ARC REVIEW: The Heatwave – by Katerina Diamond

Title: The Heatwave
Author: Katerina Diamond
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 25th 2020
Publisher: Avon
Finished reading: June 20th 2020
Pages: 400

“There are places I haven’t been yet because I am afraid. It’s not the places I fear though, it’s the memories that come with them.”

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

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I admit that I was curious about The Heatwave as soon as I first read the blurb, and after reading the first positive reviews I couldn’t resist requesting a copy. I still think that both the blurb and the premise of this story are rock solid, and The Heatwave is by no means a bad read… But somehow, even though I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, the story didn’t manage to convince me completely in the end. I’ll try to explain below why.

First of all I have to stress that a 3 star rating by no means turns this psychological thriller into a bad read, but rather represents my personal reaction to The Heatwave. It might just be that it’s time for me to take a little break from this kind of psychological thrillers, as I’m still not sure why I didn’t enjoy the story as much as I thought I would. The elements are definitely there, with an interesting premise, lots of secrets, plenty of lies and a missing girl cold case from 16 years ago. The story uses a dual storyline structure, where it switches between the present and flashbacks to 16 years ago to slowly discover more about what happened that summer. The past and present are linked both through the main characters and the two different missing girl cases… And it was interesting to see the two storylines collide and develop over time.

That said, I did found part of the plot to be quite cliche or at least nothing new, and especially the flashback chapters were slowgoing and could get pretty frustrating. Likewise, I didn’t like the present POV all that much either, as the main character was simply too frantic and mysterious about why she HAD to go back after 16 years away. I know the lack of explanation is used to try and add more suspense as well as increase the effects of the plot twists, but I failed to connect to the main character as a result and it made me enjoy the story less. I also thought that the final reveals were a bit over the top and they didn’t really match the pace and intensity of the rest of the story. Sure, they were shocking and mostly unexpected, but I didn’t really think it was a credible outcome to be honest…

I mentioned the main character and my lack of connection to her before, and this is basically what happened with every single character in play. I wasn’t sure about their development either, mostly because with more than one there were cliches involved and I wondered about the credibility of their actions and reactions to events. The whole seducing/grooming a minor in the flashback chapters left me with a bad taste in my mouth and overall the characters didn’t exactly make it easier to stay invested and properly enjoy The Heatwave.

In short, while I confess that still struggle to properly point out all of my issues, somehow I sadly wasn’t all that impressed by The Heatwave despite the promising premise. It might just be me having read too many similar psychological thrillers and needing a break from the genre, but it is what it is I guess.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Before I Die – by Jackie Morrissey #blogtour #damppebblesblogtour @damppebbles

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Before I Die blog tour! A huge thanks to Emma Welton for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I was intrigued by this story as soon as I read the blurb; a carer like Dolores would be anyone’s worst nightmare without a doubt! Want to know what my reaction was to this story? Please join me while I share my thoughts…


Title: Before I Die
Author: Jackie Morrissey
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 21st 2020
Publisher: Inkubator Books
Finished reading: June 9th 2020
Pages: ?

“A sense of unease ran through her, born of some instinctive recognition of threat.”

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

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I confess that Before I Die won me over as soon as I read the blurb. Dolores sounded absolutely fascinating as a character with that possible angel of death angle (nurse or carer turned serial killer). You all know how I can’t resist a good serial killer story, and it has been a while since I last read one with this angle. While the whole angel of death plot has been done before, I liked the direction the premise of Before I Die took and it’s without one of the strongest aspects of this story. It definitely helped adding a healthy dose of suspense as well as a hint of forboding! And this story is thoroughly creepy both for anyone depending on a carer as well as for those who have loved ones under care. Imagine having to deal with your own personal Dolores! Before I Die is a solid psychological thriller with a dark angle, and while it was slightly predictable in parts and not too credible in other areas, I still found it to be an entertaining read.

