ARC REVIEW: The Minders – by John Marrs

Title: The Minders
Author: John Marrs
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Science Fiction
First published: September 17th 2020
Publisher: Del Rey
Finished reading: September 11th 2020
Pages: 400

“It’s always what we don’t know about someone that piques our curiosity.”

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

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Speechless. Flabbergasted. Mind blown. Oh yes, John Marrs has done it once again and the holy guacamole is most definitely back!!! I know I might be a bit biased when it comes to his books; he’s easily one of my absolute favorite thriller authors and I’ve loved every single story I’ve tried so far… But there is no denying just how unique and original his stories are. The Minders is already the third book set in that same near future world with that sci-fi/dystopian feel, and it’s another fantastic story. Mind, this is officially a stand-alone story and you can quite easily without reading The One or The Passengers first as it’s no official sequel. BUT. Both books are absolutely brilliant as well and you won’t be able to spot references to those stories if you don’t read them first, so I can highly recommend just clearing your schedule and read all three if you haven’t already gotten yourself started.

So, The Minders. I’ve decided to keep these rambles short both because I’m still recovering from the massive book hangover this book gave me and because it’s simply one of those stories where it’s better to go in blind so you can fully savour the experience. The Minders is a bit of a mash up of a sci-fi, crime and action thriller all set in a near future world that seems surprisingly realistic and makes you worry about how our own future would look like. Why? Well, let’s just say that this particular future isn’t exactly a picnic, but at the same time a highly probable escalation of the present. This will put you immediately on edge and you will find yourself on the edge of your seat the whole time. I know I was!

The story uses a multiple POV structure where we switch between the different main characters in play. This might seem a bit much to handle initially, but trust me, it is absolutely worth it as you slowly get to know them better and understand the full scope of the situation. Each character is well developed and feels realistic; they might not seem exactly likeable, but they are each fascinating and their backgrounds explain perfectly why they would opt for a fresh start. The cast of characters is used to introduce a wide variety of different topics into the story, giving the story so much dept without it distracting from the plot itself. You will get crime, you will get violence, you will get emotions, you will get action, you will get suspense, you will get a psychological angle… The Minders is a true rollercoaster ride that will leave you breathless and shell shocked by the time you reach that final page. It’s a story that doesn’t fit into a neat box; a truly unique thriller with a sci-fi feel set in the near future that is destined to simply blow you away.


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ARC REVIEW: Who’s Next – by Chris Merritt

Title: Who’s Next?
(Detectives Lockhart & Green #2)

Author: Chris Merritt
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Detective
First published: September 11th 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: September 13th 2020
Pages: 449

“Lockhart wasn’t a believer in eye-for-an-eye justice. He subscribed to the rule of law, and the judicial process – flawed as it was.”

*** 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 always have a weak spot for a good detective and serial killer thriller, so I’ve been curious about the Detectives Lockhart & Green series ever since I first saw the reviews of book one Knock Knock back in March. I couldn’t resist getting a copy of the sequel Who’s Next? on Netgalley as a way to make sure I was reading both sooner than later… I guess it worked, as I’ve now read both books and I’m definitely a fan.

My strange obsession with serial killer thrillers is no secret, and Who’s Next? definitely gives us another twisted as well as intriguing take on the genre. While this sequel technically could be read as a stand-alone, you will be missing out on background information as well as the changing dynamics between the main characters in play… So I would personally suggest reading the books in order. Both are more than solid reads in the first place anyway! Who’s Next? once again focuses on both a new police investigation and developments in the personal lives of both Lockhart and Green. This gives us an interesting fluctuation in intensity and suspense, although things will get pretty intense on both sides as things start to escalate along the way.

