ARC REVIEW: Ginny Moon – by Benjamin Ludwig

Title: Ginny Moon
Author: Benjamin Ludwig

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: May 2nd 2017
Publisher: Park Row Books
Finished reading: April 22nd 2017
Pages: 368

“No one can hear what I say inside my head because that’s where my brain is. It helps me do things when no one is looking.”

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

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I’ve seen so many raving reviews about this book around the blogosphere that I just HAD to request a copy so I wouldn’t have to wait until the publish date to read it. It’s easy to say I was really looking forward to (The Original) Ginny Moon… And I kind of feel bad that I ended up having mixed feelings about the story instead. I can’t deny it’s a well written, unique story with one of the most intriguing main characters I’ve encountered this year. The author did a more than excellent job of describing and portraying the autistic Ginny and it has been truly fascinating to be able to have a glimpse inside her head. It really shows that Benjamin Ludwig has personal experience with autism and both the character development and behavior feel authentic. That said, it took me longer than expected to get used to the voice of the autistic Ginny and I found myself a bit confused in the beginning. Like I said before, the author did an excellent job of describing autism and what it is like to live and interact with someone autistic, but I did understand why her ‘Forever’ parent got so frustrated with her at times. I felt the same frustation as well and it made me enjoy the story slightly less than I thought I would, although this has nothing to do with the story itself and I want to stress that the author did a brilliant job of putting autism in the spotlight it deserves. And there is no doubt Ginny Moon will leave her mark and will stay with you for a long time…

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Ginny Moon has been in foster care for years, and she is currently living with her fourth forever family. Everybody keeps saying she sound feel happy that she has finally found parents who will love her… But Ginny has never forgotten what happened all that time ago, something she feels she will have to put right no matter what. But it is kind of hard to explain things to the rest of the world when you can’t find the right words to express yourself… Or people don’t seem to understand what she has been trying to tell them all this time.

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First of all, I want to stress that my slightly lower rating has nothing to do with the excellence of this book, but more with my feelings of frustration as I was reading it. Ginny’s character will provoke strong emotions, and while mine weren’t completely positive, there is no doubt she will still stay with me for a long time. I don’t think I’ve ever read a story with an autistic main character before (even though it’s such an important topic), and the author did a brilliant job of accurately describing what it’s like living with autism. Ginny Moon: A very important and truly unique story and character!


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ARC REVIEW: The Millionaire’s Wife – by Shalini Boland

Title: The Millionaire’s Wife
Author: Shalini Boland

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: April 27th 2017
Publisher: Adrenalin Books
Finished reading: April 21st 2017
Pages: 306

“The trouble with secrets is that you never know how the other person is going to react.”

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

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I became an instant fan of Shalini Boland‘s thrillers as soon as I I finished reading The Girl From The Sea last year. I’ve been lucky enough to receive an ARC copy of The Millionaire’s Wife, which is already my third thriller by this author. My expectations were set high after the previous two books, but this one has turned out to be yet another winner. I found myself on the edge of my seat for the duration of the ride and the story was gripping until the very last page. Well written and enjoyable prose, many many plot twists, well developed and unrealiable characters and a very intriguing plot; what more to ask of a psychological thriller?! It was almost impossible to stop reading The Millionaire’s Wife as the need to find out what happens next was just too big… And you will find yourself face to face with one or two true plot twists bombs along the way as well. The POV switches between past and present and the Swedish nationatity of one of the main characters is without doubt very well used. It definitely adds another original touch to the story! If you like fast-paced, suspenseful and well written thrillers with plot twists that will blow you away, The Millionaire’s Wife is a must-read. You won’t regret it!

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Anna Blackwell seems to have a very comfortable life with a loving husband and a big house, but can she really outrun her past? When she finds out a woman is killed on the other side of the world, Anna realises that her past has definitely caught up with her in the end. She knows what will come next… And her greatest fear is about to come true. Will she be able to find a way out before it’s too late?

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The Millionaire’s Wife had me hooked right from the very first page and I couldn’t stop reading until I found out how the story ended. The switches between past and present keep up the high level of suspense and the unreliable characters do the rest of the job. You will find yourself wondering what will happen next until the very last page and there are some very twisted characters and plot twists to join you along the way! If you like a good psychological thriller, this one should definitely be on your wishlist.


