ARC REVIEW: I Will Make You Pay – by Teresa Driscoll

Title: I Will Make You Pay
Author: Teresa Driscoll
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: October 10th 2019
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: September 21st 2019
Pages: 317

“We hope that no one is hurt, we wish no ill. And yet? We secretly want a story all the same.”

*** 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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!! Happy publication day !!

I’ve been meaning to try Teresa Driscoll‘s books for quite some time now, so when I saw I Will Make You Pay and read the blurb I just couldn’t resist. There is just something about the premise of this story and the stalker plot that made me want to read it straight away. And while I did ended up having some minor issues with it, overall it was without doubt a solid psychological thriller read.

I Will Make You Pay starts out as most regular psychological thrillers, but your attention is soon captured when the main character Alice receives the threatening phone call at the newspaper where she works as a journalist. This phone call marks the start of the so-called stalker plot and definitely takes the story to the next level. The story switches between past and present and gives us different POVs as well. On top of that, one of the storylines mentions a little boy and his grandmother without revealing how it all connects to the present situation, making you wonder how everything fits in. There are different layers as well as plot twists and secrets involved, all trying to throw you off the scent of the truth while they try to mislead you. I admit I guessed the ending quite early on though, but that might just be me reading too many books of the genre.

As for the main characters… Despite the fact that it should be easy to warm up to Alice and feel bad about what is happening to her, somehow I never really connected to her. I’m not sure exactly why, but there was just something about her actions and behavior that really irked me… Likewise, most of the other characters failed to charm me, with the exception of private investigator Matthew. I liked both his character and the different angle he provided to the story… Having a private investigator working on the stalking case while also working informally with the police definitely made the story more interesting. The whole journalist angle made for an interesting element as well, especially relating to the dangers behind sharing too much of your personal life and always being on the hunt for a good story seemingly no matter what the cost. The flashback chapters were intruiging enough, although they didn’t seem to be too relevant to the story at first… I’m still not sure what to feel about the ending though, as it felt a bit like an anticlimax. That said, psychological thriller fans will most likely have a good time reading I Will Make You Pay.


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ARC REVIEW: Here To Stay – by Mark Edwards @amazonpub

Title: Here To Stay
Author: Mark Edwards
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: September 1st 2019
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: September 17th 2019
Pages: 370

“Maybe I couldn’t trust anyone.”

*** 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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Basically it was Meggy’s review that made me realize I just HAD to read Here To Stay. I’m so glad she first pointed me towards this book, as I have been meaning to try Mark Edwards‘ books for a while now and there is no doubt that this book was everything I hoped for and more. I basically felt uncomfortable and threatened during the whole book, feeling what the main character feels while also just wanting to shake him and tell him to ‘man up’ and do something about his situation. It’s hands down one of the most frustrating stories I’ve had the chance to read this year, but strangly enough this feeling only made me appreciate this story even more.

I’ve had my thoughts marinating for a few days now, and I still can’t wrap my head around just how brilliant the premise and its execution are. The main topic of Here To Stay involves what you can call everybody’s worst fear: meeting/marrying someone you love, only to discover in-laws from hell come with the package. I lucked out with mine, but I can’t even imagine what it would be like opening your door and seeing the Robinsons on your doorstep and having them invade your safe haven… The main character Elliot is an easy character to connect to and the perfect good guy, which only serves as a bigger contrast with the Robinsons. Dear oh dear, what can I say about them without giving too much away? Let’s just say that I wouldn’t want to have them living in the same town, let alone have them in my own home… They will have you pulling your hair and shouting out of sheer frustration sooner than later, and that uncomfortable feeling will never be far away. This negative feeling should have put me off reading Here To Stay, but somehow in this story it had the opposite effect and I couldn’t resist picking up my kindle again and again to discover how far the Robinsons would go. I have to say that making you hate characters so profoundly, and despite generating those feelings of intense frustration still being able to deliver us a story that is essentially irresistible, is without doubt a truly remarkable achievement.

The plot itself is complex and well constructed, slowly building up that suspense and tension until things are spinning out of control. Plot twists, secrets and the escalating situation are all working together to keep you on your toes and will make it very hard to stop reading before you discover how it will all end. This is despite the fact that this story will make you feel very uncomfortable and frustated, because there is no doubt that Here To Stay has that je ne sais quoi that turns this story into something special. The development of the characters is well handled and feels quite realistic despite the fact that things can be said about some aspects being a bit cliche. I also loved the history of the Robinsons and those chapters set abroad and set in the past… And the crime aspect of Here To Stay was such a surprising angle as well! I don’t want to give to much away, but there are so many elements incorporated into this story and somehow it all combines to create the perfect thriller cocktail. There is no doubt that Mark Edwards has a new fan!