The story uses a multiple POV structure, where we not only follow main characters Dan Lockhart and Lexi Green, but also other members of Lockhart’s team as well as the killer and more than one victim. Despite the many changes, it was quite easy to keep track of the different angles… Especially since we already know Lockhart and his team as well as Green. I always like being able to get a glimpse inside the head of a serial killer, and Chris Merritt once again as created a very intriguing individual to follow. On top of the murder investigation, Who’s Next? also focuses on a serial sexual assault case once of Lockhart’s team members is helping to solve… Basically a two for one in crime investigations!

I particularly liked how we don’t just have the typical detective angle with Lockhart, but also have a focus on the psychological aspect of the crimes which is analyzed with the help of Lexi Green’s POV. It definitely enhanced the plot; the many different angles in play make for a rich and dynamic plot that is both suspenseful and packs a punch. On top of this, multiple suspects are presented along the way, keeping you in the dark about the real identity and the final reveals definitely came as a surprise. I was totally wrong with my suspicions! This ride will get intense, exhilarating and pretty twisted along the way… It’s perfect if you have a taste for dark and disturbing serial killers hunts like me. I’ll be looking forward to more Lockhart and Green next year!


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Lies Lies Lies – by Adele Parks #blogtour @HarlequinBooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Lies Lies Lies 2020 Summer Reads blog tour! A huge thanks to Justine Sha for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I was intrigued by Lies Lies Lies as soon as I read the blurb, and this story definitely lived up to expectations. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: Lies Lies Lies
Author: Adele Parks
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 4th 2020
Publisher: MIRA
Finished reading: July 22nd 2020
Pages: 384

“The thing about people is that it takes years, and years, and years to know them. Really know them. Because we hide things, all of us, all the time. We’re ashamed, cautious or secretive.”

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

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I’ve had Adele Parks on my list of authors to try for a while now, and after being intrigued by the blurb of her newest I just couldn’t resist signing up for the blog tour. I’m glad I did, because my first experience with her writing was most definitely successful. Lies Lies Lies is more domestic drama than thriller, but it packs a mean punch and it will definitely have you in its grip the whole time. Fans of the genre will be delighted!

Like I said, Lies Lies Lies felt mostly like a domestic drama and if you are looking for a superfast and action-packed thriller this book will most likely not be your cup of tea. If on the other hand you enjoy domestic thrillers with a focus on the character development, the psychological aspect as well as a healthy dose of shocking secrets and lies, you will be in for a treat.  Lies Lies Lies will deliver all of this and more! Using a dual POV and storyline, we get to hear the story from both Daisy and Simon’s side. We learn about their past, what happened in 2016 that changed their lives forever and what their life is like in 2019 for both after the life changing event. This dual POV is used to explore both characters as well as to build up the suspense and give the multiple secrets they are hiding more impact. Both the plot and plot twists are more than solid and the two POVs complemented each other very well.

As for the characters themselves… In this kind of psychological thriller and domestic drama, the character development is key. While neither Daisy nor Simon are all that likeable, their development is more than thorough, flawed and realistic and it was interesting to see them develop and grow over time. The rest of the cast likewise each had their role to play and they complemented the main characters well. There are a lot of secrets and lies involved in this story, and Lies Lies Lies will have more than a couple surprises in store for you. I especially found Simon’s 2019 chapters to be fascinating for obvious reasons, although I won’t be going into details to avoid spoilers.

Lies Lies Lies deals with a lot of difficult topics, including addiction, alcoholism, dementia, dealing with a life changing injury, infertility, abuse, rape and violence. Again, I won’t be going into details to avoid possible spoilers, but especially the addiction and alcoholism element plays a very important role in the plot and I thought this element and its consequences were represented well. Lies Lies Lies definitely is no picnic and if you are looking for an uplifting read this book is probably not a good choice. But if you are looking for a well written, character driven domestic thriller that isn’t afraid to go dark and packs a mean punch, Lies Lies Lies could be the perfect book for you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adele Parks was born in Teesside, North-East England. Her first novel, Playing Away, was published in 2000 and since then she’s had seventeen international bestsellers, translated into twenty-six languages, including I Invited Her In. She’s been an Ambassador for The Reading Agency and a judge for the Costa. She’s lived in Italy, Botswana and London, and is now settled in Guildford, Surrey, with her husband, teenage son and cat.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Author Website // Twitter // Instagram // Facebook // Goodreads

