ARC REVIEW: Proof Of Lies – by Diana Rodriguez Wallach @EntangledTeen

Title: Proof Of Lies
(Anastasia Phoenix #1)
Author: Diana Rodriguez Wallach
Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
First published: March 7th 2017
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Finished reading: February 23rd 2018
Pages: 400

“People don’t become powerful without having secrets.”

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

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I have stumbled across this series recently after I was invited to join the blog tour for the sequel. I love myself a good spy thriller and I was immediately intrigued by the premise of Proof Of Lies. An international setting, conspiracy theories… Can it get any better than that? This is definitely my kind of story and decided to dive into the first book straight away. I confess it took me a little while, but as soon as the story changed setting I was completely hooked. Where the story starts out a little slow despite everything that happens, the second half was that fully made my heart race. Partly because it was set in Italy and the descriptions of the different places were very well done, but also because of the non stop action and plot twists as Anastasia is trying to find her sister. The first part set in the US did serve very well as an introduction and base line which the rest of the plot stands on. Another thing I really liked (probably the philologist in me speaking here) were the introduction of (mainly) Spanish phrases into the text. I did detect some spelling mistakes, but it’s always tricky when it comes to foreign languages in texts. The mention of local food was another nice touch, although I do have to say that even though I’m Dutch I had never heard of ‘spekdik’ before. Might just be me though… As for the characters, I kind of have a weak spot for Marcus, probably because he’s from Madrid and I spent some time there studying abroad. And I agree with Anastasia: I do love a Spanish accent. Talking about Anastasia though, I think she is the main reason I couldn’t rate this story higher than I did. Instead of feeling sorry and rooting for her, I found myself rather annoyed by her dramatic, whiny and dramaqueen attitude. I can understand feeling low after all that happened, but she really took it to extremes… The constant ‘I can’t have anything positive happening to me while my sister is gone’ and ‘I shouldn’t be flirting for the same reason’ and the crying in general really were too much for me. And as for the romance… The romance itself wasn’t as bad, but Anastasia’s attitude towards it was. One moment she was all over him, then the next she’s all cold and distant because it’s not fair to her sister… What about the other person in the equation? Ugh. The writing really flows though and makes it easy to keep turning those pages. And while I had my guesses, the plot twists and conspiracy theory elements are well executed and mostly managed to surprise me. Also, that ending! I will definitely be looking forward to the sequel to find out what happens next. In short, this YA spy thriller is fast-paced and entertaining and perfect for fans of the Embassy Row and The Conspiracy Of Us series.

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Anastasia Phoenix has been moving all around the globe ever since she was little, her scientist parents being transferred multiple times over the years and taking their two daughters with them. Their latest home in Boston became a lot more permanent when both parents die in a car crash, and Anastasia’s older sister Keira is left to take care of both of them. But now Keira has disappeared and the police presume her dead… The only one who believes she is still alive is Anastasia, and she is determined to find her. But that is easier said than done…

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I have a weak spot for both an international setting and the whole spy/conspiracy theory element, so reading Proof Of Lies was an easy choice. Both these elements were what made this first book of a new series into a succesful and entertaining read for me. While I can’t say I liked the main character, not only because she is over dramatic and whiny, but also because she is quite naive and doesn’t seem to care about possible consequences of her actions, I somehow still very much enjoyed reading about her search for her sister. The non stop action and international setting in the second half definitely had a lot to do with that. I did wonder about the credibility of it all (A teenager in Europe without supervision?? Everything that happens to them in general??), but I guess at least the second part can be explained away by the conspiracy itself. All in all without doubt still a very entertaining read and I will be looking forward to read the sequel.


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ARC REVIEW: Vanishing Girls – by Lisa Regan @bookouture

Title: Vanishing Girls
(Detective Josie Quinn #1)
Author: Lisa Regan

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: January 17th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: January 21st 2018
Pages: 334

“You can’t always be all roses and sweetness,” she had always told Josie. “That don’t get shit done.”