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Blood Song – by Johana Gustawsson #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @Orendabooks @JoGustawsson @givemeawave @annecater

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Blood Song Random Things blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. The first two books of this series already blew me away recently, but Blood Song took it one step further and left me both shell shocked and with my mouth hanging wide open. Or in one word: FLABBERGASTED. Boy, this book hit me hard! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!

Title: Blood Song
(Emily Roy & Alexis Castells #3)
Author: Johana Gustawsson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 19th 2019
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: September 10th 2019
Pages: 300
(Originally written in French)

“We all see the world through our own lens, which is shaped by our past and our upbringing, our desires and our fears.”

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

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I have lost count of the times the Emily Roy & Alexis Castells series has been recommended to me in the past, and with the first two books waiting impatiently on my shelves I thought joining the blog tour would be the perfect excuse to finally binge read all three books. And guess what? I have definitely joined #TeamRoyandCastells and #TeamJohana! I already reviewed Block 46 and Keeper recently, and now it is time to gush about book number three: Blood Song. I admit it doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while I come across a story that is able to blow me away to such extent that I find myself unable to put a coherent sentence on paper, let alone write a review that would do it justice. This is exactly what happened when I finished reading Blood Song. Not only did I find myself staring at that last page and unable to process what I just read, but the story also gave me one of the biggest book hangovers I’ve had in a long time. After being unable to read or blog for three days straight, I’ve now decided to sit down, get my thoughts on paper and hopefully start the road to recovery. Oh yes, such is the power of this book!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: one of the reasons this series has quickly turned into one of my all time favorites is the fact that it represents a perfectly balanced combination two of my favorite genres: historical fiction and crime thriller. Both genres are combined in an expert and intricate way, making time fluid as you find yourself floating between the past and present. Johana Gustawsson is able to incorporate not only historical facts as well as the present situation, but also a variety of different settings that truly gives this series its international and timeless essence I’ve come to treasure. Not a small feat, as it is extremly hard to juggle so many different storylines without us readers getting lost along the way… But Johana Gustawsson not only makes it work, she turns this multilayered, complex and well crafted plot into a true masterpiece.

Block 46 and Keeper were already excellent reads, but the impossibe happened and Blood Song really took the essence of this series to the next level. The writing is simply sublime and the plot development of both past and present chapters is both thorough, intricate and well researched. On the one hand, we have the historical chapters set during a very difficult period in Spanish history: the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship. I’ve always had a special interest in Spain and its history and I have actually studied the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath during Uni… And Johana Gustawsson does a fantastic job describing the atrocities committed against those against general Franco’s ideas and regime. Heartbreaking, appalling and horrifying: the historical chapters will both thoroughly unsettle you and chill you to the bone. Brutality, child abuse, families torn apart… All used to give a (sadly) extremely realistic view on a very dark chapter of Spanish history.

The present doesn’t give you much respite though, as we both have to deal with a shocking murder case involving the parents of a new favorite character of mine, Aliénor Lindbergh, and the heart-rending and moving topic involving parents struggling to conceive and IVF treatment. I applaude the author for being brave enough to tackle such a personal topic and using her personal experiences in general in her books. It truly makes the stories come alive and really took Blood Song to the next level for me. The murder case really hit me hard as I have grown really fond of Aliénor and it was heartbreaking to have that happening to her. That said, her development in this third books was on point and I loved meeting up with Emily, Alexis and the others again as well. Having a profiler and a true-crime writer as our main character duo gives this series a unique touch and it’s easy to say they are one of my favorite crime duos out there. Especially Alexis, but Emily as well will also experience development on a personal level, and some new details will definitely leave you astounded.

There are so many different elements in Blood Song, each already fascinating on its own, but all combined together they turn this story into one hell of a read. The detailed historical chapters filled with appalling and realistic facts about a dark period in Spanish history, the present day murders, the elements related to the fertility clinic, the personal development of the main characters, the current chapters set in Spain and Sweden… All woven together masterfully into an absolutely brilliant and harrowing story with an ending that will leave you flabbergasted. A big round of applause is also due for the translator David Warriner, who has given us the chance to meet Emily Roy and Alexis Castells and bring this fantastic series into our lives. Blood Song will always have a special place in my heart, and not just for bringing back memories of my time living in Madrid… It’s a book that was able to give me the biggest book hangover in a long time and without doubt a worthy addition to my list of 2019 favorites. Of course I cannot recommend both Blood Song and the rest of the series highly enough! This series is simply an absolute must-read.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Born in Marseille, France, and with a degree in Political Science, Johana Gustawsson
has worked as a journalist for the French and Spanish press and television. Her
critically acclaimed Roy & Castells series has won the Plume d’Argent, Balai de la
découverte, Balai d’Or and Prix Marseillais du Polar awards, and is now published
in nineteen countries. A TV adaptation is currently underway in a French, Swedish
and UK co-production. Johana lives in London with her Swedish husband and
their three sons. She drew on her own experience of fertility clinics and IVF to
write Blood Song and is happy to speak and write pieces about this.


