ARC REVIEW: The Last Valentine – by Felix Alexander

Title: The Last Valentine
Author: Felix Alexander

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance
First published: February 13th 2017
Publisher: ForeverPoetic
Finished reading: May 24th 2017
Pages: 241

“In their infinite wisdom they fail to realize that love keeps us young after youth has passed and is the only memory worth remembering when the shadows of forgetfulness linger on the horizon of old age.”

*** 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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I love stories with a different setting so the fact that The Last Valentine is set in Puerto Rico was a big selling point for me. Add the promise of the combination of a historical fiction and mystery read, and I just knew I had to read this story…And it has definitely turned out to be an enjoyable read. Both the 1930s setting in Puerto Rico and the whole mystery around the labyrinth of love letters stood out for me. The descriptions are well done and I found myself looking forward to discover more about both the characters and what would happen to them. The writing style is enjoyable and also very quotable. I loved the inclusion of various Spanish words in the prose; it made the story feel that much more authentic without slowing down the pace for those who don’t understand the language. The main plot of trying to unravel the mysteries around the labyrinth is intertwined with various love stories, secrets and conspiracies that will keep you interested until the very end. I did feel the dose of forbidden love, love triangles and romance in general was a bit too high for me and some of the characters started to annoy me because of it, but that might just have been me not liking those elements in general in the first place. It’s not just the romance between the characters though, because The Last Valentine also talks a lot about romance itself with the help of for example love letters, romance quotes etc. If you enjoy a well written romance novel with a dose of mystery and historical facts will probably enjoy it even better than I did!

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Olivia Villalobos is the daughter of a drunkard police investigator and never knew the truth behind the disappearance of her mother. One day she finds a bloodstained love letter in the hidden compartment of her father’s coat… she is convinced it belonged to the man recently found dead, and is determined to find the Labyrinth of Love Letters to deliver it before someone else takes it away. The labyrinth is believed to be an urban legend, but is that all there is to the mysterious place? Olivia starts her search with the help of her best friend Isaac Quintero and soon they realize they might find more than they were looking for…

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The Last Valentine isn’t just another historical romance novel. The 1930s setting in Puerto Rico is without doubt well executed and helped set the right atmosphere, but it is the whole mystery around the Labyrinth of Love Letters and other secrets and conspiracies that will keep you intrigued until the very end. The dose of (sappy) romance cliches was a bit too high for me, but I did appreciate the many quotable references to romance in general. Romance fans will most likely love this story!


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ARC REVIEW: Secrets Of The Dead – by Carol Wyer

Title: Secrets Of The Dead
(DI Robyn Carter #2)
Author: Carol Wyer

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 30th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: May 21st 2017
Pages: 314

“If she was asking for his help it could only mean she was doing something she shouldn’t. He liked that about her; she was ballsy, daring and usually right.”

*** 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 really enjoyed reading the first book of this series, Little Girl Lost, earlier this year and I have been keeping an eye out for the sequel ever since. I admit it wasn’t love at first sight, but I’ve grown to like Robyn Parker and the way she isn’t afraid to step on a few toes to get things done. In Secrets Of The Dead her detective skills are tested again with another difficult case. It’s another serial killer thriller and I think I enjoyed it even better than the first; this book definitely doesn’t suffer from the so-called ‘weak-sequel-syndrome’. Secrets Of The Dead starts out strong and stays that way until the very end. The writing style is enjoyable, the pace is fast and the many many plot twists will have you on the edge of your seat the whole time. I actually thought I had it all figured out a few times during the story, but it ended up being a false alarm every single time. The sign of a well executed plot twist if you ask me! The serial killer is an interesting one and I particularly liked the fact that you are able to take a peak inside his head in the chapters that are told from his POV. They added to the whole suspense of the story without slowing down the pace and only increased my curiosity about the identity of the killer. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot to avoid spoilers, but if you are looking for a well written psychological thriller packed with misleading plot twists and an intriguing case, Secrets Of The Dead is calling your name. Another note: it can also be read as a stand-alone.

