ARC REVIEW: Dead Inside – by Noelle Holten @nholten40 @HarperImpulse

Title: Dead Inside
(DC Maggie Jamieson #1)
Author: Noelle Holten
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 31st 2019
Publisher: Killer Reads
Finished reading: May 17th 2019
Pages: 352

“He turned her from a confident, carefree, intelligent woman, into a shell. She felt like nothing. Like she was in someone else’s body, skin, mindset.”

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

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Holy bat in hell, what a read! Now excuse me while I go pick my jaw off the floor… I already had a feeling I was going to enjoy this crime thriller by fellow book blogger and now debut author Noelle Holten, and my expectations were more than met. I literally cancelled all plans, settled down in my favorite reading chair and flew through Dead Inside in one sitting. It was simply brilliant! I loved that we not only have the typical detective (Maggie) to follow, but that we also have a probation officer (Lucy) in the spotlight. It definitely shows in the little details that Noelle worked as a senior probation officer herself for eighteen years, and it was fascinating to see a lesser explored angle being used in a crime thriller. The same goes for criminal psychologist Kate, who brings another refreshing angle to the investigation and it’s these three women together that makes this story work so well. It’s true we don’t get to see all that much of Maggie yet, but I’m having a feeling we will be getting plenty of her in the sequel.

Dead Inside is all about domestic abuse and what effects it has on the victimis and those around them. Signs of abuse are often not easy to see and the victims often feel that the situation they are in is impossible to escape. Psychological abuse is still abuse and harder to discover for outsiders… As someone who has been in a toxic relationship in the past, I know how hard it can be to let go. Trigger warnings are in place for the mentioned abuse, rape, violence and alcoholism. Dead Inside shines a light on domestic abuse from the point of view of both victims and (in a less direct way) abusers. At the same time, we also have an active murder investigation going on with ‘victims’ who don’t exactly arise sympathy. This angle alone is a very intriguing as it makes you wonder about right and wrong and if certain people just had it coming and karma came looking for them, or if even those dirtbags have rights… This story is lightning fast and isn’t afraid to go dark and messy. There are various twists and turns involved in Dead Inside, and while I did see part of it coming, I definitely didn’t guess the final reveal. And what a way to end the story! The whole Bill Raven case sounds fascinatingly disturbing… I already can’t wait to read the sequel and Dead Inside hasn’t even officially been published yet. Crime thriller fans, you have found a new title for your wishlist! Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on this outstanding crime thriller debut.


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ARC REVIEW: The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane – by Dee MacDonald

Title: The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane
Author: Dee MacDonald
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 24th 2019
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: April 2nd 2019
Pages: 275

“These things usually happen when you aren’t looking for them.”

*** 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 was really looking forward to spend time with The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane, especially since I loved the writing style and humor in The Getaway Girls last year. I was fully expecting to be having a blast while reading Dee MacDonald‘s newest title, but I guess it just wasn’t ment to be… And I turned out having a completely different reaction instead. It’s unpopular opinion time again! Because I ended up having quite a few issues with this story and surprisingly none had to do with the fact that the contemporary romance genre normally isn’t really for me. I’ll try to explain why The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane didn’t work for me below.

The first and most important issue I had with this story had to do with one of Tess’ dates… More especifically the one in the hotel. I don’t want to give away too many details to avoid spoilers, but basically what is described can be considered rape. Disgusting enough on its own and trigger warning worthy, but to make things even worse Tess tries to justify it and blames herself? No, no, NO!! I nearly stopped reading there and then because of this scene. Another thing that bothered me considerably is that way this story completely destroys body positivity. I mean, Tess believing she has to lose weight in order for her to look good, be successful and find a man? Not only shallow but completely contradicts the image their own shop tries to portray. Characters in general are discriminated and talked about negatively because of their weight and appearance and this really left me with a sour taste in my mouth. The story itself is filled with cliches and not in a good way… I personally couldn’t even find the humor in them this time around. I also failed to connect to the main characters, mostly due to how they behaved and the negativity towards others. The dates themselves were so cliche that they are almost offensive and most characters really lacked fleshing out for me. A shame, because I was really looking forward to see more mature main characters for a change. What I did like? The writing does read quite fast and I loved the descriptions of the different places of their Greek cruise. This travel element was probably my favorite part of the story. Otherwise, unfortunately this turned out to be a rather disappointing journey for me. I do hope others will react differently to The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane!