As for the characters… I mostly ended up having mixed thoughts about them. I did like how the story had multiple older characters as well as Dolores and the younger son of a friend with a heroin addiction, as it added a level of dept to the story. Their development in general is quite thorough and the colorful and diverse cast of characters made the story feel more complex, but they weren’t exactly likeable and not every action or reaction could be considered credible. I’m sorry, but I just can’t believe Maureen never stood up for herself; especially in the beginning when Dolores still doesn’t have a big influence on her. I can believe Dolores having the power to manipulate others so successfully, but Maureen letting her walk all over her straight away without putting up a fight just didn’t feel credible at all to me. I also wondered if the Spanish Dolores didn’t come over as too much of a stereotype. The story makes it seem like she left Spain long ago (or at least that is how I interpreted it after finishing this story and knowing all the facts), and somehow she still seems to speak all halted… I liked the added Spanish words in the text, but the sentence structure used to describe her dialogues felt a bit too much like building a foreigner stereotype cliche. This might just be a personal reaction to her character though.

The writing is easy on the eye and I managed to finish reading Before I Die in no time at all. The plot itself has a multiple POV structure which makes it easier to get to know the different characters in play… The same structure is of course also used to hide certain facts and secrets until they are ready to be revealed. The story will have a couple of surprises for you in store even though it’s a bit of a shame you can basically guess the truth about Dolores straight away. I had my doubts about the credibility in certain parts, and the ending felt a bit too over the top and intense after a slower psychological thriller vibe during most of the story… Still, it was intriguing to see the whole situation develop and find out how both Maureen and Dolores react to the things that happen. The story definitely turned out to be a lot darker than I thought it would be! I don’t think that is a bad thing though. If you like a good twisted psychological thriller with an angel of death angle, Before I Die is a solid choice.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jackie Morrissey lives in County Dublin and worked for many years in adult education. Her job took her into colleges and prisons all around Ireland, and introduced her to a range of interesting people. She loved the buzz of teaching, but came to hate the tyranny of correcting assignments. She has written throughout her adult life and has had many short stories published, one of which won the Molly Keane Short Story award. She has also been a regular contributor of short pieces for the Irish radio program Sunday Miscellany. About four years ago, she took the decision to write full time. The psychological thriller Before I Die is her first published novel.

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK // Amazon US


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ARC REVIEW: What I Know – by Miranda Smith

Title: What I Know
Author: Miranda Smith
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 24th 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: June 3rd 2020
Pages: 285

“It’s wildly unfortunate we live in a society that waits for bad things to happen before doing anything.”

*** 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 love a good psychological thriller and I was intrigued by the blurb of What I Know, so I decided to request a copy on a whim. “My brother was thirteen the first time he tried to kill me.”: talk about one heck of an opening line! I’ve been looking forward to read this story ever since and had quite high expectations for this one, but somehow the actual story ended up falling a bit flat for me. I still can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but I will try to explain below what worked and didn’t work for me.

First of all, I have to say that I still love the premise of the story and the blurb is without doubt a corker. I also liked the dual storyline structure, where we get to see main character Della in the present with Zoey and follow her back to the past with her brother Brian. This structure is used to draw parallels between both characters as well as adding a healthy dose of suspense… And definitely took the story to the next level. You are initially kept in the dark about the true extent of Brian’s darkness, although it is quite easy to guess how far it would go after reading the blurb and catching the first few hints. That’s probably why the final reveals around his character in the past were a bit of an anticlimax to be honest… The present storyline focusing on Della and Zoe was a lot more successful at keeping you on your toes though.

While the writing flows and makes it really easy to keep reading, I wasn’t always sure about the pace. Certain plot twists were really easy to guess, and drawing out the reveal of those twists slowed the story down instead of adding suspense… Or at least that was the effect it had on me. I always like it when a story is able to mislead me and keep me guessing, and that was not what happened here as I somehow had the characters figured out really early on. The lack of surprises was a bit of a letdown for me, and I honestly felt that it was a bit too convenient that nobody but Della saw the truth behind certain characters. It didn’t feel credible and the same goes for certain parts of the plot as well as the ending.

As for the characters… I found them to be very hard to like, which made it more difficult to connect to the story in turn. Some were ment to be unlikeable of course, but I was never able to connect to Della either both due to her attitude and actions. Initially I thought both Della and Danny would be a perfect match for me, as you don’t see too many stories about childless couples who made the decision not to have any children… It’s something I can relate to personally as with my hubby we stand by the same decision (have been for years as we just don’t see ourselves with children, or at least not in the forseeable future). I was a bit miffed to be honest to have Della suddently being saddled with an unplanned pregnancy; both because of Danny’s reaction and people judging how she feels about it. I know this is a personal reaction, but still… It made me enjoy the story and characters considerably less.

