ARC REVIEW: I Am Behind You – by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Title: I Am Behind You
(Platserna #1)
Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist

Genre: Horror, Dystopia, Paranormal
First published: August 1st 2014
Publisher: Riverrun
Finished reading: September 4th 2017
Pages: 416
(Originally written in Swedish: ‘Himmelstrand’)

“The things we take for granted are the things we miss the most when they disappear.”

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

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!! Happy Publication Day !!

Warning: some mild swearing ahead. Couldn’t express my feelings for this one otherwise. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read my share of crazy, weird and quirky stories and I actually enjoy reading them to take a break from the ‘ordinary’. But there is weird, and then there is I Am Behind You. My first thoughts when I started reading were literally: what the hell did I sign up for when I requested a copy?! Because there is one thing for sure, and that is that even after finishing it the only thing my mind is able to process is WTF WTF WTF did I just read?! I Am Behind You is actually a translation of a Swedish novel published back in 2014… I wonder if part of the story was lost in translation and made it more difficult to enjoy it, but considering the other reviews out there I’m quite certain this is not the case. The first thing that stands out to me is the plot, or actually the lack of a plot that actually makes sense. Like the characters, you are left in the middle of an empty field without a clue what is going on. Instead of adding suspense and intrigue, it only made me feel VERY frustrated and added to the overall struggle I had with this story. The worst part is that a lot of things are never explained at all and leave you empty handed and with that WTF feeling I mentioned before. The multiple POVs are also confusing and take a long time to get used to… The flashbacks are a nice touch, and I think I would have actually prefered seeing more of those instead of the current POV since the flashbacks at least made a bit more sense. I wasn’t a fan of the characters at all though. I disliked one even more than the other and this made it very hard to care about them or what would happen to them. And apart from the the lack of a proper plot, multiple POVs, unlikeable characters and the sheer absurdity of it all, I had a hard time connecting to the writing style as well. It might have been the translation, it might have been the writing, but it took me a lot longer than normal to reach the final page and to be honest it was a real struggle. And after such an unsatisfying ending, I kind of wish I could have DNFed this story instead. Because there is one thing for sure: this story 100% isn’t for me. I like weird, I like unconventional, but I Am Behind You was just batshit crazy. Guano style.

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When Molly wakes up early in the morning and asks her mother to go to the bathroom, something strange seems to be going on. Because the toilet block is no longer there. In fact, everything else has gone too and the only thing left are four campers in a neverending field of grass. Where are they? And why are they there in the first place? The four families will do whatever it takes to get back to the ‘normal’ world… But is that even possible?

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I was actually really looking forward to this book, but I guess I should have known after reading the blurb. The thing is: I normally like stories that are unconventional. Call me weird, but I find a dose of crazy to be rather refreshing every once in a while… But I wasn’t prepared for I Am Behind You. Because this story will definitely give you an overdose of crazy. The plot is basically absurd and doesn’t make sense and I was clueless even after reaching the final page. I didn’t manage to connect to the characters or writing style and overall unfortunately I had a really hard struggle with it. The fact that it took me about three times as much as normal to just finish it will say enough… Definitely not a story for me.


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ARC REVIEW: The Accident – by S.D. Monaghan @bookouture

Title: The Accident
Author: S.D. Monaghan

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: September 1st 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: August 26th 2017
Pages: 258

“And suddenly he had two revelations: that life is dull when you know exactly who you are, and that it is terrifying when you don’t. “

*** 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 !!

Those who follow my blog know I have a weak spot for Bookouture thrillers, and this case is no exception. I was sold as soon as I saw the cover of The Accident and read the blurb… And I have been looking forward to it ever since. There is no doubt that this thriller starts with a bang and has a lot of action involved during a short span of time. The Accident is stuffed to its limit with plot twists and new angles which basically can be compared to a crazy rollercoaster ride that will drag you along with it. Because there is one thing you won’t feel while you are reading The Accident, and that is boredom. From the moment David finds Tara in a compromised position and things start to escalate, the story just won’t let you go. There is no doubt The Accident is a thrilling read, but I almost wonder if there aren’t just too much action scenes and crazy twists involved… Because as things escalate further and further, I also started to wonder about the credibility of it all. The writing reads like a train and I managed to finish this story in record speed, but in the end I wasn’t completely convinced by it. For me, there were too many different elements involved and the plot twists started to spin out of control… While they did keep you guessing about how things would end, they also made the story less real and relatable in general. I also had problems with the characters, which I found quite unlikeable and I wasn’t sure about their actions and how they reacted to the plot twists either. All in all you can say I had mixed thoughts about this thriller of a story, but there is no doubt this will give a double expresso dose of action and suspense to anyone who decides to read it. And I’m having a feeling especially (male) action thriller fans will love The Accident.

