ARC REVIEW: One Dark Night – by Tom Bale @bookouture

Title: One Dark Night
Author: Tom Bale
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 23rd 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: October 11th 2018
Pages: 426

“In a situation as chaotic as this, with tempers frayed, it wouldn’t take much for a tragedy to occur.”

*** 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 read and enjoyed a few of Tom Bale‘s thrillers in the past, so of  course I couldn’t resist his newest title. I mean, that cover alone is on fire! I’ve experienced so far that Tom Bale likes to write his thrillers to be fast, extremely intense, disturbing and overall shocking. One Dark Night is no exception to this rule and is yet another tense and nailbiting story. Intense is an understatement here! The writing style is lightning fast, gripping and draws you right in… If you are looking for an intense and disturbing thriller, you will get a healthy dose of creepy and extreme emotions right from the start. Because One Dark Night starts with a bang, and will keep you on edge until the very end. Sure, there seems to be a break in the middle, but be ready to get a plot twist bomb thrown at you and brace yourself for a surprise… Nothing is as it seems, and it will only be over when the author says it’s over. That said, I did have to ditch a star for the overall lack of credibility of the plot. It seems more like something taken out of an action movie rather than something that could really happen, and a lot of events were quite farfetched and not really credible. If you manage to get your head around that and just let yourself be swept away by a rollercoaster story, you will end up having a blast anyway. And if you like your thrillers to be intense and disturbing, you can stop looking for your next read. A little warning for the weakhearted: graphic and violent scenes are included in One Dark Night, so consider yourselves warned.

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They are just driving home after a family outing, reading to end their Sunday on a high note in their comfortable home. But it seems like it wasn’t in the cars, as a split decision to follow a speeding car that nearly crashed into them will change their lives forever. When Adam pulls over to confront the driver, he seems something he wasn’t supposed to. A woman’s cry for help will change the fate of all four of them, as they are now being held against their will as well…

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There is no doubt that One Dark Night is a superfast, entertaining and action-packed thriller, with a few scenes so intense and graphic it almost borders on the horror genre. The situation of the family is horrific, and the story definitely has a Hollywood action movie feel about it. I had my doubts about the credibility of it all, but overall I still enjoyed the ride. And what a rollercoaster it was!


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ARC REVIEW: Pruning Simplified – by Steven Bradley

Title: Pruning Simplified
Author: Steven Bradley
Genre: Non Fiction, Gardening
First published: February 5th 2019
Publisher: Timber Press
Finished reading: October 18th 2018
Pages: 192

“To prune plants well is not so much about knowing how and where to cut but about knowing what you are trying to achieve.”

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

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I always love pottering around in our garden, taking care of the plants as a way to wind down and relax. I confess I’m still a beginner when it comes to pruning though, so when I saw this book popping up I was interested right away. Pruning Simplified is a great guide for beginners and professionals alike, with an insightful introduction and a detailed instruction on how to prune no less than 50 popular trees and shrubs. They will be a great help tending to my bougainvillea, camellia, fuchsia, hibiscus, hydrangea, lavender, azalea and roses! Each plant not only has instructions on how to prune and keep your plant healthy, but also when exactly you should prune. Very helpful! There is also a detailed description on how to prune trees and hedges, all combined with illustrations to help visualize where and how to cut. Pruning Simplified is a great reference for anyone wanting to learn more about pruning plants.


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ARC REVIEW: Snowy Nights At The Lonely Hearts Hotel – by Karen King

Title: Snowy Nights At The Lonely Hearts Hotel
Author: Karen King
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: November 9th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: October 16th 2018
Pages: 284

“Sometimes I think that people who have tough lives turn out better than those that are given everything on a plate.”

*** 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 this title might come as a surprise as it’s not my typical genre, but every once and I while I like stepping out of my comfort zone. There was just something about Snowy Nights At The Lonely Hearts Hotel that caught my eye, and I’m definitely glad I decided to read this title. If you are looking for the perfect story to get you in the Christmas mood, Snowy Nights At The Lonely Hearts Hotel without doubt fits the bill. The setting in Cornwall sounds magical, and I really liked the idea behind the Christmas party for single parents. While the characters were quite easy to like, I also felt their personalities were a bit over the top for me and their emotions a bit extreme. Not every interaction or reaction to the situations felt all that natural to me and there were a lot of cliches involved as well. This feeling probably has to do with the fact that sappy and too cliche romance isn’t for me, and I think contemporary romance fans won’t be bothered all that much by it. I loved the lgbt angle and Robbie and Duncan were a great addition to the story. Entertaining, easy to read, Christmassy and I’m sure it will appeal to those who enjoy reading the genre.

