ARC REVIEW: Her Mother’s Grave – by Lisa Regan @bookouture @Lisalregan

Title: Her Mother’s Grave
(Detective Josie Quinn #3)
Author: Lisa Regan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 19th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: June 25th 2018
Pages: 346

“She is spiteful, jealous, and vengeful, and most of all, she’s unpredictable. And very, very dangerous.”

*** 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 can’t seem to resist a good detective thriller and this series is no exception. After the rollercoaster rides with book number one and two, deciding whether to read book number three was an easy one. And I have to say Her Mother’s Grave is the strongest book yet of this series, and it’s without doubt my new favorite. Lightning speed pace, excellent writing, dark, twisted, disturbing, suspenseful… Oh yes, this story will keep you in its claws and there is a lot to love here. Her Mother’s Grave reads like a train and will mess with your mind. The personal life of Josie Quinn plays a huge role in this book, the story showering us with shocking details about her past. You will need an extra hand to keep your jaw from dropping to the floor as you discover more and more facts about her life. Trigger warnings for abuse, violence, neglect and graphic scenes in general, but if you think you can stomach that, you are in for one hell of a ride. Josie Quinn will have to face the impossible and we are right beside her as she tries to keep her life together. Imagine a war zone with plot twists bombs dropping on you, danger around every corner and no clue how to reach the ending safely… Trust me, Her Mother’s Grave is a story you won’t soon forget.

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

Two young boys are playing in the woods behind a trailer park when they find human bones buried beneath a tree. Detective Josie Quinn and her team are called in to investigate, and Josie has a very uncomfortable feeling about the case. She knows the spot where they found the remains, since she used to play in those same woods as a child, trying to escape for a few hours from her abusive mother. When a rare dental condition confirms the bones belong to a teenager murdered thirty years ago, a girl with the same name as her mother, Josie realizes she has no other choice but to try and track down her mother… Even if she wants nothing more than just leave the past buried.

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If you like your thrillers fast, suspenseful and filled with plot twists and shocking surprises, you will be in for a treat with this one. The first two books of the series were already great reads, but Her Mother’s Grave is without doubt my new favorite. Things get close and personal and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time trying to figure out both what happened all those years ago and what was happening in the present. Oh yes, I had a blast reading this book and I’m already looking forward to the next one!


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ARC REVIEW: The Getaway Girls – by Dee MacDonald @bookouture

Title: The Getaway Girls
Author: Dee MacDonald
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: July 30th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: July 7th 2018
Pages: 

“Was the world her oyster? Silly cliché, that! The world was more like the carrot, dangling seductively in front of her nose.”

*** 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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Wait, what? It’s All About Books featuring a contemporary romance read, and with such a high rating at that? Don’t be too surprised, because I can enjoy the genre every once in a while if I’m in the mood for it. And this is exactly what happened when I saw The Getaway Girls. Suffering from the so-called travel bug myself, I love road trip stories. It doesn’t really matter to me if I have visited those places myself, as reading about them makes it feel as if I were on a mini vacation in the first place and I love discovering new places to visit… But when I found out part of the story was set in Italy, I was sold. I have such great memories of this country and I couldn’t wait to discover what the main characters would encounter! I picked up The Getaway Girls on a day I really needed something light, entertaining, fun and engaging to distract myself, and this story delivered exactly that. I LOVED that the three main characters are seventy-year-olds and that they going on a road trip together. The character development is spot on and I really liked just how different their personalities and backgrounds were. It was great to see how they reacted to each other and they journey, and I had a wonderful time following them on their journey. It’s not all fun as they are trying to run away from Maggie’s dodgy partner Ringer, and I really liked that aspect of the plot as it added a little suspense to the whole story as well. But my favorite part of The Getaway Girls has without doubt to do with the descriptions of the places they visited. It almost felt I was on vacation in France and Italy as well! A welcome distraction from the cold winter months down here in Argentina… I had a blast reading this story and I liked how each of the three main characters got her own ending. It’s definitely made me curious about The Runaway Wife as well as I really liked Connie’s character! If you are a fan of the genre, this one is a must-read.

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Connie is free to make her own decisions for the first time in decades, and she has been dreaming of an adventure. She doesn’t seem to be the only one though, as Gill and Maggie from her flower arranging class love the sound of her plans. And soon the two want to tag along with her idea of traveling to southern Italy in a campervan to find her roots. A journey that will take them through France first and will take them to places and new experiences they never thought they would be having… Will the three be able to reach their destination safely?