In short, What I Know is a psychological thriller with a dark edge: using a dual storyline, it switches back between past and present and introduces us to two twisted minds… What I Know has without doubt a lot of potential, and while the story sadly fell flat for me, others do seem to enjoy it a lot better.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Stranger In The Lake – by Kimberly Belle #blogtour @parkrowbooks @HarlequinBooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Stranger In The Lake 2020 Summer Reads blog tour! A huge thanks to Justine Sha for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I knew I wanted to read Stranger In The Lake as soon as I read the blurb, and there is no doubt that my instincts were right about this story. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: Stranger In The Lake
Author: Kimberly Belle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 9th 2020
Publisher: Park Row
Finished reading: May 24th 2020
Pages: 352

“Sacrifice.

Penance.

Atonement.

Justice.

In the end, we all reap what we sow.”

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

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I’ve heard nothing but great things about Kimberly Belle‘s books and they have been on my radar for a while now. This makes it easy to explain why I just HAD to jump at the chance to read her newest story Stranger In The Lake early, especially after reading the blurb… And you can definitely consider me a fan now. I literally read this story in less than a day and I can recommend it to anyone who loves psychological thrillers involving dark secrets.

There is lots to love in Stranger In The Lake, and that includes the writing style. There is just something about the writing that managed to draw me straight in and I was literally hooked from the first chapter. The story is mainly told from the POV of Charlotte (Charlie), who gives us a very interesting view on everything in Lake Crosby considering her personal background. To further enrich the plot, we also have flashbacks to 1999 with multiple POVs, designed to slowly let you in on past events that might or might not have influenced the present situation. This made the plot feel a lot more complex and definitely enhanced the reading experience for me!

I really liked the plot as a whole, as it felt multi-dimentional and was filled with secrets, lies and suspense. As a first layer we have Charlotte and her personal situation as a poor girl who married a rich widower and who is now shunned by most people in town. Then we have the layer involving the death of the first wife Katherine and the mysterious circumstances around her death. While it’s true that her husband Paul was cleared, you can’t stop wondering if he escaped justice or if he was really innocent… Another layer is next with the discovery of the body and the investigation into her death, which leads to yet another layer relating to the victim herself and the whole reason she was in town in the first place. And on top of that we have a flashback layer that will slowly unravel past secrets of what happened back in 1999 and how these events might have influenced the present. That’s basically more layers than an onion and a perfect ingredient to prepare that delicious psychological thriller meal with.

As for the characters… Charlotte is the star of the show of course, and she is quite easy to connect to thanks to an excellent and realistic character development. She can be seen as both an outsider and right in the middle of the action at once; she isn’t originally from the rich part of town, but now lives there and suddenly finds a body almost in the same spot the body of her husband’s first wife was found. Talk about an explosive situation! It’s easy to understand why it’s so difficult for her, especially with her husband behaving so strangely. I really liked her strength, development and growth over time and she is one of the reasons this story works well in the end. The three friends Paul, Jax and Micah are likewise well developed, but somehow less easy to like as you keep wondering what they are hiding… They all played their role in the story perfectly though, as well as the other characters in play.

Both the secrets, lies and plot twists play a key role in Stranger In The Lake. You are being mislead along with Charlotte, and together with the main character you will find yourself on a quest to discover the truth. Why is Paul so furtive? What is he hiding? What about Jax? And why did he become the way he is? What about the victim? Who is behind her death and what was she doing in town in the first place? What does the past have to do with it all? There are a lot of questions you can’t wait finding answers for as you start reading this story, adding a healthy dose of suspense as well as making sure you keep turning those pages. The plot twists are expertly placed for maximum effect and while I saw some coming, other surprised me completely. The secrets and lies definitely took this story to the next level!

In short, Stranger In The Lake is a well written, multi-layered and suspenseful psychological thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat the whole time. Secrets, lies and plot twists are designed to keep you on the wrong track, and fans of darker stories will have an excellent time with Kimberly Belle‘s newest offer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kimberly Belle is the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of six novels, including the forthcoming Stranger in the Lake (June 2020). Her third novel, The Marriage Lie, was a semifinalist in the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Mystery & Thriller, and a #1 e-book bestseller in the UK and Italy. She’s sold rights to her books in a dozen languages as well as film and television options. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Belle divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam.