*** 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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Bold and striking: two words that describe the cover perfectly. And these words apply to Vanishing Girls itself as well, because this new detective series goes all out and buries you under a mountain of intense and action-packed scenes. I picked up this thriller on a Saturday afternoon and found myself to be so utterly engrossed I completely forgot I had other things to do. The writing style is engaging and allows you to jump right in. There is a lot going on in Vanishing Girls and there is not one boring minute with the non-stop action and plot twists getting thrown right at you. That said, I almost felt there was too much going on and I started to doubt about the credibility of it all. I’m not saying I didn’t love this story, especially since I like my thrillers dark, intense and suspenseful, but still… Especially the final part felt a little bit too close to the credibility border. The main character Josie Quinn is without doubt another interesting one and a perfect example of a kick ass female detective. The fact she is on a suspension and doing her own investigation anyway adds a little something extra, and I like how well fleshed out and rounded her character felt. There are a few cliches involved, like the complicated and dark past and personal life in general, but Josie Quinn is mostly forgiven for those cliches as she bulldozers through the secrets and lies and gets things done. I do wonder how things could continue on the same level after such an explosive ending, but I’m definitely curious and will be coming back for more. Intense, fascinating, disturbing, suspenseful… Thriller fans, read this book!

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When seventeen-year-old Isabelle Coleman goes missing, the whole town of Denton helps looking for her. But their search turns up nothing but the girl’s phone… That and another girl they didn’t even know was missing. The girl is unresponsible and it is clear she has been through hell and damaged beyond repair. Detective Josie Quinn only gets a name from her: Ramona. Who is Ramona and what does she have to do with the missing girls? What is really going on in Denton?

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If you like dark, intense, action-packed thrillers, you will be in for a treat with Vanishing Girls. The case described in this first book of a new detective series is both disturbing and fascinating, and this story is not for the weak-hearted. Trigger warnings are in place for violence, abuse and graphic scenes! Vanishing Girls is without doubt my kind of thriller and I had a blast following this rollercoast ride. The plot is so packed with action and twisted that it’s on the border of credible, but there is no doubt you won’t find a boring minute while reading this one. The main character Josie Quinn is on fire in this one!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #9: Life In Outer Space & The Bunker Diary

Time for more Yvo’s Shorties! This time shorties of books I’ve actually read in 2018. 😉 These two books were my very first Beat The Backlist titles and here’s to many more to follow this year. Number one is Life In Outer Space by Melissa Keil, a book I picked up on a whim. The second, The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks, I’ve been meaning to pick up for ages and turned out to be a very shocking and thought-provoking read.


Title: Life In Outer Space
Author: Melissa Keil

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: February 1st 2013
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Finished reading: January 4th 2018
Pages: 305

“I guess some people enter your orbit and get stuck, and there’s nothing either of you can do about it.”


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Ever picked a book up on a whim? Well, that was what happened when I started reading Life In Outer Space by Melissa Keil. I love my geeky/nerdy reads and I was so sure I was going to enjoy this one… But I guess it just wasn’t ment to be. First of all, I feel this book is trying too hard. Why? The geeky/nerdy element feels forced unnatural and basically didn’t manage to convince me. This is strange, because it’s normally my favorite part of this kind of YA contemporaries… The movie geek theme did at least play a significant role throughout the story, which I could appreciate since it clearly wasn’t just another box to be ticked and time and effort was put into finding all those references and quotes. I do feel Life In Outer Space has an aweful lot of high school cliches though, including the infamous ‘geek falls for popular girl’ trope. And another thing that made me struggle to love this story were the main characters. Unfortunately I never managed to connect to them, although I’m having the feeling the unnatural feel of the geeky elements were probably part of the problem. It does read superfast and fans of cute YA contemporary romance reads who don’t mind high school cliches will most likely have a better reading experience than me.


