ARC REVIEW: The Liar’s Sister – by Sarah A. Denzil

Title: The Liar’s Sister
Author: Sarah A. Denzil
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: September 25th 2019
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: September 4th 2019
Pages: 290

“Maybe none of it is real until we reach adulthood, and everything that happened before is just the breeze drifting through the curtains at night.”

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

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I have been wanting to read Sarah A. Denzil‘s books for quite some time now… While it’s true that I tried The Broken Ones not long ago and wasn’t too impressed, with so many people loving her books and recommending them (Yes, I have Silent Child on my TBR still), I just couldn’t resist trying her newest title. Especially after reading the blurb… I’m glad I decided to do so, because I definitely understand the power of her books now.

The Liar’s Sister starts out as what seems like a regular psychological thriller with a focus on family, secrets, lies and both illness and grief. The story is told mostly through a dual POV, set both in present and ten years ago. The main stars of this story are the two sisters Rosie and Heather, and as the story alternates between their point of views we slowly learn more about the past and the present. Because this is not just about strained relationship between them or about grief and trying to deal with the death of their mother. Rosie coming back to Buckthorpe is a cataclysm for a whole lot of dirt and secrets about to come to light…

The plot starts out simple and slowly gets more tangled as we learn more about what happened ten years ago and how this affects the present. The story will have you guessing for a long time, wondering what Rosie is hiding and what really happened all those years ago. I do believe the final reveals are a bit farfetched, but there is no doubt that this story ends with a bang and definitely crossed the line to action/crime thriller before you reach the final page. The Liar’s Sister is a psychological thriller filled to the brim with secrets and lies and without doubt packs a mean punch. Both focused on family relationships, grief and something possibly sinister happening in past and present, this story will appeal to both fans of more domestic thrillers and those who enjoy a healthy dose of suspense and action.


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ARC REVIEW: 29 Seconds – by T.M. Logan

Title: 29 Seconds
Author: T.M. Logan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: January 25th 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: August 14th 2019
Pages: 368

“It was strictly a one-time deal, a once-in-a-lifetime offer. A deal that might change her life. A deal that would most certainly change someone else’s.

It was a deal with the Devil.”

*** 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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!! Happy publication day !!

29 Seconds is one of those titles that slipped between in cracks in 2018, so I was over the moon when I was able to get an ARC of the US publication this year. Because let’s face it, the only way it’s a garantuee I will pick up a title sooner than later is if it comes with a deadline attached. Whoops? I’m very happy I finally had the chance to read this story though, because I can understand the love for 29 Seconds now. It’s such a well crafted and original plot!

Oh yes, if you are looking for a little something different than your typical psychological thriller plots, you will hit the jackpot with this one. What I thought would be a simple sexual harassment story involving the typical boss and female colleague roles, soon turned out to be something a whole lot more twisted and complicated. The sexual harassment and the bullying is there, front and center and with its own spotlight to help you remember why you hate a certain character so much. Trigger warnings are in place for those who are sensitive to the theme, because things will go quite far and it doesn’t make for comfortable reading. Sadly, this kind of bullying and treating female colleagues is not extinct even today and this story shows how difficult it is to find proper proof and fight for your rights as a woman and a professional. It was without doubt very interesting how the author developed the theme as a whole.

Like I said before, there was a certain character I absolutely and completely loathed and I myself wouldn’t have doubted a second if I would have been in the same situation and the same offer would have been made to me. Does this make me a bad person? Maybe. But some situations just have no other way out, and certain actions and persons simply have to be stopped before even more lives are ruined. I think the power of 29 Seconds is in this choice, and how this story makes you think about what you would do if the same happened to you… As the story states: ultimately, we all have someone on our list. As for the main character Sarah… Did I like her? Not exactly. Did she make me want to slap her and yell at her to get a grip? Oh yes. Was I frustrated with how she had be putting up with that kind of behavior for two years already? You bet. But it was interesting to see Sarah develop over time and reacting to her decisions and the things happening to her.

