ARC REVIEW: Missing – by Monty Marsden

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Title: Missing
Author: Monty Marsden

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 1st 2016
Publisher: Aria
Finished reading: February 1st 2017
Pages: 266
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“Patience is like a tree – the roots are bitter, but the fruits are most sweet.”

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

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This story was actually published over two months ago, but somehow it got mixed up with other ARCs and I didn’t read it on time. Oops? I always have a weak spot for a good thriller and I have an (unhealthy?) obsession for stories about serial killers. Add an Italian setting and I was sold as soon as I read the blurb of Missing. The author Monty Marsden is actually Italian; something I didn’t realize immediately, but it shows in the detailed descriptions and this book is in fact actually a translation. I was completely ready to dive into this serial killer mystery, but I ended up taking a very long time to finish it. I’m not sure if part of the essence of this story is lost in translation, but it all just felt way too chaotic and it took a long time before things started to make sense for me. The many POV switches distracted from the main plot and had me confused which characters were actually important in the story. That said, the introduction of Claps, suffering from aphasia (the struggle to comprehend and use words and verbal expressions) added a whole different level to the plot. He is a truly fascinating character and I enjoyed following his development. All in all Missing is not the best mystery I’ve read, although part might have been lost in translation and it did have its charm.

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Ami lives with her family in a little village in Lombardy, a seemingly safe and dusty place. But that is until one day Ami steps out of her house to go to school and never comes back nor did she ever make it to school. Her father raises the alarm and they start an immediate search for the little girl. Police Commisioner Sensi leads the investigation, and they seem to have found a trail straight away. But three months later, they still haven’t found Ami and they don’t have a solid lead as to what happened to her. Sensi decides to talk to his old friend Dr. Claps, a renowned criminologist who had to retire after suffering from aphasia. Because Ami doesn’t seem to be the only little girl who went missing, and Sensi needs all the help he can get to solve the mystery…

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I was really looking forward to Missing, especially after I found out about its Italian setting and the involvement of a serial killer. It’s not that the case itself isn’t intriguing and I really enjoyed the setting, but I somehow I had a really hard time reading this story. It just all felt chaotic with too many different characters/POVs being introduced without a proper connection… And I had a hard time understanding the relevance of some of the chapters. Things started to make sense later on in the story, but for me it was too little too late. Missing is a story with a lot of potential and interesting characters, and I kind of wish my Italian would be good enough to read the original version just to see if it was just the translation that let me down…


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BOOK REVIEW: What Light – by Jay Asher

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Title: What Light
Author: Jay Asher

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: October 11th 2016
Publisher: Razorbill
Finished reading: December 23rd 2016
Pages: 272
Rating 2,5qqq

“People think what they want. That’s what I’ve had to accept,” he says. “I can fight it, but that’s exhausting. I can feel hurt about it, but that’s torture. Or I can decide it’s their loss.”

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I realized the other week I had been completely neglecting my Holiday themed reads this year, so this is me making up for that. I didn’t have too many Christmas themed stories on my TBR pile, but I’ve seen What Light around and I decided to give it a go. I read Thirteen Reasons Why last year and I was thoroughly impressed by it, so I had high hopes for this story as well. Unfortunately, I ended up being quite disappointed by What Light even though I should have known the purpose of this story would be completely different. I couldn’t help but feeling What Light was basically a whole lot of cheesiness, cliches and drama wrapped in shiny paper and Christmas lights to make it appropriate for the Holiday season. I liked the idea of the Christmas tree lot and the family returning to it every year. The prose was also easy to read and the pace is quite fast. But there was just SO MUCH DRAMA everywhere! It almost felt like an overdose, and not in a good way. Part of the problem might just be me though, and I’m sure contemporary romance fans will probably enjoy the story a lot better than I did. Just make sure what you sign up for…

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Sierra’s family runs a Christmas tree farm in Orgeon, and every year they pack up and move to California to sell their trees during the season. Sierra spends most of her time in Oregon along with her two best friends, but whenever she is in California her life is completely different. She has another best friend there and it means that leaving one place always means missing the other… And this particular Christmas, something else will complicate her situation even further. Sierra meets Caleb at her Christmas tree lot, and even though her best friend had initially encouraged her to date, she doesn’t seem to approve of Caleb… Are the rumors around Caleb’s past true?

