ARC REVIEW: I Know You – by Erik Therme

Title: I Know You
Author: Erik Therme
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: April 12th 2019
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: March 23rd 2019
Pages: 217

“Whatever happened next was out of Bree’s hands… and that was the most terrifying thought of all.”

*** 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 do love my psychological thrillers, and there was just something about I Know You that sparked my interest when I was invited to read it. While I found myself flying through this story, I do have to confess I ended up having mixed thoughts about it. There is no doubt that I Know You has a fast pace and lots of twists that make the plot keep moving. I managed to finish it in less than a day, which is always a good sign for me with books under 350 pages… The premise of the story is very interesting as well, and I like how this isn’t just another kidnapping case, but also a story about family bonds, flawed characters and mistakes. I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but the execution didn’t manage to convince me completely though. Part of this feeling might have had to do with the plot, which I didn’t find all that credible as a whole and the story didn’t seem to flow all that naturally. What do I mean with this? Basically, I didn’t feel the different scenes were connected in a way that felt credible and the plot twists didn’t manage to convince me completely. I was surprised to find myself not all that invested in the story and characters, and I had a hard time staying focused at times. Which is strange in a way, because there is a lot happening to the Walker family and they sure have a heavy dose of hardship handed out to them. I think this feeling might be explained by the fact that I wasn’t able to connect to the characters as much as I hoped, and I would have liked to see them more developed beyond their visible and most pressing flaws. I Know You is by no means a bad read and it has some interesting elements, but overall I ended up having mixed thoughts about it. That doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it if you like a good mix of family drama and a kidnapping story though!

Bree Walker has always been looking out for her little sister Alissa, their absent parents forcing the role of her caretaker on Bree. Then Bree discovers sixteen-year-old Alissa isn’t spending time at her best friend’s place like Bree thought she was… And it turns out she has been missing for the last two days. To make things worse, Bree finds Alissa’s backpack abandoned on the steps of their trailer… And a chilling text confirms that something bad happened to her sister. How can Bree get her back?

I Know You is a story with an interesting premise and mix of different elements. I liked how the focus of this story wasn’t just on the kidnapping case, but also on the family drama and flawed characters in general. It is without doubt a superfast read perfect for when you need a little break from life and forget about your own problems. I personally ended up having mixed thoughts, mostly related to the credibility and lack of dept in and connection to the characters… But there is no doubt the story was still entertaining enough.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #90 – Then She Was Gone & Verity

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two psychological thrillers that have received a lot of hype since they came out… While neither turned out to be a 5 star read for me, I still found both to be very entertaining. Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell and Verity by Colleen Hoover.


Title: Then She Was Gone
Author: Lisa Jewell

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: April 17th 2018
Publisher: Atria Books
Finished reading: March 14th 2019
Pages: 369

“May was like the Friday night of summer: all the good times lying ahead of you, bright and shiny and waiting to be lived.”


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I have enjoyed Lisa Jewell‘s books in the past, so of course I have been looking forward to read Then She Was Gone as well. With all the hype around this title, I thought it was best to wait a little while before picking it up though… I’m glad I did, because while I did find it an entertaining read in general I can’t say the story managed to blow me away completely. It was fast-paced and the writing is engaging and really flows, but I found the plot to be quite predictable and I saw most plot twists coming from a mile away. This lack of surprise was a bit disappointing, but because I was warned before starting Then She Was Gone I already saw this coming. It’s quite easy to guess most things and figure out what is coming, but there were also certain details I didn’t predict. The story switches between past and present as we slowly find out more what happened to Ellie back in 2005 and why and how the police haven’t been able to find any clues so far. The link to the present and the whole Laura-Floyd situation was a bit too farfetched and convenient for me. The outcome of the whole mystery just didn’t seem realistic to me and this took away some of the strength of this story. I can’t deny it was still a very entertaining read though and I had a great time discovering if my guesses were right.


Title: Verity
Author: Colleen Hoover

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Romance
First published: December 7th 2018
Publisher: Hoover Ink, Inc.
Finished reading: March 14th 2019
Pages: 333

“If an attraction is present between two people, those two people an only be one of two things. Involved or not involved. There is no in- between.”


