ARC REVIEW: Black Heart – by Anna-Lou Weatherley @bookouture

Title: Black Heart
(Detective Dan Riley #1)
Author: Anna-Lou Weatherley
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: January 31st 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: February 6th 2018
Pages: 307

“They say you dig two graves when you seek revenge and for the most part of my life I have agreed with this statement.”

*** 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 couldn’t resist requesting a copy of Black Heart after certain bloggers (hint hint) kept going on about how great this detective thriller was… And I definitely agree for the most part. It’s refreshing to follow a male detective again for a change, even though he has the ‘usual’ complicated past baggage with him… And I do have a weak spot for a serial killer thriller. The writing draws you right in and it was without doubt a lightning-speed fast thriller ride… Just the way I like them. The plot was a bit predictable though and it was quite clear early on who the killer really was. There just weren’t all that many plot twists and surprises? There is more focus on the development of the serial killer and her background as well as some fleshing out of our new star detective… The ending didn’t came as such a big surprise either, although if you somehow manage to not see the clues you will be in for a good twist. Black Heart was without doubt a very entertaining read and has a healthy dose of creepy and disturbing serial killer. The writing is great and I’ll be looking forward to find out what will happen next… Detective Dan Riley’s personal life surely raised some questions. And while Black Heart wasn’t that intense and didn’t have the expected plot twists and suspense of a typical serial killer, it shows that the characters were the main focus of this story and fans of more character-driven thrillers will have a blast reading this one.

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When the body of a wealthy banker is found in an expensive London hotel room, it appears to be a suicide. His wrists are slashed and there is a note, but detective Dan Riley suspects there is more to the case than just a ‘simple’ suicide. His instincts are right as the pathology report confirms the victim was first poisoned… And the crime scene evidence didn’t add up either. Dan Riley and his team has to deal with a murder case that is getting more complex as they find new clues… And things will escalate when the body of a woman is found in a similar way.

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Black Heart is fast-paced and reads like a train. The plot and case are interesting, although I do feel it lacked the tension and suspense serial killer thrillers tend to have. It shows the focus was more on the characters rather than on the plot twists and the creating of false clues and a highly suspenseful read… But there is no doubt Anna-Lou Weatherley was able to great a creepy and intriguing serial killer in this first detective thriller of a new series. I will be looking forward to see more of Detective Dan Riley in the future!


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ARC REVIEW: The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One – by Amanda Lovelace @AndrewsMcMeel @ladybookmad

Title: The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One
(Women Are Some Kind Of Magic #2)
Author: Amanda Lovelace
Genre: Poetry, Non Fiction, Feminism
First published: March 6th 2018
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Finished reading: January 24th 2018
Pages: 208

“to be a

woman

is to be

warbound,

k n o w i n g

all the odds

are stacked

against you.

 

– & never giving up in spite of it.”

*** 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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I know I don’t read poetry all that often, but I do enjoy reading poetry bundles every once in a while, especially if the topic speaks to me. I’ve heard lots and lots of wonderful things about Amanda Lovelace‘s powerful and feminist poems, and after a few teasers of her work, I was determined to find out what my own reaction to her work would be. And just like the bold red letters on an otherwise simple cover, The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One without doubt makes a statement. Not only did I instantly connect with her style of poetry and the way she expresses herself, but I could also relate to some of the topics she discusses in her poems. Powerful, enchanting, inspiring and so well represented in both the words and format of her work! There a trigger warnings involved for a wide selection of sensitive themes, but all used in a way that will hopefully encourage women to finally stand up for themselves and say ‘no more’. The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One simply blew me away and I can highly recommend it to fans of strong, empowering and feminist poetry. I can’t wait to read more of her work now!


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ARC REVIEW: The Camera Lies – by AB Morgan @Bloodhoundbook

Title: The Camera Lies
Author: AB Morgan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: February 3rd 2018
Publisher: Bloodhound Books
Finished reading: January 26th 2018
Pages: 301

“Whoever said ‘the camera never lies’  was wrong.”

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

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!! Happy publication day !!

