ARC REVIEW: Stillhouse Lake – by Rachel Caine @rachelcaine @ThomasMercerUK

Title: Stillhouse Lake
(Stillhouse Lake #1)
Author: Rachel Caine

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 1st 2017
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: July 18th 2017
Pages: 302

“There are no limits for the hate. It’s free-floating, a toxic cloud of moral outrage and mob mentality, and it doesn’t care who it hurts. Only that it does.”

*** 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 have heard a lot of excellent things about Stillhouse Lake so far, so you can imagine my happy dance when I saw the message in my inbox that my Netgalley wish was granted. It took me less than a week to pick up my copy and I still kind of wish I would have done so earlier. Because wow. Just WOW. It’s been over a day since I finished reading Stillhouse Lake and I am still lost for words. I should probably have taken more time to cool off before writing my review, because this thriller has been one hell of a ride…But let’s see if I can say something somewhat coherent about it. First of all Stillhouse Lake is hands down one of the best thrillers I’ve read this year and just so damn intense! Make sure to clear your schedule before starting this one, because you will want to sit down and read it in one go. The story had me hooked from page one and didn’t let me go until the very end… Why? Here are some bulletpoints to give you an idea. Highly creepy serial killer: CHECK. Intriguing plot and plot twists:CHECK. Constant suspense and feeling something is off: CHECK. Brilliant writing style that keeps you on the edge of your seat: CHECK. Inability to trust any character: CHECK. Being sure you figured it all out and finding out you’re wrong over and over again: CHECK. Very realistic character development: CHECK. Do I have to go on? Dark, twisted, messed up and oh so good…As you can imagine, I can highly recommend Stillhouse Lake. Where can I sign up for the sequel?!

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The life of Gina Royal seemed to be nothing but average: a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two children. But that is until a car crashes into their garage and her husband’s secret life as a serial killer is revealed. People can’t believe she never knew about it and blame her just as much as her husband… After one too many death threat, stalkers and internet trolls, Gina is forced to run and create a new identity to keep both her and her kids safe. Her ex is now in prison, but that doesn’t mean danger isn’t out there… Not only has her husband connections and seems to find her wherever she hides, but there are many others who wish her harm. Gina, now called Gwen, thinks she is finally safe in their new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. But just as the three are starting to feel at ease in their new identities, a body turns up in the lake…

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Like I said before, Stillhouse Lake is hands down one of the best thrillers I’ve read so far this year. This story is dark, disturbing and intense right from the very first page and will have you hooked until you reach the end. I love my serial killer thrillers and this focus on the relatives and the consequences of being linked to a serial killer is such an original perspective! I loved every single moment of this disturbing ride and I can highly recommend it to fans of the genre. SO good!


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ARC REVIEW: The Breakdown – by B.A. Paris @StMartinsPress

Title: The Breakdown
Author: B.A. Paris

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 18th 2017
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: July 15th 2017
Pages: 336

“I’m ashamed – ashamed that I’m no longer the strong person I once was, ashamed that I let the slightest thing get to me.”

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

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!! Happy publication day !!

I’ve had an ARC copy of The Breakdown collecting dust on my kindle shelf for months now… I was initially really excited to be granted a copy, especially after hearing so many wonderful things about Behind Closed Doors, but as mixed reviews started popping up everywhere I wasn’t so sure anymore. I’ve been hesitant to pick The Breakdown up ever since because I tend to have a bad relationship with hyped books in the first place. Thankfully this one turned out to be an exception to that rule and I now wish I would have picked it up sooner! I started reading The Breakdown with caution, but I soon realized this wasn’t necessary at all. I found myself enjoying this psychological thriller right from the very first chapter and was instantly convinced by the engaging writing style. I have a weak spot for any story with amnesia, dementia or mental health/illness elements and B.A. Paris was able to develop this element exceptionally well in The Breakdown. The main character is showing signs of early-onset dementia and this plays a huge role in both the plot and plot twists throughout the story. And I personally found this angle fascinating! True, I didn’t actually like every character, but there is no doubt that the character development of Cass is more than spot on. I had my guesses about the who and why and some of it turned out to be true, but the final part of this story without doubt came as a surprise and made me want to reread The Breakdown just to see if I missed the clues the first time. And I just love whenever that happens… I guess this story can go either way, but I recommend giving it a try anyway since you might be in for a surprise!

