ARC REVIEW: I Am Behind You – by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Title: I Am Behind You
(Platserna #1)
Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist

Genre: Horror, Dystopia, Paranormal
First published: August 1st 2014
Publisher: Riverrun
Finished reading: September 4th 2017
Pages: 416
(Originally written in Swedish: ‘Himmelstrand’)

“The things we take for granted are the things we miss the most when they disappear.”

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

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!! Happy Publication Day !!

Warning: some mild swearing ahead. Couldn’t express my feelings for this one otherwise. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read my share of crazy, weird and quirky stories and I actually enjoy reading them to take a break from the ‘ordinary’. But there is weird, and then there is I Am Behind You. My first thoughts when I started reading were literally: what the hell did I sign up for when I requested a copy?! Because there is one thing for sure, and that is that even after finishing it the only thing my mind is able to process is WTF WTF WTF did I just read?! I Am Behind You is actually a translation of a Swedish novel published back in 2014… I wonder if part of the story was lost in translation and made it more difficult to enjoy it, but considering the other reviews out there I’m quite certain this is not the case. The first thing that stands out to me is the plot, or actually the lack of a plot that actually makes sense. Like the characters, you are left in the middle of an empty field without a clue what is going on. Instead of adding suspense and intrigue, it only made me feel VERY frustrated and added to the overall struggle I had with this story. The worst part is that a lot of things are never explained at all and leave you empty handed and with that WTF feeling I mentioned before. The multiple POVs are also confusing and take a long time to get used to… The flashbacks are a nice touch, and I think I would have actually prefered seeing more of those instead of the current POV since the flashbacks at least made a bit more sense. I wasn’t a fan of the characters at all though. I disliked one even more than the other and this made it very hard to care about them or what would happen to them. And apart from the the lack of a proper plot, multiple POVs, unlikeable characters and the sheer absurdity of it all, I had a hard time connecting to the writing style as well. It might have been the translation, it might have been the writing, but it took me a lot longer than normal to reach the final page and to be honest it was a real struggle. And after such an unsatisfying ending, I kind of wish I could have DNFed this story instead. Because there is one thing for sure: this story 100% isn’t for me. I like weird, I like unconventional, but I Am Behind You was just batshit crazy. Guano style.

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When Molly wakes up early in the morning and asks her mother to go to the bathroom, something strange seems to be going on. Because the toilet block is no longer there. In fact, everything else has gone too and the only thing left are four campers in a neverending field of grass. Where are they? And why are they there in the first place? The four families will do whatever it takes to get back to the ‘normal’ world… But is that even possible?

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I was actually really looking forward to this book, but I guess I should have known after reading the blurb. The thing is: I normally like stories that are unconventional. Call me weird, but I find a dose of crazy to be rather refreshing every once in a while… But I wasn’t prepared for I Am Behind You. Because this story will definitely give you an overdose of crazy. The plot is basically absurd and doesn’t make sense and I was clueless even after reaching the final page. I didn’t manage to connect to the characters or writing style and overall unfortunately I had a really hard struggle with it. The fact that it took me about three times as much as normal to just finish it will say enough… Definitely not a story for me.


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ARC REVIEW: Slip – by David Estes

Title: Slip
(Slip #1)
Author: David Estes

Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: December 1st 2014
Publisher: CreateSpace
Finished reading: July 8th 2017
Pages: 416

“I AM weak. We all are. Only through our positive thinking and actions do we become strong. Even the weakest person in the world can become the strongest in their own mind.”

