles in the next few months, and somehow I ended up signing up for four out of five titles. Whoops? They are recently in June, July and August though, so not that much immediate pressure at least I guess. xD

# NETGALLEY #

# NETGALLEY BLOG TOUR #

Click on the summaries below to go to the Goodreads page…

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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Murder Game – by Rachel Abbott #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @annecater

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Murder Game Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve been meaning to try one of Rachel Abbott‘s books for a while now and this blog tour was a perfect excuse to do so! I had an excellent time with the first book of the series, And So It Begins, last month and I think that I enjoyed the sequel The Murder Game even more. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts.

Title: The Murder Game
(Stephanie King #2)
Author: Rachel Abbott
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: April 16th 2020
Publisher: Wildfire
Finished reading: April 12th 2020
Pages: 416

“To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.”

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

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I’ve been meaning to try one of Rachel Abbott‘s books for a long time now and this blog tour was a perfect excuse to finally do so! I had an excellent time with the first book of the series, And So It Begins, last month and I think that I might have possibly enjoyed the sequel The Murder Game even more… I’m definitely fully hooked when it comes to this series now! I’ll try to explain below why The Murder Game ticked all the right boxes for me.

First of all, I love that this series isn’t the typical detective thriller despite having detective Stephanie King as the leading character of this series. Instead, both first two books are dark psychological thrillers first, and detective/crime thrillers second, and this shift in focus is both refreshing, gives the stories a multi-dementional feel and makes the series in general stand out above the rest. While Stephanie is the glue between the books of this series, we won’t actually see her appear until later in The Murder Game and only because body shows up and a detective is needed. This is definitely unexpected and it was a very clever twist to have other characters in the spotlight instead.

The story mainly focuses on three characters: Jemma, Nina And Alex. We get to see the situation from the POV of all three women and not only that, we also have events set one year ago as well as in present. This complex structure really takes story to the next level without obstructing the reading pace or readability in general. The characters themselves might not be all too likeable, but their development is solid and their flaws make them feel realistic. It was also interesting seeing things from the POV of ‘outsider’ Jemma, as she doesn’t know rest of the characters in play until the wedding. Nina is likewise an outsider of course, but she does know Alex and has a different view on things as the case hits closer home. Alex probably most intriguing POV though, both due to her past and the secrets surrounding her…

The structure of the plot is without doubt one of highlights of The Murder Game. Switching back between past an present, the structure allows for plot twists and secrets  to be revealed slowly and they definitely added a healthy dose of suspense and tension to the story. Not knowing what exactly happened to Alex in the past added a level of intrigue as well as an ominous feel… The murder game Lucas wants to play in the present is a brilliantly executed element too and it really gave the story that ‘locked room’ vibe. I also loved the setting close to the Cornwall sea as it added to the darker and ominous atmosphere as well as playing a key role in plot. Furthermore, the eventual appearance of Stephanie in the plot felt natural and her development was another interesting touch. Of course the case she first investigated (the death of Alex) took place a year ago, but it was interesting to see how past and present collided with a new missing person case in the present. The whole detective investigation was not main focus of The Murder Game of course, but it added a little something extra and enabled reaching a credible ending to the story.

There is a lot to love in The Murder Game… Well written, suspenseful, complex, a dark and multi-dimentional plot, an interesting cast of characters, that locked room feel, a Cornwall coast setting… Fans of dark psychological thrillers will be in for a treat!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachel Abbott began her career as an independent author in 2011, with Only the Innocent, which became a No.1 bestseller on Kindle, topping the chart for four weeks. Since then, she has published eight further psychological thrillers and sold over 3 million copies. She is one of the top-selling authors of all time in the UK Kindle store, and her novels have been translated into 21 languages.

Rachel splits her time between Alderney – a beautiful island off the coast of France – and the Le Marche region of Italy, where she is able to devote all her time to writing fiction.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #158 – VOX & One Summer In Paris

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two completely different genres I ended up having a similar reaction to… But not in a good way. Both VOX by Christina Dalcher and One Summer In Paris by Sarah Morgan had elements that made me really angry, and sadly enough influenced my reading experiences negatively.


Title: VOX
Author: Christina Dalcher
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: August 21st 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: April 13th 2020
Pages: 336

“Monsters aren’t born, ever. They’re made, piece by piece and limb by limb, artificial creations of madmen who, like the misguided Frankenstein, always think they know better.”

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I’ve been meaning to read VOX for a long time now, and I was honestly really curious to see how I would react to this story after seeing so many mixed reviews. I went in blind and as I started reading I thought I was going to love this story… The writing seemed spot on for and I actually studied Wernicke’s aphasia as part of my Spanish philology degree, which made the topic all the more intriguing for me. The dystopian alternate present is both utterly terrifying and fascinating; it’s the perfect foundation stone to build the rest of the story on. While VOX definitely has that feminism feel, it wasn’t too much for me and I liked how this aspect was incorporated into the story. BUT. Sadly there were also quite a few things that ended up infuriating me. I will keep things short to avoid a full rant, but let’s just say that I wasn’t happy at all with certain characters and how they behaved, the appearance of a love triangle, animal tests, the ending… The character behavior part can partly be explained as something belonging to this dystopian world, but that doesn’t mean my averse reaction was less real because of it. And the ending was kind of an anti-climax for me and didn’t really do the rest of the story justice. It wasn’t a bad read and I agree it would make for a very interesting blog club read and discussion, but I sadly didn’t enjoy VOX as much as I thought I would.


Title: One Summer In Paris
Author: Sarah Morgan
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 4th 2019
Publisher: HQ
Finished reading: April 15th 2020
Pages: 464

“Being yourself is the one thing every person should excel at.”

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I know this is not my typical genre, but I’ve been craving a lot of contemporaries lately and I love a travel/foreign setting theme, so I thought this story set (mostly) in Paris would be a good fit. Things started out great (and also a lot darker than expected) and there were a lot of things I did love in One Summer In Paris, including the Paris setting and the dynamics and growing relationship between Grace and Audrey as well as the bookshop, French language learning, explaining of dyslexia and alcoholic parents past and even Audrey romance with Etienne. BUT. I absolutely hate it when the cheating/affair element plays a big role in a story. Especially the reaction of Grace and more importantly Mr. Bastard aka David himself were simply infuriating. Oh yes, this part of the story made me so SO angry!! And not only behavior of David and decisions of Grace, but also how lightly the topic is treated and how Grace and Sophie’s months of suffering and their lives being ripped apart were brushed away like that. Ugh. The ending definitely wasn’t what I was hoping for either and not even Audrey’s POV and bookshop related reveal (which was too predictable as I guessed it straight away) could save the story for me. I guess it’s unpopular opinion time again?


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