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One night Cass decides to take the shortcut home even though the weather is horrible and going down that rural road is dangerous in the middle of a storm. She is more than surprised when she sees a car in the woods, but since the woman doesn’t react and Cass is scared, she decides to drive home instead and forget about the incident… Until the next day she finds out the woman in question was killed. Cass feels guilty she didn’t do anything, but convinces herself it’s probably for the best to keep what she saw that night a secret. The murder has been affecting her terribly though and she’s been forgetting things since that dreadful night. Little things as where she left her car, what the alarm code is, meetings with their friends… And that is not the only thing that worries her. Because who can she trust, if she can’t even trust herself?

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I’m aware that The Breakdown has been receiving a lot of mixed reviews, but I personally had a really positive experience reading this psychological thriller. Then again I’m a sucker for any story with an amnesia/dementia angle and I found this element very well executed in The Breakdown. I didn’t particularly like Cass or the other characters, but the character development and growing forgetfulness and paranoia was brilliantly executed. In short I would definitely recommend giving this one a chance if you like the genre.


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ARC REVIEW: Reported Missing – by Sarah Wray @bookouture

Title: Reported Missing
Author: Sarah Wray

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: July 14th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: July 10th 2017
Pages: 356

“My guts clench, a phantom pain where my instinct used to be, telling me what to do, showing me the way. Nowthe needle just spins and spins.”

*** 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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Ever since I first saw that cover and read the blurb I have been looking forward to pick up Reported Missing. I’m a sucker for a good psychological thriller and this story had all the signs of being another winner. Unfortunately I ended up having a completely different reading experience. This is going to be a though review to write… I’m still surprised to say this myself, but this is the first Bookouture thriller ever that actually ended up disappointing me. It’s such a shame, because I do feel the concept itself has a lot of potential. Reported Missing is ment to be more of a character driven story than a fast-paced thriller, something that can go both ways with me because the main character has to be very strong to keep me interested. And this was exactly one of my problems: I was never able to connect to the main character and I actually found her mostly dull and annoying even. Her reaction to her husband going missing under suspicious circumstances and the aftermatch is understandable in a way, but unfortunately actually reading about it didn’t seem to do the trick for me. Instead of a fascinating characterization with mental health/illness elements and a dose of suspense, I found myself rather struggling to keep interest in Reported Missing. The pace is considerably slow and basically nothing much is happening during the story. Part of this can be explained by the fact that Reported Missing is mostly focused on the character development, but this doesn’t take away that I really struggled to keep focused and continue reading. Things did improve slightly in the second half, making things a little more interesting, but overall I don’t think I would have reached that part in the first place if it would have been an ARC. Because unfortunately the urge to DNF was real… All in all not the thrilling experience I was expecting.

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Four months ago, Rebecca’s husband disappeared and he hasn’t been heard from since. But he wasn’t the only one that day: 14-year-old Kayleigh also disappeared without a trace. Is this just a coincidence or are the two connected? Rebecca wants to believe so, but the rest of the town seems to think otherwise as the police start to think the two cases might be connected. It’s getting harder to trust his innocence, and the angry town blames her for what her husband might have possibly done. But did he actually have something to do with Kayleigh’s disappearance? And where are the two in the first place?

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I was really looking forward to Reported Missing, but unfortunately I ended up having a completely different reading experience. While the concept sounded really promising, there wasn’t much happening during the story and the pace is considerably slow. This psychological thriller is mostly focused on the character development, but I found myself unable to connect to the main character and this made it really hard to keep interested in the story. In short unfortunately not what I was expecting at all.


