ARC REVIEW: The Darkness – by Ragnar Jonasson

Title: The Darkness
(Hidden Iceland #1)

Author: Ragnar Jonasson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 15th 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: October 14th 2018
Pages: 336
(Originally written in Icelandic: ‘Dimma’)

“Over the years she had spoken to so many suspects she had developed a knack of spotting when people were trying to pull the wool over her eyes.”

*** 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 !!

I’ve been meaning to try one of Ragnar Jonasson‘s books for some time now, so when I saw that the translation of Dimma was coming out I just couldn’t resist. I don’t think I’ve ever read a story set in Iceland before, so the setting alone was a huge bonus for me. But what stands out for me even more is the main character of The Darkness. Yes, she is a detective with a complicated past, which may sound as a cliche… But this is all forgotten as we finally have an older main character to follow; DI Hulda Hermannsdottir is 64 and almost retiring, and getting to see her at this point in her life is truly refreshing. The Darkness is both about Hulda and the secrets of her past and the death of an asylum seeker from Russia. While a bit slow at point, the development of the plot and plot twists is well done and this story definitely has some surprises in store for you. And that ending! I wish I could understand Icelandic so I could find out what happens next… I’m fully intrigued. There are three different POVs to deal with, one of them set in the past, and all add something to the plot even though it takes a while to figure out how everything connects. The writing is solid and reads easily, and despite a slower pace at times The Darkness is still a very good detective thriller.

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Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir is about to reach the age of retirement, but she is allowed to dive into one last cold case before she has to clear her desk. She decides to look into the death of a young asylum seeker from Russia. While the other detective had ruled it a suicide, Hulda is convinced they didn’t investigate all angles in the past. She starts her investigation, but soon finds out nobody actually wants her to keep investigating. The renewed attention to the case may have dangerous consequences…

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The Darkness both has an interesting setting and a strong main character to build a story around. I really appreciated to finally have an older main character, and Hulda is without doubt a very interesting one to follow. The mystery around her past and the cold case she is investigating will keep you on your toes, making the slower parts less noticeable. And what a shocking ending! I definitely didn’t see some of the reveals coming. Talk about ending things with a blast… I will be looking forward to book two.


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ARC REVIEW: Tell Nobody – by Patricia Gibney

Title: Tell Nobody
(Detective Lottie Parker #5)
Author: Patricia Gibney
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 3rd 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: October 3rd 2018
Pages: 458

“Now she was on the road with no idea whether she had successfully escaped the veil of evil that had shrouded her life, or if she was being catapulted head-first into a new horror show.”

*** 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 closely following detective Lottie Parker and her team ever since the first book came out, and each new book that comes out gives me that feeling of Christmas having come early. The series has been constantly excellent so far, delivering another complex, shocking and well developed story to feed our hungry detective thriller minds. This is why it comes as a total surprise to me I wasn’t able to enjoy Tell Nobody as much as the previous four books. Don’t get me wrong, book number five is still a solid detective thriller, with the same complexity and well crafted plot I have become used to, but for me some of the spark was missing this time. I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but I think part of it has to do with the fact that the behavior of the main characters really annoyed me this time with the constant negative attitudes, swearing and other unpleasant traits. This made me feel not as connected to the story, as I was distracted by my feelings of frustrations towards them. As for the investigations in Tell Nobody: trigger warnings are in place for abuse and child abuse, violence and possible graphic scenes. As always, there are a lot of different characters in play and a lot of twists and turns to distract you from the truth. I guessed part of the final reveals, but there were also a few things I definitely didn’t see coming. Disturbing, twisted and unsettling… Make sure you brace yourself before you start this one. The ending will be a shocker!

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first four books yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

One evening eleven-year-old Mikey disappears after scoring the winning goal for his soccer team and celebrating together in McDonalds. Two days later his lifeless body is found and Lottie Parker and her team are called in to investigate. They are having their hands full, as they are also investigating another case where the body of a newborn was found by no other than Lottie Parker’s own son Sean and his friend. Things are becoming personal, and quickly spin out of control… Will they be able to solve the cases in time?

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While Tell Nobody without doubt still is a solid detective thriller, I don’t think it hit the mark completely for me this time. A lot had to do with the fact that somehow the main characters and their negative attitude started to frustrate me, and maybe also with the fact that I saw part of the final reveal coming quite early on. That said, the writing was as solid as always as well as the construction of the plot and plot twists. There are some difficult themes involved including child abuse and this story definitely isn’t for the weak hearted.