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If you love a good road trip story with well developed and interesting characters, lots of sightseeing, funny moments, a dash of suspense and a dose of romance that is just right, you will love The Getaway Girls as well. I had so much fun following Connie, Gill and Maggie around and I loved the fact that they were seventy-year-olds, as I don’t see older main characters around that often. Entertaining, uplifting, a pinch of suspense and a healthy dose of summer romance… This story will make you forget about your own problems for a while as you join the main characters on their journey.


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ARC REVIEW: The Perfect Friend – by Barbara Copperthwaite @bookouture @BCopperthwait

Title: The Perfect Friend
Author: Barbara Copperthwaite
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 5th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: June 23rd 2018
Pages: 295

“I am a Russian doll of secrets, so many cradled one inside the other, all looking like me but diminishing until what is left is so tiny I fear I’m disappearing.”

*** 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 consistantly enjoyed Barbara Copperthwaite‘s psychological thrillers in the past, so of course I couldn’t resist trying out her newest title The Perfect Friend. And now I’ve finished it, and I can’t believe what I’ve just read. Oh yes, don’t let the bright and cheery yellow cover deceive you… This one will mess with your mind. When I think of Barbara Copperthwaite‘s books, I think of well written, intricately developed plots full of twists, secrets and lies to fool us readers. The Perfect Friend is no exception to this rule. I’m normally not a big fan of unreliable characters in psychological thrillers, but somehow this technique works really well in this story. Nothing is as it seems and between the intricate web of lies and secrets and the mystery around the past and background of both characters you will be drawn right in as you try to figure out what is really going on. What is a lie, what is the truth and how does it all fit together? Your brain will have a field day with this one, and I’m promising you the final reveals will leave you flabbergasted. Oh yes, The Perfect Friend has quite a few shocking surprises for us in store, as nothing is as it seems and it’s impossible to guess the full truth. The main characters are actually quite easy to like for unreliable characters, making it easier to connect to the story from the start. I did start wondering about the credibility of it all, but I was too distracted by all the plot twist reveals to be really bothered by that. Definitely read The Perfect Friend if you enjoy reading well written psychological thrillers full of surprises!

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Alex her life has fallen apart ever since her husband had left her and her children won’t speak to her. She has been struggling with an eating disorder ever since, anorexia almost meaning her death sentence. But somehow Alex managed to come back from that experience, and has been trying to recover ever since. Her life changes when she meets Carrie during a group meeting, and despite the age difference the two become fast friends. And when Alex discovers Carrie’s cancer is back and this time it’s terminal, she decides she would do anything to help her friend. But is Alex truly the only one hiding secrets connected to her past?

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If you are looking for a well written, engaging, twisty and surprising psychological thriller, The Perfect Friend is just the book for you. Trigger warnings are in place for abuse, (mental) illness, eating disorder and some sensitive scenes, but overall nothing too shocking to handle. This is not the easiest read and there is no doubt you will find yourself tangled in a web of lies and secrets along with the main character. I always love it when a story manages to mislead me! I also really liked the relationship between Alex and Carrie and how the story unfolded. All in all a very solid read.


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ARC REVIEW: The Year Of The Snake – by M.J. Trow #buddyread

Title: The Year Of The Snake
Author: M.J. Trow & Maryanne Coleman
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
First published: July 1st 2018
Publisher: Endeavour Media
Finished reading: June 24th 2018
Pages: 313

“There comes a time when even the luckiest of charms runs out.”

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

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!! Happy Publication Day !!

This was actually a buddy read with the wonderful Nicki @ Secret Library Book Blog… I’m so happy she asked me to read this title together, because I’m not sure how I would have made it to the end otherwise. Oh yes, let’s just say my encounter with this story wasn’t an entirely positive one. I was initially drawn to both the cover of The Year Of The Snake and the promise of a story set in ancient Rome. I was already familiar with the general details around Emperor Nero and his reputation, and I had high hopes for this story connected to him. Sadly, The Year Of The Snake turned out to be quite a disappointment for me, and I found especially the first half of the story to be quite weak. The promise of a good story is there, with a murder mystery, a cult and the ruthless Emperor, but the execution for me was lacking. Why? The first thing that stood out for me were the formatting problems, which made it harder to read the story. I can forgive those since it’s an ARC and not a final version, but still. I wasn’t a fan of the writing style and tone in general (including crude language) and the many many POV switches every other page made it a lot harder to keep track of the story and the different characters. In fact, I found the plot itself quite weak and chaotic and would have preferred a more ordered storyline with a lot less switches and more time to get used to each character. This would have made the story and plot a lot stronger for me. It also would have helped connecting to the characters in a more solid way, which as it is I wasn’t really able to do. To be honest, I found most characters to be rather flat and lacking a more detailed description… But. I do have to say things improved considerably in the second half of the story, after the investigation of Nerva’s death intensifies and we see just what Nero and his mother are actually made of. This higher level of suspense and intrigue being incorporated into the plot saved the story for me, and the final twist was quite a good one as well. All in all, whiile the story behind The Year Of The Snake sounds really promising, the execution needs a lot of editing for me to really work.

