ARC REVIEW: The Perfect Family – by Shalini Boland @bookouture

Title: The Perfect Family
Author: Shalini Boland
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: November 6th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: October 24th 2018
Pages: 284

“Confidence is the key to ninety-nine per cent of everything.”

*** 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’ve been a big fan of Shalini Boland‘s psychological thrillers ever since my first experience back in 2016 and I have read every single one she wrote since. Delivering one gripping and well written story after the other has turned her into one of my favorite psychological thriller writers, and of course I’m always highly anticipating any new title. Book number seven The Perfect Family is yet another strong addition to the family. There is just something about the writing style that draws you right in, grabs you and won’t let you go until you reach the final page. This is one of those books you’ll have to clear up your schedule for, because you’ll want to read it in one sitting! The funny thing is that initially I wasn’t too sure about the characters. I didn’t find them particularly enchanting, and I was worrying whether I would be able to properly connect to them or the story. I shouldn’t have worried, because as soon as the two different POVs started to merge those feelings don’t matter anymore. The suspense and plot twists are spot on and will create an atmosphere of suspicion and intrigue. You will want to scream at some characters, tell them to open their eyes, while you are also biting your nails as you wonder how things would continue. I did see part of the final twist coming, as it’s pretty obvious, but there is also an extra spin that most definitely will come as a surprise. The Perfect Family is another well crafted, suspenseful and deceiving psychological thriller that won’t let you go until you know it all… Perfect for fans of the genre.

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It all starts when one morning Gemma Ballantine is getting ready for work, and her eldest daughter makes her realize her six-year-old has disappeared. With the front door open, Gemma fears the worst and runs out to find her little girl… Her mother-in-law Diane ends up finding Katie wandering around a few streets away, and Gemma is both relieved and thankful the nightmare is over. But it turns out that it’s only just beginning…

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I have enjoyed every single of the psychological thrillers Shalini Boland has written so far, and The Perfect Family is no exception. The writing is just as strong as ever, drawing you in from the start. The plot is very cleverly constructed and the final reveals definitely add an original touch to the story (despite the fact I saw part of it coming). The development of the plot and the plot twists are excellent, revealing just enough each time to keep you on your toes at all times. Without doubt a suspenseful, well crafted and simply splendid psychological thriller!


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WWW Wednesdays #193 – October 24th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading Dear Mr Pop Star by Derek & Dave Philpott, a story I’ve been looking forward to ever since I’ve been invited to read it. It’s taking a bit longer than expected to read it, as my kindle doesn’t seem to agree with the file and I have to read it on my laptop, but so far it’s great. I’ve also started The Perfect Family by Shalini Boland, and I’m looking forward to continue this psychological thriller later today.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Book Love by Debbie Tung (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 02/11
Book Love would make the perfect gift for any booklover out there. Adorable illustrations and many many bookish situations you will be able to relate to instantly… This graphic novel is a little goldmine of bookish love and speaks for all of us booklovers out there. Funny, relatable, entertaining and well crafted… Book Love is one to add to your 2019 wishlist!

2. Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins (2/5 stars) REVIEW 25/10
I was fully expecting a repeat experience of Hex Hall, but I guess it just wasn’t in the cards. While I had a blast reading the first book, sadly Demonglass suffers from the so-called ‘weak-sequel-syndrome’. Instead of being entertained, I found myself to be mostly frustrated and just wanting to get it over with, not caring about the outcome whatsoever. It’s not the writing, because I still liked it. It’s not the sarcasm, because that kind of humor almost always hits the mark for me. My main problem is with the tremendous overdose of romance and lack of a proper plot.

3. Pruning Simplified by Steven Bradley (4/5 stars) REVIEW
Pruning Simplified is a great guide for beginners and professionals alike, with an insightful introduction and a detailed instruction on how to prune no less than 50 popular trees and shrubs. Each plant not only has instructions on how to prune and keep your plant healthy, but also when exactly you should prune. Very helpful! There is also a detailed description on how to prune trees and hedges, all combined with illustrations to help visualize where and how to cut. Pruning Simplified is a great reference for anyone wanting to learn more about pruning plants.

4. Before Her Eyes by Jack Jordan (4/5 stars) REVIEW 25/10
If you are looking for something dark and twisty enough you will get all tangled up in the plot, Before Her Eyes is definitely an excellent choice. I liked how one of the main characters is blind, adding a whole different dimension to the story as our main witness can hear and feel, but not actually see the killer. This kind of ‘twisted’ relationship between the two without doubt added an original touch to the story. There is no doubt that Before Her Eyes is a disturbing, twisted and misleading detective thriller that I can recommend to anyone who loves reading darker thrillers.