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ARC REVIEW: The Wife’s Secret – by Kerry Wilkinson @bookouture

Title: The Wife’s Secret
Author: Kerry Wilkinson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: October 10th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: September 22nd 2018
Pages: 338

“You hear people saying it’s the not knowing that really affects a person. If there’s a death, you can start the process of grieving; without that, you’re left hoping – and it’s the hope that gets you in the end.”

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

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!! Happy publication day !!

I have enjoyed Kerry Wilkinson‘s books in the past, and combined with an intriguing sounding blurb I found The Wife’s Secret to be impossible to resist. I’m definitely glad I followed my instincts, because I found myself hooked from the moment I sat down and opened the first page. This might just be my new favorite story by this author so far! The writing is solid, engaging and makes you fly through the pages as you try and figure out what happened to Seth’s wife and what she is hiding. And what a shocking history that is! I literally finished The Wife’s Secret in less than a day and there were a lot of things I didn’t see coming. The suspense is very well done and the plot and plot twists crafted in a way that will keep you guessing as certain aspects are only revealed towards the ending. I always love it when a psychological thriller manages to surprise me! And such shocking reveals at that… As for the characters: most of them are not exactly likeable, but somehow that didn’t bother me all that much. I was too focused on the whole mystery around Charley, both around her past and her disappearance, to be put off by them. If you like suspenseful psychological thrillers, you will be in for a treat with this one.

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Charley Willis was only thirteen years old when her famous parents were killed in their own home. She was found unharmed and hiding in a closet upstairs… Fifteen years later, Charley is marrying Seth Chambers. It is her chance at a clean slate, as Seth doesn’t know much about her past apart from the facts known to the general public. But the past may have come back to haunt her… Hourse after the wedding ceremony, Charley is missing. And Seth is about to find out his new wife kept a lot of things from him…

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I like Kerry Wilkinson‘s writing style and The Wife’s Secret is no exception. Suspenseful, well written, shocking twists and slightly disturbing… There is a lot to love in this story and there is a lot to keep you on the wrong path for a long time. There are definitely plot reveals that will manage to surprise you before you reach the final page! The Wife’s Secret is an excellent psychological thriller and a true pageturner.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #44 – I Let You Go & Hex Hall

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two books with a similar color combination in the cover, but two completely different genres. The first, I Let You Go, is one of those psychological thrillers I’ve been meaning to pick up for years, but only just did so. Hex Hall on the other hand is not my typical genre, but I ended up enjoying it way more than expected.


Title: I Let You Go
Author: Clare Mackintosh

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: November 6th 2014
Publisher: Sphere
Finished reading: August 30th 2018
Pages: 371

“I was stupid to think I could escape the past. However fast I run, however far: I will never outrun it.”


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The fact is that I have been meaning to read this psychological thriller for years, especially since I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it. I’m not sure if it was the original hype around I Let You Go making me set my expectations too high or this being unpopular opinion time again, but sadly I didn’t end up having the reading experience I was expecting. Why? There is no doubt that this psychological thriller is well written and there are some clever twists included that will mislead you. That said, I did encounter a few problems along the way that made me enjoy the story less. The biggest obstacle was the fact that I guessed the big reveal really early on… It was just too easy to figure out the key information after the initial surprise was revealed, and this was quite a let down for me. I also had problems with the two leading detectives of the case; I couldn’t warm up to them and I always hate cheating main characters. The pace was quite slow in points as well, although it did pick up in the second half of I Let You Go. I did like the setting in Penfach and the beach atmosphere… And while at times disturbing to read, I appreciated I Let You Go shining a light on what domestic abuse can do to a person. But sadly overall I can’t say I was all that impressed by this story.


Title: Hex Hall
(Hex Hall #1)
Author: Rachel Hawkins

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: March 2nd 2010
Publisher: Hyperion
Finished reading: August 31st 2018
Pages: 323

“Humans are always going to be scared of us. They’re always going to be envious of our powers, and suspicious of our motives.”