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ARC REVIEW: The Red Hunter – by Lisa Unger

Title: The Red Hunter
Author: Lisa Unger

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: April 25th 2017
Publisher: Touchstone
Finished reading: April 18th 2017
Pages: 368

“It was getting to me. I was vibrating, giving off the energy of the thing I tried to hide and harness. I had given it a name. A thing that lived inside of me. The Red Hunter. Rage.”

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

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Lisa Unger has been one of the (many) authors on my need-to-read-soon list for a long time, so it wasn’t just the breathtakingly beautiful cover that made me want to read The Red Hunter. It’s always great to get to know the work of authors who belong to one of my favorite genres, and now I’ve had a sample I’m definitely planning to pick up more of Lisa Unger‘s novels. The start of The Red Hunter was a bit slow and it took me some time to connect the different storylines, but as soon as the pace picked up: BAM! Instant pageturner. Each storyline adds something different to the story, and there is no doubt it’s a fascinating one. Trigger warnings for rape and violence, but nothing ‘too’ graphic. The Red Hunter basically focuses on the lives of two different completely different women. Confession: I wasn’t a big fan of Claudia Bishop, although it was interesting to see how she tried to deal with her rape trauma and I liked the whole house renovation subplot. Her daughter Raven is without doubt a very interesting character as well… But I found Zoey Drake’s chapters to be the most intriguing ones. She had without doubt a very traumatic childhood experience that scarred her for life, and her messed up character was fascinating. And once the pace picks up, the many many MANY plot twists will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last page. I had my suspicions about certain things, but I didn’t guess the complete truth until the very end. And trust me, after reading so many psychological thrillers, that doesn’t happen often. Recommended for fans of the genre!

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Both Claudia and Zoe are traumatized by a horrific event in their past and scarred for life, although they each try to find a way to continue with their lives. Claudia Bishop had what she thought the perfect life until she was brutally assaulted and raped in her own home… Her marriage hasn’t survived, and she still doesn’t know who is the real father of the daughter that was born nine months after the attack. She is looking for a fresh start renovating an old house which she inherited from her father, blogging about her experience along the way.

Zoey Drake on the other hand has never recovered from the horrific home invasion when she was a teenager, an event that resulted in the murder of her parents and she almost died as well that night. None of the guys that were involved were ever caught, and years later Zoey is still looking for justice and/or revenge. She is no longer weak, having been trained in martial arts, but is she truly ready to face the demons of the past? And does Claudia realize what is the true history of the house she is trying to restore to its former glory?

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The Red Hunter is without doubt a fascinating read and even though it started out a bit slow, I ended up really enjoying it. Not every character is all that likeable, but they are all well developed and add something to the story. It’s also intriguing how the different characters try to deal with the traumas of their past, and all in all it is without doubt an worthy psychological thriller.


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ARC REVIEW: Castle Of Water – by Dane Huckelbridge

Title: Castle Of Water
Author: Dane Huckelbridge

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: April 4th 2017
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press 
Finished reading: April 16th 2017
Pages: 288

“With his box-cutter knife in one hand and waterproof flashlight in the other, Barry felt, for the first time in his life, like a man. A terrified man on the verge of  wetting his loincloth, but a man nevertheless.”

*** 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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Sometimes (cover)love at first sight can lead to something extraordinary. When I first saw Dane Huckelbridge‘s debut novel Castle Of Water mentioned, I couldn’t stop staring at the cover. The color combination, the abstract sunset over the sea… Just gorgeous. Of course I had no other choice but to request a copy, especially since the story itself sounded really intriguing as well. And Castle Of Water is without doubt a little masterpiece. It’s a story about how two unlikely characters end up as castaways on a deserted island together and how they manage to survive… A modern ‘Robinson Crusoe‘ twist that captured my attention from the very first page. The characters are spot on and their development is brilliantly done. It’s really interesting to see how both Barry and Sophie react to the things that happen to them on the island and I love LOVE their bantering! I like that they represent different nationalities as well as personalities and it without doubt adds an original touch to an already excellent story and plot. The writing style really stands out as well; well written, enjoyable to read and even funny at points. I also loved the incorporation of many French elements/words, which were easy to understand and didn’t slow down the pace even though my French is pretty basic. I honestly couldn’t find something I didn’t like about this novel… So as you might have already guessed, I can more than recommend Castle Of Water if you enjoy the genre. You won’t be disappointed!