Title: The Bunker Diary
Author: Kevin Brooks

Genre: YA, Thriller, Horror
First published: March 7th 2013
Publisher: Penguin
Finished reading: January 6th 2018
Pages: 268

“Fear serves a purpose. It’s not just for watching spooky films or riding rollercoasters. It’s there for a reason. It keeps us alive.”


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I’ve been meaning to read this one for a long time, and when I saw mentioned in the first line of the description this was going to be ‘Room meets Lord Of The Flies’, I was sold. These comparisons to popular books can go both ways, but I think in the case of The Bunker Diary it is actually pretty accurate. Because WOW. I was intrigued as soon as I started reading The Bunker Diary and this is both an addictive, shocking, thought-provoking and emotional read. I sure wish I would have picked it up sooner! The writing is interesting and we learn about what is happening through the diary of the main character. Not only tells us about the events in the bunker, but it also shows the mental state of the character as well as how the things that happen have their effect. It’s hard to talk properly about this story without giving away too much, but The Bunker Diary will crush your heart, make you stare at the final page and at loss for words. A trigger warning for some graphic descriptions, but all in all I can really recommend reading this story. It definitely blew me away.


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ARC REVIEW: Keep Her Safe – by Richard Parker @Bookwalter @bookouture

Title: Keep Her Safe
Author: Richard Parker

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: January 11th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: January 3rd 2018
Pages: 285

“She couldn’t even begin to imagine how she’d accomplish that. But the last week had taught her exactly what she was capable of when Penny’s life was at stake.”

*** 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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!! Happy publication day !!

I’ve become a fan of Richard Parker‘s intense, action-packed and fast-paced thrillers ever since I read Be My Killer (now called Follow You) last year, so you can imagine I was over the moon when I found out there was going to be a new thriller coming out this January. Keep Her Safe went to my list of most-anticipated releases as soon as the cover was first revealed, and I have been looking forward to read it ever since. And there is one thing for sure: Keep Her Safe doesn’t disappoint. Basically it was one crazy, intense and blood coiling rollercoaster ride that didn’t let me go until the very end… What a way to start 2018 with a bang! Both the prose and the suspense around the situation the main character finds herself in from the start managed to grab me straight away. This thriller simply reads like a train! You won’t find one boring minute as plot twist after plot twist gets thrown at you and the intense feeling of danger never leaves. The psychological aspect of this novel is an interesting as well, as it makes you wonder how far mothers do go to protect their children… A trigger warning for those who are sensitive to violent and gruesome scenes, because Keep Her Safe can get pretty extreme at points. But I personally loved every single minute of the ride and I can highly recommend it to anyone who likes their thrillers action-packed, gripping, suspenseful and intense. Also, I might have squeeled when I saw my name mentioned in the Acknowledgements. Thank you!

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Maggie would do everything to protect her daughter Penny, so when she wakes up one night to find a strange woman in her home, she runs to lock herself and her daughter in. But she does know why the stranger has come to their house… Because someone has been targeting mothers, kidnapping their children and offering them a choice: follow their orders or never see their child again. It seems like the woman in Maggie’s house is the next victim… What will happen to the two women and their children?

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I already had a feeling this was going to be good, but I honestly couldn’t have wished for a better book to start the reading year with. Keep Her Safe was one heck of a thriller with so many intense moments I found it impossible to stop reading. I practically devoured this story and its many plot twists and the final part of Keep Her Safe definitely had some jaw droppingly fierce moments. A trigger warning for those if extreme and violent scenes aren’t your thing! Otherwise, I can highly recommend this thriller.


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ARC REVIEW: Cold Blood – by Robert Bryndza @RobertBryndza @bookouture

Title: Cold Blood
(Detective Erika Foster #5)
Author: Robert Bryndza

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 20th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: September 1st 2017
Pages: 300

“We’re all a few pieces of bad luck away from having to make horrible choices to survive.”