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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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ARC REVIEW: Jeopardy In July – by Barbara Venkataraman

Title: Jeopardy In July
(A Jamie Quinn Mystery #5)
Author: Barbara Venkataraman

Genre: Mystery, Suspense
First published: March 27th 2017
Finished reading: July 6th 2017
Pages: 220

“The thought of discussing Fifty Shades of Grey with women who reminded me of my grandmother sent shivers down my spine. You couldn’t pay me to join that book club, not even for a million bucks. Well, maybe a million. Hell, I’d eat a cockroach for half that.”

*** 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 read the first four Jamie Quinn books last year and I have grown to like both the main character and the writing style, so it was really easy to say yes to a copy of book number five. And I have to say that Jeopardy In July might just have been my favorite Jamie Quinn adventure yet. I’m not sure if it was because this story was exactly the fast, entertaining and easy read I was craving at the moment, but I literally read this cozy mystery in one sitting and enjoyed every single moment of the ride. It’s true that if you look critically at Jeopardy In July not everything about the plot is exactly all that credible and some of it might be over the top… But trust me, in this case this will lead to only more laugh-out-loud funny moments and situations Jamie Quinn will have to find a way to get out of. The writing style is very enjoyable and fun to read and I literally flew through the pages. The whole Kip-romance thing still wasn’t my thing, but the many La Vida Boca scenes mostly made up for that and the case Jamie Quinn finds herself in the middle of is very interesting. In short a highly entertaining cozy mystery with a healthy dose of humor and funny quotes… Reading the previous books is recommended though since it will help you understand the characters and their evolvement over time better.

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

La Vida Boca is a posh assisted living facility in Boca Raton, Florida and seems to be a true paradise for the older generation. Recently they have been having an alarming amount of deaths though… While none of them are considered suspicious at first, things start to get strange when members of the same small poker club are starting to die under suspicious circumstances. Jamie Quinn has once again found her a mystery… Will she be able to find out what is really going on?

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I normally prefer my mysteries to be a little more ‘thrilling’, but every once in a while I like to endulge myself with a cozy mystery. Jeopardy In July turned out to be just the highly entertaining, fast and easy read I was craving and I had a lot of fun reading this story. The writing style is very enjoyable and the case in Jeopardy In July is quite interesting. I’m enjoying to see Jamie Quinn’s character evolve over time and the ending definitely made me wonder what’s next in store for her!


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ARC REVIEW: Final Girls – by Riley Sager @EburyPublishing

Title: Final Girls
Author: Riley Sager

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 13th 2017
Publisher: Ebury Publishing
Finished reading: June 29th 2017
Pages: 352

“Pine. Cottage. Nothing but harmless words. But when combined they obtain the sharpness of the knife He shoved into my shoulder and stomach.”

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

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Oh hype, oh hype, why do you have to do this to me once again?! I’ve been looking forward to Final Girls for months now and I think it’s easily one of the most hyped thrillers this year. I should have been warned by the mixed reviews… I’ve been in a bad relationship with hyped books for years and it looks like we just had yet another fight. Because while I really wanted to love Final Girls, I ended up having mixed feelings instead. I don’t think it actually lived up to the praise I’ve seen…  Don’t get me wrong, the story wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as mindblowingly good as I thought it would be. First of all, there were quite a few things that I did like. Final Girls is partly a very intense, dark and twisted story and certain parts actually cross the line to horror. The situations the final girls were able to survive were simply brutal and definitely set the tone for this story. Likewise the flashbacks to the Pine Cottage were probably my favorite part of this novel and read almost like a horror movie. Very graphic and well described! And I also can’t deny there are a lot of plot twists and unexpected turns included in Final Girls. There were a lot of things I definitely didn’t see coming. But. And here starts the more negative part of my review… I’m not sure up to what point the plot, actions and characters are actually completely credible. I had a hard time accepting certain things as true and I don’t think some parts of the plot are very realistic. I can’t go into details due to spoilers, but this did put a mayor damper on things for me. The other thing I struggled with enormously were the main characters. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to connect to them and they really started to annoy me as the story unfolded. I felt repeatedly frustrated when they behaved or acted a certain way when it was SO clear something was off. Final Girls does read quite easily though and the horror parts are definitely dark and twisted. I just wish the rest of the story would have been just as strong… All in all I ended up having mixed thoughts about this one, but it looks like Final Girls can go either way.