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

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I’ve had this series on my radar for a long time, so when I saw a copy pop up on Netgalley earlier this year I thought it was the perfect excuse to finally get to it. And although it still took longer than expected to pick up my copy of Slip, it was just the story I was looking for when I did. I admit I have been trying to avoid the whole dystopian genre this year, mostly because in general they seem to have lost their originality and ‘spark’ for me. The blurb of Slip triggered something though and now I’ve read the story I still think the idea behind this story is very interesting. I’m not sure if I can call it original, but this alternative world seems to be well developed and the ‘new’ government and their methods to control without doubt controversial. I did have some difficulties adapting to the somewhat childish tone of the writing style; especially in the first bit of the story when the main character is younger. Things did improve later on, although I felt the tone was slightly off throughout the story. The writing style is quite fast to read though and I liked how this alternate world had its own vocabulary for things. The pace did slow a bit due to the many different storylines and characters making their appearance during the story. I actually found myself to be a bit confused about where everybody fit at points, although that feeling mostly went away in the second half of Slip. Another bonus: there is only limited romance involved! True, there is a slight hint of a love triangle as well, but in this first book those with love triangle allergies (like me) are still safe. All in all it wasn’t a bad read and dystopia fans will probably enjoy this one quite a lot.

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After the floods part of the USA is now permanently under water and the Reorganized United States of America has to implement drastic population control measures to control the situation. The threat of not having enough resources and food to sustain the growing population is the main reason there is now a new law: someone must die before another can be born, and birth authorization must be paid before having a child. Experts have discovered the optimal population number, and with this new law this number should stay the same. The government organization Pop Con is responible for making sure everyone sticks to the law… Meaning terminating any children resulting from unauthorized births no matter what age. But what happens if one of them manages to slip through the cracks?

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There is no doubt the concept behind Slip is very interesting even though I’m not sure if the story is actually all that original. With so many storylines and characters the plot feels a bit chaotic at points and it can get a bit confusing, but I guess it does add some dept to the story. The tone was a little off for me as well, but in general this was still a solid dystopian read. Plus, not having to deal with a huge dose of sappy romance was an added bonus!


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BOOK REVIEW: Quirky Essays For Quirky People – Barbara Venkataraman

Title: Quirky Essays For Quirky People
Author: Barbara Venkataraman

Genre: Non Fiction, Humor, Essays
First published: May 13th 2014
Finished reading: June 28th 2017
Pages: 71


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Last year the author pointed out her collection of essays was available for free on Amazon I decided to add it to my collection, especially since I enjoyed her writing style in her cozy mystery series. The title and cover spoke to me and it sounded like a fun read, and Quirky Essays For Quirky People was just that. This bundle is packed with short humorous essays about quirky situations that will make you smile. They are very easy to read and perfect for whenever you feel like a light read. As always with short stories (even though I don’t read/review a lot of them), my review is different than usual. Below you can find a list of the 24 stories included in Quirky Essays For Quirky People in chronological order with a quote and short description:

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BOOK REVIEW: The Paris Mysteries – by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

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Title: The Paris Mysteries
(Confessions #3)
Author: James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

Genre: YA, Mystery, Fiction
First published: October 6th 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Finished reading: February 20th 2017
Pages: 320
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“It was a crazy theory. But when Angels are involved, crazy is almost normal.”

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This is me trying to live up to my promise to finally start finishing at least a few pending series… I started the Confessions series last year and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the first book. The prose doesn’t read like a train; it’s probably closer to a rocket launch! Besides the lightning fast pace, the first book was also very entertaining even though the main character was quite annoying. I was looking forward to the rest of the series, but unfortunately the books so far don’t exactly live up to the first book. And while The Private School Murders was still ok, I can’t say the same of The Paris Mysteries. In fact, even though the prose reads just as fast as the first book, the beginning of this third book had me almost DNFing it. There is a LOT of cheesy romance involved in this one, topped with a VERY annoying main character I seem to have no further patience for. Tandy Angel managed to convince me in the first book, but now the only thing I wanted for her to shut up or disappear… Or both. I also felt the focus of this story was all wrong. For example, the whole ‘superpills’ angle is very intriguing, especially with such a rich potential subplot involving the ‘guinea pigs’/victims. But no, the focus is on Tandy, her messed up romance and her messed up family. The Paris Mysteries is by far the weakest book of this series so far, and I’m seriously afraid of what the final book will bring.

