ARC REVIEW: The Surrogate – by Louise Jensen @Fab_fiction @bookouture

Title: The Surrogate
Author: Louise Jensen

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: September 27th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: September 7th 2017
Pages: 374

“But then, we all have things to hide, don’t we? Our version of the truth is pliable, we mould our reality to mask our lies, and sometimes it sounds so plausible we even convince ourselves.”

*** 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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After reading The Sister and The Gift last year, I was left no other option than to add any future Louise Jensen books straight to my most-anticipated-releases list. This is exactly what happened as soon as I heard about her newest book The Surrogate and I was over the moon when I was granted a copy early. And WOW. Be ready to get your socks blown off when you read this psychological thriller! Basically I was left speechless and mindblown when I reached the final page, and to be honest I still haven’t recovered fully from this story. What starts out as an excellent, but seemingly straightforward psychological thriller will manage to leave you flabbergasted before you reach the ending… Because there is one thing I know: I was SO wrong about every single suspicion I had while was reading The SurrogateLouise Jensen is a pro at creating the perfect suspenseful atmosphere with that feeling you can’t trust anyone or anything… But she is also brilliant at misleading her readers. It doesn’t happen often, but The Surrogate managed to surprise me entirely with the final twists and I just love whenever that happens! Apart from the final plot twists bombs, the plot itself is very well executed and very capable of misleading you without losing your interest as you suspect you have already figured everything out quite early on. The suspense and suspicions are real until the very end and combined with the excellent writing you will find it really hard to put this story down before you know what happened and will happen to the main characters. The characters themselves are well developed and feel realistic, even though if I am honest I didn’t exactly like them. I found Kat to be a bit too trusting, but I guess this part of her personality does make the story work all the better. And this minor speed bump by no means makes The Surrogate any less brilliant. If you enjoy reading psychological thrillers, I can highly recommend Louise Jensen‘s work in general. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed by her books!

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Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents, but maybe it just wasn’t ment to be… Kat cannot get pregnant and their efforts to adopt a little one into their family haven’t been successful. Something always seems to go wrong and they are on the point of giving up; they simply cannot take the stress anymore. But then Kat runs into her childhood friend Lisa by chance and it seems like the couple has been given one last chance to fulfill their wish. It all sounds too good to be true… Can Lisa really be trusted with something this delicate?

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If you are looking for your next psychological thriller, you have just found your story. Because The Surrogate is perfect for any fan of the genre and will leave you both speechless and mindblown by the last page. The story starts out rather conventional and gives you that false security that you have already figured out what is probably going to happen… And then the plot twists bombs start falling and you will discover you were SO wrong about everything. Oh yes, The Surrogate will mess with your mind and you will love every single minute of it. Because this is one brilliantly executed psychological thriller.


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ARC REVIEW: The Accident – by S.D. Monaghan @bookouture

Title: The Accident
Author: S.D. Monaghan

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: September 1st 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: August 26th 2017
Pages: 258

“And suddenly he had two revelations: that life is dull when you know exactly who you are, and that it is terrifying when you don’t. “

*** 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 !!

Those who follow my blog know I have a weak spot for Bookouture thrillers, and this case is no exception. I was sold as soon as I saw the cover of The Accident and read the blurb… And I have been looking forward to it ever since. There is no doubt that this thriller starts with a bang and has a lot of action involved during a short span of time. The Accident is stuffed to its limit with plot twists and new angles which basically can be compared to a crazy rollercoaster ride that will drag you along with it. Because there is one thing you won’t feel while you are reading The Accident, and that is boredom. From the moment David finds Tara in a compromised position and things start to escalate, the story just won’t let you go. There is no doubt The Accident is a thrilling read, but I almost wonder if there aren’t just too much action scenes and crazy twists involved… Because as things escalate further and further, I also started to wonder about the credibility of it all. The writing reads like a train and I managed to finish this story in record speed, but in the end I wasn’t completely convinced by it. For me, there were too many different elements involved and the plot twists started to spin out of control… While they did keep you guessing about how things would end, they also made the story less real and relatable in general. I also had problems with the characters, which I found quite unlikeable and I wasn’t sure about their actions and how they reacted to the plot twists either. All in all you can say I had mixed thoughts about this thriller of a story, but there is no doubt this will give a double expresso dose of action and suspense to anyone who decides to read it. And I’m having a feeling especially (male) action thriller fans will love The Accident.