5. Rebel by Amy Tintera (4/5 stars) REVIEW 29/10
I have to say that the second book didn’t disappoint and is just as good or even slightly better than the first. Between the writing style and likeable characters it was really easy to fly through Rebel. Sure, I would have liked to see a slightly more complicated and developed dystopian world, but its simplicity didn’t bother me all that much either. The idea behind the Reboot duology might not be completely original, but it works as a charm anyway. This success has a lot to do with the writing, fast pace and the main characters.

6. Before She Falls by Dylan Young (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 26/10
The Detective Anna Gwynne series just keeps delivering and Before She Falls is another excellent edition. This story has everything I could want of a thriller: a creepy serial killer, a clever plot, suspense, plot twists, interesting characters, an original touch… All blended together into a perfect detective thriller smoothie. Before She Falls is creepy, dark and disturbing with a lightning fast pace and a few heartstopping moments; any fan of the genre will be in for a treat with this series is general.

7. Evidence Of The Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 29/10
I’ve heard great things about this novella, and there is no doubt that Evidence Of The Affair has only reconfirmed to me that I have to read more of her work. I loved the fact that the story is told exclusively through letters, and just how well we get to know the characters despite its short length. It was interesting to see how things developed, and I actually quite liked the ending as well. It’s short, well written, well crafted and entertaining, and 200% worth your time.

8. Sadie by Courtney Summers (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 05/11
I was fully expecting to love it: this story gives off all the right vibes, and I still think that the story itself was fascinating. But somehow, I didn’t actually enjoy reading Sadie all that much. I can’t put my finger exactly on the why though… The idea of the podcast is very cleverly done, mixing those chapters with Sadie’s POV. There is a lot of mystery around Sadie and her sister, and it’s interesting to slowly figure out more and more about the past. I wasn’t sure what to think of the ending though… I was left wanting for more. I also wasn’t able to connect properly to the characters, and I think that is part of the reason Sadie didn’t work for me in the end. The writing style didn’t click with me either (the same happened with All The Rage, so it might just be that her writing is not for me).

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m trying to get my pending NG shelf below ten, so I’m probably reading Her Last Move by John Marrs next. And even though I wasn’t sure at first whether to continue the series, I’ve decided to read the final Hex Hall book anyway since I already have a copy and want to cross off another series. So Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins it is… (I did decide not to read the other book set in the same world though.) I also need to read Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier some time soon so I can finally finish the When Are You Reading? challenge. My current TBR jar pick is still An Officer And A Spy by Robert Harris; I’ve decided to wait until next month to read that one.


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ARC REVIEW: The Silent Sister – by Shalini Boland

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

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

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

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

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

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


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WWW Wednesdays #175 – June 20th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m so excited to be currently reading The Upside Of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli! Besides the fact that I was in need of a change of genre after so many (psychological) thrillers, I have been wanting to read this title for ages now and it fits the Pride month theme as well. I’m also about to start another Bookouture ARC: The Perfect Friend by Barbara Copperthwaite. I’ve been looking forward to pick up another of her psychological thrillers!

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW
I’m aware of the fact that Bring Me Back has been receiving a lot of mixed reviews, and I can understand why. If you read a lot of psychological thrillers and go in with high expectations, you will probably be disappointed by the rather predictable plot and completely implausible ending and final twist. But if you instead take it slow and don’t focus too much on those points, you will be able to enjoy the solid writing and an otherwise slower paced but enjoyable story. And trust me, you won’t be looking at Russian dolls in the same way after finishing Bring Me Back.

2. The Map Of Us by Jules Preston (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 23/06
The Map Of Us has a lot of potential, both because of the general idea behind it and the two most important characters Tilly and Violet. I honestly feel that with more development and focus on those two characters, a more fluent writing style and less jumping between different characters would have made The Map Of Us into another fantastic read similar to the likes of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. As it is, I don’t think that comparison would do The Map Of Us a favor, since unfortunately they are not on the same level. But I do want to stress that especially Tilly has the same potential and quirkiness in her personality that made Eleanor Oliphant into such a success for me. So again, with more focus and development of that character (and Violet as well), I would probably have enjoyed The Map Of Us considerably better.