BUY LINKS

Harlequin // Barnes & Noble // Amazon // Books-A-Million // Powell’s


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AUDIO ARC REVIEW: His & Hers – by Alice Feeney @MacmillanAudio #netgalleyaudio

Title: His & Hers
Author: Alice Feeney
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 28th 2020
Publisher: MacMillan Audio
Finished reading: July 19th 2020
Pages: 336

Duration audiobook 10 hours 40 minutes
Narrated by Richard Armitage & Stephanie Racine

“Sometimes I think I am the unreliable narrator of my own life. Sometimes I think we all are.”

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

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I’ve been meaning to try one of Alice Feeney‘s books for a while now, and I thought that listening to the audiobook with the new Netgalley Shelf App feature would be the perfect way to kill two birds with one stone. The fact that the blurb of His & Hers intrigued me immediately and I’ve seen positive reviews popping up everywhere only made this decision easier to make… And I’m definitely glad I did choose the audiobook option, because I ended up having a fantastic time with this story and I think the audio only enhanced the experience for me. What a read!

It’s true that I’m basically an audiobook newbie, but my experience with this story has convinced me I need to keep this option in mind for whenever the circumstances are right… Because I think the audio version only enhanced my experience with His & Hers. This book is narrated by Richard Armitage and Stephanie Racine, and both do a fantastic job making the story come alive for me. Each tackles one of the POVs of the two main characters in play: “Him” with DCI Jack Harper and “Her” with News Correspondent Anna Andrews. On top of these two point of views, we also have the mystery voice and POV to contend with. I think especially this POV made the audiobook stand out for me and the voice alteration gave the story that mysterious vibe. I think that both their voices fitted the characters very well, and the pace and flow of the story throughout was spot on for me. They also changed their voices slightly whenever different characters say something the dialogues, which made it a lot easier to keep them apart. I can highly recommend the audiobook experience to anyone who is interested in reading this story!

As for His & Hers itself: I’m definitely an instant fan of Alice Feeney now. I was fully intrigued as soon as I started listening to this story, and the two different POVs complement each other perfectly. I particularly liked the mystery voice and POV in between the “Him” and “Her” chapters, as it will make you wonder who is lying and who might be behind the murders… Both the building up of suspense and the development and placement of the plot twists is simply spot on, and this story most definitely managed to mislead me until the very end. Intense, suspenseful, shocking, intriguing and very well written indeed.

His & Hers will give you a psychological thriller and serial killer thriller in one, and the story deals with psychological elements as well as with plenty of gruesome scenes and heavy topics. Trigger warnings are in place for topics such as grooming, abuse, rape, mental health, addiction and violence… This story will go dark, twisted and dangerous, but the ride is absolutely fantastic and I loved how everything is explained in the end. Trust me, His & Hers will have more than one shocking surprise for you in store, and you will think you have it all figured out so many times that your mind is left reeling by the time you reach the final page and finally discover the truth. The plot is very cleverly written and I always love it when a story is able to mislead me this much, as it doesn’t happen all that often anymore… But His & Hers did the job, and how!

I’m still not sure if I actually like the main characters, but I loved learning more about them and slowly figuring out how they all fit together as well as what secrets they are hiding. The story warns you in the beginning that at least one of them is lying, and you will be on your edge the whole time as you keep being suspicious about everything you read. Who is behind it all? Why are they doing it? What does it have to do with the past? Or the present for that matter? Who is lying and who is telling the truth? Or are they all hinding something? There are so many questions, and trust me, you will be having a fantastic time trying to find answers for them all. If you enjoy a suspenseful, intense and well written thriller, His & Hers is without doubt an excellent choice.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Someone’s Listening – by Seraphina Nova Glass #blogtour @HarlequinBooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Someone’s Listening 2020 Summer Reads blog tour! A huge thanks to Justine Sha for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I was intrigued by Someone’s Listening as soon as I read the blurb, and this story definitely lived up to expectations. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: Someone’s Listening
Author: Seraphina Nova Glass
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 28th 2020
Publisher: Graydon House
Finished reading: June 14th 2020
Pages: 352

“The thing is, how can I blame the world for believing him? We need to believe victims.”

