ARC REVIEW: Roses Of May – by Dot Hutchison

Title: Roses Of May
(The Collector #2)
Author: Dot Hutchison

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: May 23rd 2017
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: May 11th 2017
Pages: 300

“The public steals tragedies from victims. … These things happened to us, to our loved ones, but it hits the news and suddenly everyone with a TV or computer feels like they’re entitled to our reactions and recoveries.”

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

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I’m going to be honest and admit I was completely unaware The Butterfly Garden was actually the first book of a trilogy when I read it last year. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw Roses Of May mentioned and realized it was a sequel; I instantly knew I had to read it after my experience with the first book. It was interesting how some of the main characters of The Butterfly Garden reacted after what happened in the first book, but Roses Of May can in fact also be read as a stand-alone since it’s mainly about a completely different case and serial killer. Dot Hutchison has without doubt created another creeper with this one and the case is intriguing, although I do have to say I was slightly disappointed by the fact I figured out his identity really early on in the story. The writing style is just as enjoyable as book one and I liked the main character Priya, her kick-ass attitude and relation with the feds. I think I still prefer the first book, just because it made a little more impact for being such a dark, twisted and shocking story, but Roses Of May has its share of horror as well. I liked that the POV switches between the present and the voice of the killer… It really adds to his character. As with the first book, it has a rather closed ending, so no painful cliffhangers (thankfully). I’ll be wondering what the third and final book will be about though!

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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…

Four months after what happened in the Garden, the three FBI agents Brandon Eddison, Victor Hanoverian and Mercedes Ramirez are still dealing with the aftermath. The butterflies are still struggling to adjust to life on the outside, but that is not the only case on their mind. Because as the winter slowly coming to an end, a different serial killer seems to be preparing to find himself another victim… And the agents know that if they don’t find him, another young woman will turn up dead in a church with her throat slit and her body surrounded by flowers. Will they be able to stop them on time? And what has Priya, one of the victims’ sister, to do with all of this?

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While not as strong or twisted as the first book, I still very much enjoyed Roses Of May. Especially the final part had a very fast pace and the writing style is very enjoyable to read. The serial killer and plot itself are both intriguing and the chapters with the killer’s thoughts added another level of suspense. I also might or might not have squealed when I saw my name mentioned in the story (doesn’t happen often, trust me!). The plot twists are interesting as well, although I did find out the killer’s identity early on. Without doubt still recommended though!


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ARC REVIEW: The Darkest Lies – by Barbara Copperthwaite

Title: The Darkest Lies
Author: Barbara Copperthwaite

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: May 12th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: May 6th 2017
Pages: 433

“One week ago you had home home as usual, chatting about homework, rushing around, laughing. Until you’d lies to us, and gone out for the night. Then everything had changed.”

*** 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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I always have a weak spot for a good psychological thriller and Bookouture has never disappointed me with its selection of the genre so far. The Darkest Lies just sounded too good to ignore and I can now say this story definitely didn’t disappoint. What at first glance looked like another missing girl/brutal attack case, turned out to be so much more than that. Because everything is covered and trapped in a huge web of lies. Nothing and nobody is as it seems and you will find yourself shocked as you slowly start finding out what really happened to Beth that night and what secrets she was hiding. The ending was definitely a huge surprise! I did see some things coming and had my suspicions, but overall the plot twists were more than satisfactory. The writing style is enjoyable to read and adds to the whole suspense and mystery around what happened to Beth. I really liked the setting as well and the important role the marsh played in the story. I did have mixed thoughts about some of the main characters in The Darkest Lies and I’m still not sure if I liked some of them, but this mostly didn’t distract from the story itself. I did wonder about Melanie’s reaction to what she saw Jacob do with her own eyes… And I found her a bit naive in general. The many plot twists will make you forget all about that though, and in short The Darkest Lies was without doubt another excellent psychological thriller with a rather shocking ending.