I was immediately drawn to this psychological thriller and not just because of the cover. The whole TV angle sounded fascinated and made me want to add it to my wishlist straight away… And I have been looking forward to The Camera Lies ever since. There is no doubt that this thriller delivers. The fact that the main character is a TV presenter making documentaries investigating miscarriages of justice is refreshing and definitely makes The Camera Lies stand out from your typical psychological thrillers. This story goes full speed and never slows down… There is a lot of action involved in the plot and it will have some surprises in store for you. BUT. And here comes the reason I had to take away a star from what is otherwise a booming thriller: I was able to see a huge plot twist/revelation coming REALLY early on… And this kind of put a damper on the whole reading experience. I kept hoping I was wrong, and it might just be I read too many psychological thrillers in the first place, but I like being surprised and I was disappointed when I realized that my suspicions were right. Still, there were other elements that did manage to surprise me and the whole case is without doubt both intriguing, twisted and disturbing. Trigger warnings for adult content and graphic scenes! All in all I can definitely recommend The Camera Lies to those who like their psychological thrillers fast, action-packed and twisted.

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Konrad Neale is a TV presenter who is trying to have his comeback a series of documentaries that investigate miscarriages of justice. He and his team are currently working on the case of Matthew Hawley, a man who has been convicted of the brutal murder of his wife Helena. He remembers nothing of that evening and keeps insisting he would never have killed her willingly… Is he lying or is something more complicated at hand? And what about the threatening texts Konrad receives as they are investigating the case?

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There is no doubt that both the TV documentary angle and the murder case itself make The Camera Lies a very refreshing, intense and action-packed read. Even though I did see a mayor plot twist coming, there were other things I never would have guessed. There are some disturbing things going on for sure! The story reads superfast and you will be wondering what will happen next and how things will end until the very last page. Entertaining and thrilling for sure!


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ARC REVIEW: Vanishing Girls – by Lisa Regan @bookouture

Title: Vanishing Girls
(Detective Josie Quinn #1)
Author: Lisa Regan

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: January 17th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: January 21st 2018
Pages: 334

“You can’t always be all roses and sweetness,” she had always told Josie. “That don’t get shit done.”

*** 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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Bold and striking: two words that describe the cover perfectly. And these words apply to Vanishing Girls itself as well, because this new detective series goes all out and buries you under a mountain of intense and action-packed scenes. I picked up this thriller on a Saturday afternoon and found myself to be so utterly engrossed I completely forgot I had other things to do. The writing style is engaging and allows you to jump right in. There is a lot going on in Vanishing Girls and there is not one boring minute with the non-stop action and plot twists getting thrown right at you. That said, I almost felt there was too much going on and I started to doubt about the credibility of it all. I’m not saying I didn’t love this story, especially since I like my thrillers dark, intense and suspenseful, but still… Especially the final part felt a little bit too close to the credibility border. The main character Josie Quinn is without doubt another interesting one and a perfect example of a kick ass female detective. The fact she is on a suspension and doing her own investigation anyway adds a little something extra, and I like how well fleshed out and rounded her character felt. There are a few cliches involved, like the complicated and dark past and personal life in general, but Josie Quinn is mostly forgiven for those cliches as she bulldozers through the secrets and lies and gets things done. I do wonder how things could continue on the same level after such an explosive ending, but I’m definitely curious and will be coming back for more. Intense, fascinating, disturbing, suspenseful… Thriller fans, read this book!

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When seventeen-year-old Isabelle Coleman goes missing, the whole town of Denton helps looking for her. But their search turns up nothing but the girl’s phone… That and another girl they didn’t even know was missing. The girl is unresponsible and it is clear she has been through hell and damaged beyond repair. Detective Josie Quinn only gets a name from her: Ramona. Who is Ramona and what does she have to do with the missing girls? What is really going on in Denton?

