ARC REVIEW: Those Who Lie – by Diane Jeffrey

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Title: Those Who Lie
Author: Diane Jeffrey

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: January 27th 2017
Publisher: HarperCollinsUK
Finished reading: January 17th 2017
Pages: ?
Rating 3,5qqq

“Everything looks the same, but everything has changed, she realises with a jolt. She has the strange impression that she has just stepped into someone else’s life.”

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

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Is it just me or has the whole amnesia angle been quite a popular angle in psychological thrillers lately? I personally don’t mind that much because I find it fascinating to read about, but it does get less original… Luckily in Those Who Lie, amnesia doesn’t actually play as big as a role as I thought initially. Sure, the main character Emily Klein suffers from mild amnesia after the accident and doesn’t remember the details around her husband’s death, but that is only minor compared to her very messed up past and her history with mental illness and eating disorders. Those elements turn her into what is basically the perfect unreliable narrator and an easy victim to anyone who wants to play with her mind. The writing was very enjoyable and the story itself quite intriguing, although I do have to say I kind of already guessed the ending about 60% into the story and it was kind of predictable. The lack of surprise put a minor damper on things, but I still found it enjoyable to find out all the details on both what exactly happened to Emily to made her into the person she is today and what really happened to her husband. If you are looking for an entertaining and fast-paced psychological thriller, Those Who Lie is definitely a great choice.

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When Emily Klein wakes up in the hospital, she doesn’t remember what happened to her or how she ended up in the hospital in the first place. Even worse, she doesn’t even know her husband has died until the day of his funeral… Apparently, the two were in their car and it crashed, but was it really a tragic accident or is there more at play? Emily is trying to piece together the events before his death and get her memory back. But does she really want to remember what is going on? Or are some things better left alone?

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Even though the ending wasn’t exactly a surprise, there were still quite a few plot twists that did manage to do so. And more importantly, the writing style was very enjoyable to read and I was able to finish Those Who Lie in record time due to its fast pace. The main character might not be all that likeable, but she is without doubt intriguing and I liked both her development and learning more about her past. All in all a worthy psychological thriller!


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ARC REVIEW: The One Memory Of Flora Banks – by Emily Barr

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Title: The One Memory Of Flora Banks
Author: Emily Barr

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction
First published: January 12th 2017
Publisher: Penguin
Finished reading: January 14th 2017
Pages: 303
Rating 5qqq

“I am really here. Yet I know I am not. I am inside something that must be buried in my head. I am layers deep in my own brain.”

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

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After I read Claire‘s review at Art and Soul, I basically had no other choice but rush to Netgalley and request a copy of this new novel by Emily Barr as well. I literally did a happy dance when my request was approved soon after, because I had heard nothing but wonderful things about The One Memory Of Flora Banks (and not just because of the gorgeous cover). I picked up my copy straight after receiving it, and I completely agree with all the other raving reviews out there. This book is brilliant! I loved LOVED the main character and the fact that amnesia plays such a big role in the story. Sure, there is a hint of a love triangle and she doesn’t seem to care much about hurting her best friend’s feelings when she kisses the boyfriend. Sure, if you think about the plot critically it’s not exactly all that credible. But to be honest, I didn’t really care. Flora managed to win over my heart from the very first page and I loved both the writing and how Flora managed to do so many things suffering with anterograde amnesia like she does. And that ending! I’m already having a feeling this one will appear on my list of 2017 favorites.

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Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks suffers from anterograde amnesia ever since a tumor was removed from her brain at the age of ten. She has no short-term memory and is unable to make new memories; her mind has been resetting itself several times a day ever since the operation. But that is until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the day before he leaves town. Somehow Flora is still able to remember every detail about their conversation and kiss the next day, and the memory sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is the key to restoring her memory and making her whole again… So when an encouraging mail from Drake suggests to meet him far far away, Flora finally listens to the two words on her hand: ‘be brave’. Will Flora be able to find him?

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If you look critically, The One Memory Of Flora Banks actually has a plot that isn’t all that credible and even has a hint of a love triangle. I’m normally not a big fan of either, but in this case it was all completely forgotten thanks to the lovely writing and more importantly: Flora Banks. Flora is basically what makes this story and is without doubt one of my new favorite characters! I love how she is able to overcome her anterograde amnesia and do all the things she does. The One Memory Of Flora Banks is definitely a story that is worth the hype and more than recommended!


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ARC REVIEW: Safe With Me – by K.L. Slater

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Title: Safe With Me
Author: K.L. Slater

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
First published: November 3rd 2016
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: October 3rd 2016
Pages: 324
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“Sometimes my memories get a bit blurred, good and bad ones together, until it is virtually impossible to separate them. But after all, what are memories but pictures in your mind?”

*** 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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As soon as I saw Safe With Me mentioned at Netgalley, I knew immediately I had to request it. I’m a big fan of the mystery/thriller genre and this psychological thriller with a twist sounded too good to be true. And it might just be that I set my expectations too high, especially since I’ve only seen positive reviews so far, but I ended up having mixed thoughts about this thriller by K.L. Slater. When I first started reading it, I was sure I was going to give it the highest possible rating like most other reviewers that have finished it so far. But as the plot twists and unlikeable characters evolved, I started having second thoughts. Everything is almost too absurd (especially during the final part of the book) and the plot just didn’t seem to be believable at all in the end. It didn’t help that I couldn’t connect to the main character Anna either; in fact, I found her rather annoying. I liked the whole amnesia angle though, and I guess Anna does make for a perfect unreliable narrator. So if you enjoy reading the genre and don’t mind an unlikeable character or two, make sure to keep Safe With Me in mind.