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Tara seems to be having everything she could ever wish for: a husband she loves, a baby in the near future and a dream home she is about to move into. But something seemed to be missing, because how else to explain her temptation to have one last fling with her ex before settling down? She never imagines getting caught, but that is exactly what happens that night. Tara literally means the world to David, so when he sees what he sees he can’t let things go and confronts the man who shattered his dreams. And that is where things start going wrong… And both their lives will change forever.

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Action-packed, thrilling, suspenseful, crazy, rollercoaster ride… All words that apply to The Accident and its plot. Fans of action thrillers will devour this story and will especially love the final part, which almost reads like one of those popular action movies. That said, I personally did have some problems with the credibility both of the characters, their actions and the plot in general. It felt almost like too many different angles where squeezed into an already eventful plot and it started to have the opposite effect on me. I wasn’t a fan of the characters either, but I can also see how the right person would love this book.


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ARC REVIEW: The Secret Of Heaven – by Felix Alexander @ReadingAlley

Title: The Secret Of Heaven
(Aiden Leonardo #1)
Author: Felix Alexander

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Adventure
First published: 2016
Publisher: ForeverPoetic
Finished reading: August 22nd 2017
Pages: 311

“The truth must be understood. Not solely for the purpose of being accepted, but for humanity as a whole to achieve enlightenment.”

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

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Every once in a while I like to change up genres and read something different. And while The Secret Of Heaven is partly a thriller, it was the promise of adventure and ancient mysteries that closed the deal for me. I love reading about conspiracy theories and secret societies so it is easy to say I was looking forward to this one, especially since I had previously enjoyed one of the author’s stories. Unfortunately things didn’t work out that way. I’m not sure if it just was me reading The Secret Of Heaven at the wrong time, but I really struggled to get a proper feel for this story. There are a lot of different characters involved and this makes it hard to keep up wih the what and who and how everything connects. More than once I had to stop reading and try to remember what the role of a certain character was and this slowed down the pace considerably. The plot also felt pretty chaotic and kept jumping back and forth between characters… Which took a while to get used to. I have to be honest here and say it took me a lot longer than expected to finish The Secret Of Heaven. The writing wasn’t bad and it really shows that the author has taken the time to investigate the historical details thoroughly. The (historical) descriptions are extensive and show just how important the so-called Lost Bible is… That said, those descriptions did also slow down the pace and while I normally love historical elements in a story, they didn’t manage to convince me in The Secret Of Heaven. As for the characters and their actions… I wasn’t really able to connect to them as there are simply too many characters in play in the first place; also, I’m not sure everything that happens in the plot is exactly credible. And while it kind of has that Dan Brown feel and sounds really promising, The Secret Of Heaven unfortunately didn’t manage to blow me away. Such a shame, because the story has a lot of potential!

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Professor of Biblical Studies Aiden Leonardo was the last person to see Lazzaro de Medici before he was murdered, so of course he instantly becomes the main suspect. The thing is: he cannot remember what happened the night before… Although he is certain he would never harm the man that took him in when his mother died. Something more complicated than just a simple murder seems to be at play though and Aiden soon finds himself right in the middle of a conspiracy, a hunt for a Lost Bible and a secret organization known as The Group. What will happen to Aiden and will they be able to find what they are looking for before it’s too late?

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I really thought I was going to enjoy this one and I’m still wondering if I picked it up at the wrong time, but the fact is that The Secret Of Heaven didn’t manage to convince me in the end. The writing isn’t bad and it shows that the historical elements are very well researched, but there were too many characters involved and the pace wasn’t as fast as I thought it would be with the extensive descriptions slowing it down. I normally love historical details so I was really surprised I wasn’t able to enjoy this story more!


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ARC REVIEW: Fierce Kingdom – by Gin Phillips @VikingBooks

Title: Fierce Kingdom
Author: Gin Phillips

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 25th 2017
Publisher: Viking
Finished reading: August 20th 2017 
Pages: 288

“Templates are dangerous. Templates teach you not to think. History doesn’t repeat itself, Rob. Every second is a new thing.”