SOCIAL LINKS

Author website // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Goodreads

BUY LINKS

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Bookshop // IndieBound // Books-A-Million // Kobo // AppleBooks // Google Play


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YVO’S SHORTIES #166 – You Are Not Alone & The Child

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! Today a thriller round: new release You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen, which sadly failed to blow me away, and a German crime thriller The Child by Sebastian Fitzek, which definitely turned out to be a dark, disturbing but very much entertaining read.


Title: You Are Not Alone
Author: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: March 3rd 2020
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: May 27th 2020
Pages: 344

“Some people contend there are two primal fears. The first and most basic is the end of our existence. The second is isolation; we all have a deep need to belong to something greater than ourselves.”


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I know, I know, I should have known to stay away from yet another hyped book… Especially since my first experience with this author duo, The Wife Between Us, failed to hit the mark back when I read it in 2018. But I just couldn’t resist taking a peek anyway, and I think I have just confirmed to myself the writing of Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen might just not be for me. I’m not saying that You Are Not Alone is a bad read; I think the writing itself is solid and I’m impressed by the fact how well the story flows with two different authors wielding the pen. That said, I can’t say I was blown away by this story either. On it’s own it’s quite an interesting plot with lots of plot twists and secrets waiting to be unraveled. There is suspense, there is tension, and I can’t deny there were even a few minor surprises. BUT. Overall I was a bit disappointed by how predictable the story felt as a whole, and I saw the whole situation coming from a mile away… Which is always a shame. I did like the structure of the plot in different parts and with multiple POVs and flashbacks (although the two main POVs would be Shay and Cassandra & Jane). The characters each have their development, although some fell a bit flat for me and most were not that easy to like. Shay is probably the most approachable, although you will find yourself feeling frustrated more and more by her actions as you keep reading… Overall, I felt like You Are Not Alone was trying to hard, and turned out to be a tad to slow and predictable for me. That said, it looks like the unpopular opinion curse has struck once again, so don’t give up on this book on my account.


Title: The Child
Author: Sebastian Fitzek

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: 2007
Publisher: Sphere
Finished reading: May 29th 2020
Pages: 384
(Originally written in German: ‘Das Kind’)

“But he wasn’t afraid of burglars, only of observers: of people who might see through his carefully constructed façade of expensive suits, shiny cars and smart offices with a view of the Brandenburg Gate. If they did, they would discern the empty husk that was Robert Stern’s soul.”


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I bought a copy of this book on a whim last year, as I was fully hooked after reading the first line of the blurb. I mean, having a ten-year-old main character who claims to be a serial killer… How could I say no to that?! I’m definitely glad I got a copy of The Child now, because it turned out to be a shocking, very much disturbing but also intriguing ride. This story is definitely not for those with a weak stomach, and not even for the murder elements, but mostly because of the focus on child abuse. The Child focuses mainly on two characters: lawyer Robert Stern and the ten-year-old Simon with a severe illness. The reason the two characters meet is simply fascinating and I admit that I was hooked as soon as I started reading. The serial killer element, the regression and strange memories of Simon, the blackmailing, the danger, the mystery around the death of Robert’s son, the trafficking angle… There is a lot going on in The Child, and you definitely have to prepare yourself for a very intense, dangerous and action-packed ride. While I’m not sure some scenes are exactly credible, I somehow didn’t really mind as I was too busy racing through those pages. The Child is definitely a great read for those who enjoy dark and disturbing crime thrillers with a twist.


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ARC REVIEW: The Catch – by T.M. Logan

Title: The Catch
Author: T.M. Logan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 11th 2020
Publisher: Zaffre
Finished reading: May 23rd 2020
Pages: 332

“There was nothing that could stop you if you were willing to do things that others didn’t have the stomach for. Nothing.”

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

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I had an excellent first experience with T.M. Logan’s writing last year in 29 Seconds, and I have been looking forward to pick up more of his work ever since. I admit that I was sold as soon as I read the blurb of The Catch, and my instincts were not wrong. This newest story turned out to be another scorcher! Trust me, psychological thriller fans will be in for a treat with this one… Because holy smokes, T.M. Logan has done it again!

I was literally hooked from the very first page until those explosive final reveals; both due to the excellent writing and the clever building up of suspense. This story is definitely perfectly designed to draw you right in, and that is exactly what happened once I started reading… I just couldn’t stop until I discovered the full truth. A lot of the success of this story is due to the technique of obscuring the truth and letting you in the dark about Ed and Ryan for a long time. Is Ed just seeing things that aren’t there? Is Ryan who he says he is? Trust me, The Catch will have more than one shocking surprise in store.