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If you are looking for a sappy and drama-filled Christmas read, you will probably enjoy What Light a lot better than I did. It is quite fast-paced and easy to read, but I personally found there was just too much drama going on for it to be a feel-good Christmas read. It just all felt a bit too exaggerated and I’m not sure up until what point it was actually credible. I have to confess I didn’t connect to the characters either… It might have just been me, but unfortunately I wasn’t a fan of this story.

ARC REVIEW: Down The Rabbit Hole – by Julia Crane

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Title: Down The Rabbit Hole
Author: Julia Crane

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: December 3rd 2016
Publisher: Valknut Press
Finished reading: December 18th 2016
Pages: 230
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“No one is fully evil. You just have to try harder to be good.”

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

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I have to confess it has been 15-20 years since I last read the original Alice In Wonderland, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love reading a good retelling of the story. It’s easy to say I was especially excited to have my wish granted at Netgalley! I was really looking forward to pick up my copy of Down The Rabbit Hole, but I’m sad to say I didn’t live up to expectations. I remember how happy I was when I first found out it was a retelling, but my initial excitement slowly turned into disappointment. The story started out promising enough and Alice is without doubt an interesting character. Down The Rabbit Hole had a lot of potential, but unfortunately it fell flat as soon as Lacie’s character makes her appearance. The POV switches between the two sisters, but the Lacie chapters are weak and I could’t warm up to her character. To make things worse, there are a lot of innecessary romance scenes (including annoying tropes like insta-love and love triangle) included that that didn’t add anything to the plot. I also found the ending a little too ‘weird’ to my taste… Although the general idea behind the story is without doubt intriguing. That said, Down The Rabbit Hole wasn’t what I was expecting at all, and unfortunately not in a good way. If you don’t mind cheesy romance scenes and a little weird, you will probably enjoy it a lot better than I did though.

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Two sisteres are bound by blood, but separated by magick… Alice lives in Wonderland with her so-called mother the Red Queen, and years of pain and illusion have messed with her mind. She is quite unpredictable and can turn out to be very dangerous… She has watched her twin sister Lacie for years with great envy, although Lacie doesn’t even know she exists. Lacie has been living on Earth for all those years unaware of her destiny, but that will change soon as the date of the prophecy comes closer. According to the prophecy, only one of the twin sisters will survive… Who will it be, or do they find a way around the prophecy?

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I really liked the sound of Down The Rabbit Hole and I always enjoy reading a good retelling. The story started out promising enough, but fell flat as soon as Lacie was introduced. From that point the story was basically a bunch of cheesy romance scenes sprinkled with a little magic that wasn’t enough for me to keep my interest. The ending was a little too weird as well, and quite abrupt. I wish I could have enjoyed this story better, but Down The Rabbit Hole definitely wasn’t for me.

ARC REVIEW: Another Day Gone – by Eliza Graham

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Title: Another Day Gone
Author: Eliza Graham

Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary
First published: November 22nd 2016
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Finished reading: December 2nd 2016
Pages: 322
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“Come on, sweetheart, or it’ll be another day gone.”

*** 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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Another Day Gone belongs to one of my favorite genres, so it is easy to say I had high hopes for this book. Historical fiction, set during various generations, interesting blurb… It ticked all the right boxes, but unfortunately I ended up having a hard time enjoying this novel written by Eliza Graham. I couldn’t get a proper feel for the story OR characters and it was all kind of confusing at times. It took a long time for it to become clear what the story exactly was about and to connect the different chapters and characters correctly. The plot twists and hidden information about the past were probably supposed to be tactics to increase the suspense, but I actually found them rather annoying instead of entertaining. That said, it does show Another Day Gone is a well-researched story and there is no doubt it has a lot of potential. I seem to be in the minority when it comes to my opinion, because most people seem to love it, but I’m afraid I just couldn’t warm up to the story or characters. If you like the genre, I would suggest still giving it a try though, because it might just be another case of the ‘unpopular opinion curse‘.

