ARC REVIEW: Court Of Lions – by Jane Johnson @HoZ_books

Title: Court Of Lions
Author: Jane Johnson

Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
First published: July 6th 2017
Publisher: Head Of Zeus
Finished reading: July 5th 2017
Pages: 416

“History was rather wasted on the young, who had yet to discover that looking back could sometimes be a lot more instructive than looking forward.”

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

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I always love a good historical fiction read and when I first heard about Court Of Lions the story just ticked al the right boxes for me. This novel by Jane Johnson is partly set in the 15th century, partly in the present and predominantly takes place in Granada. This Spanish city is hands down one of the favorite places I was able to visit during my stay in Spain eight years ago and Court Of Lions without doubt brought back great memories. When I started reading this novel I had really high expectations and I initially found myself enjoying both storylines despite them being completely different. Unfortunately this feeling didn’t last. While initially I found myself to be curious about Kate’s character and devoured the many descriptions of the Spanish city and the Alhambra in the contemporary chapters, I was suddenly put off by the arrival of a few very graphic scenes and adult content. Especially the second is always a huge turn off for me and instantly made me enjoy both the storyline and characters a lot less. Sure, Kate’s history is without doubt both terrifying and intriguing, but for me the storyline fell mostly flat for me and I wasn’t sure what to think of the chapters set in the UK either. The romance was also quite cliche and trigger warnings are in place for abuse and other sensitive themes. It is true that the pace is a lot faster in the contemporary chapters than the historical ones… But this doesn’t take away that I still wish Court Of Lions would have just focused on the chapters set in the 15th century. The historical storyline is both well developed, well researched and very interesting to read. Blessings is without doubt a fascinating character despite the fact that Blessings did do some things that bothered me at times… And the final reveal out Blessing’s secret came as a HUGE surprise. I loved reading about Momo and Blessings growing up and their relationship evolve and change. There were some cliches involved (love triangle!), but overall it’s impressive just how much these chapters stand out from the contemporary ones. I honestly believe the storylines would have worked out better as two completely different novels… There isn’t all that much connection between the two and both seem to have a different target group. It breaks my heart to give Blessings and Momo’s story just a 3 star rating, but Kate’s storyline did make me enjoy Court Of Lions considerably less than expected.

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It has been a year since Kate arrived in the city of Granada and she currently works as a waitress serving tourists in a bar. She pretends to be happy with her new life, but something dark is brewing under the surface… And she might be forced to deal with her past soon. It all starts when she finds a scrap of paper pressed into one of the Alhambra’s walls. A paper that has been there since the Fall of Granada and the expulsion of the last Sultan, although Kate doesn’t realize that when she finds it… And she doesn’t realize just how big of an effect this paper will have on her life.

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I was looking forward to read Court Of Lions as soon as I read the blurb. This novel seemed to combine two of my favorite things: historical fiction and Spain. I have wonderful memories of the city of Granada and this story without doubt triggered them. I enjoyed reading the many descriptions of the city and I loved the historical storyline and its characters. I probably would have given Court Of Lions a much higher rating if it would have been just that storyline… Because I wasn’t as charmed by the contemporary chapters. I couldn’t connect to Kate or the other characters, had a negative reaction to the adult content and wasn’t sure about the cliches either. Her history is without doubt both frightening and intriguing, but reading about it just didn’t work for me. Such a shame!


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ARC REVIEW: The Stolen Girls – by Patricia Gibney @trisha460 @bookouture

Title: The Stolen Girls
(Detective Lottie Parker #2)
Author: Patricia Gibney

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 6th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: July 3rd 2017
Pages: 459

“Sometimes what’s in front of our eyes is so close, we can’t see the full picture.”

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

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!!!Happy publication day!!!

I have been a Lottie Parker fan ever since I finished The Missing Ones and likewise I have been looking forward to read more about her next adventure. Now I’ve read The Stolen Girls there is no doubt left: Lottie Parker has that special something that makes her into one heck of a detective AND main character. Sure, things can be said about her messed up private life being a cliche, but I personally like her style and attitude while trying to solve a case. And she will have her hands full in The Stolen Girls, that’s for sure! This sequel is once again a bit longer than your average psychological thriller, but this only enhanced the richness and complexity of the plot without slowing down the pace. There are a bunch of different storylines and lots of different things happening that might or not be connected… Keeping you on the edge of your seat as you try to figure out what is really going on, who is who and who is behind it all. The flashbacks to the past and the whole Kosovo angle in general were probably my favorite part of the story and I liked how well these elements were connected with the rest of the story. The Stolen Girls is packed with plot twists and misleading details that will keep you guessing about the truth and it took me a long time to figure it all out. I just love when that happens! In short I can really recommend this series to anyone who enjoys a well written detective thriller with a complex and rich plot, a lot of action and a healthy dose of kickass personality!