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When her sister ends up being stuck abroad with two sick children unable to fly, it is up to Saffy to rescue the Christmas party her sister hosts every year for the single parents of her village. Saffy has to give up her own plans to do so, but reluctantly agrees as she knows a lot of people will be let down otherwise. Her sister has left detailed instructions, and she won’t be alone as neighbor Logan will help with some of the details. When she meets Logan and his daughter Chloe, it shows that Logan doesn’t seem to think Saffy could manage organizing a successful party… And Saffy is determined to prove him wrong.

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If you enjoy reading Christmas themed stories and contemporary romance in general, Snowy Nights At The Lonely Hearts Hotel will be a great addition to your wishlist. Sure, there are a lot of cliches involved and not every interaction and reaction to certain situations seemed natural. But the writing draws you right in, the characters are easy to like and overall it was absolutely an entertaining and feel good story. And the Cornwall setting sounds just magical!


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ARC REVIEW: Closer – by K.L. Slater

Title: Closer
Author: K.L. Slater
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: October 24th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: October 8th 2018
Pages: 331

“Little did I know it was a portent of far worse to come.”

*** 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’m a big fan of K.L. Slater‘s psychological thrillers and I’ve read every single one published so far. Of course I’m always stoked when I find out a new book is about to come out, and my reaction to Closer was no different… I’ve been excited to start reading this one ever since I was granted a copy. Closer once again shows us just now good of a psychological thriller writer she is. The writing style is spot on and makes you fly through it! I literally finished it in less than a day… It was just THAT good. While I do think it wasn’t my favorite and there were a few things that didn’t completely convince me, overall this was yet another solid, well written and thrilling read. Why not five stars? I think it has a lot to do with the predictability of the plot; sadly I was able to see the final twist coming from a mile away, or at least a big part of it. I guess I wished I would have been wrong about it all, but in the end my instincts were right. The ending was also quite abrupt to me, and I would have liked to see a more elaborated one. I’m still on the fence about the characters as well. BUT. The writing is excellent, the suspense well crafted and it brings attention to two very important topics (eating disorder and bullying). I enjoyed my time with Closer, was invested enough to really experience some of the nail biting and frustrating moments and it’s always a great sign if you are emotionally invested in a story right? If you enjoy reading well written psychological thrillers, I can definitely suggest adding Closer to your wishlist.

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Emma and Shaun realized their marriage no longer worked, but decided to keep living in the same house to give their daughter Maisie a stable homefront. They have worked out a routine that worked for both of them… Until Shaun falls in love again and wants to move on with his life. Emma is desperate to protect her little girl, and doesn’t trust his new girlfriend or the daughter… But Shaun just sees it as jealousy. Does Emma just see things or is there really something shady going on?

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Closer is yet another solid psychological thriller I’ve read by K.L. Slater, and has only reconfirmed to me I will always have my eyes out for any of her feature reads. While not perfect, since I guessed part of the final reveals early on and found the ending a bit abrupt, the plot is still well crafted and the creation of the suspense is spot on. I always have a great time with her books, and Closer is no different. I really appreciated the discussion of eating disorder and bullying as well, since it’s something that cannot get enough attention. If you are a fan of the genre, I can highly recommend all of her books.


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ARC REVIEW: The Passion According To Carmela – by Marcos Aguinis

Title: The Passion According To Carmela
Author: Marcos Aguinis
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
First published: 2008
Publisher: AmazonCrossing
Finished reading: October 7th 2018
Pages: 284
(Originally written in Spanish: ‘La pasión según Carmela’)

“At the root of any insanity you’re bound to find great truths.”

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

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I know I should probably have read this one in Spanish, but since it takes me twice as long to read it and I had the opportunity to read this newly published English translation, I decided to be lazy. I was fascinated by the premise of The Passion According To Carmela as soon as I first started reading it. While I learned a few things about the Cuban Revolution during Uni, most of the history was skimmed over and I was looking forward to learn more about that particular part of Cuban history. The promise of a love story mixed in with a proper look inside the Cuban Revolution just sounded too good to be true, and I’m glad I was given the opportunity to read this book. The translation was excellently done and the writing style really flowed. The descriptions both of the Cuban setting and the background information around the Revolution and its consequences for the locals are exhaustive and very thorough. The Passion According To Carmela not only introduces us to the main character and their tragic and complicated love history, but also teaches you about how Fidel Castro came to power and how this effected the country. The prose is easy to on the eye, draws you in and makes it really easy to invest your time in this story. The pace was a bit slow at points, but overall The Passion According To Carmela was a really satisfying read.

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Cuba is on the border of a Revolution, and the country isn’t alone in facing some drastic changes. Carmela Vasconcelos has been living a privileged life so far, but her idealistic ideas and her brother Lucas end up convincing her to join Fidel Castro’s rebels. There she meets the Argentinian socialist Ignacio Deheza, and they are both aware of the instant connection between them. Their passion for both each other and the cause blind them, and they soon discover passion alone might just not be enough… Is the Revolution really everything they thought it would promised to be?