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

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There was just something about Someone’s Listening that attracted me straight away, and as soon as I read the blurb I knew I wanted to read this story. I think I was intrigued both by the description of the main character Faith and how her life suddenly fell apart… It sounded like a story filled with secrets, twists and that ominous feel and I thought the story and me would be a perfect fit. I’m definitely glad I decided to read Someone’s Listening now, because it turned out to be a more than solid read.

The plot itself is really well done. Both the mystery around the disappearance of Faith’s husband Liam, the mystery around her past, the things that happened in the previous months as well as her present situation will keep you on your toes the whole time. There are lots of different sub storylines to keep track of, and lots of suspects and possible truths too… I always like it when a psychological thriller is not transparent and instead leaves us with a puzzle and that hint of foreboding and urgency to solve the mystery before the story finally reveals its secrets. The multiple suspects, flashbacks and subplots give the story that multi-faceted feel and while I had a hunch about the truth early on, I never stopped doubting that hunch and therefore I didn’t mind too much that I ended up being right.

The writing draws you straight in and I literally finished Someone’s Listening in less than a day. The story incorporates difficult themes such as child and domestic abuse, drug addiction and alcoholism, but it was interesting to see these elements developed in the plot. The story will definitely have some twisted surprises for you in store as well! It was interesting to learn more about Faith’s past as well as seeing the present storyline developed as plot twists and secrets are being revealed and that ominous feel is slowly transformed into real danger. The final reveals are also brilliantly handled!

As for the characters… I think this was probably my main issue with the book. Why? While I do think Faith is a fascinating character with her background and past, I really didn’t like her. Sure, her alcohol and drugs problem can be related to recent events and grief, but I didn’t like the constant focus on it and the whole counting to four (to calm herself) mentioned multiple times got old fast too. I didn’t like the way she treated others and constantly complained about her life either… Sure, there is no denying that she had a difficult past and the things happening to her in the present are without doubt twisted, but I just couldn’t find myself feeling sympathy for her and wasn’t able to connect to her for the same reason. The other characters were not that easy to connect to either, but as the main focus is on Faith that didn’t bother me particularly. That said, this was probably my only issue with an otherwise excellent story though.

Someone’s Listening is an engaging, twisted and compelling psychological thriller that will keep you on your toes until the very last page. Recommended if you enjoy the genre and don’t mind reading about an unlikeable but intriguing main character.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Seraphina Nova Glass is a professor and Playwright-in-Residence at the University of Texas-Arlington, where she teaches Film Studies and Playwriting. She holds an MFA in playwriting from Smith College, and has optioned multiple screenplays to Hallmark and Lifetime. Someone’s Listening is her first novel.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Author Website // Twitter // Instagram // Facebook // Goodreads

BUY LINKS

Harlequin // Barnes & Noble // Amazon // Books-A-Million // Powell’s


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ARC REVIEW: The Cry Of The Lake – by Charlie Tyler

Title: The Cry Of The Lake
Author: Charlie Tyler
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 21st 2020
Publisher: Crooked Cat Books
Finished reading: July 7th 2020
Pages: 263

“Experience had taught me how to play this game. The rules were always changing, but the skill required to partake remained the same: buckets of patience.”

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

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I admit that it was cover love at first sight when I first saw The Cry Of The Lake, but I was intrigued by the blurb as well and I just couldn’t resist giving it a go. I was looking forward to this story, but somehow sadly I wasn’t all too impressed by what I found. I’m having a hard time pinpointing exactly what went wrong for me, but I’ll try to explain which elements didn’t work for me below.

