ARC REVIEW: The Secret – by K.L. Slater @bookouture

Title: The Secret
Author: K.L. Slater
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 27th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: July 4th 2018 
Pages: 

“Sometimes you know what’s good for you but you go and do just the opposite anyway.”

*** 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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The fact is that I’m a huge fan of K.L. Slater‘s psychological thrillers, so any time I see a new title popping up, my heart skips a beat. The Secret is without doubt another great title to welcome to the family. While not my absolute favorite of the bunch, there is no doubt that this newest psychological thriller is a very strong read with an ending that will leave you gaping at the last page and unable to utter something coherently. Oh yes, you might think you have this story all figured out early on (I’m including myself here), but this is all a smokescreen. The Secret has a couple of masterly incorporated plot twist bombs included that will shake you to the core and will dishevel you. Did I have a very STRONG dislike for Louise? Yes. Did I think Alice was a mayor pushover? Yes. Did those things sometimes frustrate me? Most definitely. But despite the unlikeable characters that made you want to hit something or someone and talk sense into them, you will find yourself completely hooked as you try to figure out what is really going on. And if you like surprises, you will be in for a real treat with the final reveals. Make sure to add The Secret to your wishlist if you are a psychological thriller fan, because this story is one of those rollercoaster rides that starts out slow but will have you breathless by the final page!

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The sisters Alice and Louise used to be close, but their different personalities made them drift apart. But as Louise is struggling to juggle her new promotion at work with her eight-year-old son Archie, she has been starting to drop him off at her sister Alice’s flat. As Alice starts spending more time with Archie, she is starting to suspect something is off… And she has the feeling Archie might be hiding a secret or two. He isn’t the only one hiding something though…

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Let me tell you a secret: the secrets and twists in The Secret will have you flabbergasted by the time you reach the last page. Oh yes, you will be in for one hell of a surprise and shocking ending with this one… Make sure to brace yourself. It is true that the strong dislike for one of the main characters did get a little frustrating, but the story would not have been the same otherwise and the suspense and general plot made up for it. What a read!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #29: The Upside Of Unrequited & The Border

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two YA reads… The Upside Of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli I was sure I was going to love, but somehow ended up being another unpopular opinion review. The Border by Steve Schafer on the other hand was absolutely brilliant.


Title: The Upside Of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 11th 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Finished reading: June 21st 2018
Pages: 352

“We like who we like. Who cares if someone else doesn’t get it?”


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Oh hello unpopular opinion review! I guess we meet once again… I truly wish we wouldn’t have crossed paths this time around though. Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda has to be one of my all time favorite YA books, so of course I was fully expecting to love this story as well. I’m still kind of shocked I ended up having this reaction, but I guess it is what it is. Fact: the problem isn’t the writing, which is without doubt excellent and made The Upside Of Unrequited into a really fast and entertaining read. I like the idea of having twins as main characters and the lgbt elements made this story into the perfect read for Pride Month. The twins moms are the cutest! The artsy/pinterest vibe was also a great touch. But. And here comes the main problem: I really struggled with Molly’s character. Not only did her choices annoy me and she helped introduce a love triangle to the plot that really bothered me… But I also found her whole attitude and negativity towards her own body quite frustrating. Having struggled with my weight just about my whole life, I know how it feels having to deal with rejection and negativity of others, but I don’t think Molly’s character gives the right message to those who struggle with the same problem. And we don’t have a lot of ‘bigger’ main characters to look up to in stories in the first place… So Molly was quite a let down for me. I also felt like The Upside Of Unrequited was almost trying to be too diverse and squeeze in too many diverse characters into one story. But yeah, that is mostly just me since everybody including my neighbor’s cat seems to love this story, so do take my rambles with a grain of salt.


Title: The Border
Author: Steve Schafer

Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
First published: September 5th 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Finished reading: June 24th 2018
Pages: 364

“We are right on the border. The border. Of story, of legend, of dreams. ut we might as well be on the moon. So famous, yet so desolate.”


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Weird fact: I have a strange fascination for any story related to the war on drugs, cartels and the consequences of both. After a course or two during Uni, a thesis and quite a few related books, TV shows and movies, my thirst for this theme still hasn’t lessened. So honestly I should have known this book would hit the right spot even before I started it. The Border is more about the cartels and the consequences of antagonizing them than the actual war on drugs, but the theme is without doubt fascinating. The narcos killing the families of the main characters is sadly enough not all that uncommon, and neither is the hunt that starts afterwards. I really liked how Steve Schafer isn’t afraid to state the hard, painful and shocking facts, describing to us in a realistic way how the teens have to run for their lives. The incorporation of Spanish into the writing was spot on and added more authenticity to the story; the descriptions of both characters and setting detailed and realistic. The writing style managed to put me under its spell and I couldn’t let this story go until the very end. Ever feel like putting everything on hold until you reach the final page? That is what happened while I was reading The Border. This is not a happy story and the characters truly struggle; some parts are truly heartbreaking and make sure you have some tissues at hand just in case. But this realistic rendering of the four Mexican teens trying to cross the desert to reach the safety of US territory is simply sublime. I can highly recommend reading this one if you are interested in the theme, or if you enjoy reading realistically described (YA) thrillers.


