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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BOOK REVIEW: Beartown – by Fredrik Backman

Title: Beartown
(Björnstad #1)
Author: Fredrik Backman

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Sports
First published: April 25th 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Finished reading: September 15th 2017
Pages:432 
(Originally written in Swedish: ‘Björnstad’)

“The very worst events in life have that effect on a family: we always remember, more sharply than anything else, the last happy moments before everything fell apart.”

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Fredrik Backman managed to blow me completely away with his story A Man Called Ove last year, which turned out to be one of my new all time favorites. I’ve been wanting to read one of his other books ever since… So now I finally have more time to read my own books, I decided to pick up my copy of his newest story Beartown. Confession: I’m not a hockey fan at all, so I wasn’t sure if reading a book centered around this sport would work for me. Also, my love for A Man Called Ove is so great that I wasn’t sure if another book would be able to live up to that level of wonderfulness. And it turned out my fears were grounded, because I do think Beartown came nowhere close to reaching that level. BUT. It is also true that this is a completely different story and should be evaluated as such. Because don’t get me wrong, it was without doubt a very good story and it shows Fredrik Backman is a brilliant writer. That said, I wish I could rate both halves of this book separately, because I had a completely different experience for both. While I had my doubts about Beartown during the first half of this story, all of this faded into the background when I reached the second part. Because by the time I reached the final page I was left with a broken heart and my emotions all over the place. It’s impressive that just one book is able to provoke so many contradicting emotions… What started out as a story with a lot of potential, but something that wasn’t able to convince me yet, ended in something I could easy have given a full 5 star rating for. In the beginning, I found myself struggling with the amount of characters and POVs that made it quite hard to keep track of them all. The writing was good, but somehow didn’t manage to lure me in completely and all the hockey talk wasn’t for me either. I found myself not as invested and I was feeling quite disappointed since I LOVED the characters in A Man Called Ove and was hooked right from the first page. Beartown turned out to be a slowburner instead, and while it took me about half the book to get used to the huge cast of characters, writing and situation in Beartown, as soon as I did I was hooked. This story has a few trigger warnings for the more sensitive readers, but the themes discussed in this story and the way the characters react to different situations are both intriguing, messy, realistic and will provoke very powerful emotions. You will love them, hate them, want to yell at them, slap them, hug them, make their pain go away… And you will feel powerless as you turn page after page and see how things unfold. So if you, like me, aren’t immediately convinced by this story, struggle with the multiple POVs and aren’t a hockey fan, don’t discard this book. Beartown is one of those stories where things will most definitely get better; although better is an understatement for the brilliant and realistic execution of the second half.

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Beartown is a tiny community deep in the forest and a true hockey town. Some say Beartown is finished and things have been going downhill for a while. Their hockey team hasn’t shown any true potential in years and jobs have been disappearing as the forest slowly reclaims her territory. But the people in Beartown still believe tomorrow will be better than today, and their junior ice hockey team might be the key to that dream. They are about to compete in the national semi-finals; if they win, this could mean Beartown is back on the so-called hockey map. So all the hopes and dreams of the town now rest of the shoulders of a bunch of teenage boys… How will they react to the pressure? Will they be able to win the game? And what will this whole experience do to their young minds?

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I have called Beartown a slowburner before, and I think this is just the right term for my feelings for this book. It took me a while to warm up to this story and to be honest in the beginning I wasn’t convinced by the multiple POVs and the amount of characters introduced. I’m not a hockey fan and I wasn’t sure if I could handle the prominent role the sport has in the story… But all those worries disappeared as soon as I reached the second half and found myself fully invested. I don’t want to give away too much to avoid spoilers (since the original blurb had a few as well), but some things will happen that will provoke very strong emotions and these feelings won’t let you go until you reach the final page. The fact that there are so many conflicting emotions will leave you wrecked, but fully satisfied. The ending is quite interesting as well, and will make you wonder about how the story started. All in all recommended despite the not that convincing start!


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ARC REVIEW: Girl In Snow – by Danya Kukafka

Title: Girl In Snow
Author: Danya Kukafka

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 1st 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Finished reading: August 16th 2017
Pages: 368

“Emotions shouldn’t have names. I don’t know why we bother talking about them, because emotions are never what they’re supposed to be.”