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Sophie Ducel and Barry Bleecker decided to travel to French Polynesia for very different reasons… Sophie wanted to visit the island home of her favorite singer, Jacques Brel, during her honeymoon with her new husband. Barry Bleecker decided to give up his job in Manhattan finance and chase his painting dreams instead; seeking creative inspiration in the place where his idol, Paul Gauguin, found it as well. The two didn’t know each other until they bordered the small plane sharing the same destination. And then their plane is downed in the middle of the Sout Pacific, and Sophie and Barry are the sole survivors. They find themselves stranded on a tiny island hundreds of miles from civilization… And they will have to learn to work together if they want to have any chance of survival and ever finding a way back home. Which might be more difficult than it sounds, because the two strangers couldn’t have been more different.

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While it was the beautiful cover that made me first want to pick up this novel, it was the story and writing style itself that managed to blow me away in the end. Castle Of Water is basically a modern castaway story with a twist, and I loved every single moment of it. The prose is just wonderful and combined with the well developed and loveable characters you are definitely in for a treat. An emotional rollercoaster, in the best possible way!


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ARC REVIEW: What Doesn’t Kill You – by Ed James

Title: What Doesn’t Kill You
(DI Fenchurch #3)
Author: Ed James

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: April 20th 2017
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: April 12th 2017
Pages: 398

“Remind me why I do this job again?” “Because when you stop hitting your head against the brick wall, there’s a surge of relief.”

*** 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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I read the first two books of this detective series last year and enjoyed them, so it was an easy decision to request a copy of the third book as well. I was looking forward to another entertaining and intense ride, but found myself struggling to get a proper feel for the story instead. Like in the first two books, What Doesn’t Kill You starts right in the middle of the action, but I had a hard time connecting to the story this time. Part of the problem was the excessive use of ‘colorful’ language… I don’t mind a bit of swearing if it adds something to the story (in fact, it didn’t bother me in the first two books), but I felt the swearing crossed the line of tolerance in What Doesn’t Kill You. DI Fenchurch started to annoy me as well, even though the case itself is quite interesting. In the second half of this third book the pace picked up considerably and the story became a lot more intense and easier to enjoy. You will definitely have to prepare yourself for some very shocking plot twists! I’m not sure everything about the plot is exactly credible though, and it also felt like too much action and too many plot twists were squeezed together in the final part. Overall I guess I feel the ‘spark’ of the previous two books is missing. I’m not sure what I feel about the ending either, although at least it doesn’t end with a big cliffhanger this time.

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

When the body of a young lawyer is discovered on an East London building site, the investigation initially leads DI Simon Fenchurch to a driver employed by a new app-based cab company called Travis. The woman was assaulted and brutally murdered, and the team struggles to find something truly solid on the suspect. Then another woman is found murdered close to where she lives, and she turns out to be a Travis driver. Are the two cases connected? And what has Travis have to do with all of it? Something a lot bigger than just the two murders seems to be going on…

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I was looking forward to this third DI Fenchurch book, but I can’t say it exactly lived up to expectations. While I struggled to get a proper connection to the story in the first part, the second half of the story felt almost rushed at points and there was just too much going on. Sure, some very shocking revelations are made and there is no lack of action especially in the second half, but I don’t think What Doesn’t Kill You is actually as good as the first two books. Such a shame! I’m going to keep my fingers crossed book four will restore my faith in this series…


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BOOK REVIEW: The Color Purple – by Alice Walker

Title: The Color Purple
Author: Alice Walker

Genre: Classics, Historical Fiction, Contemporary
First published: 1982
Publisher: Mariner Books
Finished reading: April 5th 2017
Pages: 304

“Oh Celie, unbelief is a terrible thing. And so is the hurt we cause others unknowingly.”

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Warning: possible unpopular opinion ahead.