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Detective Robyn Carter and her team are to investigate the death of a young mother who is found drowned in her own bathtub. When they find a receipt saying ‘all debts paid’, Robyn knows she has another complicated case on her hand… Because it has all the signs of being another serial killer. When a second victim with a similar receipt is found, her suspicions are confirmed, and now she will have to race against the clock to find the killer before he strikes again. Robyn doesn’t seem to have much time, as the bodies are starting to pile up quickly… Will she be able to solve the puzzle on time? Because no obvious links are being found between the two victims, and the pressure is building up fast.

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Those who follow my blog probably know I’m a big fan of the mystery/thriller genre, and this sequel is without doubt another winner. From the enjoyable writing style, fast pace and misleading plot twists to the fact that Secrets Of The Dead has a serial killer; this book just ticked all the right boxes for me. I love it when a psychological thriller is actually able to surprise me! Because I was definitely in the dark about the ‘who’ until the moment it was all revealed.


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ARC REVIEW: Be My Killer – by Richard Parker

Title: Be My Killer
Author: Richard Parker

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 26th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: May 17th 2017
Pages: 379

“That’s the reality of it. It’s not fodder for entertainment; it’s a chunk of me gone. It’s just pain and emptiness, and there’s nothing remotely sensational about it.”

*** 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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As soon as I saw Be My Killer, I was drawn to it like those moths on the cover and knew I didn’t stand a chance. The combination of a potential serial killer, a social media twist and the documentary angle just sounded too good to resist and I’m glad I gave it a go. Be My Killer is without doubt a very intense and gripping psychological thriller! I found myself literally flying through the pages trying to discover what would happen next and who was behind it all… And there is no doubt this story introduces one of the most twisted and disturbing serial killers I’ve read about in a long time. A little warning for those with a weak stomach: some of the scenes are quite graphic as the killer doesn’t mind ‘getting his hands dirty’ so to speak. They do set the right creepy and gloomy atmosphere for the book and the setting in an abandoned amusement park only adds to that. I also liked the social media angle and the whole Twitter ‘Be My Killer hastag’ serial killer idea. I’ve seen social media used quite a lot in psychological thrillers lately, but this plot is without doubt quite original. Talking about the plot, it’s impressive how many plot twists are stacked on top of each other in Be My Killer. You literally don’t know who’s next and what happens next until the very moment you are reading it and even though I had a few ideas who might be behind it, the story mostly kept proved me wrong. There’s something to say about the credibility of the plot and I didn’t exactly like every character, but I was on the edge of my seat the whole time and had a great time reading this story. Recommended if you like the genre and don’t mind gory details and a graphic scene or two.

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What started out as an online prank on Twitter ended up going viral. And soon people responding to the ‘Be My Killer’ hashtag actually started to die in the horrible ways they had Tweeted about… And the police is completely in the dark about who is behind the murders. Is it just one killer or are there more? And do the murders really connect to the hashtag? One of Hazel’s childhood friends is found murdered and she is determined to find out what happened to her. Hazel has a theory she wants to test even though the police don’t believe in it. She decides to make a documentary about the killings, hoping to lure out the killer and find justice to her friend and the other victims… But isn’t it dangerous to play with such a disturbed individual?

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As soon as I read the blurb I just knew I had to read this story. I have a weak spot for serial killer thrillers and the one described in Be My Killer sounded like a true ‘beauty’. And I was right, because the murders were both gruesome, twisted and disturbing in general. Suspense and plot twists are stacked up to dangerous heights until you find yourself unable to stop reading until you reach the last page… I didn’t like every character and had some minor problems with the credibility, but that didn’t stop me from reaching the last page in record time. And what a ride!


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ARC REVIEW: Liar – by K.L. Slater

Title: Liar
Author: K.L. Slater

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 16th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: May 12th 2017
Pages: 303

“I’m not myself at all. There are times I feel like I don’t know who I am any more.”