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ARC REVIEW: To Drink Coffee With A Ghost – by Amanda Lovelace

Title: To Drink Coffee With A Ghost
(Things That H(a)unt #2)
Author: Amanda Lovelace
Genre: Poetry, Non Fiction, Memoir
First published: September 17th 2019
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Finished reading: August 13th 2019
Pages: 160

i walk

the thin line

 between

nostalgia

& trauma,

never fully

knowing

the difference.

 

– maybe there is none.”

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

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After reading and enjoying the Woman Are Some Kind Of Magic poetry bundles in the past, I tried the first book of this duology earlier this year and found myself really enjoying that collection as well. Reading the second collection of this duology was an easy choice, and it is without doubt an excellent addition. Amanda Lovelace‘s poems are easy to recognize, and while it’s true that the structure of the poems is quite simplistic and basically seems like hitting the space bar every few words, I personally don’t mind. Why? I feel this simple style gives the words and message behind the poems even more power and focuses on what is said instead of just how. Once again, Amanda Lovelace writes without fear and is fully open about her experience with abusive and toxic relationships in the past; To Drink Coffee With A Ghost having a special focus on the relationship with her now deceased mother. And once again, I have to stress that these poems are really easy to relate to for anyone who has experienced a toxic relationship in general (or is still experiencing it) and will provide both comfort and an empowering message to let you know that you are worthy and can beat that monster. She uses words to not only express feelings, but also heal herself and try to free herself from her past and demons… It’s not the style, but the words and the emotions behind those words that turn To Drink Coffee With A Ghost into such a success for me. And while it’s true that her poetry might not be for everyone, those who can connect to her words will be able to treasure it. Another successful bundle and a worthy conclusion to this duology!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #121 – Smoke In The Sun & The Cellar

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around to YA reads that I fully expected to enjoy thoroughly, but failed to blow me away in the end. The first is the duology conclusion Smoke In The Sun by Renee Ahdieh, which I was expecting to be another 5 star read after loving the first book last year, but it wasn’t ment to be. And while the premise of The Cellar by Natasha Preston is absolutely fascinating, I didn’t enjoy the actual story as much as I thought I would.


Title: Smoke In The Sun
(Flame In The Mist #2)
Author: Renee Ahdieh

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: May 1st 2018
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: August 20th 2019
Pages: 416

“Honor was a thing to hate. It drove people to act foolishly, as though they were heroes. As though they were invincible.”


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I’m still surprised I reacted this way to this duology conclusion, because I absolutely loved Flame In The Mist last year and it was one of my 2018 favorites. It might have been that my expectations were set too high, it might have been that I should have reread the first book before starting Smoke In The Sun because I had forgotten about a lot of details… But the fact is, I never felt that same love for the sequel. Even with the help of the glossary in the back, I kind of struggled to keep all the different characters, POVs and plotlines apart, and that made me enjoy the story a lot less. The writing is solid, and I liked the Japanese elements incorporated into the story, as it gives the story the right atmosphere. I would have liked to see the magic more developed though, as it would have given the story that little something extra. Instead, Smoke In The Sun focuses a lot on the relationships between the different characters. To make things worse, we have a love triangle to deal with… And I wasn’t sure if I liked the character development of certain characters. I still think Mariko is a very strong and resourceful main character, and I still liked Okami, but for me Smoke In The Sun lacked some of that special ‘magic’ that turned the first book into a favorite for me. It’s not a bad read, but sadly it wasn’t what I hoped it would be either.


Title: The Cellar
(The Cellar #1)
Author: Natasha Preston

Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
First published: March 1st 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Finished reading: August 22nd 2019
Pages: 368

“This was a morning from a nightmare – one that I couldn’t wake up from.”


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I’ve had The Cellar on my TBR for quite some time now… When my TBR jar decided it was time to read it and I reread the blurb, I was instantly excited to finally pick it up. The premise of this story is absolutely fascinating and I’ve been looking forward to read it ever since. But somehow, I didn’t enjoy the actual story as much as I thought I would. The elements are there: a twisted serial killer, a kidnapping, a prolonged hostage situation… But somehow it was all overshadowed by just how whiny and annoying the main character Summer was. I get that she is in an impossible situation and to say that she is having a hard time is an understatement, but I really couldn’t stand her character and the chapter set before the kidnapping only reconfirmed those feelings. There was too much romance and teen angst involved for me to take the plot seriously, and the final twists were not at all credible either. Another thing about the plot: the whole ‘trapped inside a room by a twisted individual’ scenario has clearly been done before, and sadly executed better in other stories I’ve had the chance to read so far (including Room, The Butterfly Garden, The Bunker Diary). It’s by no means a bad read and the serial killer we are introduced to is without doubt seriously twisted, but somehow The Cellar didn’t manage to convince me completely despite the promising premise. I don’t think I will be reading the sequel any time soon…


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ARC REVIEW: The Liar’s Sister – by Sarah A. Denzil

Title: The Liar’s Sister
Author: Sarah A. Denzil
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: September 25th 2019
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: September 4th 2019
Pages: 290

“Maybe none of it is real until we reach adulthood, and everything that happened before is just the breeze drifting through the curtains at night.”