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Everything seemed to have worked out perfectly for Melanie Oak, who still lives in the small village she grew up in, married her childhood sweetheart and now they have a teenage daughter. They live a happy life together, until one day her daughter Beth goes missing. She was supposed to spend the night with her best friend, but she never arrived… And while Beth is found shortly after, almost beaten to death and frozen, the police is having difficulties finding out who is behind the attack. Melanie is frustrated and decides to find her daughter’s attacker herself; she just can’t believe nobody saw anything that night. But she might not like what she finds out… Because Beth has been hiding secrets of her own.

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The Darkest Lies started out strong and stayed that way during the whole ride. I did find some of the characters less likeable than others, but that’s really easy to forget about with so many plot twists to keep you busy. If you like suspenseful reads that will surprise you, you are in for a treat. Because you won’t believe what really happened the night Beth went missing… And the web of lies and secrets that has been cast over the small town. Recommended!


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ARC REVIEW: All The Good Things – by Clare Fisher

Title: All The Good Things
Author: Clare Fisher

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery
First published: June 1st 2017
Publisher: Penguin Books UK
Finished reading: May 4th 2017
Pages: 280

“When I was done with crying, I saw that things wouldn’t change on their own; you had to change them. You had to rise up out of that lazy part of yourself that did what it had done before just because it was easier, and do the new thing, the strange thing, the thing you were scared of.”

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

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It’s been a few days since I finished All The Good Things and I’m still struggling to put my thoughts together. Because the truth is: I’ve been having mixed thoughts about this story and its main character ever since I first started reading it. I can’t deny Clare Fisher has written a powerful story with a very interesting character and I can see why so many people seem to love All The Good Things. That said, I personally struggled to get a clear picture of Beth or at least couldn’t properly connect to her character. That might be one of the reasons it took me a while to make sense of the story and unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this story as much as I thought I would. But while this sounds negative, I also found myself fascinated by Beth’s character, history and development. I understand why the complete picture of Beth isn’t revealed until the end, but I also do think I would have actually enjoyed this story better with a little more background information in the beginning. The use of the diary entries is a nice touch, I like the reference to the title and it does create a great opportunity to learn more about Beth, but in the end I just wasn’t fully convinced. Apparently All The Good Things is a book that can go both ways though, so definitely give it a try if you like intriguing and unique characters.

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The twenty-one year old Beth is in prison after doing something so bad she thinks she doesn’t deserve to ever feel good again. Her counsellor Erika thinks otherwise though, and tries to help her feel better. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life, and reluctantly Beth starts to write down her story. As she talks about the good things, we slowly learn more about her… But at the end of her journey, she will have to confront the bad thing. What did she do that was so bad? And how did she get to that point in the first place?

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There is no doubt Beth is a fascinating character and one worthy to have a story written about, and that’s probably why it pains me so much I wasn’t able to properly connect to her. I really wanted to love All The Good Things and it definitely has all the right elements, but the story as a whole just didn’t blow me away. Would I have enjoyed it better with a little more information about Beth so it would be easier to connect? Maybe. Would I have liked it better if the story would have been told in a different order/format? Perhaps. But I’ve seen others loving her story, so it might just have been me.


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ARC REVIEW: Anything For Her – by Jack Jordan

Title: Anything For Her
Author: Jack Jordan

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: June 1st 2015
Publisher: JJP
Finished reading: May 3rd 2017
Pages: 370

“What I’ve learned, Dominic, is that it isn’t us that’s weird, for not following the rules – it’s those who cannot think for themselves that are the weird ones.”

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

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I actually added this title to my list shortly after reading and enjoying My Girl last year, and I’m still not sure why it took me this long to finally pick it up. I’m a big fan of psychological thrillers and I really like Jack Jordan‘s writing style. It’s fast, it’s entertaining and it manages to catch your attention right from the first page. Anything For Her starts out strong and stays that way during the rest of the story. The whole mystery around ‘that night’ is intriguing and definitely makes you want to keep on reading… I don’t think I agree with the choices the main character Louise makes, but it is without doubt a very suspenseful read with quite a few plot twists. I sort of saw some of them coming, but others managed to surprise me and all in all I had a very good experience reading this book. In fact, I think I enjoyed this debut even slightly better than My Girl… Although both titles are more than recommended. The characters are without doubt interesting as well even though some are not all that likeable, and it was quite easy to relate to most of them (not the cheating husband though; he deserves the worst). If you are looking for your next psychological thriller read, Anything For Her is a great choice.