Another reason this story works so well is due to the structure of the plot. We not only have different parts, but also multiple POVs in play. This is used both to make it easier to get a proper feel for the characters, hide certain facts as well as introduce doubt and suspense in the plot. Ed and Claire are initially the main focus, but both Abbie and Ryan are key to the plot too and especially later on. Plot twists, secrets and lies are brilliantly developed and used to maximum effect; there is no doubt that the final reveals will be a total shocker.

As for the characters… I loved how well developed they were; they are realistic, flawed and make it easy to stay invested in the story. Ed himself is a fascinating character with a tragic past and really made this story work. The fact that you keep wondering if he is just being an overbearing father not wanting to see his daughter with any man, or if he is on to something and something is really off with Ryan will most definitely keep you on your toes. This doubt enhanced the suspense and is basically the driving force behind the majority of the plot and story. Ryan is likewise interesting; not exactly likeable at any point, but the doubt around his character keeps you hunting for clues either way as you keep turning those pages. Both Claire and Abbie were easy to like and were likewise well developed.

In short, The Catch is a brilliantly written and suspenseful psychological thriller with an explosive ending you won’t see coming. It’s an excellent read for anyone who enjoys the genre and loves stories that are able to mislead you.


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ARC REVIEW: The House Guest – by Mark Edwards @amazonpub

Title: The House Guest
Author: Mark Edwards
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 3rd 2020
Publisher: Amazon Publishing UK
Finished reading: May 20th 2020
Pages: 294

“I felt like I was turning into a new version of myself. One who lived in a world where violence was expected. Where anyone who passed by could be part of this secret, threatening alternate reality.”

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

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The holy guacamole is back! Oh yes, The House Guest turned out to be one of those reads that left me completely mindblown and gulping for air… I literally finished reading it in one sitting, unable to stop before reaching that final page. Unputdownable indeed! My first experience with Mark Edwards’ work last year, Here To Stay, made me an instant fan, and this story only reconfirms my love for his writing.There is no doubt whatsoever that The House Guest is an absolute must-read for fans of intense psychological thrillers!

There is so much to love in The House Guest… The first thing that stands out is both the plot and its cult element. I really liked the structure of the plot in general with multiple parts; each with a different vibe while also complementing each other. The story starts out with that ominous feel that something is bound to go wrong sooner than later; basically true psychological thriller material that sets the tone for the rest of the story. Afterwards, we have the mysterious missing person case and more action involved as well as a private detective vibe… Only for things to turn even darker and dangerous with the introduction of the cult element. I just loved how the whole cult element was developed in general, and it definitely gave the story an unique touch. It’s also quite hard to put The House Guest into a specific genre box, and this multi-dimentional feel is another reason this story stands out for me.

Like I said before, the cult element is basically the star of the show, but in the beginning the main focus is mostly on the main characters. This is a great way both to get to know the characters in play as well as preparing you for what is yet to come… The story is mostly told from Adam’s POV and it was fascinating to see him develop and react to the events as they occur. His girlfriend Ruth is likewise interesting, and through her we get to know more about what happened after she disappeared. Eden is someone I failed to trust from the very beginning, but guessing and learning more about her story and motivation was without doubt entertaining enough. As a whole, not every character is exactly likeable, but they all played their role and felt realistic. It’s the perfect cast to tell this story and The House Guest will probably stay with me for a long time.

The writing itself is excellent. I literally wasn’t really in the mood to read, told myself to try the first chapters so I would get an idea of what the story would be like, and suddenly hours had past and I found myself staring at the last page. I was hooked from the very beginning, and this is definitely one of those stories you should clear your schedule for. Both the building up of suspense, the placement of the plot twists and the technique of witholding information only to be released at a crucial moment were simply spot on. You get that ominous feel, you get a missing person case, you get a cult, you get a conspiracy plot, you get danger… And you definitely get that satisfied feeling after reading a brilliant story. And talk about an explosive ending! I’ll repeat it again: The House Guest is an absolute must-read.


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ARC REVIEW: Little Whispers – by K.L. Slater

Title: Little Whispers
Author: K.L. Slater
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: May 21st 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: April 19th 2020
Pages: 259

“But how far should we go in our quest? What should we put up with, or hide, to stop our kids from hurting or facing the truth?”