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I have to admit I was a bit nervous to pick up Hex Hall, both because it’s not my typical genre and I was afraid there would be too much romance involved. Thankfully I had nothing to worry about, and this first book of a magical series was a pleasant surprise. I still can’t believe how much I enjoyed this story despite a love triangle and the presence of a vampire! There is just something about the writing style that draws you right in and makes you fly through the pages. I literally finished this story in one sitting. Highly entertaining, addictive and just enough magic and supernatural atmosphere to keep that delicate balance with the romance elements. I loved Jenna’s character and while Sophie does come over as a bit annoying at times and there were cliches involved, somehow it just didn’t matter to me. The mystery around the attacks, the magic, Hecate Hall itself, the different supernatural characters… It just all clicked in a way that turned Hex Hall into a very successful and very entertaining ride. I’m definitely looking forward to book two!


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ARC REVIEW: Truth And Lies – by Caroline Mitchell

Title: Truth And Lies
(DI Amy Winter #1)

Author: Caroline Mitchell
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: August 30th 2018
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: August 16th 2018
Pages: 348

“She has always vaguely aware of something dark and monstruous buried deep inside. Something that made her blood turn cold.”

*** 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 !!

After highly enjoying Caroline Mitchell‘s thrillers in the past, of course I couldn’t resist the request button when I saw this title pop up on Netgalley. Although I still wish I could have another dose of Ruby Preston, it was great meeting a new detective. And boy, does she have an explosive past! I love a good serial killer thriller and the husband-and-wife serial killer team described in Truth And Lies will give you goosebumps. 200% twisted and Amy Winter’s background definitely sets the tone for this first installment of a new detective series… The writing is solid, and will make you fly through this story. There are a lot of different elements incorporated into the plot, including the serial killer duo, their victims, Amy’s past, a new kidnapping case, the Truth Keepers and domestic abuse. While each element on it’s own is intriguing and adds something to the story, I do think it was a little too much. Why too much? Because there were so many different elements, I felt some of them lacked the development and attention it deserved. Also, I felt that some elements and subplots were kind of abandoned halfway and simply cut off instead of neatly ended. As for the credibility… I’m still on the fence about that one, but I don’t think I was completely convinced. There were a few surprising plot twists though and I will be curious how things will continue, because Truth And Lies ended with a pretty big cliffhanger with mayor consequences for the main character’s private life. All in all Truth And Lies wasn’t my favorite, but still an entertaining serial killer thriller.

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DI Amy Winter is hoping to make her father proud, who was a highly respected and successful police officer himself. Then her whole life falls apart when receives a letter from prison written by the infamous Lillian Grimes. She is one half of a husband-and-wife serial killer duo, and also claiming to be Amy’s biological mother. Memories long repressed start resurfacing again… Especially as her mother claims to finally want to reveal the location of three of her victims, but only if Amy does exactly as she says.

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I have a weak spot for serial killer thrillers, and I really like the original angle used in Truth And Lies. It’s not the first time I’ve read a story written from the perspective of a serial killer’s daughter, but it hasn’t been done a lot either. The details about the past, the memories resurfacing, the broken family story… It definitely adds something fascinating to the story. But for me this element kind of got a bit lost in between all the other elements used in this story; there was simply too much going on, too many different elements and subplots to make for a proper coherent and believable plot. I felt some angles were left unfinished and I think the story would have benefitted by simplifying things and leaving some elements out. That said, it was still an entertaining read and a good start of a new series.


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ARC REVIEW: The Confession – by Jo Spain @crookedlanebks

Title: The Confession
Author: Jo Spain
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: January 11th 2018
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Finished reading: August 21st 2018
Pages: 288

“But here’s the thing about fairytales. Sometimes they’re darker than you can ever imagine.”

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

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Fellow book bloggers have been saying I need to try out Jo Spain‘s work for years, but somehow other pending books always got in the way. So when I had the chance to receive an ARC of her newest title The Confession, of course I jumped at it. A lot of people will know this title with a different cover, published back in January, but I actually really like this version and how well it fits the story. Scheduled to be published early next month! I went in with an open mind and found myself really surprised by what I found. The first thing that stands out is the writing style, which is solid, engaging and draws you right in. That and the fact that you find out the identity of the suspect right in the beginning. Talk about unusual! But somehow it The Confession it really works. Because while you know the who, you are completely left in the dark about the why until the very end. Plot twists and false leads will take you on a journey through the lives of both suspect, victim and those trying to solve the case. Very cleverly done! I had my guesses about how it all fitted in, but I definitely didn’t see the final reveal coming. The characters themselves are not exactly likeable, but well developed and feel real. My only problem would be with the cops Moody and Gallagher, who I both found to be arrogant and frustratingly annoying (especially Gallagher). And despite other minor annoyances, this was still a very solid psychological thriller. Well crafted, clever and creative… Three little words will make you want to keep on reading until the very end: WHY? Not your typical psychological thriller, but oh so good.