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Louise and her family used to have a perfectly happy life, up until that one fateful night… Only Louise and her daughter Brooke know exactly what happened that night, but the consequences affect all of them. Louise has grown distant and Brooke is depressed; her husband ended up cheating on her with her own sister. But things can always get worse… Because one day Brooke is suddenly missing. What has happened to her? And does it have to do with that night?

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If you like suspenseful reads that are both well written, keep you on the edge of your seat and entertain you along the way, Anything For Her is a great choice. The characters are maybe not all that likeable, but they feel realistic and ‘that night’ will haunt you right until you find out the complete truth. There are some very interesting plot twists as well and I liked the ending, which was quite original. Recommended!


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ARC REVIEW: Flame In The Mist – by Renee Ahdieh

Title: Flame In The Mist
(Flame In The Mist #1)
Author: Renee Ahdieh

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Retelling
First published: May 16th 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Finished reading: May 1st 2017
Pages: 368

“Sometimes we must fall forward to keep moving. Remain motionless—remain unyielding—and you are as good as dead.
Death follows indecision, like a twisted shadow. Fall forward. Keep moving. Even if you must pick yourself up first.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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As soon as I saw the cover and the mention of Mulan, I was sold. Flame In The Mist has been on my list of most anticipated 2017 releases ever since, and I still cannot believe my Netgalley request was actually approved. I read a teaser back in January in one of the Buzz Books editions, and what I saw was GOOD. So good that my expectations were extraordinary high when starting this new series by Renee Ahdieh, but somehow Flame In The Mist managed to be ever better than expected. I practically devoured its pages and loved every single minute of it. The setting, the writing style, the characters (Mariko, Okami!!!), the plot… It doesn’t happen often that I hand out the full five star rating, but I just couldn’t give this story any lower. Both the worldbuilding and the writing style feel rich, engaging and very well developed and executed. I also enjoyed that Flame In The Mist is set in Japan and talks about a culture I’m personally not all that familiar with. The characters started to grow on me almost instantly and I LOVED Mariko as a main character. A little note though: even though this story basically blew me away, I did feel my love would have been even greater without the romance… It’s not all that distracting, but there is a hint of a future love triangle I’m not that sure/happy about. It was too insignificant to influence my rating though. I just cannot wait to find out what the future has in store; the wait for the sequel is surely going to be a long one! If you like the genre, this is definitely a must-read.

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Even though Mariko has a long list of skills, she has long known her future has been out of her hands simply because she was born a girl. She is the daughter of a prominent samurai and at the age of seventeen now promised to the son of the emperor’s favorite consort. Mariko has no choice but to do as her father wishes and accept this political marriage, but it seems like fate has different plans for her in store. In route to the imperial city of Inako, the group is ambushed by a gang of bandits known as the Black Clan and Mariko narrowly escapes with her life… She is believed to be dead, and Mariko decides to use this to try and find the Black Clan. Will she be able to discover who was behind the attack and will she be able to restore the honor of her family?

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If you like well developed fantasy reads with gorgeous prose, setting and interesting characters, you are in for a treat with Flame In The Mist. The only thing that would have made me enjoy this story even more would have been the exclusion of the romance scenes; otherwise this first book of a new series is simply perfect. In fact, I can’t wait to read the sequel and the first book hasn’t even been published yet… More than recommended!


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ARC REVIEW: Ginny Moon – by Benjamin Ludwig

Title: Ginny Moon
Author: Benjamin Ludwig

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: May 2nd 2017
Publisher: Park Row Books
Finished reading: April 22nd 2017
Pages: 368

“No one can hear what I say inside my head because that’s where my brain is. It helps me do things when no one is looking.”