*** 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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It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of anything K.L. Slater writes, and I’m always looking out for any of her new psychological thrillers. Having the chance to read two new titles in less than a month is definitely a huge bonus for me! I was intrigued by the premise of Little Whispers and I have been looking forward to pick it up. And as always, the writing is most definitely solid and it turned out to be an entertaining psychological thriller. Definitely a great pick for fans of domestic thrillers with a fair share of secrets!

While I confess that this story isn’t my favorite Slater and I did feel that some of that spark was missing when I read the story, I still think Little Whispers is a more than solid read. It might just even be that these kind of domestic psychological thrillers just are not a good match for me right now… Because let’s face it: in these strange times my reading taste has been all over the place and can hardly be trusted. That said, let’s see if I can explain briefly what made me feel this way. First of all, I liked the premise of the story and the idea of ‘outsiders’ moving into a new posh neighborhood and trying to fit in makes for an intriguing story. The main focus is on the secrets and gossip of course… And I liked how the tension and suspense was slowly build up without giving away those secrets and twists.

That said, I do have to say is that I found some of the reveals to be quite an anti-climax, and especially those secrets relating to Janey’s past. Somehow I was expecting something a whole lot more daunting? Sure, it was shocking and all, but I don’t see why it should affect Janey that much as it didn’t involve anything she did or could have influenced personally. It did raise an interesting question though: how far are we accountable for the actions of others? This question is also raised by the actions of her husband of course, and in a lesser way in Tracy too. In fact, we have a big cast of characters with things to hide, and as a consequence a lot of secrets and lies to unravel along the way…

The story uses a separate POV (in cursive) to add an ominous feel to the whole situation, as the woman in question seems to be in accute danger and you wonder how she fits in with the rest of the story. Switching between her and the other characters in play definitely added more suspense as well as making the plot feel more complex. As for the characters… I have to be honest here and say I wasn’t really able to connect to any of them, but their development was well handled and their personalities fitted the part they played in the plot. And there were definitely a couple plot twists I didn’t see coming! Especially those relating to the final reveals and the whole situation involving what Janey’s husband was up to…

In short, Little Whispers is without doubt a solid psychological thriller that has that domestic vibe. While it’s not my favorite of hers, I can still recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading the genre.


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ARC REVIEW: What Lies Between Us – by John Marrs @amazonpub

Title: What Lies Between Us
Author: John Marrs
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: May 15th 2020
Publisher: Amazon Publishing UK
Finished reading: April 21st 2020
Pages: 371

“We remain like two scorpions, each circling one another, poisonous tails aloft and waiting for the other to strike first.”

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

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Holy guacamole, what did I just read?! So dark, so twisted, and oh so glorious! I guess it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of John Marrs‘s writing and I have been looking forward to read What Lies Between Us ever since I first heard about it… And this story turned out to be exactly the dark psychological thriller dose I was craving right now! Oh yes, his newest title definitely didn’t disappoint, and I found myself to be absolutely speechless as well as shell-shocked by the time I reached that final page. Make sure to brace yourself for a dark, intense and twisted ride!

Let’s leave the superlatives for a little, and talk about why What Lies Between Us turned out to be yet another winner for me. The first thing that stands out when you read one of John Marrs‘ books is the quality of the writing and the plot development. From the very first chapter, both the writing and the plot are able to draw you right in, entice you and keep you hooked until the very end. In fact, I knew this was going to be another favorite even before I finished the first chapter; such is the power of his writing. As for the plot… Even though I do admit that I saw some of the plot twists coming very early on, strangely enough I wasn’t too bothered by that. The mystery and suspense around the past events and the complicated relationship between mother and daughter were enough to distract me from my suspicions and ultimately right guesses, and I was honestly too busy devouring this story to really care about the lack of surprises and 100% effective plot twist bombs.

The story is told with the help of a dual POV, switching between Nina and her mother Maggie as well as between the past and present. This way, we are presented with snippets of the past as well as the present, never discovering the full picture of the truth until after those final reveals. The POV switches and flashbacks are used to successfully build up the suspense until you find yourself biting your nails and continuously shocked about the events that took place both in the past and present. Trust me when I say that What Lies Between Us will go darker than the blackest night and this story isn’t for those with a weak stomach! The development and structure of the plot is excellently handled though, and really took the story to the next level for me.