The writing made it really easy to fly through 29 Seconds and I liked how the story was divided into three parts. There are different elements involved as well as multiple plot twists and a very original angle in the form of the once-in-a-lifetime offer. I would have liked to see certain aspects of the final reveals more developed, as they seemed to be a bit rushed and not every twist seemed to be explained all that thoroughly. But overall I liked how this story surprised me and even though I was infuriated by the sexual harassment scenes, I loved the plot development as a whole. Original, fast-paced, considerably disturbing and with a healthy dose of suspense, 29 Seconds will most likely entertain any psychological thriller fan who likes their stories with a twist.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #118 – Apple Of My Eye & Outrun The Moon

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two completely different genres that both turned out to be excellent reads: Apple Of My Eye by Claire Allan and Outrun The Moon by Stacey Lee.


Title: Apple Of My Eye
Author: Claire Allan

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: January 24th 2019
Publisher: Avon
Finished reading: August 3rd 2019 
Pages: 400

“I nod. Thinking that yes, it is indeed easy to lie or just not tell the whole truth. Much too easy.”


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After so many raving reviews back in the beginning of 2019 when Apple Of My Eye was published, I knew I had no other option than to try Claire Allan‘s work. I’ve been looking forward to read this one, and I’m definitely glad I finally found the time to do so. Apple Of My Eye is without doubt a very solid psychological thriller. With the help of switching point of views, first between pregnant Eli and Louise and later Eli’s mother Angela as well, both suspense and plot are steadily build up in a way that will keep you interested throughout. Things escalate slowly but surely, and this story gives you that daunting feeling that something bad will happen any minute now. The plot twists and secrets are quite well handled, although I did see the big twist coming quite early on, but I enjoyed reading how Claire Allan revealed and developed the twist. The characters can get a bit frustrating, but especially Louise was a very interesting character to follow and it was intriguing to learn more about her background, motives and secrets. This story definitely ends with a bang! All in all I had a great time reading Apple Of My Eye despite a few minor issues, and I will definitely be looking forward to read more of her work. I even ended up ordering myself a physical copy of Her Name Was Rose to be able to do so soon!


Title: Outrun The Moon
Author: Stacey Lee

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
First published: May 24th 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: August 9th 2019
Pages: 398

“People are like boats, always coming and going. Sometimes never returning. Now that his boat has sailed, the sea is empty for me.”


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I’ve had Outrun The Moon on my TBR for a long long time, and I’m glad the Magical Readathon came along and finally made me pick up this title. It was such a wonderful story! It’s my first time trying Stacey Lee‘s work, but I will definitely try to read more of her stories soon. She writes in a way that draws you right in, and the descriptions of both the historical setting in 1906 San Francisco and the different characters are very detailed and really make them come alive. The focus on Chinatown and its contrast to the world of St. Clare’s School for Girls is fascinating, both seeing the situation before and after natural disaster strikes. Despite the fact that not every aspect of Mercy’s character is likeable, she managed to grow on me anyway and I loved her strength and resilience. Apart from giving us a glimpse of the local culture and customs in Chinatown, combined with the discrimination and difficulties they encountered, this story gives us also an important life lesson. Outrun The Moon shows us that money, social status and race no longer count when disaster strikes… It’s only the strongest and more resilient who will be able to endure and find a way to help others as well. The character development in Outrun The Moon is very well done and I loved seeing them evolve over time and seeing them react to the devastation of the earthquake. If you enjoy a well written historical fiction story with interesting characters and a dose of desperation, you should definitely try Outrun The Moon.


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ARC REVIEW: What You Did – by Claire McGowan

Title: What You Did
Author: Claire McGowan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 1st 2019
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: August 4th 2019
Pages: 282

“We always think we want to know secrets, but what we forget it that they come with their own weights, heavy as millstones, and if you aren’t careful this weight can crush you.”