The first thing that stands out is the structure of the plot. The Cry Of The Lake has a multiple POV structure and is divided into three different POVs following the three most present female characters: Grace, Lily and Flo. This kind of structure can really spice up a story, but sadly I didn’t think they actually complemented each other and ended up being distracting instead. The POV switches only further interrupted an already quite erratic pace and made it considerably harder to stay focused on the story itself… The fact that the characters themselves didn’t feel realistic and were hard to like didn’t really help either. I’m not sure if it was lack of development or simply the way they were represented and acted, but none of them actually convinced me and this always turns the story in that much more of a struggle.

As for the plot itself… I felt it was just too chaotic and over the top; both the plot development and plot twists seemed unrealistic and weren’t able to convince me. And as much as I love a puzzle and lots of question marks in my thrillers, I think in the case of The Cry Of The Lake there were just too many riddles and the lack of information was actually confusing and rather frustrating instead of it adding the intended dose of suspense. This might just have been a personal reaction, but it is what it is I guess… On top of this, I wasn’t able to warm up to the writing either; up to the point that I was starting to feel the urge to skimread… And this is of course never a good sign. All in all it wasn’t the reading experience I was hoping for, although I do seem to be in the minority so this might just not have been the right story for me at the moment.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #172 – Eight Perfect Murders & The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two 20 Books Of Summer titles and 2020 releases belonging to completely different genres… And both turned out to be excellent reads. Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson only reconfirmed my love for his writing, while debut The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael put Beth Morrey firmly on my radar.


Title: Eight Perfect Murders
(Malcolm Kershaw #1)
Author: Peter Swanson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 3rd 2020
Publisher: William Morrow
Finished reading: June 22nd 2020
Pages: 288

“Books are time travel. True readers all know this. But books don’t just take you back to the time in which they were written; they can take you back to different versions of yourself.”

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I’m a fan of Peter Swanson‘s writing and I’ve been looking forward to dive into Eight Perfect Murders ever since I first heard about it. I love books with bookish elements and I love my crime thriller stories, so the premise of this newest story sounded absolutely fantastic. While it’s true that I don’t exactly read or know a lot about crime classics (I prefer more modern thrillers myself), I think it’s the clever incorporation of the eight crime classics that really makes this story stand out for me. Why? Peter Swanson doesn’t just name the titles and explain what happens in the corresponding plot, but really incorporates the different stories and elements into its own plot in the most ingenious way. A fair warning though: if you still need/want to read the eight classics mentioned in the blurb, you will find mayor spoilers of those stories incorporated into Eight Perfect Murders that might spoil the fun. I personally didn’t really mind, as I had heard bits about the classics already and I actually quite liked discovering them through this rather unique ‘memoir’. The structure of the plot is brilliant, the writing engaging, the character development fascinating, the many bookish elements including the bookshop and Nero the cat simply divine… I had heaps of fun reading Eight Perfect Murders, and thought the ending was a perfect reference to crime classics (one in particular of course, but I don’t want to spoil the fun by mentioning it). If you are looking for an unique and clever crime thriller and don’t mind a spoiler or two of the eight crime classics mentioned in the blurb, you will most likely have an excellent time with this story too.


Title: The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael
Author: Beth Morrey
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: April 7th 2020
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Finished reading: June 26th 2020
Pages: 352

“If you really want something, you hang on. Don’t give up. Hang on, as if your life depended on it.”