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If you like dark, intense, action-packed thrillers, you will be in for a treat with Vanishing Girls. The case described in this first book of a new detective series is both disturbing and fascinating, and this story is not for the weak-hearted. Trigger warnings are in place for violence, abuse and graphic scenes! Vanishing Girls is without doubt my kind of thriller and I had a blast following this rollercoast ride. The plot is so packed with action and twisted that it’s on the border of credible, but there is no doubt you won’t find a boring minute while reading this one. The main character Josie Quinn is on fire in this one!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #9: Life In Outer Space & The Bunker Diary

Time for more Yvo’s Shorties! This time shorties of books I’ve actually read in 2018. 😉 These two books were my very first Beat The Backlist titles and here’s to many more to follow this year. Number one is Life In Outer Space by Melissa Keil, a book I picked up on a whim. The second, The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks, I’ve been meaning to pick up for ages and turned out to be a very shocking and thought-provoking read.


Title: Life In Outer Space
Author: Melissa Keil

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: February 1st 2013
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Finished reading: January 4th 2018
Pages: 305

“I guess some people enter your orbit and get stuck, and there’s nothing either of you can do about it.”


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Ever picked a book up on a whim? Well, that was what happened when I started reading Life In Outer Space by Melissa Keil. I love my geeky/nerdy reads and I was so sure I was going to enjoy this one… But I guess it just wasn’t ment to be. First of all, I feel this book is trying too hard. Why? The geeky/nerdy element feels forced unnatural and basically didn’t manage to convince me. This is strange, because it’s normally my favorite part of this kind of YA contemporaries… The movie geek theme did at least play a significant role throughout the story, which I could appreciate since it clearly wasn’t just another box to be ticked and time and effort was put into finding all those references and quotes. I do feel Life In Outer Space has an aweful lot of high school cliches though, including the infamous ‘geek falls for popular girl’ trope. And another thing that made me struggle to love this story were the main characters. Unfortunately I never managed to connect to them, although I’m having the feeling the unnatural feel of the geeky elements were probably part of the problem. It does read superfast and fans of cute YA contemporary romance reads who don’t mind high school cliches will most likely have a better reading experience than me.


Title: The Bunker Diary
Author: Kevin Brooks

Genre: YA, Thriller, Horror
First published: March 7th 2013
Publisher: Penguin
Finished reading: January 6th 2018
Pages: 268

“Fear serves a purpose. It’s not just for watching spooky films or riding rollercoasters. It’s there for a reason. It keeps us alive.”


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I’ve been meaning to read this one for a long time, and when I saw mentioned in the first line of the description this was going to be ‘Room meets Lord Of The Flies’, I was sold. These comparisons to popular books can go both ways, but I think in the case of The Bunker Diary it is actually pretty accurate. Because WOW. I was intrigued as soon as I started reading The Bunker Diary and this is both an addictive, shocking, thought-provoking and emotional read. I sure wish I would have picked it up sooner! The writing is interesting and we learn about what is happening through the diary of the main character. Not only tells us about the events in the bunker, but it also shows the mental state of the character as well as how the things that happen have their effect. It’s hard to talk properly about this story without giving away too much, but The Bunker Diary will crush your heart, make you stare at the final page and at loss for words. A trigger warning for some graphic descriptions, but all in all I can really recommend reading this story. It definitely blew me away.


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ARC REVIEW: Her Last Secret – by Barbara Copperthwaite @bookouture

Title: Her Last Secret
Author: Barbara Copperthwaite

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: October 13th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: September 24th 2017
Pages: ?

“Life was sweet. Until it turned sour.”