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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…

Tandy Angel and her brothers have been through a lot, with their parents murdered and Tandy investigating multiple homicides back home. They are ready for a fresh start, and they are about to begin a new adventure in Paris. The Angels have moved into their grandmother Hilda’s mansion, but their new life in France doesn’t mean they won’t be getting into trouble. What about Tandy’s lost love? And what really happened to their long-dead sister Katherine?

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There is no doubt that this series is a superfast read, but I’m having the feeling the Angel family would have worked better as a stand-alone. The sequels seem to be losing their quality and I actually struggled to finish The Paris Mysteries. Even an easy read is difficult when you despise the main character and feel the urge to vomit whenever another cheesy scene makes its appearance… And the only truly interesting angle has only been touched briefly. All in all quite a disappointment unfortunately.


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DNF REVIEW: You – by Caroline Kepnes

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Title: You
(You #1)
Author: Caroline Kepnes

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Romance
First published: September 25th 2014
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Finished reading: January 9th 2017
Pages: 433
DNF at 5% (21 pages)
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“Work in a bookstore and learn that most people in this world feel guilty about being who they are.”

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WARNING: Unpopular opinion ahead.

This book by Caroline Kepnes has been on my radar ever since I first found out it had a serial killer element, and I’ve seen lots of positive reviews about You ever since. I was really excited to be finally reading this one and I’m still wondering if I picked up a different story instead, because You left me confused. It’s probably just me, but to be honest I just couldn’t see the why behind the fact that so many people seem to love this story. I normally read at least 50 pages or 10% before I decide to DNF a book, but in this case I just couldn’t take it anymore. Why? First of all, I really disliked the writing style and its constant you, you, you was getting on my nerves. That and the constant swearing and sex talk/scenes left me no other option than calling You my very first DNF this year (and hopefully the last!). I keep feeling I might be missing out on something and it was just the beginning I struggled with, but then again sex talk/scenes and me just don’t go together. I wish I could have discovered more about the serial killer angle though!

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When a beautiful, aspiring writer enters the bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he feels himself forced to Google the name on her credit card after she leaves. And there is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. Even better: she has a public Facebook account and Tweets, telling Joe everything he needs to know about her. Joe decides to create the perfect ‘chance’ meeting, and slowly takes control of her life by creating a series of events that should ensure her walking straight into his waiting arms…

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I have to say that every time I read the blurb again, I want to give this story another try. I have actually tried to continue reading a few times, but especially the sex talk/scenes make me cringe before I finish the first pending page. I think You is a typical case of REALLY not-for-me, although I truly wanted to like this story. I have a weakness for serial killer thrillers, but even that weakness is not enough for me to tolerate adult scenes. Oh well, I guess you can’t like everything…


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BOOK REVIEW: Sanctum – by Madeleine Roux

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Title: Sanctum
(Asylum #2)
Author: Madeleine Roux

Genre: YA, Horror, Paranormal
First published: August 26th 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Finished reading: October 29th 2016
Pages: 343
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“Dan wasn’t sure which was worse – the idea that he was actually being haunted or possessed or whatever, or the idea that this was all in his head.”

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I actually read the first book Asylum back in 2015 and I remember planning to read the sequel soon after that. But other books got in the way, and somehow I soon completely forgot how good this series actually was. I’m regretting this now, because I really enjoyed reading Sanctum. While I don’t think it’s actually as good as the first book, it was still without doubt a solid sequel. It basically has everything I look for in a YA paranormal/horror read: almost no romance, a fast pace, well written, interesting plot and lots of creepy scenes. I’m not completely sure about the character development and some characters can come over as a bit whiney, but the new plot with the carnaval elements is without doubt excellent. There are a few photos included again this time as well, although I wish there would have been more or at least a bit more scary. I guess you can’t have it all… But if you are looking for an entertaining paranormal read that actually focuses on the creepy elements for once, definitely give this series a try.