*** 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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Those who follow my blog are probably already aware of the fact that I have become a big fan of the Erika Foster series ever since I finished reading the first book last year. Now book number five is already about to come out, and my feelings haven’t changed. In fact, Cold Blood has only reconfirmed my love for this series. Because this story yet again blew me away… There is no doubt that every new Erika Foster adventure simply delivers and will have you on the edge of your seat for the duration of the ride. Cold Blood is another serial killer thriller with a twist; it has a great plot, lots of action and twists that will keep you invested until the very end. It has been very interesting to see the main characters develop over time and it almost feels like you know them personally. Erika Foster is without doubt a very powerful character and is an important part of why this series is such a success. The case in Cold Blood is another fascinating one; you find out the who quite early on but the character development is spot on and intriguing. Also, the final scene is GOOD! I definitely can’t wait for the next installment and Cold Blood hasn’t even been published yet. If you enjoy reading crime thrillers, I can highly suggest picking up this series. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed! The books are highly entertaining, well written, suspenseful, have the right amount of creepy, lots of twists and a kickass main character. What more to ask?

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

A battered suitcase washed up on the shore of the Thames, and what is inside shocks everyone. The suitcase contains the dismembered body of a young man… They are not able to identify him immediately, but as Erika and her team start working on the case, they make the link with another victim that was found under similar circumstances two weeks ago. Could it really be that another serial killer is on the move? Why were the two victims killed? Things will spin out of control fast and Erika and her team will have to do everything it takes to stop the killer. And they might be in for a surprise or two…

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I’m a big fan of the Erika Foster series and book number 5 was definitely one of my most anticipated releases. The wait was worth it, because Cold Blood was definitely everything I  hoped for and more. Suspenseful, fast-paced, a kickass character, thrilling plot, another serial killer thriller and entertaining read in general. This book has only reconfirmed my love for this series and I’m already waiting impatiently for the next one! Oh yes, I’m seriously addicted to Erika Foster adventures. They simply read like a train.


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ARC REVIEW: Hide And Seek – by Richard Parker @Bookwalter @bookouture

Title: Hide And Seek
Author: Richard Parker

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 31st 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: August 4th 2017
Pages: 393 

“Right Where You’re Standing – RWYS – was her indispensable app. It was dubbed the ‘Wikipedia of Death’.”

*** 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 know I was going to stay away from Netgalley for a while, but sometimes a new title pops up that is just too hard to resist (I’m looking at you, Bookouture!). After highly enjoying Richard Parker‘s previous book, I just HAD to request Hide And Seek as soon as I saw it. In fact, I picked it up the very same day my request was approved! As I already expected (and hoped for), I found myself hooked right from the very first page. Richard Parker has a way of crime thriller writing that draws you right in and doesn’t let you go once he has your attention. Hide And Seek starts with a bang and stays that way until the very end, and was just the fast-paced, entertaining, somewhat dark and disturbing thriller I was looking for. The plot is both interesting, slightly twisted and quite intense… The use of the Right Where You’re Standing (RWYS) app as part of the plot and plot twists is an interesting and original touch; cybercrime is something we are becoming more and more aware of these days and I liked how this element was incorporated into the story. The many plot twists kept you on the edge of your seat wondering about the who, what and why… And the journey itself was something to look forward to. The only thing that slightly bothered me were the characters. Lana seems a bit hysterical and paranoid (even though I admit she isn’t in an easy situation to begin with) and I didn’t always agree with Todd’s actions and the way everyone handled the situation in general. Sometimes I wondered about the credibility of the parents really being this involved in an active investigation? This doesn’t take away the fact that I was still able to thoroughly enjoy this serial killer/kidnapping rollercoaster ride and fans of the genre will be in for a treat.

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Lana and Todd’s little family has never been the same after an attempted kidnapping of their four-year-old son Cooper a few months ago… But when they win a free trip to the Blue Crest Adventure Park, they grab the chance to escape thier home with both hands. Cooper couldn’t have been more excited about this vacation and the three seem to be having a good time even though Lana is worried. It turns out she was right… Because somehow their happy vacation turns into a nightmare. Lana has to take a phonecall and is distracted for just a little while, and when she goes to meet them both Todd and Cooper are gone. Todd is quickly found, although injured, but there is no trace of Cooper… Until they watch the security cameras. Who took Cooper and what do they want? And what does it have to do with the Right Where You’re Standing app?