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Just before the outbreak of WWII a terrorist bomb explodes on a busy street in Coventry. A man is hanged based on the witness account of a young girl, but as time goes on the girl is starting to doubt her testimony. It’s too late to save the man, but that doesn’t mean she will ever forget… Over sixty years later, Sara returns to her childhood home in the wake of the 7/7 London bombings. There she discovers that her sister Polly, who was missing for more than ten years, has finally returned. Why did she come back now? And where did she go in the first place? And that is not the only mystery in the family, as their nanny, Bridie, seems to be hiding a family secret of her own…

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Like I said before, Another Day Gone has a lot of potential and it is without doubt a well-researched novel with an interesting topic. That said, I can’t say I actually enjoyed reading this story. It had a slow pace and I had a hard time getting a proper feel for the story. It was quite confusing how the different chapters and characters fit together at first, and while that might have been done to increase the suspense, I personally couldn’t appreciate it. I seem to be in the minority though, so give this novel a try if you think you would enjoy it.

ARC REVIEW: Ivy Feckett Is Looking For Love – by Jay Spencer Green

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Title: Ivy Feckett Is Looking For Love
Author: Jay Spencer Green

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
First published: July 28th 2016
Publisher: CreateSpace
Finished reading: October 11th 2016
Pages: 236
Rating 2,5qqq

“Every single day there are billions of acts of generosity, of good deeds, of cooperation. Just because they’re not on the news… well, the job of the news is to report extraordinary events, and if extraordinary events are bad, presumably the ordinary things, the things not worth mentioning because they’re so commonplace, are good.”

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

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WARNING: unpopular opinion ahead. I was sent a copy of Ivy Feckett Is Looking For Love by the author some time ago and it sounded like a fun contemporary read. I was looking forward to it, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I’m not sure the problem is the book itself though, because the rest of the reviews have been really positive so far. I guess this is just another of those cases where the book simply isn’t for me… There was just too much explicit sex talk, romance and colorful language involved to my taste, but then again the romance genre is not really my thing in the first place. Due to those elements I found it really hard to warm up to the story, which is a shame because the plot is without doubt interesting. I’m not completely sure about the characters either, but that might just be related to the before mentioned elements and the appearance of an annoying love triangle. I loved the geocaching elements though! In short, I’m having a hard time properly reviewing Ivy Feckett Is Looking For Love and if you like contemporary romance and don’t mind ‘adult’ content and colorful language, definitely don’t rule this one out.

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Bookish Ivy Feckett is smart and sensitive, but also a little socially awkward and doesn’t have a lot of experience with relationships or dealing with men in general. Her search for love has never gone smoothly, although she has never tried actively before either. Then she meets her boss, the rich and handsome Ned Hartfield, and she cannot stop thinking about him. Not sure what to do, she asks for the advice of her flatmates and her best friend Sam, which will cause a lot of awkward moments since Sam has been secretly in love with her for a long time. Is Ned really so ‘perfect’ as he appears to be? And what will happen to her weekly search for geocaches with Sam?

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Like I said before, this book is probably yet another title to add to my list of books that are simply not for me. I’m not really a fan of the romance genre, especially if there is a lot of explicit sex talk and general colorful language involved. And Ivy Feckett Is Looking For Love definitely has a lot of both. Looking at the other reviews, I guess I’m in the minority when it comes to my opinion… So if you like the genre and don’t mind the ‘adult’ content, you will probably enjoy reading this story.

BOOK REVIEW: Fallen Mangrove – by Wayne Stinnett

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Title: Fallen Mangrove
(Jesse McDermitt #4)
Author: Wayne Stinnett
Genre: Action, Thriller, Adventure
First published: September 28th  2014
Publisher: Down Island Press
Finished reading: September 1st 2016
Pages: 301
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“In a riddle, Charlie said as she came across the clearing, a subtle difference in wording is huge.”

