ARC REVIEW: Be My Killer – by Richard Parker

Title: Be My Killer
Author: Richard Parker

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 26th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: May 17th 2017
Pages: 379

“That’s the reality of it. It’s not fodder for entertainment; it’s a chunk of me gone. It’s just pain and emptiness, and there’s nothing remotely sensational about it.”

*** 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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As soon as I saw Be My Killer, I was drawn to it like those moths on the cover and knew I didn’t stand a chance. The combination of a potential serial killer, a social media twist and the documentary angle just sounded too good to resist and I’m glad I gave it a go. Be My Killer is without doubt a very intense and gripping psychological thriller! I found myself literally flying through the pages trying to discover what would happen next and who was behind it all… And there is no doubt this story introduces one of the most twisted and disturbing serial killers I’ve read about in a long time. A little warning for those with a weak stomach: some of the scenes are quite graphic as the killer doesn’t mind ‘getting his hands dirty’ so to speak. They do set the right creepy and gloomy atmosphere for the book and the setting in an abandoned amusement park only adds to that. I also liked the social media angle and the whole Twitter ‘Be My Killer hastag’ serial killer idea. I’ve seen social media used quite a lot in psychological thrillers lately, but this plot is without doubt quite original. Talking about the plot, it’s impressive how many plot twists are stacked on top of each other in Be My Killer. You literally don’t know who’s next and what happens next until the very moment you are reading it and even though I had a few ideas who might be behind it, the story mostly kept proved me wrong. There’s something to say about the credibility of the plot and I didn’t exactly like every character, but I was on the edge of my seat the whole time and had a great time reading this story. Recommended if you like the genre and don’t mind gory details and a graphic scene or two.

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What started out as an online prank on Twitter ended up going viral. And soon people responding to the ‘Be My Killer’ hashtag actually started to die in the horrible ways they had Tweeted about… And the police is completely in the dark about who is behind the murders. Is it just one killer or are there more? And do the murders really connect to the hashtag? One of Hazel’s childhood friends is found murdered and she is determined to find out what happened to her. Hazel has a theory she wants to test even though the police don’t believe in it. She decides to make a documentary about the killings, hoping to lure out the killer and find justice to her friend and the other victims… But isn’t it dangerous to play with such a disturbed individual?

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As soon as I read the blurb I just knew I had to read this story. I have a weak spot for serial killer thrillers and the one described in Be My Killer sounded like a true ‘beauty’. And I was right, because the murders were both gruesome, twisted and disturbing in general. Suspense and plot twists are stacked up to dangerous heights until you find yourself unable to stop reading until you reach the last page… I didn’t like every character and had some minor problems with the credibility, but that didn’t stop me from reaching the last page in record time. And what a ride!


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BOOK REVIEW: Stardust – by Neil Gaiman

Title: Stardust
Author: Neil Gaiman

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: February 1st 1999
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Finished reading: May 15th 2017
Pages: 266

“You have to believe. Otherwise, it will never happen.”

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It’s basically a miracle I could even see the cover of this one with all the dust it has been collecting for years… I guess it was about time I picked it up! Now I’ve read it, I can say Stardust is without doubt another well written and entertaining fantasy read, but it reads a bit slow and all in all I didn’t find it as good as some of my Neil Gaiman favorites. Stardust is one of those exceptions where I have actually seen the movie first, something I prefer not happening because it tends to alter the reading experience. It’s probably what happened here as well, because I kept thinking of the movie as I were reading Stardust… And this is one of the rare cases where I actually enjoyed the movie better than the book. I still can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that the pace was more enjoyable in the movie and I liked the dynamics between Tristran and Yvaine better. And the Robert De Niro scenes are just priceless. 😉 Back to the book, the slower pace used to tell this story made the whole journey feel a bit less adventurous and exciting and Stardust didn’t manage to blow me away like other books I’ve read by this author. The characters were interesting enough and I really liked the worldbuilding, but I also felt the so-called ‘spark’ was missing from this one. It’s without doubt an entertaining fairytale-like fantasy read, but I’ll stick with the movie for this once.