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When Senator Gaius Lucius Nerva dies a few days after he had taken ill at a dinner party, the recently freed slave Calidus is the only one to suspect it wasn’t a natural death. And as he organizes the funeral ceremonies, he becomes more and more convinced that his former master was murdered. Calidus starts an investigation, which is harder than it seems with his status as a freedman. And he sure is stepping on a lot of important toes to get to the truth…

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I was really looking forward to this one since I can’t seem to find that much historical fiction reads with an ancient Rome setting, but sadly this one didn’t hit the mark for me. While the general idea behind The Year Of The Snake sounds promising and has a lot of potential, I ended up struggling considerably with the story itself. Thanks again Nicki for making this ride more bearable! The story wasn’t all bad and has it’s positive points, especially in the second half when things become more intense. But between the chaotic feel, lack of proper plot, too many POV switches, crude language and lack of connection to both the writing style AND characters, it definitely wasn’t an easy read for me.


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ARC REVIEW: The Silent Sister – by Shalini Boland

Title: The Silent Sister
Author: Shalini Boland
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 16th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: June 18th 2018
Pages: 144

“But I’m gradually realising that, given the right circumstances, anyone can have their self-esteem eroded.”

*** 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 huge fan of Shalini Boland‘s psychological thrillers, so of course I was superexcited when I first heard about The Silent Sister. It might just have been that I had sky high expectations, or it might have been it was the wrong story at the wrong time, but somehow I didn’t react in the way I thought I was going to when I started reading it. Oh yes, I’m really surprised by my initial reaction to The Silent Sister, because normally I find myself hooked from the very first page. Before I continue a little note: I seem to be in the minority so far, since most people seem to absolutely love this story, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. Ok, with that out of the way, let me try explaining why I somehow didn’t love this story as much as her other psychological thrillers. Apart from the reasons I already mentioned above, I think the main problem I had was with the main characters. There was just something about them that irked me, and as a result it took me a long time to warm up to the story. Also, the beginning of the story wasn’t as suspenseful and absorbing as I’ve come to expect, but I do have to say things improved a lot as the story continued and the second half definitely has a lot more twists and turns. I’m happy to say that I despite some reservations I was still able to enjoy the story in general and the second half is without doubt very strong! Especially regarding the plot twists and the creation of suspense. I did have an idea of what was happening, but I wasn’t able to guess the full truth at all. And that is always a good sign in a psychological thriller. In short, while not my favorite, I can still recommend The Silent Sister to fans of the genre.

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Lizzy Beresford discovers what appears an old letter inside her own home, but the content makes her feel really uncomfortable. Who sent the message? How did they get into her home in the first place? Lizzy doesn’t seem to have any enemies in her life, so who would want to do such a thing to her? Especially since more letters and threatening messages start piling up… And things are starting to escalate. Will they be able to discover who is behind all this before things go too far?

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Like I said before, I’m still surprised by my reaction to this story, but The Silent Sister turned out to be a slowburner for me. It took me a long time to warm up to the story, both because of the slower pace in the beginning and my lack of connection to the characters. I enjoyed the second half of the story considerably better though, and The Silent Sister will have some surprises and unexpected twists for you in store.


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ARC REVIEW: The Fifth To Die – by J.D. Barker @HMHBooks

Title: The Fifth To Die
(4MK Thriller #2)
Author: J.D. Barker
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 10th 2018
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Finished reading: June 16th 2018
Pages: 416

“Sometimes it’s good to remember the bad, it makes other things seem not so terrible.”

