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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ARC REVIEW: Kill The Next One – by Federico Axat

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Title: Kill The Next One
Author: Federico Axat

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: November 28th 2016
Publisher: Text Publishing
Finished reading: December 7th 2016
Pages: 414
Rating 3,5qqq

“The mind is a magic box. Full of tricks. It always figures out a way to warn you.”

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

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I decided to request a copy of this book mostly because the blurb sounded both intriguing and quite original. Instead of just another ‘simple’ psychological thriller, Kill The Next One adds mental illness/ brain tumor as one of the main themes. It definitely added a little extra to the original plot, and the memory loss enabled the use of a whole bunch of additional plot twists. This novel by the Argentinian Federico Axat started out strong with a fast pace and and intriguing plot. I started to have high hopes for Kill The Next One, but then about 20% into the story things got a bit weird. I can’t go into details because I don’t want to spoil the plot twists, but let’s just say it took me a little while to fully understand what was really going on, and that took away a little of the reading pleasure. The main character is an unreliable character, but I liked his development and the final story behind his character. Sure, part of the book is a bit confusing and will make you wonder what is going on, but both the beginning and ending of Kill The Next One are without doubt strong. It’s definitely an interesting and original read…

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Ted seems to be having the perfect life with a beautiful wife, two daughters and a high-paying job. But after he is diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, his life is turned upside down. He feels like he has no other way out than take his own life, and as he puts a gun to his temple, the doorbell rings. A stranger makes him a proposition: if Ted is willing to kill two men, one a criminal and the other terminally ill like him, Ted will become a target himself in a kind of suicidal daisy chain. And won’t it be easier for his family if he is a murder victim instead of someone who committed suicide?

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Kill The Next One is without doubt a story that will mess with your mind, both because of the many many plot twists and the memory loss angle. The novel started out strong and reads fast in general, although the middle part can become quite confusing. Like the blurb said: nothing is like it seems… And it might be a bit too much weirdness to my taste. There is no doubt this story is highly creative and quite original though.

ARC REVIEW: While You Were Sleeping – by Kathryn Croft

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Title: While You Were Sleeping
Author: Kathryn Croft

Genre: Thriller, Mystery
First published: November 16th 2016
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: November 23rd 2016
Pages: 296
Rating 3,5qqq

“Lies and secrets are only ticking time bombs, waiting for the moment they can wreak the most havoc.”

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

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I always enjoy a good thriller and I had heard great things about While You Were Sleeping and Kathryn Croft‘s work in general, so it was an easy choice. And I agree the story had without doubt an interesting premise and a lot of potential, but I don’t think it actually lived up to my expectations. I’m not saying it’s a bad read and fans of the genre will probably enjoy reading this psychological thriller. While You Were Sleeping started out strong and the mystery around Lee’s death is without doubt intriguing. That said, I did find part of the plot and plot twists either too farfetched or quite predictable. It made me enjoy the story less than I was anticipating, and the unlikeable characters didn’t really help either. Another thing that slightly bothered me was the unnecessary romance. I understand it was probably done to add a little suspense and more suspects to the case, but I found it distracting instead. Predictable plot twists or not, the ending was definitely a surprise. I’m not sure I was happy with it though… But I guess anyone who enjoys reading psychological thrillers will find While You Were Sleeping an entertaining read anyway. It does have a fast pace!

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Tara Logan has quite an ordinary life with her husband Noah and their two children Rosie and Spencer. That all changes when one morning Tara wakes up in her neigbor Lee’s bed with no memory of how she got there or what happened the night before… The worst part: he has been stabbed to death and there is blood all over the place. Tara panics and flees the scene. She is convinced she didn’t kill Lee, and decides to stay silent fearing her family will be torn apart if the truth comes out. But things are getting out of control anyway, and it seems like the truth might hit closer home than she thinks…

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While You Were Sleeping had a very promising start and in general it is without doubt a fast-paced and entertaining psychological thriller. I had a few minor problems with it, especially with the unlikeable characters, some of the plot twists and the unnecessary romance, but that doesn’t take away the case is quite interesting. Not perfect, but without doubt an entertaining read with a surprising ending.