*** 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 been wanting to read Sarah A. Denzil‘s books for quite some time now… While it’s true that I tried The Broken Ones not long ago and wasn’t too impressed, with so many people loving her books and recommending them (Yes, I have Silent Child on my TBR still), I just couldn’t resist trying her newest title. Especially after reading the blurb… I’m glad I decided to do so, because I definitely understand the power of her books now.

The Liar’s Sister starts out as what seems like a regular psychological thriller with a focus on family, secrets, lies and both illness and grief. The story is told mostly through a dual POV, set both in present and ten years ago. The main stars of this story are the two sisters Rosie and Heather, and as the story alternates between their point of views we slowly learn more about the past and the present. Because this is not just about strained relationship between them or about grief and trying to deal with the death of their mother. Rosie coming back to Buckthorpe is a cataclysm for a whole lot of dirt and secrets about to come to light…

The plot starts out simple and slowly gets more tangled as we learn more about what happened ten years ago and how this affects the present. The story will have you guessing for a long time, wondering what Rosie is hiding and what really happened all those years ago. I do believe the final reveals are a bit farfetched, but there is no doubt that this story ends with a bang and definitely crossed the line to action/crime thriller before you reach the final page. The Liar’s Sister is a psychological thriller filled to the brim with secrets and lies and without doubt packs a mean punch. Both focused on family relationships, grief and something possibly sinister happening in past and present, this story will appeal to both fans of more domestic thrillers and those who enjoy a healthy dose of suspense and action.


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ARC REVIEW: 29 Seconds – by T.M. Logan

Title: 29 Seconds
Author: T.M. Logan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: January 25th 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: August 14th 2019
Pages: 368

“It was strictly a one-time deal, a once-in-a-lifetime offer. A deal that might change her life. A deal that would most certainly change someone else’s.

It was a deal with the Devil.”

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

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!! Happy publication day !!

29 Seconds is one of those titles that slipped between in cracks in 2018, so I was over the moon when I was able to get an ARC of the US publication this year. Because let’s face it, the only way it’s a garantuee I will pick up a title sooner than later is if it comes with a deadline attached. Whoops? I’m very happy I finally had the chance to read this story though, because I can understand the love for 29 Seconds now. It’s such a well crafted and original plot!

Oh yes, if you are looking for a little something different than your typical psychological thriller plots, you will hit the jackpot with this one. What I thought would be a simple sexual harassment story involving the typical boss and female colleague roles, soon turned out to be something a whole lot more twisted and complicated. The sexual harassment and the bullying is there, front and center and with its own spotlight to help you remember why you hate a certain character so much. Trigger warnings are in place for those who are sensitive to the theme, because things will go quite far and it doesn’t make for comfortable reading. Sadly, this kind of bullying and treating female colleagues is not extinct even today and this story shows how difficult it is to find proper proof and fight for your rights as a woman and a professional. It was without doubt very interesting how the author developed the theme as a whole.

Like I said before, there was a certain character I absolutely and completely loathed and I myself wouldn’t have doubted a second if I would have been in the same situation and the same offer would have been made to me. Does this make me a bad person? Maybe. But some situations just have no other way out, and certain actions and persons simply have to be stopped before even more lives are ruined. I think the power of 29 Seconds is in this choice, and how this story makes you think about what you would do if the same happened to you… As the story states: ultimately, we all have someone on our list. As for the main character Sarah… Did I like her? Not exactly. Did she make me want to slap her and yell at her to get a grip? Oh yes. Was I frustrated with how she had be putting up with that kind of behavior for two years already? You bet. But it was interesting to see Sarah develop over time and reacting to her decisions and the things happening to her.

The writing made it really easy to fly through 29 Seconds and I liked how the story was divided into three parts. There are different elements involved as well as multiple plot twists and a very original angle in the form of the once-in-a-lifetime offer. I would have liked to see certain aspects of the final reveals more developed, as they seemed to be a bit rushed and not every twist seemed to be explained all that thoroughly. But overall I liked how this story surprised me and even though I was infuriated by the sexual harassment scenes, I loved the plot development as a whole. Original, fast-paced, considerably disturbing and with a healthy dose of suspense, 29 Seconds will most likely entertain any psychological thriller fan who likes their stories with a twist.


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