Part of the promise I made myself this year is that I would try to read more classics this year as well as try to finally read some of the TBR backlist titles. The Color Purple by Alice Walker fits right into both categories: it’s a modern classic I’ve somehow never picked up before and I decided to change that this month. I’ve seen a lot of raving reviews about this classic and a lot of high ratings, so I found myself rather looking forward to it. And I have to say I was surprised when I found myself struggling to continue reading this story instead… Because it took me a LONG time to get used to the writing style. I get that the author is trying to make Celie’s voice feel more authentic, but it also makes her chapters a lot more difficult to read with all the broken sentences, words and bad grammar. Celie is an uneducated child wife living in the South and I’m sure very accurately described, but that doesn’t take away my feelings of frustration while I read her chapters. Luckily I found the second half of The Color Purple to be a lot better (mainly thanks to Nettie), or else I don’t think I would have finished it… To make things clear: my feelings have nothing to do with the fact that this book is right in your face when it comes to unpleasant themes as child abuse, rape and violence. Alice Walker doesn’t try to sugarcoat the situation and action of the main characters and while unpleasant, it does also give a very strong message. It’s without doubt a colorful read and I understand why it’s called a modern classic… I guess it just wasn’t for me.

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The Color Purple tells the story of two sisters who ended up living separate lives. While Celie is not able to escape her destiny and becomes yet another uneducated child wife living in the South, she managed to avoid her sister Nettie having to face the same fate. It does mean they will have to live far away from each other… As Nettie ends up living as a missionary in Africa. The story follows the two sisters over time and even though they are not able to keep contact, they remain loyal to each other and both have faith that some day they will see each other again. What will happen to the two sisters? Will they survive the challenges life will throw at them?

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I really wanted to like this modern classic, but I never recovered from my initial struggle with the writing style and voice of one of the main characters (Celie). The story itself is without doubt both shocking, intimidating, intriguing and heartbreaking; raw, but very realistic descriptions and feelings. I do have to say I enjoying the second part a lot better, but I’m having the feeling this book and me just aren’t a good fit. Most people seem to have a lot of love for The Color Purple, so don’t let my review discourage you! A little warning for those who are sensitive to graphic scenes including abuse and rape though.


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ARC REVIEW: The Perfect Stranger – by Megan Miranda

brtheperfectstrangerTitle: The Perfect Stranger
Author: Megan Miranda

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: April 11th 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Finished reading: January 6th / April 4th 2017
Pages: 352

“The story doesn’t truly begin at first, not when the person disappears. It begins when they are found. Emmy had disappeared, and now I felt like I was waiting for something inevitable, a clock that I had no power to stop.”

*** 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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Ever since I finished reading All The Missing Girls last year I’ve been an instant fan of Megan Miranda‘s writing style. She was on my list of favorite 2016 discoveries and you might already guess I added her newest thriller The Perfect Stranger to my list of most anticipated 2017 releases as soon as I heard about it. Just imagine my happy-dance when I was actually approved for an ARC a few months ago… And even though I normally read my ARCs closer to the publish date, I just couldn’t resist temptation when I got my copy and decided to make an exception for this one. I read The Perfect Stranger for the first time back in January and it ended up being my very first 5 star read of 2017. Because even though my expectations were set high after her thriller debut last year, Megan Miranda managed to outdo herself with her newest story. Well written, fast-paced, lots of plot twists, suspense, interesting characters… In short an excellent psychological thriller! I decided to wait with my review and reread The Perfect Stranger closer to the publish date, and I have to say I enjoyed the story just as much the second time around. I found myself hooked right from the first page and she is without doubt one of my new favorite authors of the genre. The way the author is able to build suspense, add plot twists and slowly reveal more about the characters is simply impressive. It’s unreliable characters at its best and it took me a long time to figure out what was the truth behind it all as everyone seemed to be having something to hide. There’s no ‘backwards’ plot this time for those who didn’t enjoy that aspect of All The Missing Girls, so if you like the genre there really is no excuse to not grab a copy of The Perfect Stranger. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

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Journalist Leah Stevens finds herself in a tough corner after one of her articles causes her trouble. With a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit hanging over her head, she needs to get out of Boston and find a way to start over. Then she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, by chance and Emmy seems to have been looking for the same fresh start after ending a troubled relationship… She proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, and Leah decides she has nothing to lose. Leah is able to get a teaching position there and everything seems to be working out, until a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake… And not only that, Emmy disappears only days later. What happened to the two women?

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If you like suspenseful, well written and plot twist-filled psychological thrillers, you are in for a treat. The Perfect Stranger ticks all those boxes and more… And I’m not even talking about the gorgeous cover. I’ve read The Perfect Stranger twice now and the story still managed to keep me under its spell. Every main character seems to be having something to hide and you don’t get the full picture of what is going on until the very end. Suspense at its best!


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