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The Passion According To Carmela is perfect for both historical fiction fans and those who enjoy a good complicated love story. You will come out both exhausted by everything that happens to the main character and having learned more about the Cuban Revolutions and its effects on the locals. Well written, well translation, well executed… It reads a bit slow at points, but the story is without doubt still 100% worth reading.


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ARC REVIEW: Tell Nobody – by Patricia Gibney

Title: Tell Nobody
(Detective Lottie Parker #5)
Author: Patricia Gibney
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 3rd 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: October 3rd 2018
Pages: 458

“Now she was on the road with no idea whether she had successfully escaped the veil of evil that had shrouded her life, or if she was being catapulted head-first into a new horror show.”

*** 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 closely following detective Lottie Parker and her team ever since the first book came out, and each new book that comes out gives me that feeling of Christmas having come early. The series has been constantly excellent so far, delivering another complex, shocking and well developed story to feed our hungry detective thriller minds. This is why it comes as a total surprise to me I wasn’t able to enjoy Tell Nobody as much as the previous four books. Don’t get me wrong, book number five is still a solid detective thriller, with the same complexity and well crafted plot I have become used to, but for me some of the spark was missing this time. I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but I think part of it has to do with the fact that the behavior of the main characters really annoyed me this time with the constant negative attitudes, swearing and other unpleasant traits. This made me feel not as connected to the story, as I was distracted by my feelings of frustrations towards them. As for the investigations in Tell Nobody: trigger warnings are in place for abuse and child abuse, violence and possible graphic scenes. As always, there are a lot of different characters in play and a lot of twists and turns to distract you from the truth. I guessed part of the final reveals, but there were also a few things I definitely didn’t see coming. Disturbing, twisted and unsettling… Make sure you brace yourself before you start this one. The ending will be a shocker!

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

One evening eleven-year-old Mikey disappears after scoring the winning goal for his soccer team and celebrating together in McDonalds. Two days later his lifeless body is found and Lottie Parker and her team are called in to investigate. They are having their hands full, as they are also investigating another case where the body of a newborn was found by no other than Lottie Parker’s own son Sean and his friend. Things are becoming personal, and quickly spin out of control… Will they be able to solve the cases in time?

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While Tell Nobody without doubt still is a solid detective thriller, I don’t think it hit the mark completely for me this time. A lot had to do with the fact that somehow the main characters and their negative attitude started to frustrate me, and maybe also with the fact that I saw part of the final reveal coming quite early on. That said, the writing was as solid as always as well as the construction of the plot and plot twists. There are some difficult themes involved including child abuse and this story definitely isn’t for the weak hearted.


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ARC REVIEW: The Wife’s Secret – by Kerry Wilkinson @bookouture

Title: The Wife’s Secret
Author: Kerry Wilkinson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: October 10th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: September 22nd 2018
Pages: 338

“You hear people saying it’s the not knowing that really affects a person. If there’s a death, you can start the process of grieving; without that, you’re left hoping – and it’s the hope that gets you in the end.”

*** 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 have enjoyed Kerry Wilkinson‘s books in the past, and combined with an intriguing sounding blurb I found The Wife’s Secret to be impossible to resist. I’m definitely glad I followed my instincts, because I found myself hooked from the moment I sat down and opened the first page. This might just be my new favorite story by this author so far! The writing is solid, engaging and makes you fly through the pages as you try and figure out what happened to Seth’s wife and what she is hiding. And what a shocking history that is! I literally finished The Wife’s Secret in less than a day and there were a lot of things I didn’t see coming. The suspense is very well done and the plot and plot twists crafted in a way that will keep you guessing as certain aspects are only revealed towards the ending. I always love it when a psychological thriller manages to surprise me! And such shocking reveals at that… As for the characters: most of them are not exactly likeable, but somehow that didn’t bother me all that much. I was too focused on the whole mystery around Charley, both around her past and her disappearance, to be put off by them. If you like suspenseful psychological thrillers, you will be in for a treat with this one.

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Charley Willis was only thirteen years old when her famous parents were killed in their own home. She was found unharmed and hiding in a closet upstairs… Fifteen years later, Charley is marrying Seth Chambers. It is her chance at a clean slate, as Seth doesn’t know much about her past apart from the facts known to the general public. But the past may have come back to haunt her… Hourse after the wedding ceremony, Charley is missing. And Seth is about to find out his new wife kept a lot of things from him…

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I like Kerry Wilkinson‘s writing style and The Wife’s Secret is no exception. Suspenseful, well written, shocking twists and slightly disturbing… There is a lot to love in this story and there is a lot to keep you on the wrong path for a long time. There are definitely plot reveals that will manage to surprise you before you reach the final page! The Wife’s Secret is an excellent psychological thriller and a true pageturner.


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