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Like many men of the small village of Wall, Tristran Thorn is in love with the beautiful Victoria and will do anything to win over her cold heart. This even includes finding the star they watch fall from the sky one day and bringing it back to her. Tristran is determined to do so, even if he must go to the other side of the ancient wall that gives the village its name. Normally people aren’t allow to cross to the other side, but an exception is made for him because of his past… And he soon finds out all about what’s on the other side: Faerie, where nothing is what he could ever have imagined.

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I’m a fan of Neil Gaiman‘s work and I have read various of his novels, but this one was somehow always pushed back down the TBR pile. I can’t explain why, especially since I really enjoyed the movie and have seen it various times over the years… But I’m without doubt glad I finally read the original story. Stardust turned out to be one of those rare exceptions were I liked the movie better, but the book is still a quite entertaining and enjoyable read. It reads a bit slow and wasn’t as good as I thought it would be, but then again it’s hard to live up to books like Neverwhere and The Ocean At The End Of The Lane in the first place.


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Stacking The Shelves #18 – May 20th

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

Bookouture, o bookouture… Why do you have to publish so many irresistible psychological thrillers?! Seriously though, never change, because I LOVE reading them. ❤ The first two titles I kind of already knew that they were going to appear sooner or later when I wrote last week’s STS and I wasn’t going to request any new titles after that, but then another of their titles popped up and I couldn’t resist. I’m weak, I know. xD Also, two older requests came through and I finally had to say goodbye to my 80% NG ratio… Lasted too long as it was anyway haha. I’ve been reading like crazy since Thursday to get it back above the mark though!

# NETGALLEY ARC #

 

I hope everyone is having a great weekend! ❤


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Friday Finds #133 – May 19th

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the most interesting books I’ve encountered during the last week and have added to my neverending TBR list on Goodreads. Below a selection of my newest additions; click on the book descriptions to go to its Goodreads page! 😀

My finds:

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ARC REVIEW: Manipulated Lives – by H.A. Leuschel

Title: Manipulated Lives
Author: H.A. Leuschel

Genre: Short Stories, Realistic Fiction, Psychology
First published: June 8th 2016
Finished reading: May 14th 2017
Pages: 274

“Can there be only one truth? What if we are all creating our own truth, as we often need to, on a daily basis?”

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

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I have a weak spot for realistic fiction stories with a psychology angle, so I was immediately intrigued when I first read about Manipulated Lives. This is actually a collection of five short stories about five different characters who have had to deal with manipulators at different stages of their lives and the damage this experience has done to them. I enjoy reading short stories every once in a while and it definitely takes a whole different set of skills to write them properly. Manipulated Lives is without doubt an example of excellent short story writing. The stories were both intriguing and did an excellent job of describing the complex emotions and reactions to the manipulations. Without doubt a great read if you like the genre!

I will be doing this review slightly different than usual and both give a quick summary and my thoughts on each of the five short stories below instead of having a separate summary section.

The Narcissist
This collection starts strong with a story about a manipulator with Alzheimer not longer remembering why he is incarcelated or what he was doing to his family and others during all those years. This memory angle made the story into a truly fascinating read and it was interesting how the main character reacted to certain things and learn more about what he did in the past in the first place. Not my favorite of the bundle, but without doubt one of the better ones.

Tess And Tattoos
The second story was one of my favorites and a really accurate, intriguing and heartbreaking description of how manipulators can truly ruin someone for life… Tess is an interesting character and an older woman who now lives a lonely life and never has anyone visiting her. Her friendship with Sandra is touching and I love the symbolism of the tattoo. Interesting ending as well!