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Tara seems to be having everything she could ever wish for: a husband she loves, a baby in the near future and a dream home she is about to move into. But something seemed to be missing, because how else to explain her temptation to have one last fling with her ex before settling down? She never imagines getting caught, but that is exactly what happens that night. Tara literally means the world to David, so when he sees what he sees he can’t let things go and confronts the man who shattered his dreams. And that is where things start going wrong… And both their lives will change forever.

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Action-packed, thrilling, suspenseful, crazy, rollercoaster ride… All words that apply to The Accident and its plot. Fans of action thrillers will devour this story and will especially love the final part, which almost reads like one of those popular action movies. That said, I personally did have some problems with the credibility both of the characters, their actions and the plot in general. It felt almost like too many different angles where squeezed into an already eventful plot and it started to have the opposite effect on me. I wasn’t a fan of the characters either, but I can also see how the right person would love this book.


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ARC REVIEW: Little Fires Everywhere – by Celeste Ng @penguinpress

Title: Little Fires Everywhere
Author: Celeste Ng

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: September 12th 2017
Publisher: Penguin Press
Finished reading: August 25th 2017
Pages: 384

“Rules existed for a reason: if you followed them, you would succeed; if you didn’t, you might burn the world to the ground.”

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

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I’m sure I’m not the only one who has Little Fires Everywhere on their list of most anticipated releases and you can imagine I was over the moon when I found out my request for such a popular title was actually approved. I have been looking forward to this title ever since I first received my copy on my kindle, and now I’ve read it I can predict this title will receive a lot of love. Because Celeste Ng has created a very intriguing story full of drama, complex characters and a wide range of emotions and themes. The first thing that stands out is the writing style, which is excellent and helps set the right atmosphere for this story. Little Fires Everywhere kind of starts with the ending and then slowly shows you how everything gets to that point, unraveling secrets, lies and learning more about the main characters, their history and the town the story is set in. Shaker Heights makes for a very interesting setting and only reinforces the contrast between the successful and rich Richardson family and both Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl. This clash is the basis for a well developed and intriguing story not only about the relationship between both families but also about how they react to a different situation that will affect both. Celeste Ng is very good at developing her characters and making them feel realistic with all their flaws and other signs of their humanity. I personally struggled a bit to connect to them, but that might have just been me not agreeing with some of the choices the characters make. It’s probably one of the reasons I didn’t LOVE love Little Fires Everywhere, even though I still can’t put my finger exactly on the why. There is no doubt that this book is an excellent read though and fans of her books and the genre in general will be in for a treat.

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Shaker Heights is a placid suburb of Cleveland where everything is planned until the very last detail. The people living there are expected to live successful lives in their grand houses and the guiding principle in the community is to play by the rules. The current residents all seem to follow this principle, including the Richardsons. But then Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl arrive in town, and they don’t seem to fit in that mold. Mia is a single mother and an artist who doesn’t seem to follow the same rules and managed to live her life so far anyway. Elena Richardson first rented them a house, but later seems to start resenting Mia for not fitting in; although her children seem to think otherwise. And then something will happen that will endanger this delicate balance…

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Even though I ended up giving Little Fires Everywhere a slightly lower rating than expected, there is no doubt that this was still a very good read. Both the writing, character development and twists were very well done and turn Little Fires Everywhere into an excellent contemporary fiction read with a healthy dose of drama, secrets and lies. The flashbacks to the past are interesting as well as the way as some sensitive themes as abortion are incorporated. And I just loved the photography elements! Fans of the genre will love this book.


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ARC REVIEW: The Missing Girls – by Carol Wyer @carolewyer @bookouture

Title: The Missing Girls
(DI Robyn Carter #3)
Author: Carol Wyer

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 14th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: August 24th 2017
Pages: 408

“Words can hurt. They can injure as deeply as a knife can, or be as deadly as a gunshot.”