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


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After being bombarded by positive reviews during the respective blog tour, I just couldn’t help giving in and request a copy when I saw it on Netgalley… There is no doubt that the premise of What You Did sounds absolutely intriguing and I couldn’t resist picking up this story almost immediately. And while I ended up having mixed thoughts myself, I can also see why others have a more positive reaction to this story.

It’s all in the characters. What You Did fits the definition of a slower paced and character driven psychological thriller perfectly, and this means that your reaction to the different main characters as a reader is fundamental and directly linked to your experience with a book. Sadly, it wasn’t ment to be between the main characters of What You Did and me. Out of all the main characters, I think the only one I actually liked was Bill, and I still wanted to hit him for certain actions and basically for having no backbone. The other characters… Sigh. Where do I even begin? I don’t want to give away too much to avoid spoilers, but let’s just say it involves things like a love triangle, lying to someone for twenty five years, abusing the trust of someone close to you, forgiving someone even though they don’t deserve it at all… I could go on and on, but I don’t want to spoil the fun. Ali was so so frustratingly ignorant and stupid and I basically wanted to shout at her to get a grip and open her eyes already. I don’t think her actions and reactions were natural at all and she managed to frustrate me A LOT. Likewise, Karen, Mike and Callum were basically disgusting and I really didn’t care about what was happening to their characters as they were unable to raise sympathy at all. I know some of them were ment to be unlikeable, but still… My feelings of frustration prevented me from enjoying this story as much as I thought I would.

As for the plot… At first I liked the idea of six university friends meeting again after twenty five years during a reunion. These situations always make for an interesting backdrop and gives the story a lot of posibilities; both by introducing possible flashbacks and character development and growth in general. What You Did gives us both, but not to the degree I would have liked to see… The flashbacks to the events of their final ball of the final university year, 1993, felt rather rushed and I would have liked more background and development here. I guess the main focus of this story is on the present and what happens during their reunion… I wasn’t sure up to what point certain aspects of the plot were completely credible though, and I did see some twists coming quite early on, but as a whole I guess the plot was entertaining enough if you enjoy slower paced stories with a few bursts of suspense.

The writing itself is engaging enough and made it quite easy to keep turning the pages despite my reaction to the characters. These were my personal feelings about said characters though, and if you can stomach unlikeable characters and enjoy a good character driven psychological thriller that packs a punch, you might consider adding What You Did to your wishlist.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #117 – The Rose & The Dagger & An Unwanted Guest

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two titles I’ve been meaning to read for a while and I both ended up enjoying a lot. The Rose & The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh is an excellent conclusion of the duology and I loved the premise of An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena.


Title: The Rose & The Dagger
(The Wrath & The Dawn #2)
Author: Renee Ahdieh

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: April 26th 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: July 30th 2019
Pages: 420

“True strength isn’t about sovereignty. It’s about knowing when you need help and having the courage to accept it.”


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Let’s face it: I’ve been meaning to read this sequel for years. I really enjoyed the first book of the The Wrath & The Dawn duology back in 2015 despite the slow start, but somehow I never picked up the second book when it came out in 2016… I’m glad I finally did though, because it’s without doubt a worthy sequel! While it’s true that it has been four years (whoops!) since I read the first book and it’s a bit hard to compare the two as it has been so long, I think I actually prefer The Rose & The Dagger over the first book. The annoying love triangle is still there, and it’s still one of the main focuses of the story, but I liked what the rest of the story had to offer. Between the writing, bantering between characters and the magical elements I had a great time reading The Rose & The Dagger and I had forgotten how interesting this high fantasy world was… Some aspects of the plot came a bit as a anticlimax, but overall I liked the developments of this story. War, love, magic and despair; you will find it all in The Rose & The Dagger. It’s without doubt a worthy ending to this duology and Shahrzad and Khalid’s story. Also, I adored the epilogue! If you enjoyed the first book, you will without doubt have a great time reading the sequel as well.