Just little trigger warning for those who are sensitive to graphic/violent scenes, abuse, self harm/cutting and animal cruelty; some of the scenes in this book are potentially shocking. 

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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 body of a pregnant young women is found one Monday morning and Detective Lottie Parker and her team are on the case. Then later the same day a mother and her son visit Lottie Parker’s house begging for help to find a lost friend… Could this be the same girl? Then a second body is found by the same man, and things are getting more intense. Both girls met their ends in a similar way and Lottie and her team will have to work fast to find a way to connect the two murders… Because two more girls go missing soon afterwards. Is it another serial killer they are hunting or is something bigger going on?

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There is no doubt that The Stolen Girls is just as strong as the first book and one hell of a ride. The books of this series are a bit longer than average, but besides the fact that the stories are very well written they have the added bonus of having a complex, rich and intriguing plot and different storylines without slowing down the pace. Some of the themes might be potentially shocking/intense, so a little warning if you aren’t up for that, but I personally had a great time reading The Stolen Girls. I just loved the complexity of the different storylines, how everything connected in the end and the Kosovo flashbacks in general! The Stolen Girls is without doubt another winner and I can’t wait for the next Lottie Parker adventure.


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ARC REVIEW: Devastation Road – by Jason Hewitt

Title: Devastation Road
Author: Jason Hewitt

Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: July 3rd 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Finished reading: July 1st 2017
Pages: 384

“Strange how memories were breaking through as if he’d slipped under ice and now there were patches of it starting to melt so he could see snippets of the life he once had on the surface. Just when he thought his memory was improving, just when he thought he could retain the events of a day, something always disappeared in turn.”

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

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!! Happy Publication Day !!

This is going to be my third ‘unpopular opinion’ review in a row; what is happening to me?! I enjoy reading historical fiction in general and actually have a special interest in any story related to WWII. Devastation Road sounded particularly interesting due to the fact that the main character has amnesia and I found myself really looking forward to read this novel. Devastation Road has received a lot of praise so far and I was expecting to be adding another positive review to the mix myself, but unfortunately I didn’t have the same reading experience as most people. First of all I want to make clear that the idea behind this story is without doubt fascinating: an English soldier in 1945 who has amnesia and doesn’t remember that last four years nor can retain new memories. I could also really appreciate the many descriptions of the places the characters passed through, flashbacks and historical details in general. But. And there is where the tricky part comes in… I REALLY struggled with the writing style. Instead of luring me in, the first pages and chapters only managed to frustrate me and disconnect me from the story with the constant repeat of he, he, he in the sentences. Somehow the prose didn’t flow and I had a hard time figuring out what was going on… This is possibly ment to portray the main character and his amnesia, but it made it really hard for me to properly enjoy the story. That said, apart from the writing style I found it also extremely hard to connect to the characters AND plot itself. It’s not that the main character aren’t intriguing and each has their own history, but somehow I found myself mostly detached from them. And while I normally love the use of foreign languages in a story, I think in the case of Janeck it only made it more difficult to connect to him. I mentioned the flow of the writing style before, and I think I had the same problem with the plot itself. The story goes from memory to present to past and completely different scenes without warning and although this once again can be seen as a representation of amnesia, I found myself really struggling to keep track instead. Devastation Road had all the signs of being an excellent read and the problem might have been just me since so many seem to love this story, but unfortunately I struggled along with the characters to reach the final page. And I still feel kind of sad I wasn’t able to enjoy it more.

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In the final stretch of WWII, a man wakes up in a field in a country he doesn’t know. He is injured and can’t seem to remember how he got there in the first place… In fact, only flashes of memory come back to him and he only has a vague recollection of joining the war he is currently in the middle of. His name is Owen and he is trying to get back to England, although this isn’t easy with his amnesia. He finds help in unlikely places, although he is not sure why exactly they help him or what they want from him. Will his memory get better and will he make it to safety?