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If you enjoy reading fast-paced, intense and slightly twisted thrillers, you will definitely be in a treat reading Hide And Seek. This story will have you in its claws right from the very first page and trust me, it will be very hard to stop reading before you reach the final page. Hide And Seek is a kidnapping story with a twist and a LOT of action and suspense. The only thing I wasn’t sure about involved the characters, but that was only minor compared to the rest of the story. Recommended!


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ARC REVIEW: Court Of Lions – by Jane Johnson @HoZ_books

Title: Court Of Lions
Author: Jane Johnson

Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
First published: July 6th 2017
Publisher: Head Of Zeus
Finished reading: July 5th 2017
Pages: 416

“History was rather wasted on the young, who had yet to discover that looking back could sometimes be a lot more instructive than looking forward.”

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

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I always love a good historical fiction read and when I first heard about Court Of Lions the story just ticked al the right boxes for me. This novel by Jane Johnson is partly set in the 15th century, partly in the present and predominantly takes place in Granada. This Spanish city is hands down one of the favorite places I was able to visit during my stay in Spain eight years ago and Court Of Lions without doubt brought back great memories. When I started reading this novel I had really high expectations and I initially found myself enjoying both storylines despite them being completely different. Unfortunately this feeling didn’t last. While initially I found myself to be curious about Kate’s character and devoured the many descriptions of the Spanish city and the Alhambra in the contemporary chapters, I was suddenly put off by the arrival of a few very graphic scenes and adult content. Especially the second is always a huge turn off for me and instantly made me enjoy both the storyline and characters a lot less. Sure, Kate’s history is without doubt both terrifying and intriguing, but for me the storyline fell mostly flat for me and I wasn’t sure what to think of the chapters set in the UK either. The romance was also quite cliche and trigger warnings are in place for abuse and other sensitive themes. It is true that the pace is a lot faster in the contemporary chapters than the historical ones… But this doesn’t take away that I still wish Court Of Lions would have just focused on the chapters set in the 15th century. The historical storyline is both well developed, well researched and very interesting to read. Blessings is without doubt a fascinating character despite the fact that Blessings did do some things that bothered me at times… And the final reveal out Blessing’s secret came as a HUGE surprise. I loved reading about Momo and Blessings growing up and their relationship evolve and change. There were some cliches involved (love triangle!), but overall it’s impressive just how much these chapters stand out from the contemporary ones. I honestly believe the storylines would have worked out better as two completely different novels… There isn’t all that much connection between the two and both seem to have a different target group. It breaks my heart to give Blessings and Momo’s story just a 3 star rating, but Kate’s storyline did make me enjoy Court Of Lions considerably less than expected.

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It has been a year since Kate arrived in the city of Granada and she currently works as a waitress serving tourists in a bar. She pretends to be happy with her new life, but something dark is brewing under the surface… And she might be forced to deal with her past soon. It all starts when she finds a scrap of paper pressed into one of the Alhambra’s walls. A paper that has been there since the Fall of Granada and the expulsion of the last Sultan, although Kate doesn’t realize that when she finds it… And she doesn’t realize just how big of an effect this paper will have on her life.

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I was looking forward to read Court Of Lions as soon as I read the blurb. This novel seemed to combine two of my favorite things: historical fiction and Spain. I have wonderful memories of the city of Granada and this story without doubt triggered them. I enjoyed reading the many descriptions of the city and I loved the historical storyline and its characters. I probably would have given Court Of Lions a much higher rating if it would have been just that storyline… Because I wasn’t as charmed by the contemporary chapters. I couldn’t connect to Kate or the other characters, had a negative reaction to the adult content and wasn’t sure about the cliches either. Her history is without doubt both frightening and intriguing, but reading about it just didn’t work for me. Such a shame!


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