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The life of the wealthy McNamara couple changes forever when a man walks into their home and brutally attacks Harry while his wife Julie is watching. Not an hour later, the attacker J.P. Carney hands himself in to the police and confesses… Although also claiming he didn’t know the identity of his victim nor was his attack premeditated. But disgraced banker Harry had just been found innocent in a highly sensationalized fraud trial, so can this really be true? Was this an act driven by temporary insanity, or is something more sinister going on?

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Normally, finding out the who behind an attack or murder is one of the main drives of a crime thriller. So how can The Confession work that well if we know who did it right away? It has to do with both the well crafted plot and the also important question ‘why’. We may know the who, but readers are left clueless when it comes to the reason behind this attack. What secrets are J.P., Harry and Julie hiding? What connects them? Why was Harry attacked? Oh yes, you will keep wondering why, why, why as you keep turning pages and encountering the next clever twist. A very solid read indeed!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #35 – Misery & Kids Of Appetite

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! Another round of backlist titles, and two completely different genres and age groups at that. I’ve been meaning to read Misery for years and I already had an idea what it was about… I’m definitely glad I finally did so. It’s not my all time favorite Stephen King, but without doubt a great read. Kids Of Appetite I picked up on a whim browsing my kindle, and I had high hopes because I adored David Arnold’s other book Mosquitoland. Sadly, this story just didn’t work for me.


Title: Misery
Author: Stephen King

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Horror
First published: 1987
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Finished reading: July 27th 2018
Pages: 369

“He felt as he always did when he finished a book — queerly empty, let down, aware that for each little success he had paid a toll of absurdity.”


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I’ve read quite a few Stephen King books over the years, but somehow I never actually picked up Misery until now. Of course I have heard lots of things about the plot, so I had a general idea what the story was about… And I have to say the actual story definitely lived up to expectations. It’s not my absolute favorite King, but there is no doubt that this is one of his better books I’ve read to this date. Misery is more psychological horror than bloody horror in general, although it has a few select scenes that won’t go well with those with a weak stomach. Strong writing… Check. Well developed, disturbing and creepy characters… Check. A healthy dose of suspense… Check. Plot twists… Check. A little torture and blood here and there… Check. I definitely had a great time reading Misery, although it doesn’t feel the right word for a story this creepy. I liked the Misery chapters in between the actual plot, as it added another level and more dept to the plot itself. And I wouldn’t wish Annie upon my worst enemy! Boy, she is a true nutter… Writers, beware. She is stuff nightmares are made of. If you enjoy reading his work, Misery should definitely be on your reading list as well.


Title: Kids Of Appetite
Author: David Arnold

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
First published: September 20th 2016
Publisher: Viking Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: July 29th 2018
Pages: 352

“The kids were more than just a gaggle. They were puzzle pieces, a well-packed trunk, as improbably organized as the improbable shelves in their improbable habitat.”


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I absolutely adored Mosquitoland last year, so I had high hopes for Kids Of Appetite as well. It took me longer than expected to finally get to it… And sadly it wasn’t the experience I was hoping for. I’m actually still surprised and I bit shocked by my reaction to be honest… Because I have to be sincere here and I’m not sure how I made it past the 20% without giving in to the urge to DNF. Do I feel sad? Yes. But unfortunately Kids Of Appetite just wasn’t for me. I have seen this story has pretty extreme reactions, people either loving or strongly disliking it, so definitely don’t give up on it yet if you enjoy stories with unique characters and writing style. Because that’s the main struggle here: the writing. While unique and original, it is something that either works for you and makes you want to sing out loud, OR makes you want to throw things at the wall in frustration. Not that my singing would actually make anyone happy in the first place, but sadly my walls might have taken a hit or two here. I personally really struggled with it all and this made it just really hard both to get a proper feel for things and understand what is exactly going on in the first place. David Arnold is a master in greating unique characters though. Kuddos to him for introducing us to Victor and giving Moebius a spotlight; the other characters definitely weren’t bland either. I’m not sure everything in the plot was actually credible though. In short, Kids Of Appetite is a book of extremes and therefore will provoke strong emotions… So even though this book didn’t work for me, you might just love it instead.


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