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

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In a way I’m glad I’ve only recently found the time to pick up the first 4MK thriller. Why? Well, let’s just say that book one and two both start and end with a bang and leave you wanting for more. Oh yes, if you think the cliffhanger of The Fourth Monkey was a bad one, you will be in for a painful ride with The Fifth To Die. What a way to mess with your mind! I was in the mood for a twisted, disturbing and complicated serial killer and there is no doubt this story delivered all that and more. Hooked from the first page? Check. More twistedness and new disturbing and horrifying killings? Check. A healthy dose of plot twist bombs that will leave you absolutely flabbergasted? Check. New insights in the backgrounds of the main characters? Check. Fleshing out of the previous plot while adding a LOT of new suspense and a very strong and promising base for an excellent third book? Check. Oh yes, as you might have already guessed, I had a great time with detective Porter and the so-called 4MK killer. Warning: this is one of those series you HAVE to read in order, because you won’t be understanding the many references to the case and characters otherwise. (Since it’s basically the same open investigation we are talking about, with a new angle and subplot added of course.) The Fifth To Die is just as strong as the first book and this series is quickly becoming a new favorite of mine. Then again, I love a well written, dark, disturbing and gritty serial killer thriller. Is it too early to ask when the next book is coming out? Because I NEED to know what happens next after that humongous cliffhanger ending.

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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…

Detective Porter isn’t ready to let go of the 4MK killer, especially since he is still on the loose somewhere. But he has something else to worry about as well, since a new serial killer seems to be operating in Chicago. He isn’t supposed to concentrate on the 4MK killer anymore in the first place after the feds took over the case… But it seems he cannot stay away. He secretly continues his hunt, and when this is discovered, he finds himself suspended and his team left without a leader during their hunt for the new killer. Detective Porter isn’t one to let things go easily though… Even if this will have terrible consequences for his future.

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I’m a sucker for a good serial killer thriller and this series is quickly turning into one of my new favorites. If you like your thrillers dark, gritty, disturbing and don’t mind graphic scenes, you will be in for a treat with this series. Trust me, reading these two thrillers in order will be worth your time! You will find yourself staring at the last pages wanting for more though, because the cliffhanger ending is pretty brutal. What a way to reveal something like that and leave us staring open mouthed knowing we won’t find out more until the next book comes out! It’s been a while since an ending hit me that hard.


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ARC REVIEW: The Map Of Us – by Jules Preston

Title: The Map Of Us
Author: Jules Preston
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 4th 2018
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Finished reading: June 13th 2018
Pages: 180

“Me being me isn’t always easy on those I love.”

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

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I stumbled across this title after reading Inge’s review earlier this month, and even though unfortunately she wasn’t able to enjoy it better, my curiosity was piqued and I knew I couldn’t let this story go. Quirky characters? A comparison to Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine? Where can I sign up for that?! The Map Of Us sounded like one of those stories you either hate or love, especially since the connection to the characters seems all important in this story. Quirky and unusual characters can go both ways, and while I love my characters that way, they often are not for everyone. One of the reasons I ended up enjoying The Map Of Us better than I thought I would was exactly that: my ability to appreciate and embrace the quirkiness of Tilly and Violet. And I think this story has a lot of potential, although I had my doubts about the execution in certain areas. The first thing I struggled with was the writing style, which I somehow didn’t manage to get used to. Short phrases can mess up the pace and make the story feel haltered… But more than that, I especially struggled with the chapters in Dad’s POV. I’m sad to say I had to skimread those since I couldn’t get used to them. And talking about POVs, I felt there were too many different POVs in the story, making it harder to connect with at least one of them. I think I would have enjoyed the story that much better if it would have been told from just Violet’s or Tilly’s POV, or just the two of them at least. I never got a proper feel for any characters due to the many switches and it made the story feel quite messy and for me it lacked cohesion. That is, until the final stage when everything is rushed to be connected together. I did like the quirkiness of The Map Of Us and both Violet and Tilly have so much potential! I just wish they would have gotten their chance in the spotlight rather than being squeezed in between the other POVs.

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Violet North has been abandoned by her family, but somehow manages to overcome her difficulties and survive in a big house all on her own. Then her life changes forever in the space of just 37 words with a stranger at her front door… And not only that, but a whole fictional world has opened up for her as well, with the help of a blue typewriter she borrowed from one of her neighbors. Decades later, her granddaughter Tilly sees her marriage fall apart. Tilly has always been good with numbers, and compiles a detailed statistical report to help find out exactly why and when it went wrong. The Compatibility Index has consequences she had never forseen when she first created it though…

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Like I said before, The Map Of Us has a lot of potential, both because of the general idea behind it and the two most important characters Tilly and Violet. I honestly feel that with more development and focus on those two characters, a more fluent writing style and less jumping between different characters would have made The Map Of Us into another fantastic read similar to the likes of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. As it is, I don’t think that comparison would do The Map Of Us a favor, since unfortunately they are not on the same level. But I do want to stress that especially Tilly has the same potential and quirkiness in her personality that made Eleanor Oliphant into such a success for me. So again, with more focus and development of that character (and Violet as well), I would probably have enjoyed The Map Of Us considerably better.


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