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I have always had a love-hate relationship with Colleen Hoover’s books, but lately the scale has been tipping towards the love side and was hoping to get lucky again. Especially since she has crossed to the dark side and branched out to the suspense genre with Verity… Now I’ve had the chance to read it, I can definitely say that it was a success for me. While not my all time favorite CoHo, I still had an excellent time reading this story. Some parts were a bit predictable and I did see some twists coming, but I think the shock of that ending made me completely forget about that. What a way to mess with our minds and leave us hanging like that! It’s an open ending that will most definitely leave you wanting for more and second-guess what you just read and thought was true. And aren’t those just the best feelings when reading this genre? The writing is of the same solid quality as always and together with the fast pace I just couldn’t stop reading and literally finished Verity in one sitting. The fact that Lowen’s POV is mixed up with chapters out of Verity’s autobiography is a brilliant touch and definitely adds a lot of suspense to the story. Those chapters are seriously disturbing and twisted! The main characters are well developed and I enjoyed seeing them develop over time and react to the circumstances. There was a bit too much adult content to my taste (you all know my allergy to those scenes!), but surprisingly they weren’t that big of a turn off as I would have expected. I was just too distracted by the mystery around Verity and her family to focus on the details that normally would have bothered me more. Verity is a true pageturner and a disturbing romantic suspense story with an ending that will leave you with your mouth hanging wide open. Recommended if you enjoy the genre!


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Courier – by Kjell Ola Dahl @Orendabooks #NordicNoir

Hello and welcome to my little stop of the The Courier blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I always love discovering international authors and I just couldn’t resist this chance to read more Nordic Noir. So please join me while I share my thoughts on The Courier!

Title: The Courier
Author: Kjell Ola Dahl
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
First published: 2015
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: March 9th 2019
Pages: 276
(Originally written in Norwegian: ‘Kureren’)

“You can hide, you can move to an island, build a hut and wander on a beach for years, lonely. But when the past comes calling you are the same person.”

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

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Those who know me are probably already aware of the fact I have a special interest in WWII historical fiction and I always enjoy a good mystery. Add an international setting you don’t see every day and the fact that it’s Nordic Noir in the first place and you’ll find me jumping up and down out of sheer excitement. Oh yes, I couldn’t wait to dive into my copy of The Courier and it turned out to be just as good as the reviews I saw popping up kept promising me. Want to know why?

The first thing that stands out in The Courier is that this story is actually set in three different time periods which are connected by the main characters. The story mainly switches between 1942 and 1967, both having its own storyline and different angle to contribute to the plot. This mostly dual timeline was one of the strongest elements of this story for me and highly enhanced my reading experience. The fact that we are left in the dark about what happened in 1942 and what consequences it has on the characters in 1967 adds a healthy dose of suspense to the plot and the author is able to build this feeling of suspense and intrigue in both storylines. Both are equally strong for different reasons, a balance that is easy to achieve while using a dual timeline.

The writing and plot development also really stood out for me. This story managed to grab my attention right from the very first chapter and the engaging writing style made it easy to fully emerge myself in the story and travel back in time. The descriptions of time, place and characters are detailed and well developed, making it easy to imagine yourself as a spectator observing the story from a front row seat. The main characters felt real as they are realistically displayed with flaws and all; you will soon find yourself rooting for them and this makes connecting to the story all the easier.

Another thing I could really appreciate was the historical content and the many references to daily life in Norway and Sweden in 1942 and 1967. Especially since WWII historical fiction tends to focus on countries like Germany, Poland or France, I was excited to be offered a glimpse of the history of lesser known countries that were affected by that particular part of history. It was interesting to see the characters evolve over time as they react to the things that happen to and around them. The plot also has quite a few surprises in store and I can promise you that you will not see them coming. The Courier is a little Nordic Noir gem and a very satisfying read for fans of historical fiction and thrillers alike. Highly recommended!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Olso.

 


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ARC REVIEW: The Bones She Buried – by Lisa Regan @bookouture

Title: The Bones She Buried
(Detective Josie Quinn #5)
Author: Lisa Regan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Detective
First published: March 27th 2019
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: March 6th 2019
Pages: 304

“Sometimes, you have to start from where you are.”

*** 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 thriller series, and Detective Josie Quinn has quickly grown into one of my favorites. I have been enjoying spending time with his main character in the fictional city of Denton, and book number five is without doubt another excellent addition to the series. If you like your detective thrillers fast, intense and basically similar to crazy rollercoaster rides, you definitely have to try this series. What a ride! I wasn’t sure what else could be happening after all Denton and its habitants have already gone through, but Lisa Regan has another surprise in store and the plot intensifies. One of the reasons the series works this well is that the main characters are easy to like and connect to. Between this, the writing style and a gripping plot you will definitely want to free some of your time when you start reading The Bones She Buried. I like how we with each installment not only we are given a new intense investigation to follow, but we also see the main characters we’ve grown to love evolve over time. This means you’ll have to read the books in order, but every single one has been a more than solid read so far and definitely worth your time. In fact: The Bones She Buried is one heck of an entertaining and intense ride and this time around things get personal once again. Things might be said about the credibility of certain aspects of the plot, but personally I was too busy enjoying my adrenaline ride to worry about it. I’m already looking forward to meet Josie Quinn again!