*** 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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The Missing Girls is the third book of a relatively new detective series I’ve become addicted to ever since I read the first book back in February. I admit it wasn’t love at first sight when I first met the main character Robyn Carter, but she has definitely grown on me since that first encounter and I’ve become a fan. The Missing Girls is just as good as the first two books and offers the same quality writing, suspense and another serial killer on the loose. Because there is no doubt about it: these books read like a train. The writing style is very engaging and the pace is fast; combined with the many plot twists you’ll definitely be on your edge of your seat to find out what will happen next. I did guess a few things about the ending early on, but fortunately this didn’t make the journey less enjoyable for me. The social media and cyber bullying theme and the dangers involved were an interesting touch as well. The main characters are well developed and it is great to see Robyn Carter evolve over time as she is trying to recover from her loss. I’m also really liking Ross both as a character and subplot, and the way his storyline also adds a little something to the main plot. And that ending! I’ll definitely be waiting impatiently for book number four to come out… If you enjoy reading fast-paced crime thrillers, definitely give the DI Robyn Carter series a go.

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A body of a teenage girl is found inside the trunk at a Midlands storage unit, and detective Robyn Carter is called in to lead the case. The body has been there for a while and it is too decomposed to find proper clues… But Robyn is determined to catch the one that harmed the girl. The leads seem to go nowhere, but then another body is discovered… And this time the clues are a lot easier to follow and Robyn starts to suspect they might have a serial killer on the loose. Will she be able to find the killer on time? Someone close to her might be in danger…

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The Missing Girls is a true detective thriller winner for quite a few reasons. Fast-paced, well written, a healthy dose of suspense, one creepy serial killer, plot twists, an interesting character… This third book of the DI Robyn Carter series has all that and more. I really liked the way the social media and cyber bullying theme is incorporated into the story and how it shows the dangers of using those apps. The story definitely ends with a bang though and I will be waiting impatiently to find out what will happen next. Recommended!


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ARC REVIEW: Fierce Kingdom – by Gin Phillips @VikingBooks

Title: Fierce Kingdom
Author: Gin Phillips

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 25th 2017
Publisher: Viking
Finished reading: August 20th 2017 
Pages: 288

“Templates are dangerous. Templates teach you not to think. History doesn’t repeat itself, Rob. Every second is a new thing.”

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

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I have been eyeing this story for a while now, so when I found out it was in the Read Now section on Netgalley I couldn’t resist hitting that button. There was just something about that cover and blurb that kept calling to me… And I’m definitely glad I took the time to read Fierce Kingdom. Despite the fact I didn’t give it the highest rating on the planet, Fierce Kingdom is without doubt a very suspenseful, refreshing and entertaining psychological thriller that reads like a train. I found myself literally flying through the pages and finished it in less than a day! The writing has a way of drawing you in and I loved the setting in a zoo. Very refreshing and original! The story follows Joan, her son and a bunch of other characters trying to find a way to keep safe in a very chaotic and dangerous situation. There are quite a few twists involved and danger is never far away, but Fierce Kingdom isn’t just about the suspense. It is also about the bond between Joan and her son and how far she will go to protect him. And there is were the part comes in that made me lower the rating: the credibility. I’m not sure if the whole situation is actually credible and I wasn’t sure about the decisions Joan made either or how things developed. Some of it just felt pretty chaotic and all over the place… BUT. Somehow I still managed to enjoy reading this story anyway. This has a lot to do with the writing, the refreshing and original plot and the constant presence of danger and suspense as you keep reading to find out what will happen to them. So while I ended up giving Fierce Kingdom ‘only’ three stars, it is a very good three stars for me. And I’m sure this book will be a right fit for those who are not affected by the credibility and are looking for a refreshing psychological thriller with a healthy dose of suspense and a touch of drama.

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Joan and her four-year-old son spend a lot of time in the zoo and today is not different. The zoo is already nearly empty as they pack up their things and start heading back to the entrance… It has been a perfect day so far and the two are happy, but suddenly the mood changes. At first there are strange sounds, and then Joan sees something when they are approaching the exit gate that chills her to the bone. She sprints right back into the zoo with her son in her arms… And for the next three hours she will have to do everything to keep them both safe.

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I’ve kept the summary short to avoid spoilers, but trust me, you will want to know what is happening in the zoo and how things develop. While I had problems with the credibility of it all, I did very much enjoy reading Fierce Kingdom and I could really appreciate the refreshing plot and the fact that it isn’t just another psychological thriller. The focus on the bond between Joan and her son was interesting and added a whole different level to this story. Definitely one to keep in mind.


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ARC REVIEW: Girl In Snow – by Danya Kukafka

Title: Girl In Snow
Author: Danya Kukafka

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 1st 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Finished reading: August 16th 2017
Pages: 368

“Emotions shouldn’t have names. I don’t know why we bother talking about them, because emotions are never what they’re supposed to be.”