*** 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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You know those times a book simply screams your name and you have to drop everything else and read it? Well, that is what happened when I saw Liar appear on my kindle. I have been looking forward to another of K.L. Slater‘s psychological thrillers ever since I finished Blink, and this one has definitely turned out to be another masterpiece. Fast-paced, well written and enjoyable prose, unreliable characters, many many plot twists, an explosive ending… Liar has simply the full psychological thriller package! I’ve read stories about the mother-in-law-daugher-in-law and stepmother relationship before, but I think this one might just be the best one yet. Especially the first one is portrayed brilliantly in this newest story and both Amber and Judi’s character are both realistic, well developed and highly unreliable. This ‘unreliable narrator’ technique doesn’t always work in stories, but was very well executed in Liar and resulted in some very shocking plot twists. There is no way the explosive ending will not completely shock and surprise you! Secrets, plot twists, unreliable characters, suspense… This story will have you in its claws from the very first page and won’t let you go until the very end! If you like the genre, add this to your wishlist. You’ll be in for a treat.

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A few years ago Ben’s wife Louise passed away and he has been raising his two sons alone ever since with a little help of his devoted mother Judi. She lives for her family and doesn’t mind helping out at all; she’s actually happy she can spend so much time with her grandchildren. But that might all change when Ben meets someone new… Everyone seems to think Amber is the perfect match for Ben and adore her, but Judi isn’t all that sure. Something about the girl just doesn’t seem to add up…

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Liar turned out to be another excellent psychological thriller read full of surprises. I found myself literally flying through the pages as I kept wondering about the chapter the story started with… Because Liar both started and ended with a bang. This is unreliable narrating at its best, and I loved every single minute of the ride. More than recommended for fans of the genre!


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BOOK REVIEW: Room – by Emma Donoghue

Title: Room
Author: Emma Donoghue

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: September 13th 2010
Publisher: Picador
Finished reading: May 9th 2017
Pages: 321

“Just because you’ve never met them doesn’t mean they’re not real. There’s more things on earth than you ever dreamed about.”

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I know for a fact it’s not true, but I feel like I’m about the last person on earth to read this book. I have been hearing so many great things about it over the years, and I still don’t know why I haven’t picked it up before… I’m definitely kicking myself for not doing so now though, because Room is without doubt one of the most powerful, heartbreaking and thought-provoking stories I’ve read this year. The first thing that stands out is the fact that it’s told from the POV of a 5-year-old boy, which makes the story that much more powerful and unique. Jack’s voice made a huge impact on me and it’s a story that will stay with me for a long time. It actually made me think of The Boy With The Striped Pajamas (another of my all time favorites), which uses a similar technique to narrate a rather shocking story and is just as powerful. Another thing that stood out for me in Room is the excellent execution of Jack’s reactions, emotions and feelings in general to Room and the Outside. In fact, the writing style in general is wonderful; I literally flew through the pages and finished it in less than a day. The character development is also excellent and it’s very intriguing to see how everything that happens to both Jack and his mother affects them. If you haven’t read this little masterpiece yet, I suggest you do! If you like the genre, you won’t be disappointed.

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Jack has been living with his Ma in Room for as long as he can remember, and he is excited about his fifth birthday. Room has a locked door and a skylight, and measures exactly eleven feet by eleven feet. It’s also the whole world for Jack; the rest of it being Outside and nothing what he sees on the TV is truly real. In fact, only him, Ma and the things in Room are… Until the day Ma admits that there is actually a world outside.

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I still can’t believe it took me years to finally pick up my copy of Room, but it is without doubt one of my new all time favorites. The story itself is already both dark, shocking and powerful, but what makes Room even more special is that it’s told from the POV of a 5-year-old boy. Jack is a truly fascinating and unique character and having the opportunity to follow both him and Ma is a true blessing. This story will definitely stay with me for a long time! As you might have guessed, I can highly recommend this story.


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ARC REVIEW: The Darkest Lies – by Barbara Copperthwaite

Title: The Darkest Lies
Author: Barbara Copperthwaite

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: May 12th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: May 6th 2017
Pages: 433

“One week ago you had home home as usual, chatting about homework, rushing around, laughing. Until you’d lies to us, and gone out for the night. Then everything had changed.”

