ARC REVIEW: Reincarnation Blues – by Michael Poore

Title: Reincarnation Blues
Author: Michael Poore

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
First published: August 22nd 2017
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Finished reading: August 12th 2017
Pages: 384

“Death was a door. You went through it over and over, but it still terrified people.”

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

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This book isn’t exactly what I would normally pick up, but there was just something about the cover and blurb of Reincarnation Blues that caught my attention and made me want to read it. Reading books out of my comfort zone can go either way, but all in all this novel by Michael Poore turned out to be a little gem. The first thing that stood out when I started reading Reincarnation Blues was the writing style. I fell in love almost immediately with the way this story was told and I found myself completely absorbed into this piece of speculative fiction with a sci-fi twist. This story is about a man called Milo who is reincarnated through many many lifetimes set both in the past, present and future. He is now about to start life number 9.996… Just when he finds out he only has five more lives to get it right and reach Perfection. The chapters are a mix of what happens during these lives, what happens in between and how he fell in love with Death herself.  Some lives are told in more detail while others seem less important, but they all help develop his character in a very fascinating way. Basically you can say Reincarnation Blues is a collection of connecting short stories about the different lives Milo lives and how his actions influence his next life. The romance is subtle, very well done and didn’t bother me at all; the wordbuilding of the different world in between fascinating. I personally didn’t enjoy some of the chapters set in the future (for example chapter 14, which is set in a prison in space) as much as the rest of the story, but that could have been just me not being into full-blown science fiction in the first place. The wonderful writing and rest of the story in general mostly made up for those feelings though. Reincarnation Blues isn’t for everyone, but it is a truly fascinating read that I can definitely recommend if you think this sounds like your cup of tea!

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Milo has been reincarnated nearly 10.000 times when he finds out he only has five more lives to get it right and reach Perfection so he can become part of the Oversoul. He is not sure he truly wants this though because it might affect his relationship withhis one true love: Death herself. They only see each other in between lives and he can’t imagine having to continue without her… But Milo doesn’t seem to have any other option than to try his best, because if he doesn’t get it right before the deadline, his soul will vanish forever. His lives take him from ancient India to outer space to Renaissance Italy to the present day in the hope of finally living that perfect life. Will he be able to reach that goal in time?

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Reincarnation Blues isn’t the type of book I normally pick up, but sometimes browsing outside your comfort zone can bring some very pleasant surprises. This book turned out to be a hidden gem and I really enjoyed following Milo’s story as he lives his lives through time and space. Some chapters were a bit too futuristic for me, but that is probably mostly me since sci-fi isn’t really my genre in the first place. The writing was wonderful though as well as the rest of the story.


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ARC REVIEW: Dead To Me – by Stephen Edger @bookouture

Title: Dead To Me
(Detective Kate Matthews #1)
Author: Stephen Edger

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: August 17th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: August 10th 2017
Pages: 352

“A rush of adrenaline swept over her. Nothing ever quite compared to the buzz of a new crime scene, an untouched puzzle fresh out of the box.”

*** 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 think just about everybody already knows by now just how hard I find it to resist a Bookouture thriller… Dead To Me by Stephen Edger was no exception to that rule. This book had me at the cover and the mention of a serial killer and I was initially very excited about this title. But then mixed reviews started popping up, and my excitement turned into worry. What if I didn’t like the story either? I posponed picking it up for longer than I would have liked, but finally did read it last week. And I was pleasantly surprised by what I initially found when I started Dead To Me. There is no doubt that Stephen Edger‘s writing style is very engaging and draws you right in. The plot itself is well developed and intruiging with a lot of plot twists that will keep you guessing for a long time. And that serial killer! Very twisted indeed and there were things I didn’t see coming at all. This all sounds very positive, so why the lowish rating? One word: Kate. Basically, the main character Kate ruined what could have been a great and intense thriller for me. I absolutely despised her! The way she treats her daughter, doesn’t care about her safety and even forgets she’s there at times… Not caring about police protocol, doing whatever she wants without considering the consequences, endangering others, undermining active murder investigations… And I can go on with that list if I want to. Ugh! It’s a shame one character can influence my opinion about a story that much…  But I personally found it really hard to keep tolerating Kate AND enjoying Dead To Me at the same time, especially since she plays such a big role in the story and the developments in the plot. As I said before, the writing is GOOD, the plot intense and twisty and this first book of a new detective series has a lot of potential. Unfortunately my dislike for the main character will stop me from continuing this series… I have seen others not being all that bothered by Kate though, so give this book a chance if the things about Kate I mentioned above don’t curl your toes.

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Detective Kate Matthews is called in to investigate the brutal murder of a woman, who was found in an abandoned bar near the Southampton docks. Kate still hasn’t recovered from her role in the death of a close colleague, and is told she must solve the case to prove she is still up for a leading role. Her team keeps hitting dead ends, until Kate discovers something that will blow not one but various cases wide open… But nobody seems to believe her findings or theory, and that leaves her with a very difficult decision.