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I admit that I was sold as soon as I saw the comparison to A Man Called Ove and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. I adored both books and its characters, and I just knew I HAD to meet Missy Carmichael to see if she could win me over too. The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael turned out to be both charming and heartbreaking at the same time. While I confess that it took me some time to warm up to Missy, once I did I found myself to be completely under her spell. The same goes for the rest of the characters; a wonderful cast of colorful and easy to like personalities that each added their own little something to the plot. Lighter moments are mixed with more heavy topics; flashbacks to Missy’s past used to get to know her better and help understand the ‘mistakes’ she mentioned as well as why she is the way she is.The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael will have a couple surprises and twists for you in store, an a few heartbreaking moments that will require having a box of tissues and a plate of your favorite comfort food at hand just in case. I loved seeing Missy develop and blossom over time, and if you are craving a heartfelt contemporary with well developed characters and don’t mind shedding a tear or two, this debut is an excellent choice.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Stranger In The Lake – by Kimberly Belle #blogtour @parkrowbooks @HarlequinBooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Stranger In The Lake 2020 Summer Reads blog tour! A huge thanks to Justine Sha for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I knew I wanted to read Stranger In The Lake as soon as I read the blurb, and there is no doubt that my instincts were right about this story. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: Stranger In The Lake
Author: Kimberly Belle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 9th 2020
Publisher: Park Row
Finished reading: May 24th 2020
Pages: 352

“Sacrifice.

Penance.

Atonement.

Justice.

In the end, we all reap what we sow.”

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

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I’ve heard nothing but great things about Kimberly Belle‘s books and they have been on my radar for a while now. This makes it easy to explain why I just HAD to jump at the chance to read her newest story Stranger In The Lake early, especially after reading the blurb… And you can definitely consider me a fan now. I literally read this story in less than a day and I can recommend it to anyone who loves psychological thrillers involving dark secrets.

There is lots to love in Stranger In The Lake, and that includes the writing style. There is just something about the writing that managed to draw me straight in and I was literally hooked from the first chapter. The story is mainly told from the POV of Charlotte (Charlie), who gives us a very interesting view on everything in Lake Crosby considering her personal background. To further enrich the plot, we also have flashbacks to 1999 with multiple POVs, designed to slowly let you in on past events that might or might not have influenced the present situation. This made the plot feel a lot more complex and definitely enhanced the reading experience for me!

I really liked the plot as a whole, as it felt multi-dimentional and was filled with secrets, lies and suspense. As a first layer we have Charlotte and her personal situation as a poor girl who married a rich widower and who is now shunned by most people in town. Then we have the layer involving the death of the first wife Katherine and the mysterious circumstances around her death. While it’s true that her husband Paul was cleared, you can’t stop wondering if he escaped justice or if he was really innocent… Another layer is next with the discovery of the body and the investigation into her death, which leads to yet another layer relating to the victim herself and the whole reason she was in town in the first place. And on top of that we have a flashback layer that will slowly unravel past secrets of what happened back in 1999 and how these events might have influenced the present. That’s basically more layers than an onion and a perfect ingredient to prepare that delicious psychological thriller meal with.

As for the characters… Charlotte is the star of the show of course, and she is quite easy to connect to thanks to an excellent and realistic character development. She can be seen as both an outsider and right in the middle of the action at once; she isn’t originally from the rich part of town, but now lives there and suddenly finds a body almost in the same spot the body of her husband’s first wife was found. Talk about an explosive situation! It’s easy to understand why it’s so difficult for her, especially with her husband behaving so strangely. I really liked her strength, development and growth over time and she is one of the reasons this story works well in the end. The three friends Paul, Jax and Micah are likewise well developed, but somehow less easy to like as you keep wondering what they are hiding… They all played their role in the story perfectly though, as well as the other characters in play.

Both the secrets, lies and plot twists play a key role in Stranger In The Lake. You are being mislead along with Charlotte, and together with the main character you will find yourself on a quest to discover the truth. Why is Paul so furtive? What is he hiding? What about Jax? And why did he become the way he is? What about the victim? Who is behind her death and what was she doing in town in the first place? What does the past have to do with it all? There are a lot of questions you can’t wait finding answers for as you start reading this story, adding a healthy dose of suspense as well as making sure you keep turning those pages. The plot twists are expertly placed for maximum effect and while I saw some coming, other surprised me completely. The secrets and lies definitely took this story to the next level!