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

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I have been eyeing this story for a while now, so when I found out it was in the Read Now section on Netgalley I couldn’t resist hitting that button. There was just something about that cover and blurb that kept calling to me… And I’m definitely glad I took the time to read Fierce Kingdom. Despite the fact I didn’t give it the highest rating on the planet, Fierce Kingdom is without doubt a very suspenseful, refreshing and entertaining psychological thriller that reads like a train. I found myself literally flying through the pages and finished it in less than a day! The writing has a way of drawing you in and I loved the setting in a zoo. Very refreshing and original! The story follows Joan, her son and a bunch of other characters trying to find a way to keep safe in a very chaotic and dangerous situation. There are quite a few twists involved and danger is never far away, but Fierce Kingdom isn’t just about the suspense. It is also about the bond between Joan and her son and how far she will go to protect him. And there is were the part comes in that made me lower the rating: the credibility. I’m not sure if the whole situation is actually credible and I wasn’t sure about the decisions Joan made either or how things developed. Some of it just felt pretty chaotic and all over the place… BUT. Somehow I still managed to enjoy reading this story anyway. This has a lot to do with the writing, the refreshing and original plot and the constant presence of danger and suspense as you keep reading to find out what will happen to them. So while I ended up giving Fierce Kingdom ‘only’ three stars, it is a very good three stars for me. And I’m sure this book will be a right fit for those who are not affected by the credibility and are looking for a refreshing psychological thriller with a healthy dose of suspense and a touch of drama.

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Joan and her four-year-old son spend a lot of time in the zoo and today is not different. The zoo is already nearly empty as they pack up their things and start heading back to the entrance… It has been a perfect day so far and the two are happy, but suddenly the mood changes. At first there are strange sounds, and then Joan sees something when they are approaching the exit gate that chills her to the bone. She sprints right back into the zoo with her son in her arms… And for the next three hours she will have to do everything to keep them both safe.

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I’ve kept the summary short to avoid spoilers, but trust me, you will want to know what is happening in the zoo and how things develop. While I had problems with the credibility of it all, I did very much enjoy reading Fierce Kingdom and I could really appreciate the refreshing plot and the fact that it isn’t just another psychological thriller. The focus on the bond between Joan and her son was interesting and added a whole different level to this story. Definitely one to keep in mind.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Kind Worth Killing – by Peter Swanson

Title: The Kind Worth Killing
Author: Peter Swanson

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: February 3rd 2015
Publisher: William Morrow
Finished reading: August 20th 2017
Pages: 312

“Everyone dies. What difference does it make if a few bad apples get pushed along a little sooner than God intended? And your wife, for example, seems like the kind worth killing.”

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The Kind Worth Killing is one of those books that has been on my TBR for ages and somehow never picked up despite the fact I was really looking forward it. Apparently my TBR jar thought it was about time to change that… I admit I was very happy when I learned what my latest TBR jar pick was going to be. And all those raving reviews were absolutely right. The Kind Worth Killing is one heck of a thrilling rollercoaster ride! From the brilliant writing style to the suspense, plot twists, character development and the plot itself… This story will have you in its claws as soon as you start reading it and trust me, you will find yourself unable to stop until you figure out how things end. I really liked the idea behind this story and it was both disturbing, twisted and refreshing at the same time. I don’t want to spoil the fun, but the quote above gives you an idea of how the mind of one of the main characters works… The characters and their development are very well done and it was interesting to see how things played out as the plot twist bombs were dropped on you. Some are pretty shocking! The Kind Worth Killing is suspense at its best and I can definitely highly recommend this title to any fan of the genre. You won’t regret reading this one!

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Ted Severson and Lily Kintner meet waiting for a flight from London and Boston, and after a few martinis they seem to start a very revealing game of truth. Ted talks about his marriage and how he is sure that his wife Miranda his cheating on him. They weren’t exactly a perfect match to begin with, but still… Then the game takes a different turn when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda and Lily takes him seriously. After all, as Lily believes some people are just worth killing… Back in Boston the two keep in touch and their bond grows stronger as they start talking about the how and when. But can they really get away with it? And why does Lily, a total stranger, want to help Ted in the first place?

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If you like fast-paced and twisty thrillers that read like a train, you will love The Kind Worth Killing. This story is packed with plot twists that will both surprise you and keep you guessing about what will happen next until the very end. The writing is excellent and only helps enjoying the story even more. The flashbacks to the past of Lily don’t distract from the main plot at all and only help to develop her character further. In short, definitely read this title if you haven’t already and like the genre. It’s just as good as everybody keeps promising in their raving reviews!


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ARC REVIEW: Girl In Snow – by Danya Kukafka

Title: Girl In Snow
Author: Danya Kukafka

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 1st 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Finished reading: August 16th 2017
Pages: 368

“Emotions shouldn’t have names. I don’t know why we bother talking about them, because emotions are never what they’re supposed to be.”