Key in this pitch black psychological thriller are also the two main characters who star the show. The development of both Nina and Maggie is thorough and realistical; both women are extremely flawed and have mental issues as well as a bulk load of secrets waiting to be uncovered. Nina is an extremely troubled character and it was interesting to see her development and learn more about her past as well as discovering more how she became the woman she is today. Maggie is likewise intriguing, with her decisions in the past playing a key role in her present situations… I’d be lying if I said that I liked either character, but they definitely both make for a fascinating character study.

As you might have guessed, I had a fantastic time reading this dark dark and oh so disturbing psychological thriller. I can recommend What Lies Between Us to anyone who is a fan of the genre and doesn’t mind things getting pitch black and seriously twisted before you reach that final page.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Murder Game – by Rachel Abbott #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @annecater

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Murder Game Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve been meaning to try one of Rachel Abbott‘s books for a while now and this blog tour was a perfect excuse to do so! I had an excellent time with the first book of the series, And So It Begins, last month and I think that I enjoyed the sequel The Murder Game even more. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts.

Title: The Murder Game
(Stephanie King #2)
Author: Rachel Abbott
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: April 16th 2020
Publisher: Wildfire
Finished reading: April 12th 2020
Pages: 416

“To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.”

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

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I’ve been meaning to try one of Rachel Abbott‘s books for a long time now and this blog tour was a perfect excuse to finally do so! I had an excellent time with the first book of the series, And So It Begins, last month and I think that I might have possibly enjoyed the sequel The Murder Game even more… I’m definitely fully hooked when it comes to this series now! I’ll try to explain below why The Murder Game ticked all the right boxes for me.

First of all, I love that this series isn’t the typical detective thriller despite having detective Stephanie King as the leading character of this series. Instead, both first two books are dark psychological thrillers first, and detective/crime thrillers second, and this shift in focus is both refreshing, gives the stories a multi-dementional feel and makes the series in general stand out above the rest. While Stephanie is the glue between the books of this series, we won’t actually see her appear until later in The Murder Game and only because body shows up and a detective is needed. This is definitely unexpected and it was a very clever twist to have other characters in the spotlight instead.

The story mainly focuses on three characters: Jemma, Nina And Alex. We get to see the situation from the POV of all three women and not only that, we also have events set one year ago as well as in present. This complex structure really takes story to the next level without obstructing the reading pace or readability in general. The characters themselves might not be all too likeable, but their development is solid and their flaws make them feel realistic. It was also interesting seeing things from the POV of ‘outsider’ Jemma, as she doesn’t know rest of the characters in play until the wedding. Nina is likewise an outsider of course, but she does know Alex and has a different view on things as the case hits closer home. Alex probably most intriguing POV though, both due to her past and the secrets surrounding her…

The structure of the plot is without doubt one of highlights of The Murder Game. Switching back between past an present, the structure allows for plot twists and secrets  to be revealed slowly and they definitely added a healthy dose of suspense and tension to the story. Not knowing what exactly happened to Alex in the past added a level of intrigue as well as an ominous feel… The murder game Lucas wants to play in the present is a brilliantly executed element too and it really gave the story that ‘locked room’ vibe. I also loved the setting close to the Cornwall sea as it added to the darker and ominous atmosphere as well as playing a key role in plot. Furthermore, the eventual appearance of Stephanie in the plot felt natural and her development was another interesting touch. Of course the case she first investigated (the death of Alex) took place a year ago, but it was interesting to see how past and present collided with a new missing person case in the present. The whole detective investigation was not main focus of The Murder Game of course, but it added a little something extra and enabled reaching a credible ending to the story.

There is a lot to love in The Murder Game… Well written, suspenseful, complex, a dark and multi-dimentional plot, an interesting cast of characters, that locked room feel, a Cornwall coast setting… Fans of dark psychological thrillers will be in for a treat!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachel Abbott began her career as an independent author in 2011, with Only the Innocent, which became a No.1 bestseller on Kindle, topping the chart for four weeks. Since then, she has published eight further psychological thrillers and sold over 3 million copies. She is one of the top-selling authors of all time in the UK Kindle store, and her novels have been translated into 21 languages.

Rachel splits her time between Alderney – a beautiful island off the coast of France – and the Le Marche region of Italy, where she is able to devote all her time to writing fiction.


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