In short, Stranger In The Lake is a well written, multi-layered and suspenseful psychological thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat the whole time. Secrets, lies and plot twists are designed to keep you on the wrong track, and fans of darker stories will have an excellent time with Kimberly Belle‘s newest offer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kimberly Belle is the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of six novels, including the forthcoming Stranger in the Lake (June 2020). Her third novel, The Marriage Lie, was a semifinalist in the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Mystery & Thriller, and a #1 e-book bestseller in the UK and Italy. She’s sold rights to her books in a dozen languages as well as film and television options. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Belle divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam.

SOCIAL LINKS

Author website // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Goodreads

BUY LINKS

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Bookshop // IndieBound // Books-A-Million // Kobo // AppleBooks // Google Play


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Creak On The Stairs – by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @Orendabooks @annecater

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Creak On The Stairs Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I have a weak spot for nordic noir and as soon as I read the blurb of The Creak On The Stairs I knew I just had to read it. Especially since two fellow trusted bloggers had already raved about it too… And now I’ve had the chance to read this first book of a new series, I can say that they were absolutely right to do so. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!

Title: The Creak On The Stairs
(Forbidden Iceland #1)
Author: Eva Björg Ægisdóttir
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: April 24th 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: April 25th 2020
Pages: 315
(Originally written in Icelandic: ‘Marrið í stiganum’)

“She had to remind herself that she wasn’t a little girl anymore.

That the real evil wasn’t to be found lurking in dark corners but in the human soul.”

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

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It’s no secret that I love my nordic noir and I’m always looking for new authors to discover. I admit that I was sold as soon as I read the blurb of The Creak On The Stairs, and the raving reviews of two fellow trusted bloggers (yes, Eva and Kelly, YOU!) only confirmed to me that I made the right decision to join the blog tour. I have been looking forward to read The Creak On The Stairs ever since I read those reviews and I now completely agree this is a fantastic start of a new nordic noir series.

There is a lot to love in The Creak On The Stairs… The first thing that stands out is the Icelandic setting. I love foreign settings as it makes me feel like I’m travelling from the comfort of my own reading chair… And the atmospheric and extensive descriptions did just that and really made Iceland come alive for me. Thanks to the thorough descriptions, it is very easy to visualize the different Icelandic settings and it makes it feel as if you were right next to the main characters seeing the world through their eyes. The Icelandic setting was the perfect backdrop for this story and gave the plot that cold and daunting feel any nordic noir fan will be delighted with.

I also loved both the plot and the writing. And that means the writing in general, and not just the previously mentioned descriptions… The writing is enticing, well paced and very successful at drawing you in from the very first chapter. The plot itself is intriguing and I really liked the structure of the story in general. You are thrown in without knowing much of the main characters and have different POVs and flashbacks to juggle, but it only added to the suspense and intrigue instead of slowing you down. The complex structure of the plot allows the story to hide things from you, with the result that you have more than one secret to unravel. The woman showing up dead, who is behind it, the secrets of her past, the secrets of our new lead character Elma… There are a lot of puzzles to solve and isn’t that the best thing while reading a detective thriller?

As for the characters… It looks like we have another lead character detective with a complicated past on our hands, although we are not exactly told what happened in her past and this definitely added to the intrigue around Elma. We actually don’t get to know her all that much in the first Forbidden Iceland book, but the bites we get offered were more than promising and leave you wanting for more. I liked the dynamics of the detective team in Akranes in general too. The other characters in play were all well developed and felt realistic, and even though most were not all that easy to like, I wasn’t too bothered by that as they all played their roles flawlessly. Especially Beta turned out to be an absolutely fascinating character study.