ARC REVIEW: The Best Friend – by Shalini Boland

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Title: The Best Friend
Author: Shalini Boland

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: October 20th 2016
Publisher: Adrenalin Books
Finished reading: October 12th 2016
Pages: 332
Rating 4,5qqq

“You can’t write the script to your life. You can’t say, if I do this and this, then all these things will definitely happen. Life doesn’t work that way.”

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

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A while back I was approached by the author with the question if I wanted to read her newest psychological thriller The Best Friend. After thoroughly enjoying The Girl From The Sea back in August, you can already guess my answer! This new novel has definitely confirmed me I took the right decision when I added Shalini Boland to my list of new favorite authors. Everything about The Best Friend just works and I simply flew through the pages, sitting on the edge of my seat for the duration of the ride. This story is psychological thriller at its best! It’s a well written and fast-paced read that will keep you on edge as the many many plot twists slowly reveal themselves. The main characters might not all be completely likeable, but the character development is more than excellent. Both Louisa and Darcy are brilliant in their own way and they are probably the reason this story is as good as it is. If you are a fan of the genre, don’t miss out and add The Best Friend to your list!

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When Louisa and her husband decided to enroll their son in a private school, she didn’t know their lives were about to change forever… And not necessarily in a good way. One of the new moms takes Louisa under her wing and it seems like they are instant best friends. Darcy seems to be having the perfect life and introduces Louisa to the crowd… But is that all there is to her? Behind the perfect house, status and money, Darcy seems to be hiding a dark secret. And as Louisa is drawn deeper into her friend’s life, strange things are starting to happen.

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Wondering what psychological thriller to read next? Look no further! The Best Friend is without doubt one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve read so far this year and it will appeal to any fan of the genre. It’s a fast-paced and well written story with many plot twists, an excellent character development and just the right dose of suspense. It’s a true pageturner that will keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time!

ARC REVIEW: Engaged In Danger – by Barbara Venkataraman

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Title: Engaged In Danger
(A Jamie Quinn Mystery #4)
Author: Barbara Venkataraman

Genre: Mystery, Suspense
First published: September 11th 2015
Finished reading: September 24th 2016
Pages: 242
Rating 3,5qqq

“I believe people are like Rubik’s Cubes – many different sides, but only one side showing at a time. We keep that crazy mixed-up side hidden, like the dark side of the moon.”

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

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I enjoyed reading the first three books of the Jamie Quinn Mystery series a while back, so I was excited when the author offered the fourth book of this cozy mystery series in exchange for a review as well. And Engaged In Danger was exactly what I needed at the moment I decided to start reading it. Like the first three stories, this one is another fast-paced and entertaining cozy mystery. The third story (Peril In The Park) is still my absolute favorite, but this one isn’t far behind when it comes to the plot and balance between the case and Jamie’s personal life. I don’t think Engaged In Danger should be read as a stand-alone since Jamie’s character develops quite a lot during the series and some of the references to earlier cases will probably not be understood. But if you are looking for an easy and entertaining cozy mystery, I can definitely recommend reading this series!

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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…

Family law attorney Jamie Quinn finally seems to have managed to get her life back on track… She is working to get her father his visa to travel back to the US and she is more than happy with her boyfriend. Her law practice is doing great as well, but when she reluctantly agrees to take on a high-profile divorce case everything seems to fall apart. It first looked like a great opportunity to work together with her friend Grace, but their client’s soon-to-be ex-husband is more dangerous than they could have imagined… And the case soon turns into a deadly game that might destroy more than their friendship.

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If you like reading cozy mysteries, you will probably really enjoy reading this series including its fourth book Engaged In Danger. It’s the perfect mixed of contemporary, romance, legal thriller and PI work; easy and fun to read and fast-paced as well. Jamie’s character develops quite a lot during the series and it’s interesting to follow her over time. Recommended!