*** 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 really enjoyed reading The Darkest Lies earlier this year, so I was really looking forward to Barbara Copperthwaite‘s newest psychological thriller. And as the title might already suggest, this one is yet another story packed until its limits with lies and secrets. Her Last Secret is mostly a character-driven psychological thriller and focuses on the many different characters that play a role in the event of that damned Christmas day. I do have to admit the pace was initially a lot slower than expected and I found myself struggling a little in the beginning. This was due both to the slower pace and my lack of connection to the characters. Somehow was never able to warm up to any of the main characters (except mayby for Mouse) and some of their actions and opinions actually started to frustrate me (the father is despicable!). I can’t deny their development feels realistic and rounded though; each of them having a different web of lies and secrets and adding a different level to the story. This complexity of characters and different subplots is what saved this story for me. Once you get used to the different characters, start learning about the events leading up to Christmas day and start guessing what really happened, you will find yourself hooked. The second half of the story definitely made up for the slow start for me. I loved the whole countdown idea and how slowly more of the present day event is revealed… Leaving you in the dark and guessing what could have happened and who is to blame as you learn more about the characters. And the final part is more than shocking! Basically, Her Last Secret will make you think a lot of things and suspect a lot of people, but I can garantuee you won’t guess the final truth about what really happened. I could also really appreciate the role (cyber)bullying played in this story. All in all, if you enjoy reading character-driven psychological thrillers, you will have a great time with this one.

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On the outside, they seemed like a perfect family. Ben Thomas is a successful business and lives with his wife Dominique in a beautiful house along with their two daughters Ruby and Mouse. But this perfect image is just a mirage, as they seem to be hiding a lot of secrets… And then on Christmas day the police is called to their home, only to find a horrific scene. What happened in their home? What secrets were they hiding? And did those secrets have anything to do with what happened on Christmas day?

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Her Last Secret turned out to be a slowburner for me. While I initially struggled with the slower pace and my lack of connection to the characters, I was seriously hooked by the time I reached the second half. This character-driven psychological thriller has more layers than an onion and a huge dose of secrets to go with it. The complexity of the plot and how the different storylines slowly merge is what makes this story so intriguing; the countdown chapters mixed with the slow Christmas day revelations only add to the suspense.


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ARC REVIEW: The Mistake – by K.L. Slater @bookouture

Title: The Mistake
Author: K.L. Slater

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: October 4th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: September 19th 2017
Pages: 268

“Books helped me get well back then and I feel happiest now when I’m around them. Sometimes I wish I could put up a camp bed in the back office, and then I’d never need to go home at all.”

*** 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 looking forward to a new K.L. Slater thriller ever since I finished Liar and I was more than excited when I first heard about The Mistake. And although it turned out not being my favorite of the bunch, The Mistake is without doubt still a very well written and suspenseful psychological thriller. The writing both draws you in and makes you fly through the pages. The plot was an interesting one and the situation and consequences of grooming are very thoroughly and realistically described. It’s not a theme I have seen all that often before in psychological thrillers and I could really appreciate the spotlight on something that unfortunately happens way too often to vulnerable (young) women. I also liked the idea of the chapters going back between past and present; showing this way both what happened all those years ago and how this effected Rose’s life even after all those years. This all sounds really positive, so why ‘only’ a 4 star rating? The main reason were the main characters, which I found highly unlikeable and made me enjoy the story less than expected. Rose and Garreth made me cringe A LOT. Unlikeable or not, the grooming is very well described as well as the consequences those actions have for the people around them. This is not a happy read and will provoke strong emotions. Realistic, full of twists, suspenseful, intriguing, provoking… All words that apply to The Mistake. Recommended for fans of the genre.

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Sixteen years ago, Rose took her eight-year-old brother Billy out flying his kite and he went missing. Two days later, he was found dead… And Rose has never fully recovered from the trauma. The person who did this to Billy is behind bars, but did they convict the right man? Rose never doubted this up until she finds something in the attic room of a trusted neighbor… And every painful detail of her past comes back to haunt her.

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Even though The Mistake wasn´t my absolute favorite, there is no denying it is still a very good psychological thriller with an important theme (grooming). The writing is excellent as always and manages to draw you right in; the plot is well developed and has quite a few twists and turns that will surprise you. The flashbacks to the past don’t distract and instead add to the overall richness of the plot; the grooming is very well described and feels realistic. The only problem I had was with the main characters: I never managed to warm up to Rose or Garreth and felt frustrated especially with Rose. Although I guess Garreth wasn’t ment to be likeable in the first place… The rest of the story is excellent though and will appeal to any fan of more character-driven psychological thrillers.


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