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

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I was actually invited to read this title a while back, and I was intrigued by both the cover and blurb. I was really looking forward to Girl In Snow, but unfortunately I can’t say I enjoyed it as much as I initially thought I would. This was actually the second time I picked up my copy, because somehow the first time I never made it past the first few pages. Because there is just something about the writing style that makes it quite hard to connect to it if you aren’t in the right mood, making it hard to stay focused on the story itself. I do have to say things went a lot better the second time around and after getting used to the writing style Girl In Snow turned out to be quite a fast read. That said, I can’t deny there was something about the way the story was written that didn’t manage to convince me completely. Because I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who felt slightly confused by the what, who and how in the beginning. Things did get better when more information is given, although I do wish Girl In Snow would have been more focused on the actual plot and less on the different characters. Unfortunately I was never able to connect to the three main characters or their POVs used to tell the story and the victim Lucinda for me lacks developments to properly care about her. That said, I did appreciate the descriptions of Jade and Cameron and their issues; they seem quite realistic. I wasn’t sure about the credibility in general though or the way everything was connected… But Girl In Snow is a fast read and has quite a few twists you probably won’t see coming. The memory loss of Cameron was an interesting touch as well.

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The teenage Lucinda Hayes is found murdered one winter morning in 2005 and it seems the whole town is affected by her death. Cameron, Jade and Russ are each somehow connected to her life or the aftermath of Lucinda’s death and will have to confront their secrets to find out the truth about what happened to Lucinda… Because things are not what they seem and if they don’t try to face their problems, the truth may never come out.

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I really wanted to enjoy this story, but unfortunately I did stumble upon a few problems that made it harder for me to actually enjoy the reading experience. I’m not saying the writing is bad at all, but I do think it is something that either works for you or it doesn’t. Once I got used to it, Girl In Snow did turn out to be quite a fast read and there were some aspects and themes I really liked. Cameron is quite an interesting character both because of his memory loss and mental health issues. I can’t say I actually liked the characters and I wasn’t sure if some aspects of the plot and connections were completely credible, but the right person will probably love this story.


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ARC REVIEW: The Other Girl – by Erica Spindler @StMartinsPress

Title: The Other Girl
Author: Erica Spindler

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 22nd 2017
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: August 8th 2017
Pages: 352

“She’d left everyone from those days behind – everyone except that girl she had been. All these years,carrying her around like an invisible anchor.

The girl she had been.”

*** 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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I was personally invited to read this title a while back and since I’ve read and enjoyed Erica Spindler‘s work in the past the answer was an easy one. I’ve been looking forward to pick up The Other Girl ever since and I can say now the actual story is just as good as the cover. This new stand-alone thriller starts out strong and stays that way until the very end. The storyline switches between flashbacks of what happened to the main character and now officer Miranda about fourteen years ago and you slowly learn how these events are or aren’t connected to the present. I personally wasn’t a fan of Miranda, but her character development is interesting and it was intriguing how she was trying to put the past behind her and change her life. The writing style draws you right in and had me hooked almost instantly. A little warning for the more sensitive readers, because some of the scenes can be called pretty disturbing and graphic. Because boy, they have one heck of a case on their hands! There are a lot of twists and intrigue included in The Other Girl, although I did start to suspect the who and why quite early on. This put only a tiny damper on my reading experience though, since this thriller is so well written and action-packed that the journey alone makes it a worthy read. If you like a good crime thriller with a twist, The Other Girl is a great choice!

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Officer Miranda Rader has a dodgy past, but she has worked hard for years to leave the girl she used to be behind and earn respect as an officer of the Hammond PD in Louisiana. But when Miranda and her partner are made part of the investigation of the murder of one of the most beloved college professors of the town, her past might just be back to haunt her. Because the murder isn’t just gruesome, but seems to be connected to her personally when she finds a faded newspaper clipping at the scene. What is happening and who is behind the murder? Things are about to become very complicated…

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I had high expectations for The Other Girl and there is no doubt this story has met these expectations. The strong start had me hooked right from the beginning and I liked the balance between the flashbacks to the past and the present. Miranda isn’t exactly likeable, but her character development is well done and there is no doubt she is an interesting one. I did see the ending coming quite early, but still had an excellent time reading The Other Girl.


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BOOK REVIEW: Sister – by Rosamund Lupton

Title: Sister
Author: Rosamund Lupton

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: September 2nd 2010
Publisher: Boekerij
Finished reading: August 6th 2017
Pages: 352
(Read in Dutch: ‘Zusje’)

“Usually time alters and affects everything, but when someone you love dies time cannot change that, no amount of time will ever change that, so time stops having any meaning.”


