BOOK REVIEW: Room – by Emma Donoghue

Title: Room
Author: Emma Donoghue

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: September 13th 2010
Publisher: Picador
Finished reading: May 9th 2017
Pages: 321

“Just because you’ve never met them doesn’t mean they’re not real. There’s more things on earth than you ever dreamed about.”

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I know for a fact it’s not true, but I feel like I’m about the last person on earth to read this book. I have been hearing so many great things about it over the years, and I still don’t know why I haven’t picked it up before… I’m definitely kicking myself for not doing so now though, because Room is without doubt one of the most powerful, heartbreaking and thought-provoking stories I’ve read this year. The first thing that stands out is the fact that it’s told from the POV of a 5-year-old boy, which makes the story that much more powerful and unique. Jack’s voice made a huge impact on me and it’s a story that will stay with me for a long time. It actually made me think of The Boy With The Striped Pajamas (another of my all time favorites), which uses a similar technique to narrate a rather shocking story and is just as powerful. Another thing that stood out for me in Room is the excellent execution of Jack’s reactions, emotions and feelings in general to Room and the Outside. In fact, the writing style in general is wonderful; I literally flew through the pages and finished it in less than a day. The character development is also excellent and it’s very intriguing to see how everything that happens to both Jack and his mother affects them. If you haven’t read this little masterpiece yet, I suggest you do! If you like the genre, you won’t be disappointed.

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Jack has been living with his Ma in Room for as long as he can remember, and he is excited about his fifth birthday. Room has a locked door and a skylight, and measures exactly eleven feet by eleven feet. It’s also the whole world for Jack; the rest of it being Outside and nothing what he sees on the TV is truly real. In fact, only him, Ma and the things in Room are… Until the day Ma admits that there is actually a world outside.

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I still can’t believe it took me years to finally pick up my copy of Room, but it is without doubt one of my new all time favorites. The story itself is already both dark, shocking and powerful, but what makes Room even more special is that it’s told from the POV of a 5-year-old boy. Jack is a truly fascinating and unique character and having the opportunity to follow both him and Ma is a true blessing. This story will definitely stay with me for a long time! As you might have guessed, I can highly recommend this story.


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

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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ARC REVIEW: Blood Moon – by John David Bethel

Title: Blood Moon
Author: John David Bethel

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 4th 2016
Publisher: Tell-Tale Publishing Group
Finished reading: April 2nd 2017
Pages: 355

“When your life is on the line, you can do a lot of things you never thought possible.”

*** 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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April is going to be all about the ARC readathon, so what better way than to start the month with an ARC?! I’ve had Blood Moon pending for a while now. I remember reading the blurb back when I was offered a copy and being intrigued by the brutality of the case and the note that part of the story was actually based on a true event. This fact alone adds a whole different level to Blood Moon, because the main character goes through a LOT: it’s basically a miracle he was able to survive. I think it was a wise choice to include the introduction and explain more about the original case; some readers might have ended up questioning the credibility of the plot otherwise. Blood Moon is an interesting read with a lot of action and violent/graphic scenes (little warning in case you don’t like those!). The prose reads easily and the pace is fast, as you might already expect for these kind of stories. I also liked the use of Spanish by some of the characters as it added without doubt authenticity to the story. And while initially I had my doubts about the obvious grammar mistakes in the Spanish dialogues, they turned out to be an accurate imitation of how Spanish is actually spoken on the streets of Miami (as was clarified by the author). In short, if you enjoy reading fast-paced thrillers and don’t mind a healthy dose of violence and graphic scenes, definitely give Blood Moon a go. The whole story is intriguing!

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Just as the Cuban-American businessman Recidio Suarez is about to leave his business, he is brutally beaten and abducted. He finds himself handcuffed, shackles and blindfolded in an unknown building, and he has no clue as to why he has been targeted in the first place. The kidnappers accuse him of stealing, but Recidio doesn’t remember ever having stolen something. And then he recognizes a voice, and knows he is in big trouble. Recidio is tortured and threatened; forced to hand over his multi-million dollar holdings to his captors. Somehow he manages to survive, but his story doesn’t end there… As nobody seems to believe Recidio’s story except for his lawyer and family.

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The plot of Blood Moon is a story almost too incredible to be true, and I guess that if I hadn’t read the introduction first I would have thought it to be not that plausible. But it is all too real what the main character Recidio has to go through… And the whole ordeal definitely makes for an excellent as well as horrific thriller story. Fast-paced and easy to read, action-packed and gritty; if you like the genre, you will enjoy this one.


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ARC REVIEW: Missing – by Monty Marsden

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Title: Missing
Author: Monty Marsden

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 1st 2016
Publisher: Aria
Finished reading: February 1st 2017
Pages: 266
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“Patience is like a tree – the roots are bitter, but the fruits are most sweet.”