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I really wanted to enjoy Devastation Road, especially since it is a combination of two topics that fascinate me: WWII and amnesia. Unfortunately I found it extremely hard to connect to the writing style, characters AND plot… And honestly I think I would probably have opted for a DNF if this weren’t an ARC. I seem to be in the minority though since most reviews have been really positive, so give this one a chance if this sounds like your cup of tea!


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ARC REVIEW: Final Girls – by Riley Sager @EburyPublishing

Title: Final Girls
Author: Riley Sager

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 13th 2017
Publisher: Ebury Publishing
Finished reading: June 29th 2017
Pages: 352

“Pine. Cottage. Nothing but harmless words. But when combined they obtain the sharpness of the knife He shoved into my shoulder and stomach.”

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

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Oh hype, oh hype, why do you have to do this to me once again?! I’ve been looking forward to Final Girls for months now and I think it’s easily one of the most hyped thrillers this year. I should have been warned by the mixed reviews… I’ve been in a bad relationship with hyped books for years and it looks like we just had yet another fight. Because while I really wanted to love Final Girls, I ended up having mixed feelings instead. I don’t think it actually lived up to the praise I’ve seen…  Don’t get me wrong, the story wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as mindblowingly good as I thought it would be. First of all, there were quite a few things that I did like. Final Girls is partly a very intense, dark and twisted story and certain parts actually cross the line to horror. The situations the final girls were able to survive were simply brutal and definitely set the tone for this story. Likewise the flashbacks to the Pine Cottage were probably my favorite part of this novel and read almost like a horror movie. Very graphic and well described! And I also can’t deny there are a lot of plot twists and unexpected turns included in Final Girls. There were a lot of things I definitely didn’t see coming. But. And here starts the more negative part of my review… I’m not sure up to what point the plot, actions and characters are actually completely credible. I had a hard time accepting certain things as true and I don’t think some parts of the plot are very realistic. I can’t go into details due to spoilers, but this did put a mayor damper on things for me. The other thing I struggled with enormously were the main characters. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to connect to them and they really started to annoy me as the story unfolded. I felt repeatedly frustrated when they behaved or acted a certain way when it was SO clear something was off. Final Girls does read quite easily though and the horror parts are definitely dark and twisted. I just wish the rest of the story would have been just as strong… All in all I ended up having mixed thoughts about this one, but it looks like Final Girls can go either way.

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Three girls, three victims, three separate massacres. Somehow they are the lone survivors of those horrible events and now they are grouped together by the press and treated like characters right out of a slasher movie. Final Girls they call them, even though the girls themselves didn’t want that name and only want to try and deal with the horrors they have experienced. Lisa is the only one who doesn’t shy away completely from the publicity; Quincy only wants to try and move on and Sam disappears completely off the radar. But then something terrible happens to Lisa, and suddenly the Final Girls are everywhere again and old wounds are opened…

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I had high hopes for Final Girls, but I guess I should have known to stay away from hyped books. This story wasn’t bad and I was impressed when I found out it was a debut, but that doesn’t mean I was blown away with it either. There were parts I loved (the Pine Cottage flashbacks, how dark, intense and twisted the horror parts were, the surprises), but in general I had my doubts about the credibility and I couldn’t connect to the characters. I’ve seen others who loved Final Girls though, so this could be just another case of me being allergic to hyped books resulting in an ‘unpopular opinion’ review…


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

Title: What To Say Next
Author: Julie Buxbaum

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

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

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

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

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

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


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ARC REVIEW: Each Little Lie – by Tom Bale @t0mbale @bookouture

Title: Each Little Lie
Author: Tom Bale

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 29th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: June 25th 2017
Pages: 417

“How do I prove my innocence, when all this evidence says I’m guilty?”

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

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!!Happy publication day!!