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It may sound weird since I’m originally Dutch, but I haven’t used the language actively in years (I use Spanish all day and English for reading and blogging) and I can promise you it has become preeeetty rusty. How do I know? Let’s just say that when I visited Holland last year nobody believed I was actually Dutch when I tried to speak haha. I made a promise to myself when I came back from my trip to start reading at least one or two Dutch books a year to refresh my memories… And last month I finally decided to keep that promise and pick up my copy of the Dutch version of Sister by Rosamund Lupton. I was kind of hoping that picking up a story belonging to one of my favorite genres would make it easier to enjoy reading it, but unfortunately this didn’t end up being the case. It took me a whole month to actually finish this story, which was way longer than I had planned. Part of the problem was probably the language barrier (reading in Dutch just doesn’t feel ‘natural’ tp me anymore), but I don’t think that was the only reason why I didn’t enjoy reading Sister. The first thing that stands out is the superslow pace, which made it so much harder to keep going. I wasn’t really a fan of the writing style either, although it’s always tricky to talk about this element with a translation. Still, I wasn’t charmed by the tone or the way the sentences flowed and this made it considerably harder to stay focused on the story. And the characters… Boy, did I have a hard time with them! I wasn’t able to warm up to them at all and was mostly frustrated by Beatrice. The way the story is told is quite original though and I can’t deny the ending came as a surprise. The final part of Sister definitely made me rate this story higher than I would have thought initially, but I don’t think it actually makes up for the slow pace, writing style or characters. Most people seem to have enjoyed this story though, so it makes me wonder whether I should get an English copy some time in the future (when I don’t remember the plot twists or how it ends) and give this story another go.

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Beatrice has been living in New York for quite some time now, but when she receives a phone call that her younger sister Tess is missing she takes the first plane back to London. Nobody seems to know where her sister could have gone, and as Beatrice learns more about her disappearance she is starting to realize just how little she knows about Tess’ life. Everybody seems to accept they have lost her, but Beatrice doesn’t want to let go until she finds out the full truth. But will Beatrice be able to convince the rest?

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Part of the problem I had with this book has probably been caused by reading it in Dutch, but I don’t think the language barrier was solely to blame for my negative reading experience with Sister. Between the superslow pace, writing style I couldn’t connect to and characters I never warmed up to, it was quite hard to actually enjoy reading this story. It was a very slow ride and it took me a whole month to reach the final page. The last part did improve considerably and the final twist was a huge surprise that will make you reconsider everything you read before. I don’t think that made up for the rest of the story though.


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BOOK REVIEW: Beautiful Broken Things – by Sara Barnard

Title: Beautiful Broken Things
Author: Sara Barnard

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: February 11th 2016
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Finished reading: August 2nd 2017
Pages: 322

“Everyone says apologizing works, but it never really does. Not quickly enough anyway.”

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I’ve been meaning to pick up Beautiful Broken Things for quite some time now, so I was quite happy when my TBR jar decided for me it was time to read my copy. I always have mixed experiences with YA contemporaries, but I was drawn to this cover and blurb like a bee to honey. And to be honest, I initially really enjoyed reading it. The first thing that stands out is the writing style, which is very engaging and makes it very easy to read this story. I found myself literally flying through the pages at first. Even though the plot itself isn’t all that special and nothing I haven’t seen before in the genre, I had a great time reading it. There are quite a few high school cliches involved though which I could have done without as well as the jealousy and the whole new friend/third wheel theme. I had mixed feelings about the characters and as the story continued especially Caddy really started to bother me. Both her attitude and her idea that having bad things happen to you make you more interesting is not only frustrating but almost offensive. It’s one of the reasons I started to enjoy Beautiful Broken Things less and less and ended up having to give a lot lower rating than I initially suspected. Sure, Suzanne’s character is quite interesting and opens the way to talk about important themes as abuse and its consequences and mental health, but her reactions are also almost cliche at points and I’m not sure I’m happy with the final developments and the ending. All in all it wasn’t the reading experience I was hoping for… Beautiful Broken Things had a quite strong start because of the enjoyable writing style, but didn’t manage to convince me in the end. Part of the problem might have been me, so if you love the genre and don’t mind cliches it’s still worth giving a go.

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Caddy and Rosie have been best friends for years and even though they go to different high schools, they are inseparable. Caddy has always been the quiet one though and when she turns sixteen she wants to make some changes in her life. And then Rosie meets Suzanne, a new girl at her school and they become friends. Suzanne is everything Caddy wants to be and she is jealous of their friendship. Things are becoming a whole lot more complicated… Especially when Caddy starts to get knowing Suzanne better. What will happen to the three girls?

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Initially I thought I was really going to enjoy this story and the writing style is without doubt enjoyable at first. I can’t point out the exact moment I started to enjoy Beautiful Broken Things less, but there is no doubt that the final part of this story didn’t live up to the promising start. There were certain things that started to bother me: the cliches, some of the characters and the way they act and think, the way important (darker) themes are handled… All in all not what I expected.


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