Tess and Orla have been best friend for a long time and have worked together in a dressmakers shop on the corner of Penny Lane for quite some time. Then one day, sixty-two-year-old Tess decides she wants something more out of the rest of her days and wants to rediscover herself… Hoping to find someone special to spend those days with sooner than later. Orla convinces her to join a dating agency, resulting in some very interesting meetings… And a cruise visiting the Greek islands on the menu as well.

I definitely wasn’t expecting to be having this reaction to The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane, but it is what it is I guess… I turned out having various serious issues with this story, a lot relating to how characters behaved and were portrayed. I apologize if this review turned into a rant, but I really couldn’t help but getting my feelings out there since it doesn’t happen often I have this strong of a reaction to a story. I do hope others will have a better time with The Silver Ladies Of Penny Lane though.


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ARC REVIEW: Finding Grace – by K.L. Slater @bookouture

Title: Finding Grace
Author: K.L. Slater
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: February 14th 2019
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: January 10th 2019
Pages: 253

“I keep constantly wishing – willing – for the chance to make different decisions and of course it doesn’t work. I should’ve learned by now.”

*** 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 sure most of you will know by now that K.L. Slater is one of my favorite psychological thriller authors and I always squeal a little whenever a new title comes out. And guess what? It’s that time again! Oh yes, a new psychological thriller is coming to the stores very soon and what an absolute scorcher at that! K.L. Slater has truly outdone herself with her newest story Finding Grace, and I’m already having a feeling it will appear on my list of 2019 favorites… Such suspense! Such twists! If you like nailbitingly good psychological thrillers that keep you on the edge of your seat, look no further because you have found something new to read. I literally cancelled all plans, sat down and devoured Finding Grace in one sitting. Yes, it was just THAT good. You can never go wrong with her books, but this one might just be my new favorite… So, what’s to like? First of all, it’s the writing style which is just as solid, engaging and fabulous as always. You get not one, but TWO chilling storylines and secrets and mysteries to unravel… Flashbacks to sixteen years ago are mixed with the current dreadful situation, done in such a way that greatly enhances the suspense without things becoming confused or slowing down the pace. My heart went out for all of them and I just had to keep turning those pages to find out both what happened to Grace and what happened with Lucie all those years ago… And trust me, I definitely didn’t see the reveals coming. Plot twist bomb after plot twist bomb will be dropped on you as you get more tangled up in the web of secrets and lies. They just keep coming! And trust me, some of them are seriously shocking. Finding Grace ticked all the boxes for me and more, and I can 200% recommend it to any fan of the genre. It’s simply a must-read!

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Lucie and Blake agree to let their daughter Grace walk home alone from a friend’s house just down the street for the first time just after her ninth birthday. She’s been asking for a long time, and they decide to finally give in thinking they can watch her walk between both houses the whole time. But they were wrong… Somehow, Grace never makes it back home. And despite the police and local community stepping in immediately, Grace doesn’t reappear… She seems to have vanished into thin air. What happened to her?

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Finding Grace is definitely a great way to start the year with a bang. Well written, intriguing, suspenseful, complex and nailbitingly good: oh yes, say hello to my very first 5 star read of the year! I’m a big fan of her work in general and this one might just be my new favorite. What seems to be another kidnapping case at first glance turns out to be so much more… With a lot of extra layers, flashbacks and twists to form a properly complex and well executed plot. You will want to clear your schedule for this one, because it will be VERY hard to stop reading before reaching that final page.


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ARC REVIEW: Her Final Confession – by Lisa Regan

Title: Her Final Confession
(Detective Josie Quinn #4)
Author: Lisa Regan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: November 28th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: November 11th 2018
Pages: 306

“Sometimes people get it wrong. Even when there is no good reason. Even when it’s the very last thing you’d expect them to do.”

*** 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 always have a weak spot for a good detective thriller series, and Detective Josie Quinn has quickly grown into one of my favorites. I have been enjoying spending time with his main character in the fictional city of Denton, and book number four is without doubt another great addition to the series. If you like your detective thrillers fast, intense and basically similar to crazy rollercoaster rides, you definitely have to try this series. What a ride! I wasn’t sure what else could be happening after all Denton and its habitants have already gone through, but Lisa Regan has another surprise in store and the plot intensifies. One of the reasons the series works this well is that the main characters are easy to like and connect to. Between this, the writing style and a gripping plot you will definitely want to free some of your time when you start reading Her Final Confession. Did I think some aspects of the plot were a bit too farfetched and not everything was credible? Without doubt. Does this take away from the overall credibility of the story and made me raise my eyebrows at points? Maybe. But the fact is: Her Final Confession is still one heck of an entertaining and intense ride and the story had me at serial killer. (Ok, technically long before that.) It was fascinating to find out more about both Gretchen’s past and learn more about Josie… Even though some plot twists and facts were a bit too convenient and farfetched. This is the only minor flaw of what has been an excellent detective thriller series so far, and I’m already looking forward to the next installment.