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There is a lot to love in Dead To Me and I would probably have given it a lot higher rating if it wouldn’t have been for the main character Kate. Sadly I couldn’t ignore the fact that she is the most important character of this new series and the whole story is told around her… And it’s really hard to properly enjoy a story when you absolutely despise the main character, no matter how good the writing and plot are. The writing, plot, twists and intense feel were more than promising and I do hope there will be a ‘Kate-less’ thriller by his hand in the future.


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ARC REVIEW: The Other Girl – by Erica Spindler @StMartinsPress

Title: The Other Girl
Author: Erica Spindler

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 22nd 2017
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: August 8th 2017
Pages: 352

“She’d left everyone from those days behind – everyone except that girl she had been. All these years,carrying her around like an invisible anchor.

The girl she had been.”

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

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I was personally invited to read this title a while back and since I’ve read and enjoyed Erica Spindler‘s work in the past the answer was an easy one. I’ve been looking forward to pick up The Other Girl ever since and I can say now the actual story is just as good as the cover. This new stand-alone thriller starts out strong and stays that way until the very end. The storyline switches between flashbacks of what happened to the main character and now officer Miranda about fourteen years ago and you slowly learn how these events are or aren’t connected to the present. I personally wasn’t a fan of Miranda, but her character development is interesting and it was intriguing how she was trying to put the past behind her and change her life. The writing style draws you right in and had me hooked almost instantly. A little warning for the more sensitive readers, because some of the scenes can be called pretty disturbing and graphic. Because boy, they have one heck of a case on their hands! There are a lot of twists and intrigue included in The Other Girl, although I did start to suspect the who and why quite early on. This put only a tiny damper on my reading experience though, since this thriller is so well written and action-packed that the journey alone makes it a worthy read. If you like a good crime thriller with a twist, The Other Girl is a great choice!

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Officer Miranda Rader has a dodgy past, but she has worked hard for years to leave the girl she used to be behind and earn respect as an officer of the Hammond PD in Louisiana. But when Miranda and her partner are made part of the investigation of the murder of one of the most beloved college professors of the town, her past might just be back to haunt her. Because the murder isn’t just gruesome, but seems to be connected to her personally when she finds a faded newspaper clipping at the scene. What is happening and who is behind the murder? Things are about to become very complicated…

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I had high expectations for The Other Girl and there is no doubt this story has met these expectations. The strong start had me hooked right from the beginning and I liked the balance between the flashbacks to the past and the present. Miranda isn’t exactly likeable, but her character development is well done and there is no doubt she is an interesting one. I did see the ending coming quite early, but still had an excellent time reading The Other Girl.


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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: The Little Red Wolf – by Amélie Fléchais

Title: The Little Red Wolf
Author: Amélie Fléchais

Genre: Picture Book, Retelling, Fantasy
First published: October 3rd 2017
Publisher: Lion Forge
Finished reading: August 3rd 2017
Pages: 80
(Originally written in French: ‘Le petit loup rouge’)

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

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Every once in a while I start craving something completely different, and the best way to scratch that itch has always been picking up a graphic novel or picture book. I was having exactly that feeling not that long ago when I was browsing Netgalley, and my eyes went wide when I saw the cover of The Little Red Wolf. I immediately fell in love with the cover art and the promise of more lovely illustrations inside, so I hit that Read Now button so hard I almost broke my keyboard. I opened The Little Red Wolf not long after and I wasn’t disappointed by what I found. Such gorgeous illustrations! This little story has actually been published in French in 2014 and is now translated to English so more of us can enjoy it. As the title already hints, The Little Red Wolf is a wonderful retelling of the classic Little Red Riding Hood and told from the POV of a little wolf cub. The adorable and highly detailed drawings will appeal to young readers and parents alike and will bring a joyful experience discovering all the little details on each page. A little warning though, because this story is both whimsical and tragical at the same time and more sensitive children might not appreciate especially the second part of this picture book. I would personally recommend it for the age of six and up because of that. The Little Red Wolf has a mix of pages with just illustrations and others with more text, but I liked the balance between the two and the pages without text can be used perfectly to interact with young children. The moral of the story is a strong one as well: to show that things can easily be misinterpreted with terrible consequences… Hence the darker and tragic part of the story and a little warning to evaluate beforehand if your child could be affected negatively by that. That said, I personally absolutely loved this little picture book and its wonderful illustrations. Just what I needed!

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A young wolf is sent to his grandmother to bring her a fresh rabbit. His mother has warned him to stay on the path and keep safe from the hunters, but the little wolf is distracted by the wonderful things in the forest. He soon finds himself lost, and then a nice girl appears who offers him help. But is she really as nice as she appears?