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

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I’ve seen so many raving reviews about this book around the blogosphere that I just HAD to request a copy so I wouldn’t have to wait until the publish date to read it. It’s easy to say I was really looking forward to (The Original) Ginny Moon… And I kind of feel bad that I ended up having mixed feelings about the story instead. I can’t deny it’s a well written, unique story with one of the most intriguing main characters I’ve encountered this year. The author did a more than excellent job of describing and portraying the autistic Ginny and it has been truly fascinating to be able to have a glimpse inside her head. It really shows that Benjamin Ludwig has personal experience with autism and both the character development and behavior feel authentic. That said, it took me longer than expected to get used to the voice of the autistic Ginny and I found myself a bit confused in the beginning. Like I said before, the author did an excellent job of describing autism and what it is like to live and interact with someone autistic, but I did understand why her ‘Forever’ parent got so frustrated with her at times. I felt the same frustation as well and it made me enjoy the story slightly less than I thought I would, although this has nothing to do with the story itself and I want to stress that the author did a brilliant job of putting autism in the spotlight it deserves. And there is no doubt Ginny Moon will leave her mark and will stay with you for a long time…

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Ginny Moon has been in foster care for years, and she is currently living with her fourth forever family. Everybody keeps saying she sound feel happy that she has finally found parents who will love her… But Ginny has never forgotten what happened all that time ago, something she feels she will have to put right no matter what. But it is kind of hard to explain things to the rest of the world when you can’t find the right words to express yourself… Or people don’t seem to understand what she has been trying to tell them all this time.

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First of all, I want to stress that my slightly lower rating has nothing to do with the excellence of this book, but more with my feelings of frustration as I was reading it. Ginny’s character will provoke strong emotions, and while mine weren’t completely positive, there is no doubt she will still stay with me for a long time. I don’t think I’ve ever read a story with an autistic main character before (even though it’s such an important topic), and the author did a brilliant job of accurately describing what it’s like living with autism. Ginny Moon: A very important and truly unique story and character!


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ARC REVIEW: This Is Really Happening – by Erin Chack

Title: This Is Really Happening
Author: Erin Chack

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir,  Humor
First published: April 25th 2017
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group / Razorbill
Finished reading: April 24th 2017
Pages: 240

“I realized then that luck is a slippery thing, hard to hold and keep with you. No amount of worrying will prepare you for when it starts thrashing around in your hands. Luck happens whenever it feels like it, wherever it feels like it, however it feels like it.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Penguin Young Readers Group / Razorbill in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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Two years ago I made a promise to myself to read more non fiction stories, and since I’ve discovered I really enjoy reading memoirs even if I’m not familiar with the author. I came across This Is Really Happening in one of the Buzz Books editions at Netgalley, and I was instantly convinced by the short excerpt provided there. To my surprise, my request came through last Saturday… And since I was in the mood for a memoir, I decided to try and read it before the publish date today. This Is Really Happening is without doubt a well written and fast read with just the right dose of humor. It contains various, mostly ‘coming of age’ essays about various stages in Erin Chack‘s life. To get an idea of the topics in the essays: among other things she talks about high school and how she met her partner, about her battle against cancer at the age of nineteen and how people react to the illness, about her job at BuzzFeed and her roadtrip from coast to coast. What stands out is the enjoyable writing style and the fact that Erin Chack tells things exactly how they are; not hiding the ugly (and maybe embarrassing) details and that makes this memoir feel a lot more authentic. Serious topics are mixed with hilarious moments and if you are looking for an entertaining, well written and interesting coming of age memoir, This Is Really Happening is a great choice.

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A collection of personal essays where Erin Chack writes about a variety of things that happened to her while growing up. From meeting her partner during high school to her battle with cancer, dealing with the symptoms of chemotherapy, what it’s like working as a writer at BuzzFeed, college and an extended roadtrip; she recounts everything with a healthy dose of humor and honesty, talking about various universal themes along the way.

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If you enjoy reading memoirs and are looking for a well written and fast-paced bundle of essays with just the right balance of serious topics and humor, This Is Really Happening would be right up your alley. I really enjoyed the writing style and the general tone of the story. It feels like Erin Chack is telling you her story while sharing a drink in a bar; personal, honest and with just the right dose of humor. Recommended!


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