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

When the body of a young student is found on the driveway of Gretchen Palmer, a valuable member of Detective Josie Quinn’s team, Josie is sure Gretchen is innocent. But with Gretchen missing and no real clue as to what happened, Josie is forced to treat her as a suspect anyway. Even when Gretchen finally shows up and even confesses to the crime, Josie doesn’t believe she has killed the boy. And Josie is determined to find out the identity of the real killer instead. This means digging into Gretchen’s past, something that turns out to be more dangerous than they thought…

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I have consistently enjoyed the books of this detective thriller series so far and book number four is no different. Her Final Confession is fast, suspenseful and filled with plot twists and shocking surprises. Intense is an understatement! While not everything about the plot and twists is exactly credible, it’s still quite easy to forget about the credibility and enjoy the ride anyway. The writing style and the characters have a lot to do with this! Entertaining, intense and full of suspense: Her Final Confession is without doubt another excellent addition!


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ARC REVIEW: Cold Dark Places – by Kylie Brant @amazonpub

Title: Cold Dark Places
(Cady Maddix Mystery #1)
Author: Kylie Brant
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 4th 2018
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: November 18th 2018
Pages: 350

“People didn’t always act the way they should. Not even grown-ups. Sometimes the people who were supposed to protect you from monsters were monsters themselves.”

*** 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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I admit I was sold as soon as I saw the cover and read the blurb. A stunning cover AND the promise of meeting a new twisted serial killer? Yes please! I have been looking forward to start Cold Dark Places and there is no doubt that the story delivered. This complex, action-packed and heart stoppingly good thriller was everything I hoped for and more… The perfect start of a new series. What I liked is that Cold Dark Places isn’t just another detective thriller and instead treats us to a multiple POV story where we get to follow four different characters including the killer, two different law inforcement angles and a young woman with mental health issues. And that is not all: we also get a dose of flashbacks helping to reveal more about the past. This seems like a lot to stuff into just one thriller, but somehow Kylie Brant makes it work. A lot of this has to do with the excellent writing and a fast pace that will sweep you away until you have somehow reached the final page. The plot development and use of suspense and plot twists is also spot on: being able to create a constant atmosphere of urgency, danger and suspense. There is a lot of action involved as the hunt for the escaped killer is on, but this is not the only angle of the story. It is also about Eryn, her past and her mental issues, and we get indirect hints about Cady’s past as well. It was interesting to see how the different storylines slowly connected, and Cold Dark Places definitely has some shocking surprises in store for you. If you like your thrillers fast, action-packed, disturbing and suspenseful, this new series definitely is for you. Trigger warnings are in place for sexual and child abuse, violence and graphic scenes in general.

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When child killer Samuel Aldeen breaks out of a well guarded facility for the criminally insane, it is all hands on deck and everyone is called in to aid during the hunt. The authorities believe he had accomplices both on the inside and out, and it’s a race against the clock to find out their identities. Cady Maddix is one of the persons called in to track all of them down. When an unexpected lead brings her to Eryn Pullman, a young woman recently released from a closeby psychiatric facility, it not only brings back flashbacks of her own past but also more questions about the killer’s true motive behind his escape…

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I had a good feeling about Cold Dark Places and it turns out my instincts were right. I do love my detective thrillers, but I also love when a story is able to bring something original to the mix. Being able to get a glimpse inside of the head of both the serial killer Samuel and Eryn as well was simply fascinating. Another bonus was that both other POV characters Cady and Ryder were easy to like… The writing is spot on, the pace is superfast, the plot twists are brutal. Oh yes, this was one hell of a ride and an excellently constructed and complex one at that. I’ll be looking forward to see more of Cady Maddix in the future!


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ARC REVIEW: The Liar’s Wife – by Samantha Hayes @bookouture

Title: The Liar’s Wife
Author: Samantha Hayes
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: November 22nd 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: November 8th 2018
Pages: 372

“Someone who doesn’t even know her. Someone who doesn’t know that she’s trapped. Stuck inside her own nightmare.”