ARC REVIEW: The Hope That Kills – by Ed James

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Title: The Hope That Kills
(DI Fenchurch #1)
Author: Ed James

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 1st 2016
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: September 17th 2016
Pages: 366
Rating 3,5qqq

“He didn’t look like a hot-blooded killer, but then who did?”

*** 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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Those who know me are probably already aware of the fact that it’s really hard for me to say no to a proper crime thriller. When I saw The Hope That Kills mentioned I ended up giving in and requesting it at Netgalley, and now I’ve read it I’m glad I did. This first book of a new detective series is without doubt an action-packed thriller that reads like a train. The case they are investigating is interesting enough even though some of the plot twists and developments did seem to be a bit farfetched. The main character Fenchurch is a bit of a detective cliche with his messed up private life and all, and I think the story in general lacks a bit of originality. Also, there is quite some colorful language and slang included in the story, which might or might not slow you down a little. That said, The Hope That Kills is without doubt still a fast-paced and entertaining read any crime thriller lover will enjoy reading.

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The body of a young woman is found on the streets of East London without any ID on her. DI Simon Fenchurch is in charge of the investigation, and he is struggling to both identify her and find out who brutally murdered her. They are faced with cruel indifference during their investigation, since nobody seems to care about yet another dead prostitute. Fenchurch is still haunted by the memory of his missing daughter even after ten years, and is determined to find justice for the murdered young woman. Then a second body is discovered, and things are getting more and more complicated. There seems to be something a whole lot more complex and bigger going on than just another random murder…

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I’m a sucker for crime thrillers and even though The Hope That Kills lacks originality, it is without doubt still an highly entertaining and fast-paced read. The case is interesting enough although the sex trade theme (as well as the colorful language and slang) might turn some people off. If you’re not bothered by those and don’t mind meeting another cliche detective main character, make sure to add this new series to your wishlist.

BOOK REVIEW: The Girls – by Lisa Jewell

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Title: The Girls
Author: Lisa Jewell
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Contemporary
First published: July 2nd 2015
Publisher: Century
Finished reading: September 14th 2016
Pages: 407
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“With parenting there’s a long game and a short game. The aim of the short game is to make your children bearable to live with. Easy to transport. Well behaved in public places. In other words, to make your own life easier. And, yes, you can achieve that with punishments, with discipline, with a clip here and there. But the aim of the long game is to produce a good human being.”

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While I was browsing the English books section during my trip back in August, my eyes fell on a copy of The Girls. The cover triggered my memory of having it on my wishlist and the blurb sounded great, so I decided to just buy it. I was really looking forward to this novel by Lisa Jewell, but somehow it didn’t manage to grab my attention like I thought it would. It’s not exactly a bad read and I can see why other people might enjoy it better, but I personally wasn’t completely convinced. First of all, I had a hard time keeping track of all the different characters and their role in the story. That definitely slowed me down quite a bit… Also, the first half of The Girls felt a bit ‘weak’ compared to the last part of the story, which turned out to be a huge improvement. I can’t say I liked the main characters either; including Grace, what happened in the gardens and the whole deal with the sister’s father. It honestly felt like there was too much drama squeezed into a limited amount of pages. Like I said, it’s not necessarily a bad read, but it didn’t really stand out either.

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A mother and her two daughters move to a picturesque communal garden in urban London looking for a fresh start after what happened to their family. Their new home seems to be an oasis where children can run free and neighbors can be trusted since most have known each other for ages. You think children would be safe, but are they really? One day the past repeats itself and a thirteen-year-old girl is found unconscious in a dark corner of the garden square. What really happened to her and who is responsible? And has it anything to do with what happened in the past?

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It might just be that I don’t like too much drama in general, it might just be that I set my expectations too high, but I didn’t like The Girls as much as I thought I would. It’s not a bad read and the second half of the novel is a lot better, but still I felt like it was missing something. Unlikeable characters and too much drama lowered the rating considerably for me, but if you don’t mind those I can still recommend this read.