*** 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 have a weak spot for a good psychological thriller and Bookouture has never disappointed me with its selection of the genre so far. The Darkest Lies just sounded too good to ignore and I can now say this story definitely didn’t disappoint. What at first glance looked like another missing girl/brutal attack case, turned out to be so much more than that. Because everything is covered and trapped in a huge web of lies. Nothing and nobody is as it seems and you will find yourself shocked as you slowly start finding out what really happened to Beth that night and what secrets she was hiding. The ending was definitely a huge surprise! I did see some things coming and had my suspicions, but overall the plot twists were more than satisfactory. The writing style is enjoyable to read and adds to the whole suspense and mystery around what happened to Beth. I really liked the setting as well and the important role the marsh played in the story. I did have mixed thoughts about some of the main characters in The Darkest Lies and I’m still not sure if I liked some of them, but this mostly didn’t distract from the story itself. I did wonder about Melanie’s reaction to what she saw Jacob do with her own eyes… And I found her a bit naive in general. The many plot twists will make you forget all about that though, and in short The Darkest Lies was without doubt another excellent psychological thriller with a rather shocking ending.

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Everything seemed to have worked out perfectly for Melanie Oak, who still lives in the small village she grew up in, married her childhood sweetheart and now they have a teenage daughter. They live a happy life together, until one day her daughter Beth goes missing. She was supposed to spend the night with her best friend, but she never arrived… And while Beth is found shortly after, almost beaten to death and frozen, the police is having difficulties finding out who is behind the attack. Melanie is frustrated and decides to find her daughter’s attacker herself; she just can’t believe nobody saw anything that night. But she might not like what she finds out… Because Beth has been hiding secrets of her own.

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The Darkest Lies started out strong and stayed that way during the whole ride. I did find some of the characters less likeable than others, but that’s really easy to forget about with so many plot twists to keep you busy. If you like suspenseful reads that will surprise you, you are in for a treat. Because you won’t believe what really happened the night Beth went missing… And the web of lies and secrets that has been cast over the small town. Recommended!


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ARC REVIEW: Anything For Her – by Jack Jordan

Title: Anything For Her
Author: Jack Jordan

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: June 1st 2015
Publisher: JJP
Finished reading: May 3rd 2017
Pages: 370

“What I’ve learned, Dominic, is that it isn’t us that’s weird, for not following the rules – it’s those who cannot think for themselves that are the weird ones.”

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

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I actually added this title to my list shortly after reading and enjoying My Girl last year, and I’m still not sure why it took me this long to finally pick it up. I’m a big fan of psychological thrillers and I really like Jack Jordan‘s writing style. It’s fast, it’s entertaining and it manages to catch your attention right from the first page. Anything For Her starts out strong and stays that way during the rest of the story. The whole mystery around ‘that night’ is intriguing and definitely makes you want to keep on reading… I don’t think I agree with the choices the main character Louise makes, but it is without doubt a very suspenseful read with quite a few plot twists. I sort of saw some of them coming, but others managed to surprise me and all in all I had a very good experience reading this book. In fact, I think I enjoyed this debut even slightly better than My Girl… Although both titles are more than recommended. The characters are without doubt interesting as well even though some are not all that likeable, and it was quite easy to relate to most of them (not the cheating husband though; he deserves the worst). If you are looking for your next psychological thriller read, Anything For Her is a great choice.

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Louise and her family used to have a perfectly happy life, up until that one fateful night… Only Louise and her daughter Brooke know exactly what happened that night, but the consequences affect all of them. Louise has grown distant and Brooke is depressed; her husband ended up cheating on her with her own sister. But things can always get worse… Because one day Brooke is suddenly missing. What has happened to her? And does it have to do with that night?

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If you like suspenseful reads that are both well written, keep you on the edge of your seat and entertain you along the way, Anything For Her is a great choice. The characters are maybe not all that likeable, but they feel realistic and ‘that night’ will haunt you right until you find out the complete truth. There are some very interesting plot twists as well and I liked the ending, which was quite original. Recommended!


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