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

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This story was actually published over two months ago, but somehow it got mixed up with other ARCs and I didn’t read it on time. Oops? I always have a weak spot for a good thriller and I have an (unhealthy?) obsession for stories about serial killers. Add an Italian setting and I was sold as soon as I read the blurb of Missing. The author Monty Marsden is actually Italian; something I didn’t realize immediately, but it shows in the detailed descriptions and this book is in fact actually a translation. I was completely ready to dive into this serial killer mystery, but I ended up taking a very long time to finish it. I’m not sure if part of the essence of this story is lost in translation, but it all just felt way too chaotic and it took a long time before things started to make sense for me. The many POV switches distracted from the main plot and had me confused which characters were actually important in the story. That said, the introduction of Claps, suffering from aphasia (the struggle to comprehend and use words and verbal expressions) added a whole different level to the plot. He is a truly fascinating character and I enjoyed following his development. All in all Missing is not the best mystery I’ve read, although part might have been lost in translation and it did have its charm.

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Ami lives with her family in a little village in Lombardy, a seemingly safe and dusty place. But that is until one day Ami steps out of her house to go to school and never comes back nor did she ever make it to school. Her father raises the alarm and they start an immediate search for the little girl. Police Commisioner Sensi leads the investigation, and they seem to have found a trail straight away. But three months later, they still haven’t found Ami and they don’t have a solid lead as to what happened to her. Sensi decides to talk to his old friend Dr. Claps, a renowned criminologist who had to retire after suffering from aphasia. Because Ami doesn’t seem to be the only little girl who went missing, and Sensi needs all the help he can get to solve the mystery…

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I was really looking forward to Missing, especially after I found out about its Italian setting and the involvement of a serial killer. It’s not that the case itself isn’t intriguing and I really enjoyed the setting, but I somehow I had a really hard time reading this story. It just all felt chaotic with too many different characters/POVs being introduced without a proper connection… And I had a hard time understanding the relevance of some of the chapters. Things started to make sense later on in the story, but for me it was too little too late. Missing is a story with a lot of potential and interesting characters, and I kind of wish my Italian would be good enough to read the original version just to see if it was just the translation that let me down…


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ARC REVIEW: Blink – by K.L. Slater

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Title: Blink
Author: K.L. Slater

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: February 16th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: January 26th 2017
Pages: 295
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“You don’t always know how you’re going to react to a sudden tragedy breaking your life into little pieces.”

*** 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 read another K.L. Slater book ever since I finished Safe With Me last year, and this second book simply blew me away. Her debut psychological thriller was already good, but Blink was just BRILLIANT. Basically I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat the whole time trying to figure out what was going on, and I ended up being SO wrong about everything. This title is without doubt psychological thriller at its best! Excellent prose, excellent plot and plot twists, excellent use of suspense, excellent character development… Blink has all the right ingredients for a great story. The main characters are maybe not all that likeable, but I personally didn’t care. The fact that the main character seems to be paralyzed and in coma but is actually awake is truly fascinating and adds another excellent plot twist to the story. I loved every single minute of Blink and it doesn’t happen often that a plot is able to mislead me that much. More than recommended if you like the genre!

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Three years ago, Toni’s five-year-old daughter Evie disappeared after school. The police were never able to find a trace of the little girl; there were no witnesses or evidence to give them a solid lead. But Toni belives her daughter is still alive. And as she begins to piece together her memories of the events around her daughter’s disappearance, the full story of her past begins to reveal itself… Will Toni find a way to make herself heard and find her daughter before it’s too late?

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This title will definitely appear on my list of favorite psychological thrillers. Blink basically has everything I look for in a good thriller and I enjoyed every single minute of it. The ‘paralyzed’ chapters and the flashbacks are without doubt intriguing and add an extra original touch… The plot twists are excellent and had me guessing until the very end. Some of them are so shocking you would have never seen them coming!


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ARC REVIEW: His Kidnapper’s Shoes – by Maggie James

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Title: His Kidnapper’s Shoes
Author: Maggie James

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: November 15th 2016
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Finished reading: November 27th 2016
Pages: 286
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“Sometimes the people who touch our lives the most are only passing through.”

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

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The main reason I decided I wanted to read His Kidnapper’s Shoes by Maggie James is the whole idea of a story that is partly written from the kidnapper’s view sounded both intriguing and refreshing. And it definitely turned out to be another great psychological thriller with an interesting twist. The character development in His Kidnapper’s Shoes is probably the most interesting part of this story, as we see how both the kidnapper and her ‘son’ evolve over time and deal with everything that happens in their lives. The characters are not exactly likeable, but they are well developed and the author took her time explaining the why behind the kidnapping and the woman’s motive. The story switches between past and present and touches some very sensitive topics; you’ve been warned. That said, it’s without doubt an interesting psychological thriller for those who enjoy the genre. With it’s fast pace and easy-to-read prose it is an entertaining read despite the sensitive topics.

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Deep down Laura Bateman knows something is wrong and that her relationship with her son isn’t what it should be. Their relationship is actually based on lies, but bad things have happened to Laura in the past that have changed her forever. When twenty-six-year-old Daniel finds out the truth about his mother, he doesn’t know what to do with it. His world has turned upside down, and he is left with nothing but questions… Why did Laura do what she did? And can Daniel ever forgive her?

 

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If you like reading psychological thrillers as much as I do, you will probably enjoy His Kidnapper’s Shoes as well. It’s a fast-paced read with a refreshing new angle that adds a lot of dept to the story. It’s interesting to learn more about both Laura and Daniel and how they ended up in their current situation. I don’t want to reveal too much to avoid spoilers, but it’s definitely worth the try.