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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…

When Josie Quinn and her partner Noah arrive at his mother’s home, they immediately realize something wrong. They rush in only to find Noah’s mother lying lifeless in her back garden…The team is called in, but they are struggling to find clues or understand why someone would want to hurt her. Then another body turns up, and they are starting to suspect the two cases might be linked… But are they really when there is no evidence of that connection to be found? They will have to dig deep if they want to find out the truth in time.

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Detective Josie Quinn has quickly grown into one of my favorite detective thriller series. I like my thrillers fast, entertaining, suspenseful and action-packed, and every single book has delivered exactly that so far. The main character is easy to like and meeting up with Josie Quinn is like visiting an old friend. Things can be said about the credibility of certain aspects of the plot and the fact that a LOT seems to be happening in such a small town and within such a small group of people. But I have to be honest here and say I was far too busy enjoying the ride to really think about it. This is one of those series you will find yourself flying through and it will be hard to let go before you reach the final page. The Bones She Buried is another scorcher!


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ARC REVIEW: The Secret Child – by Caroline Mitchell

Title: The Secret Child
(DI Amy Winter #2)

Author: Caroline Mitchell
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Detective
First published: April 18th 2019
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: March 3rd 2019
Pages: 336

“We are all justified by our wants and needs. Who’s to say my reasons aren’t just as valid as yours?”

*** 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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As a thriller fan, every time I see Caroline Mitchell‘s name pop up my heart skips a beat. She has become one of my trusted thriller authors and her stories haven’t failed to entertain me yet… Last year I was able to meet a new detective with a fascinating past, DI Amy Winter, and it’s time for a second date in The Secret Child. I have a weird obsession with serial killer stories and the main character’s past is definitely one of the things that stands out most in this new detective thriller series. Things can be said about her difficult past and flawed personal life being quite cliche, but Lillian will get under your skin and will give Amy Winter an original twist. The writing is more than solid, draws you right in and will make you reach the final page before you know it. It’s something I’ve become used to with Caroline Mitchell‘s thrillers and one of the reasons I would pick up one of her titles without even reading the blurb first. The Secret Child has a fascinating premise though and I love that part of the plot is set in the past and in the Soviet Union at that. This international twist makes the plot all the more interesting and gives the story an original touch. Past and present are mixed in a way that adds maximum suspense and intrigue about what really happened to Luka and the other children all those years ago. There are quite a lot of different elements in the story, with the 1984-1985 flashbacks, the present kidnapping and Lillian Grimes… I did feel they were better balanced than in the first installment, and the story will definitely have some plot twist bombs and surprises for you in store. All in all I had a great time reading The Secret Child and I’m already looking forward to discover what will happen next.

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

There are no solid leads after four-year-old Ellen was kidnapped from her very own bed at night. Until her mother Nicole receives a package with four phials and a message that will chill her to the bone. Suddenly her darkest fears have come true, and the past has come back to haunt her… Nicole is given a deadly challenge: one of the four phials is poisoned, and she has to drink one in order for the kidnapper to reveal Ellen’s location to the police. The kidnapper claims to be someone that is long dead… Is he telling the truth, and what does the past have to do with what is happening in the present? DI Amy Winter and her team will have to give it all in order for the truth to come out.

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If you, like me, enjoy fast-paced detective thrillers that aren’t afraid to go dark and twisty, you should definitely meet DI Amy Winter. Not only has she a serial killer connection, but she also isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty in order to get things done. The Secret Child reads like a train and the flashbacks don’t slow down the pace at all… In fact, they only add extra dept and an original touch to the story. I’m really enjoying my time with DI Amy Winter so far and I’ll definitely be looking forward to meeting her again in the future.


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ARC REVIEW: The Fourth Courier – by Timothy Jay Smith

Title: The Fourth Courier
Author: Timothy Jay Smith
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: April 2nd 2019
Publisher: Arcade
Finished reading: March 13th 2019
Pages: 320

“It’s not death that we fear but being erased by history if we leave nothing behind.”