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

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I was actually invited to read this title a while back, and I was intrigued by both the cover and blurb. I was really looking forward to Girl In Snow, but unfortunately I can’t say I enjoyed it as much as I initially thought I would. This was actually the second time I picked up my copy, because somehow the first time I never made it past the first few pages. Because there is just something about the writing style that makes it quite hard to connect to it if you aren’t in the right mood, making it hard to stay focused on the story itself. I do have to say things went a lot better the second time around and after getting used to the writing style Girl In Snow turned out to be quite a fast read. That said, I can’t deny there was something about the way the story was written that didn’t manage to convince me completely. Because I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who felt slightly confused by the what, who and how in the beginning. Things did get better when more information is given, although I do wish Girl In Snow would have been more focused on the actual plot and less on the different characters. Unfortunately I was never able to connect to the three main characters or their POVs used to tell the story and the victim Lucinda for me lacks developments to properly care about her. That said, I did appreciate the descriptions of Jade and Cameron and their issues; they seem quite realistic. I wasn’t sure about the credibility in general though or the way everything was connected… But Girl In Snow is a fast read and has quite a few twists you probably won’t see coming. The memory loss of Cameron was an interesting touch as well.

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The teenage Lucinda Hayes is found murdered one winter morning in 2005 and it seems the whole town is affected by her death. Cameron, Jade and Russ are each somehow connected to her life or the aftermath of Lucinda’s death and will have to confront their secrets to find out the truth about what happened to Lucinda… Because things are not what they seem and if they don’t try to face their problems, the truth may never come out.

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I really wanted to enjoy this story, but unfortunately I did stumble upon a few problems that made it harder for me to actually enjoy the reading experience. I’m not saying the writing is bad at all, but I do think it is something that either works for you or it doesn’t. Once I got used to it, Girl In Snow did turn out to be quite a fast read and there were some aspects and themes I really liked. Cameron is quite an interesting character both because of his memory loss and mental health issues. I can’t say I actually liked the characters and I wasn’t sure if some aspects of the plot and connections were completely credible, but the right person will probably love this story.


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ARC REVIEW: Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore – by Matthew Sullivan @arrowpublishing

Title: Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore
Author: Matthew Sullivan

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
First published: August 24th 2017
Publisher: Cornerstone
Finished reading: August 15th 2017
Pages: 336

“I’ve begun to think of it as more graveyard than library. End of the line, you know. Where book-of-the-month club comes to die.”

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

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I always have a weak spot for any book with bookish references or a story that is at least partially set in a bookstore. So as you can imagine, basically Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore had me at the title. This book has been on my list of most anticipated releases ever since I first heard about for it and I’ve been looking forward to read it for ages now. And I can tell you one thing: this novel by Matthew Sullivan doesn’t disappoint. Or more accurately, I enjoyed every single page of this ‘contemporary puzzle and murder mystery in one’. Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore isn’t just another bookish book and actually presents two different mysteries to solve. The first is related to the suicide of one of the bookshop patrons and the other to what happened to one of the clerks twenty years ago. The plot is intriguing and well developed; the plot twists and revelations well balanced and I enjoyed solving the puzzles along with the characters. This book definitely has some surprises in store! The writing style had me hooked from the very first page and was both highly enjoyable, engaging and made it very hard to stop reading before reaching the final page. The bookish references are a true delight for any booklover and I love the role books play in this story in general. The mystery is also well done and there were definitely things I didn’t see coming. You might start wondering about coincidences and some things seem pretty ‘convenient’, but I personally didn’t care. Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore will go straight to my list of favorites!

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Lydia Smith works as a clerk at the Bright Ideas Bookstore and tries to live a quiet life among her books and the BookFrogs; the regulars who spend their days in the bookstore browsing its shelves. But then one of the BookFrogs, Joey Molina, kills himself in the bookstore. Lydia was Joey’s favorite bookseller and she inherited his meager possessions… And when Lydia flips through his books, she discovers he has destroyed them in a way that is both intriguing and disturbing. Why did Joey do this and what does it mean? Did he want to leave her a message?

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I have been looking forward to this title for a while now and it was without doubt just as good or even better than hoped. I had such a great time reading Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore and the two mysteries/puzzles that are included are both fascinating and well executed. The bookish elements are a true delight and I had a great time discovering more about Joey and Lydia, their past and their development. The writing is wonderful as well and made me fly through the pages… All in all I can highly recommend this title.


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