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Three girls, three victims, three separate massacres. Somehow they are the lone survivors of those horrible events and now they are grouped together by the press and treated like characters right out of a slasher movie. Final Girls they call them, even though the girls themselves didn’t want that name and only want to try and deal with the horrors they have experienced. Lisa is the only one who doesn’t shy away completely from the publicity; Quincy only wants to try and move on and Sam disappears completely off the radar. But then something terrible happens to Lisa, and suddenly the Final Girls are everywhere again and old wounds are opened…

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I had high hopes for Final Girls, but I guess I should have known to stay away from hyped books. This story wasn’t bad and I was impressed when I found out it was a debut, but that doesn’t mean I was blown away with it either. There were parts I loved (the Pine Cottage flashbacks, how dark, intense and twisted the horror parts were, the surprises), but in general I had my doubts about the credibility and I couldn’t connect to the characters. I’ve seen others who loved Final Girls though, so this could be just another case of me being allergic to hyped books resulting in an ‘unpopular opinion’ review…


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ARC REVIEW: Each Little Lie – by Tom Bale @t0mbale @bookouture

Title: Each Little Lie
Author: Tom Bale

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 29th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: June 25th 2017
Pages: 417

“How do I prove my innocence, when all this evidence says I’m guilty?”

*** 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’ve been looking forward to read another Tom Bale thriller ever since I finished reading All Fall Down last year, so I was stoked when I heard a new thriller was going to be published. What stands out as soon as you start reading the first page is the writing style and how easily Each Little Lie is able to grab your full attention. And not only that, but Tom Bale is a master of plot twists and is able to leave you absolutely clueless about the what and why of the things that are happening to the main character Jen. And that is a feeling I absolutely love when it comes to my psychological thrillers! I do have to say that after All Fall Down I was expecting this story to be a whole lot more intense, dark and twisted… Don’t get me wrong, Each Little Lie is without doubt a great thriller, but the pace is a bit slower and overall the story just didn’t make the same impact on me. Especially the first half of the story, while intriguing and very well executed, felt a bit slow and left me waiting for a little more action. The second half mostly made up for that feeling and the final stretch of Each Little Lie was without doubt intense. There is also no doubt that the whole intrigue around what is happening behind the scenes is real and the plot twists and revelations are very well executed. I had a few theories about who was behind it all, but I didn’t guess the full truth about what was going on until the very end. As for the characters: they might not be exactly likeable, but their development is very realistic and it was especially interesting to see how Jen reacted AND acted to the things happening to her. All in all still a very good psychological thriller even though it wasn’t as intense or twisted as I was expecting.

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Jen Cornish is currently going through a nasty divorce and trying to make the best of the situation for the sake of her seven-year-old son Charlie. Then one day an impulsive good deed to help someone has turned into a disaster… Setting off a chain of events that will quickly go out of control. Jen is arrested for a crime she didn’t commit, but all the evidence seems to be confirming her guilt instead. Is someone setting her up, or is she losing her mind? If she wants to keep Charlie, she will have to find a way to clear her name… But that might be even more dangerous than she initially guessed.

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There is no doubt I really enjoyed reading Each Little Lie even though it wasn’t as dark and intense as I would have liked. The writing style is very enjoyable to read and manages to draw you in straight away; the plot and plot twists well executed to the point that you really have no idea who is behind it all for a very long time. And while I guessed some things right, there were also a lot of things I didn’t see coming at all.


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