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I got this title a long while back as a kindle freebie thinking it would be a historical fiction read about a treasure hunt. I should have read more carefully, because Fallen Mangrove has little to do with historical fiction apart from the first chapter or so. It’s actually a full blown action thriller that has a bit of a Rambo/Die Hard feeling going on. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing and I’m sure the right person would probably love this book. In fact, I think this is one of those cases where the problem most likely is me, and not the book… So I’m going to give Fallen Mangrove the benefit of the doubt. This fourth book in the Jesse McDermitt series can be read as a stand-alone; I’ve done so myself and only a few small background facts about the characters seem to be missing. It’s without doubt an action-packed story, but the many technical details did distract from the main plot and the ending felt a bit ‘weak’ after so many action scenes. I didn’t really find the plot credible either… But like I said, the right person would probably really enjoy this read.

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In September of 1566, a Spanish treasure ship is driven by a hurricane onto the rocky shoreline of Elbow Cay. A few of the crew members survived and managed to salvage most of the treasure. They decided to bury it on the island and leave a clue carved into a coconut that leads to the location of the treasure. Four-hundred and forty years later, Jesse McDermitt and his friends finally solve the riddle on the coconut and decide to look for it. But the Miami based Croatian mob learns about the treasure and want to get to it first no matter what it takes… And Jesse and his friends may be in grave danger.

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I think Fallen Mangrove is one of those books that probably works better for a male audience with all the action scenes and technical details. It sure reads like one of those popular action movies… The historical facts were interesting and I liked the idea of a treasure hunt, but I can’t say I found the plot all that credible in general. But like I said, in this case the fact that I didn’t like this read is probably my own fault. Some books just are not ment for everyone.

ARC REVIEW: The Stepmother – by Claire Seeber

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Title: The Stepmother
Author: Claire Seeber
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Realistic Fiction
First published: July 15th 2016
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: July 16th 2016
Pages: 345
Rating 2,5qqq

“Still, the thing lurks in the corners of my mind, that squat little beast called memory, its sticky fingers covering everything with a thin layer of slime.”

*** 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 have seen a lot of positive reviews about The Stepmother and that was why I wanted to read this book by Claire Seeber in the first place, but unfortunately I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. In fact, I struggled to get into the story at first. The pace is quite slow in the beginning and I had a hard time figuring out what the story was really about; the whole mystery around Jeanie’s secrets and how this was dragged out was starting to get annoying instead of intriguing. That might just be because I felt a strong dislike for the main character Jeanie in the first place (and her new family for that matter), but in general I had a hard time connecting to the story and my feelings for Jeanie definitely didn’t make it easier to enjoy this book. What I did like about The Stepmother is that it reversed the roles of the typical ‘evil stepmother’ plot. I could really appreciate that and made this story a lot more original. The pace also picked up later on and I definitely didn’t see most of the plot twists coming. I did feel that while the first part of the story was almost uneventful, there was almost too much information squeezed into the final part of the story. It made the revelations feel less important, which is a shame because some of the twists were without doubt a huge surprise. All in all not the best psychogical thriller I’ve read this year, but I guess I will give it the benefit of the doubt.

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Jeanie can’t believe her luck when she meets Matthew and they get married not long after. She thinks she has gotten a second chance for both her and her son Frank, being able to start over after all that happened… But her new fairytale life doesn’t seem to be so perfect after all. Both Jeanie and Matthew have teenage children from previous relationships, and it is not easy to raise a blended family under one roof. Especially since Matthew’s ex-wife seems to have left her mark everywhere in the house Jeanie now tries to call her home… To make things worse, Jeanie’s step-daughter Scarlett rejects her and the terrible secret Jeanie is hiding is threatening to destroy her new marriage. Someone knows, and that person isn’t about to let go and let Jeanie have her fresh start. But who is behind the threats?

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I really wanted to enjoy this book, but unfortunately it took me a long time to get a proper feel for the story. In fact, the first part is mostly uneventful and almost boring, although the pace did pick up later on. The biggest problem I probably had with The Stepmother is the fact that the main character Jeanie is just SO unlikeable. I normally can get over that fact, but since the first part of this story is so character-driven in the first place, it made it really hard to enjoy reading it. The last part of the story was a whole lot more interesting, but there were so many revelations in such a short time that it almost felt like an information dump. I did like the fact that Jeanie wasn’t the typical evil stepmother and the many plot twists were without doubt creative.