Title: An Unwanted Guest
Author: Shari Lapena

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 26th 2018
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Finished reading: August 2nd 2019
Pages: 304

“I’ve told the truth, but I’ve found that people believe what they want to believe. I can’t help that.”


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After enjoying The Couple Next Door last year, I’ve been looking forward to try more of Shari Lapena‘s books. I came across An Unwanted Guest when I was putting together my N.E.W.T.s Readathon TBR, and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to finally read it. I definitely enjoyed what I found! The plot of this story kind of has that Agatha Christie and And Then There Were None feel, with a limited amount of characters being ‘trapped’ in a remote location and one by one characters starting to turn up dead. I always have a weak spot of this kind of premise and I definitely loved how Shari Lapena developed the plot in this story! The beginning of An Unwanted Guest might be a tad confusing with the introduction of so many characters in such a short time, but as soon as you are able to keep them apart it is really easy to start enjoying yourself. The setting in the remote hotel in the middle of winter is an interesting one, and definitely works perfectly for the plot. And as soon as the first body is discovered, you will feel the suspense building up page after page. Was it an accident? Or is there a murderer amongst the small group? The character and plot development is really well done and helps build up the suspicion between the different characters. Plot twists and secrets are used to keep you on the wrong track, and the situation quickly spins out of control. And that ending! If you are looking for an entertaining psychological thriller with a violent twist and, like me, love the whole ‘locked room’ premise, An Unwanted Guest is without doubt a great choice.


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ARC REVIEW: Date Night – by Samantha Hayes

Title: Date Night
Author: Samantha Hayes
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 20th 2019
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: August 10th 2019
Pages: 350

“My thoughts are all over the place. Finally, my head catches up with the panic in my heart.”

*** 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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After being blown away by The Liar’s Wife last year, I couldn’t help myself and requested a copy of Date Night as soon as it was available. I mean, the blurb alone sounds absolutely fantastic: a missing girl, a murder, lots of secrets and a possibly innocent and wrongly accused main character… How could I resist that? And I’m glad I didn’t, because Date Night turned out to be a highly entertaining read. This is a psychological thriller created to mess with your mind and this story will make you doubt every single fact you thought you learned as you keep turning the pages. The strength of this story is in the complex and well crafted plot, designed to mislead you and hide certain facts from you to keep you guessing. And while it’s true that the whole unreliable narrator technique is getting a bit old, I found the idea of having a possibly innocent main character wrongly accused very refreshing and definitely fascinating.

Date Night starts like most domestic psychological thrillers, with the typical family of two successful working parents and their children and this balance being disrupted by a turn of events. In this case in the form of a ominous note left for the wife, Libby. What you first think is a simple cheating husband or ‘someone with a grudge’ scenario soon turns out to be a whole lot more complicated as their babysitter Sasha goes missing… And a few weeks later somehow the police thinks that Libby killed her. Date Night switches between the (recent) past and present, making full use of the unreliable narrator technique while slowly revealing more facts about what really happened that night and exactly what secrets are in play. And trust me, there will be a LOT of those. Oh yes, Date Night is basically a web full of lies and secrets you will find yourself trapped in, trying to untangle the truth while you wonder if Libby is really innocent, and who could have been behind Sasha’s disappearance otherwise. And while it’s true I guessed part of the final twists right, there were other aspects I wasn’t able to guess at all.

There is one thing that made me enjoy this story slightly less though: the characters. I know it’s common for unreliable characters to be unlikeable as well, and sadly in this case I wasn’t able to connect to the main characters at all. I found especially Libby’s behavior in general to be very frustrating, and while her flawed character worked well to hide those twists and keep the suspense up, not being able to connect to her made me care less about her possibly being wrongly accused. I wasn’t a fan of the other main characters either… But with an intricate and well developed plot, excellent writing and lots of secrets and twists to discover, I had a great time reading Date Night anyway. Fans of the genre will enjoy this one!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #115 – The Dark Descent Of Elizabeth Frankenstein (DNF) & The Silent Patient

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two titles I’ve been looking forward to read… Sadly, the reaction I had to The Dark Descent Of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White was not what I was expecting at all and I really struggled with it, up to the point I saw no other option than to DNF it at 38%. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides on the other hand turned out to be a success and I found myself flying through the pages.