The Spell
The third story is probably one of the most detailed ones and one of my favorites. It’s impressive how many twists and how much character development is included in this short story.  It’s about Sophie meeting a little boy Leo and later his father; she is charmed by Leo right away and that connection makes her blind for the strange vibes his father David gives off. It’s true Sophie is a bit naive, but I guess manipulators always look for ‘weak/easy’ victims and it’s truly interesting how David is able to worm his way into her life that fast.

Runaway Girl
The fourth story is about a younger manipulation victim; the teenage Holly. This one is probably my least favorite of the bunch even though it is an accurate description of a situation that happens all too often at high schools (unfortunately). What I found less credible is that the main character Holly was first described as an independent and smart teenager and then seemed to be completely blind around Luke even though he’s basically a classic manipulator. But it’s definitely another eye-opener when it comes to how one manipulator can damage a lot of victims when not stopped on time…

My Perfect Child
The last story is about a woman thinking her child is perfect and overprotecting him ever since he was born; indulging him in everything and turning him in a skilled manipulator. She didn’t want to see her child as anything less than perfect and ignored all the signs for so long that it was already too late to change direction… Not one of my favorites, but without doubt a great example how love imakes someone blind and can change perception of both daily situations and their consequences.

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I have been wanting to pick up this collection of short stories about different characters dealing with the consequences of manipulators for a long time now, especially since I’ve seen various glowing reviews in the past. And I’m definitely glad I finally picked it up, because I really enjoyed reading them. Every story deals with a different angle and they are truly fascinating. My favorite story would be between the second and the third story; my least favorite probably either number four or five, but this doesn’t mean they weren’t still good. If psychology fascinates you or you enjoy realistic fiction in general, Manipulated Lives is definitely a great read.


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WWW Wednesdays #137 – May 17th

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

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading another psychological thriller ARC and Bookouture read: Be My Killer by Richard Parker. And as things are going, I’ll probably be finishing it later today because I’m flying through this story! I’m also just about to pick up my copy of One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus; another ARC I requested after a recommendation and a title I’m really looking forward to.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

(Doing this part slightly different this week since I already had written short ramblings/reviews of four of these titles for my Bout Of Books wrap up anyway… I like the look of it though; should I keep it this way in my next WWW???)

1. Roses Of May by Dot Hutchison (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 
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!

2. Liar by K.L. Slater (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW
Liar turned out to be another excellent psychological thriller read full of surprises. I found myself literally flying through the pages as I kept wondering about the chapter the story started with… Because Liar both started and ended with a bang. This is unreliable narrating at its best, and I loved every single minute of the ride. More than recommended for fans of the genre!

3. Aurabel by Laura Dockrill (1,5/5 stars)  REVIEW
I really wanted to enjoy this one and I still love the cover, but unfortunately I just couldn’t. I felt like it was as if I were reading in a foreign language I could only barely understand for most of the ride and I had a REALLY hard time finishing this one. In fact, I would probably have DNFed it if it wouldn’t have been an ARC. A little note: after some investigation, I found out this is actually a sequel and it becomes clear as you are reading Aurabel that a lot of both background AND essential information is missing if you don’t read the first book. That said, I don’t think this story has convinced me enough to actually try and read the first book. Unfortunately it ended up being a quite painful experience reading Aurabel.

4. Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel (4/5 stars)
I have been wanting to pick up this collection of short stories about different characters dealing with the consequences of manipulators for a long time now, especially since I’ve seen various glowing reviews in the past. And I’m definitely glad I finally picked it up, because I really enjoyed reading them. Every story deals with a different angle and the stories are truly fascinating. My favorite story would be between the second and the third story; my least favorite probably either number four or five, but this doesn’t mean they were still good. If psychology fascinated you or you enjoy realistic fiction in general, Manipulated Lives is definitely a great read.