3. The Fifth To Die by J.D. Barker (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 28/06
I’m a sucker for a good serial killer thriller and this series is quickly turning into one of my new favorites. If you like your thrillers dark, gritty, disturbing and don’t mind graphic scenes, you will be in for a treat with this series. Trust me, reading these two thrillers in order will be worth your time! You will find yourself staring at the last pages wanting for more though, because the cliffhanger ending is pretty brutal. What a way to reveal something like that and leave us staring open mouthed knowing we won’t find out more until the next book comes out! It’s been a while since an ending hit me that hard.

4. The Silent Sister by Shalini Boland (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 29/06
I’m a huge fan of her psychological thrillers, so I was actually really surprised by my reaction to this newest story. It took me a long time to warm up to the story, mostly because there just was something about the main characters that irked me. The beginning wasn’t as suspenseful and absorbing as I would have hoped, but I do have to say that things improved a lot as the story continued and the second half definitely has a lot more twists and turns. I had an idea of what was happening, but I wasn’t able to guess the full truth at all.

5. Will To Live by Rachel Amphlett (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 24/06
I’m still kicking myself for not starting this series sooner, but I’m glad to be slowly catching up now! My second experience with Kay Hunter was another good one, and I had a blast spending more time with her. This series is quickly turning into another favorite of mine, and I’m definitely curious about her personal story. The case they had to investigate was another interesting one, although I did guess a few of the twists early on. But I was too busy turning pages and enjoying myself to really let that bother me. I can’t wait for book three!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m reading The Year Of The Snake by M.J. Trow next since the publish date is coming up soon… I can’t wait to dive into the ancient Rome setting! I also need to read the ARC Saigon Dark by Elka Ray soon since it has been on my TBR for too long. The Border by Steve Schafer is also high on my list, both because I’ve been meaning to read it for ages and because it’s on my June monthly TBR. And I’m probably going to try and read my latest TBR jar pick When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore before the end of Pride month.


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ARC REVIEW: The Child Next Door – by Shalini Boland @bookouture @ShaliniBoland

Title: The Child Next Door
Author: Shalini Boland
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: March 29th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: March 12th 2018
Pages: 279

“My stomach gives a sudden lurch, and I have the sensation that something has irrevocably shifted. That nothing in our lives will ever be quite the same again.”

*** 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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Birthday review!! 😀 Because receiving the message my request was approved last week was like an early birthday present in the first place.

I’ve been a big fan of Shalini Boland‘s psychological thrillers ever since she first reached out to me with the question if I wanted to read The Girl From The Sea back in 2016, and these feelings haven’t changed after reading her next three psychological thrillers. The Child Next Door is already book number five and was yet again very much another winner. There is just something about the writing style that has you hooked from the very first page and literally doesn’t let you go… I finished The Child Next Door in less than a day! This psychological thriller starts with a bang and every mother’s worst nightmare, setting the tone for the rest of the story. Who were those voices Kirstie heard? Are they after her little girl? Oh yes, you are starting to feel paranoid yourself as well as you keep reading and things start to happen to Kirstie. The characters are well developed and feel realistic in general and it was interesting to see them react to the different situations, although I’m not sure they are completely likeable. The pace is perfect for a good psychological thriller and the amount of plot twists and false leads is just right as well. There are a lot of different angles included in this story, making for a rich plot and a wide pool of suspects and possibilities. I did feel the general ending came a bit as an anticlimax after all that was being build up, but it was definitely not something that I saw coming and shocking as well. And that final statement!!! I SO need a sequel or something to know more… I was left staring open-mouthed at the last page because I just couldn’t believe what I just read. If you enjoy reading psychological thrillers, I can highly recommend both The Child Next Door and any of her other books. They are excellent!

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When Kirstie wakes up and hears her child crying through the baby monitor, she hurries upstairs to tend to her. But then she hears an unknown voice in the baby monitor, telling someone to just take the child and go. Kirstie panicks and flies up the stairs, only to find her daughter safe asleep in her cot. Who was the voice she heard? There are no other babies living closeby… And neither the police nor her husband believe she actually heard the voice. But Kirstie knows something isn’t right, and these feelings only increase when things start happening…

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The Child Next Door is psychological thriller at its best. Just the right amount of tension, a rich plot and a healthy dose of twists and false leads, but also well rounded characters and a pace that is just right. To top things off, the writing style will make you want to keep on reading and you will have a hard time letting go. I didn’t see the ending coming at all, as it kind of came out of nowhere, but it was shocking as well. And like I said before, that final reveal left me both speechless and wanting for more. Recommended!