Title: The Dark Descent Of Elizabeth Frankenstein
Author: Kiersten White

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Horror
First published: September 15th 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Finished reading: July 28th 2019
Pages: 304
DNF at 38% (116 pages)

“Words and stories were tools to elicit the desired reactions in others, and I was an expert craftswoman.”


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I never in a million years would have guessed I would be having this reaction to The Dark Descent Of Elizabeth Frankenstein. It might just have been the wrong book at the wrong time for me, but the fact is, that I really REALLY struggled with this book. Which is strange, because I loved the original Frankenstein story and I have been looking forward to read this retelling ever since I first heard about it last year. I still can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but I think my feelings have a lot to do with the pace and writing style. I’m still surprised I reacted to the writing in the way I did, because I loved her The Conqueror’s Saga books and I was fully expecting to find another favorite in The Dark Descent Of Elizabeth Frankenstein. Alas, it wasn’t ment to be. Instead of adding a little something extra to the story, I found the parts written in cursive (Elizabeth’s thoughts and flashbacks mostly) to be highly annoying. These parts slowed down the pace considerably and, as I couldn’t enjoy them, made it a lot harder for me to connect to the story. I felt like I was on a little boat with a failing motor in the middle of Lake Geneva, unable to get anywhere quickly and only in haltered movements when moving at all. I found the story (or at least until I had to give up at 38%) to be rather flat and uneventful, which is strange because in fact quite a lot does happen during those pages. I think it is the way those events are described that did me in, combined with the fact I could never warm up to Elizabeth nor did I enjoy the writing style as a whole. I’m really sad I ended up reacting to The Dark Descent Of Elizabeth Frankenstein in this way, especially as I fully expected to love this Frankenstein retelling. Was it simply the wrong book at the wrong time? Or did the unpopular opinion curse strike again? Who knows, but the fact is that this story and me really didn’t get along.


Title: The Silent Patient
Author: Alex Michaelides

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: February 5th 2019
Publisher: Orion
Finished reading: July 29th 2019
Pages: 352

“Her silence was like a mirror – reflecting yourself back at you. And it was often an ugly sight.”


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Wait, you mean I hadn’t read The Silent Patient until now? Oh yes, you might say I’ve been living (or hiding) under a rock when it comes to this title… There has been so SO much hype around The Silent Patient ever since it came out earlier this year, and honestly I’ve been too afraid to pick it up myself. Hyped books and me don’t tend to get along, so I thought it was wise to stay away for the time being, but curiosity took over and I ended up giving in anyway. I’m happy to report that I definitely understand the love for this story now! True, I didn’t LOVE love The Silent Patient like most, but I still thought it was a more than solid psychological thriller that made me race through the pages like there was no tomorrow. This is definitely one of those stories that shows the definition of ‘pageturner’ and will make it really hard for you to stop reading before you reach that final page. I like how the story was told alternately through Alice’s diary entries and Theo’s POV. It’s a great way of building tension and giving you tidbits of information and clues without spoiling the fun while you are trying to figure out what really happened that night… Both Alice and her silence were simply fascinating and it was interesting to see how her character evolved. She might not be all that likeable as a whole, but she sure makes for some very interesting reading! Likewise, Theo isn’t exactly likeable either, but it can’t be denied he is well developed and I do love my flawed characters. The psychological and mental health aspect of The Silent Patient was also fascinating and one of the reasons this story worked so well for me. I was also really surprised I didn’t see part of the final twist coming at all! I always love it when that happens… I definitely enjoyed my time with The Silent Patient and I will be looking forward to see what Alex Michaelides has in store for us next.


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