*** 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 !!

First of all, excuse me while I go and pick up my jaw off the floor. Flabbergasted, baffled, shocked, astonished… I can keep on stacking one synonym on top of the other, but I think you got the idea. The Liar’s Wife surprised me. Blew me away. I literally couldn’t believe my eyes as I tore through the pages, my brain screaming ‘do not compute!’ over and over again. Oh yes, this one is a shocker indeed. It will also grab you from the start and won’t let go, so make sure to free up your schedule before you start reading The Liar’s Wife. One of the most original and twisted psychological thriller plots I’ve seen in a while… And it get’s better. It was my first experience with Samantha Hayes’ writing, and it definitely won’t be my last. Because I was completely hooked by her writing style, pacing and way of constructing her plot and plot twists. The Liar’s Wife mixes chapters set in the past and present, always dangling that wanted carrot in front of you without actually revealing the information you are dying to discover. This development of the suspense and the use of plot twist and the dual time line is simply spot on. The Liar’s Wife has quite a few shocking surprises in store for you, and you won’t believe the ending! Any psychological thriller fan should add The Liar’s Wife to their wishlist. Trust me, it’s worth it. Just bear in mind a few trigger warnings are in place for abuse, rape and some graphic scenes.


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Ella has kept during herself during most of her adult life, working hard and never interested in socialising. She likes it that way, feeling safe and comfortable with her own predictable schedule. Everything changes forever when Ella wakes up one day in the hospital after she was hit by a van on her way home from work. She has been in an induced coma for days and is still scared an confused as she wakes up… But not so confused that she doesn’t know she isn’t actually married like her nurse and the get-well-soon card in her room claim. In fact, she has been alone for a long time. Who is this man that claims to be her husband? Fear paralyzes her as soon as she finds out his identity… And she has no choice but to play along with his sick game.

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If the blurb of The Liar’s Wife doesn’t convince you already, I can promise you that this is only just the tip of the huge iceberg of plot twists, shocking surprises and suspenseful scenes that this story has in store for you. Make sure to free some time, because you will want to keep turning those pages until you find out what exactly happened all that time ago and how everything fits with what is happening now. Without doubt an excellent psychological thriller and a very satisfying read despite some difficult themes.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #44 – I Let You Go & Hex Hall

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two books with a similar color combination in the cover, but two completely different genres. The first, I Let You Go, is one of those psychological thrillers I’ve been meaning to pick up for years, but only just did so. Hex Hall on the other hand is not my typical genre, but I ended up enjoying it way more than expected.


Title: I Let You Go
Author: Clare Mackintosh

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: November 6th 2014
Publisher: Sphere
Finished reading: August 30th 2018
Pages: 371

“I was stupid to think I could escape the past. However fast I run, however far: I will never outrun it.”


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The fact is that I have been meaning to read this psychological thriller for years, especially since I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it. I’m not sure if it was the original hype around I Let You Go making me set my expectations too high or this being unpopular opinion time again, but sadly I didn’t end up having the reading experience I was expecting. Why? There is no doubt that this psychological thriller is well written and there are some clever twists included that will mislead you. That said, I did encounter a few problems along the way that made me enjoy the story less. The biggest obstacle was the fact that I guessed the big reveal really early on… It was just too easy to figure out the key information after the initial surprise was revealed, and this was quite a let down for me. I also had problems with the two leading detectives of the case; I couldn’t warm up to them and I always hate cheating main characters. The pace was quite slow in points as well, although it did pick up in the second half of I Let You Go. I did like the setting in Penfach and the beach atmosphere… And while at times disturbing to read, I appreciated I Let You Go shining a light on what domestic abuse can do to a person. But sadly overall I can’t say I was all that impressed by this story.


Title: Hex Hall
(Hex Hall #1)
Author: Rachel Hawkins

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: March 2nd 2010
Publisher: Hyperion
Finished reading: August 31st 2018
Pages: 323

“Humans are always going to be scared of us. They’re always going to be envious of our powers, and suspicious of our motives.”


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I have to admit I was a bit nervous to pick up Hex Hall, both because it’s not my typical genre and I was afraid there would be too much romance involved. Thankfully I had nothing to worry about, and this first book of a magical series was a pleasant surprise. I still can’t believe how much I enjoyed this story despite a love triangle and the presence of a vampire! There is just something about the writing style that draws you right in and makes you fly through the pages. I literally finished this story in one sitting. Highly entertaining, addictive and just enough magic and supernatural atmosphere to keep that delicate balance with the romance elements. I loved Jenna’s character and while Sophie does come over as a bit annoying at times and there were cliches involved, somehow it just didn’t matter to me. The mystery around the attacks, the magic, Hecate Hall itself, the different supernatural characters… It just all clicked in a way that turned Hex Hall into a very successful and very entertaining ride. I’m definitely looking forward to book two!


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