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WWW Wednesdays #167 – March 14th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, but it’s not the reading experience I was hoping for. I’m not saying the writing is bad, but the topic itself is making me very very angry and I think I would never have read it if I would have known exactly what this book was about. People might be offended by this, but I’m totally on Anna’s side here. She should NOT be treated as a walking human donor bank and just being pressured giving up everything and going through all those treatments just because her parents say so… It should be her choice and her choice alone. Honestly, the whole reason they had her in the first place makes me sick. I’ll finish it just to see how the second half of the book will go, but it’s not going to be a good rating for me.

I kind of want to pick up The Elephant Keeper’s Daughter by Julia Drosten instead and read something different… Although I might need something light and fluffy to calm me down first before I do.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Art Of Fear by Pamela Crane (3/5 stars) REVIEW
I had really high hopes for The Art Of Fear, especially after such an explosive and dark beginning. But sadly I was never able to warm up to the characters, and the multiple POVs and flashbacks slowed down the pace considerably and didn’t help keeping the tension. Like I said before, The Art Of Fear is by no means a bad read, but I don’t think it lived up to expectations either. There is a lot of potential though, and I did like the writing style. Graffiti Palace had all the potential to blow me away, but instead I was left struggling and feeling confused about it all.

2. Graffiti Palace by A.G. Lombardo (DNF at 49%, 0/5 stars) REVIEW
I’ve tried several times over the last two weeks to start reading Graffiti Palace, but unfortunately I have been struggling with it right from the very first page. The main thing that stood out for me was the writing style, which simply wasn’t for me. It felt confusing, chaotic, haltering… And it simply made it hard to make sense of it all. Some might call it literary fiction, colorful and exuberant prose, but the sad hard facts are that I personally found it a constant struggle to reach the end of each page.

3. Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 23/03
As soon as I started reading Wink Poppy Midnight, I was blown away by the writing style. So so beautiful, mysterious and intriguing! The writing style is by far what stood out most for me in this book and it’s the only reason I’m giving this story the benefit of the doubt. Why the low rating, would you ask? I’m keeping things simple and give one main reason: Poppy. I understand we are not supposed to like her in the first place, but I absolutely utterly despised her character. This extremely negative feeling for Poppy ruined the reading experience for me and made it really hard to just forget about her and enjoy the other chapters.

4. The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 18/03
Powerful, inspiring, infuriating, heartbreaking, but also full of hope and forgiveness. The Sun Does Shine shows us how racial discrimination and prejudice helped send an innocent man to death row and keep him there for thirty years despite solid proof of his innocence. The pure injustice of it all makes you want to scream, but both his case and experience is very well documented in this memoir and makes for a painful, but inspiring, intriguing and very powerful read. I’m truly impressed by his views on life and his ability to be able to forgive the unforgivable. Highly recommended!

5. The Child Next Door by Shalini Boland (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 19/03 
The Child Next Door is psychological thriller at its best. Just the right amount of tension, a rich plot and a healthy dose of twists and false leads, but also well rounded characters and a pace that is just right. To top things off, the writing style will make you want to keep on reading and you will have a hard time letting go. I didn’t see the ending coming at all, as it kind of came out of nowhere, but it was shocking as well. And like I said before, that final reveal left me both speechless and wanting for more. Recommended!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I really need to read The Silent Kookaburra by Liza Perrat, especially since I should have read it months ago… Sorry! I also want to read The Good Twin by Marti Green since it sounds so good. I might go for something different and read Wing Jones by Katherine Webber first though… And I have a new TBR jar pick: Summer Of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider. I haven’t been reading much summery books this Summer, so I might just pick this one up before the season officially ends down here!


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Teaser Tuesdays #169 – March 13th: The Child Next Door @bookouture

TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme hosted at The Purple Booker. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

I’m currently reading The Child Next Door by Shalini Boland… Although I might just have finished it by the time this post goes live. Because even though I only started it yesterday right after my request was finally approved, I am flying through the pages with such speed it would be strange otherwise haha. Shalini Boland is one of my favorite psychological thriller authors and I’m stoked to be able to read this one early. The Child Next Door is proving to be another winner so far!

My teaser (5%):

“My stomach gives a sudden lurch, and I have the sensation that something has irrevocably shifted. That nothing in our lives will ever be quite the same again.”

What are you reading right now?


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