I’ve been looking forward to read another Tom Bale thriller ever since I finished reading All Fall Down last year, so I was stoked when I heard a new thriller was going to be published. What stands out as soon as you start reading the first page is the writing style and how easily Each Little Lie is able to grab your full attention. And not only that, but Tom Bale is a master of plot twists and is able to leave you absolutely clueless about the what and why of the things that are happening to the main character Jen. And that is a feeling I absolutely love when it comes to my psychological thrillers! I do have to say that after All Fall Down I was expecting this story to be a whole lot more intense, dark and twisted… Don’t get me wrong, Each Little Lie is without doubt a great thriller, but the pace is a bit slower and overall the story just didn’t make the same impact on me. Especially the first half of the story, while intriguing and very well executed, felt a bit slow and left me waiting for a little more action. The second half mostly made up for that feeling and the final stretch of Each Little Lie was without doubt intense. There is also no doubt that the whole intrigue around what is happening behind the scenes is real and the plot twists and revelations are very well executed. I had a few theories about who was behind it all, but I didn’t guess the full truth about what was going on until the very end. As for the characters: they might not be exactly likeable, but their development is very realistic and it was especially interesting to see how Jen reacted AND acted to the things happening to her. All in all still a very good psychological thriller even though it wasn’t as intense or twisted as I was expecting.

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Jen Cornish is currently going through a nasty divorce and trying to make the best of the situation for the sake of her seven-year-old son Charlie. Then one day an impulsive good deed to help someone has turned into a disaster… Setting off a chain of events that will quickly go out of control. Jen is arrested for a crime she didn’t commit, but all the evidence seems to be confirming her guilt instead. Is someone setting her up, or is she losing her mind? If she wants to keep Charlie, she will have to find a way to clear her name… But that might be even more dangerous than she initially guessed.

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There is no doubt I really enjoyed reading Each Little Lie even though it wasn’t as dark and intense as I would have liked. The writing style is very enjoyable to read and manages to draw you in straight away; the plot and plot twists well executed to the point that you really have no idea who is behind it all for a very long time. And while I guessed some things right, there were also a lot of things I didn’t see coming at all.


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ARC REVIEW: The Weight Of Lies – by Emily Carpenter @EmilyDCarpenter @AmazonPub

Title: The Weight Of Lies
Author: Emily Carpenter

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 6th 2017
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Finished reading: June 19th 2017
Pages: 382

“Sometimes, in our lives, we do what other people want us to. Simply because we can’t muster the strength to go another, braver way.”

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

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Around the publish date a few weeks back glowing after glowing review started popping up everywhere, so I just had no other choice but add The Weight Of Lies to my wishlist instantly. And I’m definitely glad I listened to those reviews now, because boy this was GOOD. I was hooked as soon as I started reading The Weight Of Lies and it managed to hold my attention until the very end. The story POV switches between the so-called ‘Kitten’ chapter bites out of the book the main character’s mother Frances wrote 40 years ago and the actual story. Those little chapters definitely added a little something extra to the story: a unique feel, a healthy dose of suspense and intrigue about what is still to come… But this doesn’t mean that the actual plot isn’t anything less than brilliant. Besides the fact that I fell in love with the writing style almost instantly, The Weight Of Lies is also packed with plot twists, secrets, lies and unreliable characters that will keep you wondering about both what really happened all those years ago and what is happening right now. I found myself eagerly turning the pages (or in this case, finger-stabbing my kindle) to try and find out what everybody was hiding and what secrets the island will reveal. Another bonus: this story managed to surprise me more than once, which trust me doesn’t happen all that often anymore. I also liked the plot itself and the fact that both writing and books themselves play such a big role in the story. I admit I wasn’t a fan of every character, but the relationship between Meg and her writing mother is well developed and brilliantly executed. Then again, the descriptions in general were very well done and really set the right atmosphere for this story. If you enjoy reading psychological thrillers, you will be in for a treat with this one!

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Meg Ashley doesn’t exactly have a good relationship with her mother Frances, who is a very successful writer. Frances wrote her first bestselling horror novel almost forty years ago, a story inspired by a murder on the island she stayed at that time. And while Meg has had a privileged life because of her mother’s work, the two have never had a good relationship and her childhood wasn’t exactly a happy one. Then one day Meg accepts a proposal to write a scandalous, tell-all memoir and reveal all the dirty secrets and truth about her childhood. Not only that, she will also investigate the murder her mother used to create her first bestseller. But this might be even more dangerous than she initially had guessed… Because some secrets are best left alone.

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Like psychological thrillers? Like a well developed plot packed with plot twists and suspense? Like reading a story within a story? Like being surprised? Like conspiracy theories and book-obsessed fans? Like a writing style that will tempt you from the very first page? Then definitely give The Weight Of Lies a go. This story managed to grab my full attention from the very first page and I couldn’t stop reading until I reached the last page. Without doubt worth the read if you like the genre!


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