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Just give one look at that cover and you will get a pretty good idea of what is waiting for you inside. The illustrations of The Little Red Wolf are absolutely gorgeous and will make you happy by just looking at them. They are very detailed as well; full of little drawings inside drawings to discover the longer you look at each page. The story itself is a mix of typical fairy tale and something a bit more darker and haunting, which is why I don’t think it’s suited for the youngest readers… But age 6 and up should be ok depending on how sensitive the child is to tragic themes.


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ARC REVIEW: The Lying Game – by Ruth Ware @vintagebooks

Title: The Lying Game
Author: Ruth Ware

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 15th 2017
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Finished reading: August 1st 2017
Pages: 352

“I hate lying. It used to be fun – until I didn’t have a choice.”

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

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The truth is I have been wanting to read one of Ruth Ware‘s books for ages and I was actually going to read one of her other titles first, but decided to tackle The Lying Game instead due to mixed reviews. I guess I didn’t want the other books to possibly spoil my reading experience for this one… I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much I ended up enjoying The Lying Game despite a few things I wasn’t happy about. What became clear very early on is that I was going to love the writing style. I was hooked right from the first chapter and even though the story itself isn’t as fast-paced as I would have liked, it was the writing style that still made me thoroughly enjoy The Lying Game. I liked the mystery around what happened all those years ago and what the friends are hiding. I had my suspicions on the lies and secrets of the group, but I wasn’t able to guess the full truth until the very end. What did bother me considerably were the characters. I wasn’t able to connect to any of them and this made this more character driven story a lot more difficult to love. One of the characters stood out painfully for me: Isa. I actually despise her for how she treats both her baby daughter and husband and was starting to feel more and more frustrated as things went further. And it’s clear that these feelings have influenced my experience negatively. I wasn’t sure what to think of the ending either… But like I said before, what probably saved this story for me was the writing style. This alone has made me look forward to her other stories now!

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When a human bone is found in the seemingly idyllic coastal village of Salten, it causes a unexpected and uncomfortable reunion for four childhood friends. They hadn’t seen each other for years, but one message from Kate and they all come back, knowing perfectly well what she is so worried about. The four have been hiding secrets and covering everything in lies for years, but things are slowly starting to unravel… Will they be able to stop the truth from coming out? What would happen if it does?

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Now I’ve read The Lying Game I can see why it has been receiving mixed reviews. I haven’t read her other books yet, so I can’t compare, but if the writing style is anything close as good as in The Lying Game I can see why the plot and characters could be a disappointment. The characters were highly unlikeable and to be honest the whole unreliable narrator theme is getting old. Unreliable or not, my main issue was with Isa and the despicable way she treats her baby, her husband and people in general. Not liking the characters made it a lot harder to enjoy this more character driven and rather slow paced thriller… I still quite enjoyed the ride though, mostly because the writing style had me seriously hooked.


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ARC REVIEW: The Girls In The Water – by Victoria Jenkins @bookouture

Title: The Girls In The Water
(Detectives King and Lane #1)
Author: Victoria Jenkins

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: August 3rd 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: July 27th 2017
Pages: 328

“You couldn’t escape the past. It stayed with you, there, in your shadow. It lurked at your shoulder, breathing on your neck like a ghost.”

*** 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 !!

Basically I wanted to read this one as soon as I saw the cover and the blurb sounded really positive as well. Then I saw positive reviews popping up here and there and the writing style being compared to Robert Bryndza‘s Erika Foster series and I was sold. This comparison wasn’t wrong, because the writing style definitely has a similar feel and is very very engaging. I was hooked as soon as I started reading and both the pace and prose made it very easy to read The Girls In The Water. Of course the sole fact that this first book of a new detective series has a serial killer is already a huge bonus for me… Call me twisted, but I have a weird fascination for those. The case detective King and Lane have to investigate is intriguing and the story has quite a few plot twists and potential suspects to keep you busy guessing. It’s always a good sign when that happens! I wasn’t completely charmed by the characters though. The whole damage past for the detective characters is just getting old I guess… And I never managed to warm up to Alex and Chloe completely. I do admit I was curious about Chloe’s past and it did add a little something extra to the story. And my lack of connection to the main characters was probably my only complaint of an otherwise fast-paced, entertaining serial killer rollercoaster ride. I will be looking forward to book two!

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The body of Lola Evans is found in a local park and both Alex King and Chloe Lane are called in to investigate the case. When a few days later a second girl goes missing, they fear they might have a serial killer on their hands… Especially since the two girls seem to share a troubled history and were members of the same support group. Just a coincidence or does the killer have a specific target? It’s up to detective King and her team to find out before it’s too late… And more vulnerable girls might be in danger.

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If you enjoy reading fast-paced and well written detective thrillers I can definitely recommend The Girls In The Water. Both the writing style and pace made me fly through this serial killer thriller and the case itself was intriguing as well. Lots of plot twists and potential suspects to keep you guessing and that is always a bonus! I wasn’t completely charmed by the characters, but that doesn’t take away I still thoroughly enjoyed reading it.


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