The Creak On The Stairs also isn’t afraid to go dark and this includes difficult topics such as (child) abuse and alcoholism. Especially the first plays quite a big role and might be a turn off for some… But the element was developed realistically and played an important role in both the plot and the character development. The plot twists and reveals of the different secrets are well balanced out in the plot, and the ending definitely left me wanting for the next book of the series. Because while the case in the first book was solved, I’m more than ready to see more of Elma and her team!

Dark, ominous and atmospheric, this first book of the Forbidden Iceland series shows us an image of Iceland any nordic noir fan would love to discover. It’s an excellent start of a new series that is more than worth being on your radar if you enjoy the genre!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Born in Akranes in 1988, Eva moved to Trondheim, Norway to study my MSc in Globalisation when she was 25. After moving back home having completed her MSc, she knew it was time to start working on her novel. Eva has wanted to write books since she was 15 years old, having won a short story contest in Iceland.

Eva worked as a stewardess to make ends meet while she wrote her first novel. The book went on to win the Blackbird Award and became an Icelandic bestseller. Eva now lives with her husband and three children in Reykjavík, staying at home with her youngest until she begins Kindergarten.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #158 – VOX & One Summer In Paris

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two completely different genres I ended up having a similar reaction to… But not in a good way. Both VOX by Christina Dalcher and One Summer In Paris by Sarah Morgan had elements that made me really angry, and sadly enough influenced my reading experiences negatively.


Title: VOX
Author: Christina Dalcher
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: August 21st 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: April 13th 2020
Pages: 336

“Monsters aren’t born, ever. They’re made, piece by piece and limb by limb, artificial creations of madmen who, like the misguided Frankenstein, always think they know better.”

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I’ve been meaning to read VOX for a long time now, and I was honestly really curious to see how I would react to this story after seeing so many mixed reviews. I went in blind and as I started reading I thought I was going to love this story… The writing seemed spot on for and I actually studied Wernicke’s aphasia as part of my Spanish philology degree, which made the topic all the more intriguing for me. The dystopian alternate present is both utterly terrifying and fascinating; it’s the perfect foundation stone to build the rest of the story on. While VOX definitely has that feminism feel, it wasn’t too much for me and I liked how this aspect was incorporated into the story. BUT. Sadly there were also quite a few things that ended up infuriating me. I will keep things short to avoid a full rant, but let’s just say that I wasn’t happy at all with certain characters and how they behaved, the appearance of a love triangle, animal tests, the ending… The character behavior part can partly be explained as something belonging to this dystopian world, but that doesn’t mean my averse reaction was less real because of it. And the ending was kind of an anti-climax for me and didn’t really do the rest of the story justice. It wasn’t a bad read and I agree it would make for a very interesting blog club read and discussion, but I sadly didn’t enjoy VOX as much as I thought I would.


Title: One Summer In Paris
Author: Sarah Morgan
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 4th 2019
Publisher: HQ
Finished reading: April 15th 2020
Pages: 464

“Being yourself is the one thing every person should excel at.”

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I know this is not my typical genre, but I’ve been craving a lot of contemporaries lately and I love a travel/foreign setting theme, so I thought this story set (mostly) in Paris would be a good fit. Things started out great (and also a lot darker than expected) and there were a lot of things I did love in One Summer In Paris, including the Paris setting and the dynamics and growing relationship between Grace and Audrey as well as the bookshop, French language learning, explaining of dyslexia and alcoholic parents past and even Audrey romance with Etienne. BUT. I absolutely hate it when the cheating/affair element plays a big role in a story. Especially the reaction of Grace and more importantly Mr. Bastard aka David himself were simply infuriating. Oh yes, this part of the story made me so SO angry!! And not only behavior of David and decisions of Grace, but also how lightly the topic is treated and how Grace and Sophie’s months of suffering and their lives being ripped apart were brushed away like that. Ugh. The ending definitely wasn’t what I was hoping for either and not even Audrey’s POV and bookshop related reveal (which was too predictable as I guessed it straight away) could save the story for me. I guess it’s unpopular opinion time again?


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