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

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I always have a weak spot for a good and honest historical thriller with an international setting, so of course I was immediately intrigued by the blurb of The Fourth Courier. It sounded like a fantastic read and I found myself really looking forward to dive into this story set in post-war Poland. Sadly, I can’t say that I was impressed with what I found. Firstly I have to say that I might be the wrong target group here as the writing style seems to be more focused on a so-called ‘white male’ audience. No offense ment here, but I found The Fourth Courier to be sexist and a lot of negative stereotypes and cliches were used, not only regarding the character’s sexual preference but also regarding their race and nationality. Some readers might be fine with that, but personally it was a huge turn off for me. For the same reason I wasn’t able to connect to the writing style at all. Both writing and plot felt chaotic and all over the place… There are inconsistencies in the plot and there are so many different characters and storylines that it’s too confusing and difficult to keep track of the who, what, where and when. You literally get lost in the chaos, and not in a good way. The idea behind The Fourth Courier on its own is interesting and does have a lot of promise. Unfortunately, I can’t say I enjoyed the execution of this idea though and I had a really hard time reaching the final page. It could have been a case of a story that’s simply not for me, but I won’t go so far as recommending it to anyone else either. Oh well, we can’t like them all, can we?

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Set in 1992 Warsaw, Poland, the FBI is called in when a series of murders takes a dangerous turn. The locals suspect that the victims may have been couriers smuggling nuclear material from Russia to Poland, which means they might have to deal with a future nuclear treat. FBI agent Jay Porter is sent to investigate and stop those behind the murders before things escalate further. Things are quickly spinning out of control though…

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I really wanted to enjoy The Fourth Courier and it initially had all the signs I would. But between the chaotic plot, too many characters, sexist comments and negative stereotypes and cliches I ended up really disappointed by this story. I confess I probably would have DNFed if it wouldn’t have been an ARC… And I can’t say that reaching the final page was all that satisfying, with the forementioned negative comments and plot getting on my nerves every single page. Like I said before, I might have been the wrong target group here, so I suggest deciding for yourself if you want to give this story a try or not.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #88 – And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer And Longer & The Enchanted

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two stories I highly enjoyed for different reasons… The novella And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer And Longer by one of my favorite authors Fredrik Backman and a story I had to put on hold the first time around but highly enjoyed: The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld.


Title: And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer And Longer
Author: Fredrik Backman

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Novella
First published: August 24th 2015
Publisher: Atria books
Finished reading: March 4th 2019
Pages: 97
(Originally written in Swedish: ‘Och varje morgon blir vägen hem längre och längre’)

“I’m constantly reading a book with a missing page, and it’s always the most important one.”


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I think most of you are already aware of the fact I’m a huge fan of Fredrik Backman‘s work… I decided to pick up this novella first before hopefully diving into the Beartown sequel next month. Novellas can go either way for me, as I normally prefer a more developed story, but there are exceptions where I’m able to connect to a short story in the same way. And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer And Longer is one of those exceptions. Not only is it good to see Alzheimer in the spotlight, we also see its effects on both the person itself and those close in a refreshing way. This novella has an almost surreal touch where memories and the real world overlap and exist at the same time. I love the way Fredrik Backman uses the prose and memories to help understand what it would be like having a fading memory. Past and present are liquid as we see the grandfather, his son and grandson in different stages of their life in such a way that erases all boundaries. The representation of the grandfather’s memories as a square where persons and objects alike are incorporated is fascinating… Especially how the square changes over time as Alzheimer starts taking over his brain. It’s a wonderful and heartbreaking family focused story that is well worth your time.


Title: The Enchanted
Author: Rene Denfeld

Genre: Fiction, Magical Realism
First published: March 4th 2014
Publisher: Phoenix
Finished reading: March 7th 2019
Pages: 233

“After a time, it seemed that the world inside the books became my world. So when I thought of my childhood, it was dandelion wine and ice cream on a summer porch, like Ray Bradbury, and catching catfish with Huck Finn. My own memories receded and the book memories became the real memories, far more than the outside, far more even than in here.”


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I remember first trying to read this story a few years ago and being unable to connect to the magical realism elements of the story… It really shows that there is something as the right or wrong time to pick up a book, because this time I was fully mesmerized by this magical story. The Enchanted isn’t for everyone and if you are not a fan of magical realism I won’t suggest reading it. If you are open to the genre though, this story will prove to be a little gem. The story behind The Enchanted is actually quite dark, as the main setting is inside Death Row of a maximum security prison. We get to know some of the darkest and most dangerous criminals in a very special way, and it’s an interesting as well as very disturbing glimpse inside their heads. I love how we hop between different characters in such a flowing way that really helps keep everything connected. One of the voices only has his identity revealed at the very end, but this doesn’t mean the story doesn’t make sense or is harder to follow. No, you will get swept up in the whirlwind that is this magical story and savour each and every single magical realism element that will help soothen the sometimes difficult and disturbing subjects as (child) abuse, violence and mental health. Rene Denfeld did a fantastic job combining the different elements, waving them together in such a way that will leave you speechless by the time you reach the final page. The writing, the magical realism, the characters, the contrast of the fantastical and brutal reality… It’s true that The Enchanted is not for everyone, but the right person will be just as enchanted as I found myself to be.


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