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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…

Dan, Abby and Jordan are still traumatized by the summer they spent together during the summer program in the Brookline asylum. They would love to move on, but someone seems to be determined to keep the terror alive, sending them photos of an old-timey carnival without further note. They decide to return to New Hampshire College to find out what is going on, even though they promised each other to never go back… Under the guise of a weekend for prospective students, they start their hunt for the truth. Will they be able to figure out who sent those photos and what’s going on? And is it safe for them to be there again in the first place?

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While not as good as the first book, Sanctum is still quite a satisfying sequel to this paranormal horror series. The included photos are a nice touch, although they are not as creepy or numerous as in Asylum (or at least I remember it that way). The fact that it has almost no romance is a huge bonus though, and I really liked both the plot, carnaval and historical elements and the prose itself. Recommended if you like the genre! I will definitely move the third book right to the top of my TBR pile.

ARC REVIEW: Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection – by Barbara Venkataraman

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Title: Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection
Author: Barbara Venkataraman
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Crime
First published: September 3rd 2014
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Finished reading: August 2nd 2016
Pages: 360

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“It’s strange how technology enhances life and diminishes it at the same time.”

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

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I can always enjoy a good cozy mystery read, so when I was approached by the author if I wanted to read and review her collection of three Jamie Quinn stories it was easy to say yes. And Death By Didgeridoo, The Case Of The Killer Divorce and Peril In The Park are without doubt fast-paced and entertaining cozy mysteries that are perfect vacation material. A huge bonus: since important character background is repeated in each sequel, it’s really easy to read them separate as well. The main character herself, Jamie Quinn, is a family law lawyer in a town called Hollywood and I liked the way her character develops during the three books. She sure has some surprises in store for her that are not related to her cases at all! The balance between the cases, PI work and Jamie’s personal life is well done, especially in the first and third book. Peril In The Park is without doubt my absolute favorite of the three, but the other two stories are good as well. If you like cozy mysteries and are looking for a fast-paced and entertaining read, this collection by Barbara Venkataraman is without doubt recommendable.

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Death by Didgeridoo: 3,5/5 stars

Family law lawyer Jamie Quinn is still struggling to deal with the death of her mother, but she is forced to get back to action when her cousin is wrongly accused of murder. Adam is autistic and the whole experience is highly traumatic for him… And the worst part is that the police seem to think he is guilty. It is up to Jamie to find the real murderer before it’s too late, because the case is getting a lot of media attention. The victim is a former rock star with a lot of enemies… But who killed him? Jamie asks for the help of an old client and PI, Duke Broussard, but the clock is ticking.

The Case of the Killer Divorce: 3/5 stars

Jamie Quinn has returned to her family law practice after she had to deal with her cousin’s case. Things are going well enough, until a bitter divorce case turns into a murder investigation. Jamie’s client becomes the prime suspect, and she decided to yet again hire Duke Broussard to try and clear her client’s name. There are a lot of lies floating around, and it is getting difficult to find out the truth… And it’s not the only thing that goes around in Jamie’s head, since she is also trying to find her long-lost father.

Peril in the Park: 4/5 stars

Someone is trying to make things difficult for Jamie Quinn’s boyfriend. Kip Simons is the new director of Broward County Parks, but it seems like not everybody is happy to welcome him. Someone has been vandalising the parks and there are a lot of unhappy people on the list of suspects. An angry supervisor that wanted the job himself, fired employees… They will have to figure it out soon, because someone has even threatened to do harm if Jamie and Kip don’t back off. Jamie has to call in the help of Duke Broussard yet again to solve the mystery before it’s too late.

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If you like the genre, you will without doubt enjoy these three cozy mystery stories as well. They turned out to be easy to read, fun and fast-paced. All three stories have the perfect mix of contemporary, mystery and legal thriller elements, although the third story Peril In The Park is my absolute favorite. Without doubt recommended for fans of the genre!