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Anna has never been the same after what happened thirteen years ago. She now lives a solitary existence, using order and routine to keep control over her life and her emotions. She doesn’t like to let people getting to close, knowing how much damage they can do… And her only friend is the lonely old lady next door. Then her routine is suddenly disturbed as she witnesses a devastating road accident and recognises the driver as the woman who ruined her life all those years ago. It’s Anna’s chance to set things straight and finally get her revenge, but first she has to get to know the main who was injured in the accident, trying to convince him to press charges. Anna is starting to get more and more obsessed and her own secrets are starting to unravel…

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Most people seem to love this psychological thriller so the problem might just have been me, but I wasn’t fully convinced by the credibility of the plot and I couldn’t connect to the main character at all. Anna is supposed to be an unreliable narrator and I don’t mind that, but she really started to annoy me as the story developed. The amnesia angle was well done though. One final detail: the ending was supposed to be a mayor plot twist, but I actually already saw part of it coming. It was a little disappointing, but I would still recommend reading Safe With Me if you like reading psychological thrillers with unreliable narrators.

BOOK REVIEW: Memoirs Of A Teenage Amnesiac – by Gabrielle Zevin

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Title: Memoirs Of A Teenage Amnesiac
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
First published: August 21st 2007
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Finished reading: August 27th 2016
Pages: 288
Rating 3,5qqq

“Someday, we’ll run into each other again, I know it.
Maybe I’ll be older and smarter and just plain better. If that happens, that’s when I’ll deserve you. But now, at this moment, you can’t hook your boat to mine, because I’m liable to sink us both.”

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I’ve seen this book around a few times in the past and I decided to get a copy as well. And Memoirs Of A Teenage Amnesiac was without doubt a superfast and quite entertaining contemporary romance story with a twist. It wasn’t as good as I would have hoped though and I had mixed feelings about the whole amnesia theme. I just felt it was pushed into the background most of the time, which was a shame since it’s basically the most interesting thing about this story in the first place. Gabrielle Zevin‘s prose is easy to read, quite quotable and fans of the genre will probably end up flying through the pages. It could have done without the romance. It could have done without the sort of love triangle. It could have done without all the drama (especially the main character; boy she is annoying!). But I loved Will’s character and overall it’s definitely worth reading despite the flaws.

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If Naomi had picked tails, she would have won the coin toss and everything would have been different. But she picked heads, and had to go back for the yearbook camera. She then hit her head on the steps when she slipped, and woke up in an ambulance with amnesia. Naomi doesn’t remember anything from the last few years; not her boyfriend Ace, not why she’s with the yearbook in the first place and definitely not about her dad’s fiancée or her mom’s new family. She doesn’t really know how to deal with it all and the ‘mystery boy’ James that helped her when she fell is intriguing her as well. Will Naomi be able to figure out the truth about her past and overcome her amnesia? And will the people around her accept the changed Naomi?

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If you are looking for an entertaining amnesia themed YA novel, Memoirs Of A Teenage Amnesiac is a good choice. The amnesia unfortunately doesn’t play that big of a role in the story, but it does give you global idea of what a teenager with memory loss has to deal with. It’s all a bit superficial, stuffed with drama and I wish the romance wouldn’t have played such a big role in the story, but I liked the prose and the pace is superfast. Recommended!

ARC REVIEW: The Girl From The Sea – by Shalini Boland

brthegirlfromtheseaTitle: The Girl From The Sea
Author: Shalini Boland

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
First published: June 9th 2016
Publisher: Adrenalin Books
Finished reading: August 5th 2016
Pages: 306
Rating 4,5qqq

“It’s as though I’m riding a never-ending rollercoaster, my stomach constantly swooping and rising. There are too many things to think about, and I don’t know what to do about any of them.”

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

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I know I have been reading too many mystery/thrillers as it is lately, but when I came across this book I just couldn’t resist. The Girl From The Sea is a gripping psychological thriller with many many plot twists that will keep you guessing what really happened to the main character for a long time. And even though I kind of suspected part of what happened  to Mia a while before the big twist was revealed, it can’t be denied Shalini Boland used Mia’s amnesia to the fullest and she is the perfect unreliable character for this story. And that ending! I’m still not sure I actually like Mia, but her character development is well done; she feels real and it’s easy to feel sorry for her. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to wake up and not remember ANYTHING and not even recognizing yourself in the mirror… It’s without doubt a scary thought. The story itself is fast-paced and I enjoyed the prose and descriptions. In fact, I found myself flying through this book! If you are looking for a good psychological thriller with a refreshing twist, The Girl From The Sea is definitely a great choice.

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Mia doesn’t remember why or what happened to her, but somehow she ended up washed up on the beach only barely conscious. In fact, she can’t remember anything about her life and doesn’t even know who she is… In the hospital, she is diagnosed with amnesia because of the traumatic experience and told her memories will probably come back in due time. But what can Mia do in the mean time? Then, her boyfriend shows up and he seems to be as eager to fill in the blanks as her family. But can Mia really trust them? Why do people seem to be lying to her and why don’t they want her to remember her past?

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I first decided to request a copy of The Girl From The Sea after I read a few positive reviews. And I’m glad I did, but it turned out to be one of my favorite psychological thrillers I’ve read so far this year! This story reads like a train and is full of plot twists that will mess with your mind. The fact that Mia isn’t just another unreliable character and is suffering from amnesia is actually refreshing, and I really enjoyed reading this story. Recommended for fans of the genre!