5. Stardust by Neil Gaiman (3,5/5 stars)
It’s basically a miracle I could even see the cover of this one with all the dust it has collected for years… I’m glad I finally picked it up! Stardust is one of those exceptions where I have actually seen the movie first, something I prefer not happening because it alters the reading experience. It’s probably what happened here as well, because I kept thinking of the movie as I were reading Stardust… And I think this is one of the rare cases where I actually enjoyed the movie better than the book. It’s an entertaining and well written fantasy read, but it reads a bit slow and not as good as my Neil Gaiman favorites.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

After my recent Bookouture thriller request binge (five in one week and I’m not even sorry!), I urgently need to read more NG ARCs to keep my ratio above 80% (yes, somehow I never actually dived below that mark; don’t ask me how that miracle happened xD)… First up is another thriller and sequel I’ve been looking forward to: Secrets Of The Dead by Carol Wyer. I also need to read Feel Me Fall by James Morris; I’ve read two of his previous stories in the past and enjoyed both, so I’m looking forward to it. The fantasy ARC Heartborn by Terry Maggert is also on my list… And I want to read And I Darken by Kiersten White ASAP so I can dive into my sequel ARC with time to spare. I can’t wait to finally read this series!


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ARC REVIEW: Aurabel – by Laura Dockrill

Title: Aurabel
Author: Laura Dockrill

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: June 1st 2017
Publisher: Hotkey Books
Finished reading: May 13th 2017
Pages: 304

“Even when two paths spindle off, it doesn’t mean they aren’t going to meet up, once again, somewhere along the way towards the end.”

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

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I admit Aurabel was a coverlove-request, but I was also looking forward to read another mermaid story. Mermaids are without doubt underrated creatures and there just aren’t all that many stories about them out there. Aurabel sounded like an fun fantasy read with the mermaids as a bonus, but unfortunately this book turned out to be a quite unpleasant experience. First of all I want to make clear that this book should have been classified as a sequel, because after some investigation I found out most of the worldbuilding is taken from a previous publication (Lorali) and it’s almost impossible to fully understand Aurabel with out it. A lot of background AND essential information is missing if you don’t read Lorali, and I felt a bit cheated on I didn’t know that beforehand. This lack of information might have been part of the reason I basically felt like I was reading a story written in a foreign language I could only barely understand. Things just didn’t make sense as all and I had a hard time even getting past the first few pages and chapters. Things only got better towards the ending, but I have to be honest and say I probably wouldn’t have reached that point if this wouldn’t have been an ARC. It sounds harsh, but somehow not telling the truth doesn’t feel right either… Another thing that bothered me is the horrible spelling in the forum interactions bit. I get that this is supposed to portray ‘superficial’ teenage fans talking, but 1. it was really hard to decipher the meaning of their comments and 2. I literally shuddered the whole time every time the dreaded comments made their appearance. As for the characters: I like how their different personalities are refleccted in their respective dialogues and prose, but I do have to see they felt a bit forced and unnatural. Some characters were also starting to get on my nerves… Furthermore, I had a hard time connecting the different chapters and characters; especially in the beginning they seemed random and didn’t make a lot of sense. Things did improve slightly towards the ending and the general plot is interesting enough, but all in all I had a really hard time reading Aurabel. Such a shame, because I was really looking forward to it!

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It’s been two years since Rory drowned and Lorali has been living the live of a normal (human) teenage girl ever since. Her safe life on land won’t last much longer though, as things in The Whirl seem to be getting out of hand. Someone is trying to take the throne from the current king and doesn’t hesitate to use unorthodox methods to succeed. Even if that means hurting fellow Mer… And it seems that even Lorali won’t be safe.

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I really wanted to enjoy Aurabel and I still love the cover, but unfortunately I turned out having a completely different reading experience. I’ve debated various times whether to just DNF it, because I had a really hard time understanding and making sense of the story; something that doesn’t happen often. I’m not exaggerating when I say it felt like I was reading in a different language, but I guess part of this confusion can be explained by the fact that it’s necessary to read Lorali first to be able to fully understand the story (which I didn’t and won’t). All in all a promising premise, but unfortunately I couldn’t enjoy the execution.


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