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

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I was actually invited to read this title a while back, and I was intrigued by both the cover and blurb. I was really looking forward to Girl In Snow, but unfortunately I can’t say I enjoyed it as much as I initially thought I would. This was actually the second time I picked up my copy, because somehow the first time I never made it past the first few pages. Because there is just something about the writing style that makes it quite hard to connect to it if you aren’t in the right mood, making it hard to stay focused on the story itself. I do have to say things went a lot better the second time around and after getting used to the writing style Girl In Snow turned out to be quite a fast read. That said, I can’t deny there was something about the way the story was written that didn’t manage to convince me completely. Because I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who felt slightly confused by the what, who and how in the beginning. Things did get better when more information is given, although I do wish Girl In Snow would have been more focused on the actual plot and less on the different characters. Unfortunately I was never able to connect to the three main characters or their POVs used to tell the story and the victim Lucinda for me lacks developments to properly care about her. That said, I did appreciate the descriptions of Jade and Cameron and their issues; they seem quite realistic. I wasn’t sure about the credibility in general though or the way everything was connected… But Girl In Snow is a fast read and has quite a few twists you probably won’t see coming. The memory loss of Cameron was an interesting touch as well.

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The teenage Lucinda Hayes is found murdered one winter morning in 2005 and it seems the whole town is affected by her death. Cameron, Jade and Russ are each somehow connected to her life or the aftermath of Lucinda’s death and will have to confront their secrets to find out the truth about what happened to Lucinda… Because things are not what they seem and if they don’t try to face their problems, the truth may never come out.

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I really wanted to enjoy this story, but unfortunately I did stumble upon a few problems that made it harder for me to actually enjoy the reading experience. I’m not saying the writing is bad at all, but I do think it is something that either works for you or it doesn’t. Once I got used to it, Girl In Snow did turn out to be quite a fast read and there were some aspects and themes I really liked. Cameron is quite an interesting character both because of his memory loss and mental health issues. I can’t say I actually liked the characters and I wasn’t sure if some aspects of the plot and connections were completely credible, but the right person will probably love this story.


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ARC REVIEW: Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore – by Matthew Sullivan @arrowpublishing

Title: Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore
Author: Matthew Sullivan

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
First published: August 24th 2017
Publisher: Cornerstone
Finished reading: August 15th 2017
Pages: 336

“I’ve begun to think of it as more graveyard than library. End of the line, you know. Where book-of-the-month club comes to die.”

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

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I always have a weak spot for any book with bookish references or a story that is at least partially set in a bookstore. So as you can imagine, basically Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore had me at the title. This book has been on my list of most anticipated releases ever since I first heard about for it and I’ve been looking forward to read it for ages now. And I can tell you one thing: this novel by Matthew Sullivan doesn’t disappoint. Or more accurately, I enjoyed every single page of this ‘contemporary puzzle and murder mystery in one’. Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore isn’t just another bookish book and actually presents two different mysteries to solve. The first is related to the suicide of one of the bookshop patrons and the other to what happened to one of the clerks twenty years ago. The plot is intriguing and well developed; the plot twists and revelations well balanced and I enjoyed solving the puzzles along with the characters. This book definitely has some surprises in store! The writing style had me hooked from the very first page and was both highly enjoyable, engaging and made it very hard to stop reading before reaching the final page. The bookish references are a true delight for any booklover and I love the role books play in this story in general. The mystery is also well done and there were definitely things I didn’t see coming. You might start wondering about coincidences and some things seem pretty ‘convenient’, but I personally didn’t care. Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore will go straight to my list of favorites!

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Lydia Smith works as a clerk at the Bright Ideas Bookstore and tries to live a quiet life among her books and the BookFrogs; the regulars who spend their days in the bookstore browsing its shelves. But then one of the BookFrogs, Joey Molina, kills himself in the bookstore. Lydia was Joey’s favorite bookseller and she inherited his meager possessions… And when Lydia flips through his books, she discovers he has destroyed them in a way that is both intriguing and disturbing. Why did Joey do this and what does it mean? Did he want to leave her a message?

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I have been looking forward to this title for a while now and it was without doubt just as good or even better than hoped. I had such a great time reading Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore and the two mysteries/puzzles that are included are both fascinating and well executed. The bookish elements are a true delight and I had a great time discovering more about Joey and Lydia, their past and their development. The writing is wonderful as well and made me fly through the pages… All in all I can highly recommend this title.


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