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ARC REVIEW: The Perfect Friend – by Barbara Copperthwaite @bookouture @BCopperthwait

Title: The Perfect Friend
Author: Barbara Copperthwaite
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 5th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: June 23rd 2018
Pages: 295

“I am a Russian doll of secrets, so many cradled one inside the other, all looking like me but diminishing until what is left is so tiny I fear I’m disappearing.”

*** 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 have consistantly enjoyed Barbara Copperthwaite‘s psychological thrillers in the past, so of course I couldn’t resist trying out her newest title The Perfect Friend. And now I’ve finished it, and I can’t believe what I’ve just read. Oh yes, don’t let the bright and cheery yellow cover deceive you… This one will mess with your mind. When I think of Barbara Copperthwaite‘s books, I think of well written, intricately developed plots full of twists, secrets and lies to fool us readers. The Perfect Friend is no exception to this rule. I’m normally not a big fan of unreliable characters in psychological thrillers, but somehow this technique works really well in this story. Nothing is as it seems and between the intricate web of lies and secrets and the mystery around the past and background of both characters you will be drawn right in as you try to figure out what is really going on. What is a lie, what is the truth and how does it all fit together? Your brain will have a field day with this one, and I’m promising you the final reveals will leave you flabbergasted. Oh yes, The Perfect Friend has quite a few shocking surprises for us in store, as nothing is as it seems and it’s impossible to guess the full truth. The main characters are actually quite easy to like for unreliable characters, making it easier to connect to the story from the start. I did start wondering about the credibility of it all, but I was too distracted by all the plot twist reveals to be really bothered by that. Definitely read The Perfect Friend if you enjoy reading well written psychological thrillers full of surprises!

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Alex her life has fallen apart ever since her husband had left her and her children won’t speak to her. She has been struggling with an eating disorder ever since, anorexia almost meaning her death sentence. But somehow Alex managed to come back from that experience, and has been trying to recover ever since. Her life changes when she meets Carrie during a group meeting, and despite the age difference the two become fast friends. And when Alex discovers Carrie’s cancer is back and this time it’s terminal, she decides she would do anything to help her friend. But is Alex truly the only one hiding secrets connected to her past?

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If you are looking for a well written, engaging, twisty and surprising psychological thriller, The Perfect Friend is just the book for you. Trigger warnings are in place for abuse, (mental) illness, eating disorder and some sensitive scenes, but overall nothing too shocking to handle. This is not the easiest read and there is no doubt you will find yourself tangled in a web of lies and secrets along with the main character. I always love it when a story manages to mislead me! I also really liked the relationship between Alex and Carrie and how the story unfolded. All in all a very solid read.


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ARC REVIEW: One To Watch – by Rachel Amphlett @RachelAmphlett

Title: One To Watch
(Detective Kay Hunter #3)
Author: Rachel Amphlett
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: June 3rd 2017
Publisher: Saxon Publishing
Finished reading: June 30th 2018
Pages: 378

“The plot thickens. And nothing in this case is straightforward.”

*** 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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This is already the third book of the Detective Kay Hunter series and I just can’t help myself picking up another one whenever I’m in the mood for a good detective thriller. Because the fact is: this series has a consistantly good quality and never disappoints. Excellent writing, interesting plots, a kick ass main character that you will find yourself rooting for, a healthy dose of suspense, plot twists… Oh, yes, this series follows the perfect recipe for a successful detective thriller and adds a little something extra to keep you fully hooked. One To Watch is no different and I literally finished book number three in one sitting. Fast, engaging, intriguing, suspenseful, twisty… One To Watch was simply unputdownable. I had my suspicions about the who and why, but the ending definitely came as a surprise. I’m so curious about the facts around Kay’s Professional Standards investigation! I definitely can’t wait to discover more about that angle in the future books. As for the plot in One To Watch, I liked how something seemingly simple turned out to have quite a few disguised layers, secrets and twists. If you like detective thrillers, you will have a blast reading both One To Watch and the rest of the series. Just make sure to reserve enough free time, because this story is highly addictive!

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

Just hours after sharing a secret with her best friend Eva, the teenager Sophie Whittaker ends up dead. She was murdered at her own private party in the Kentish countryside, and Detective Kay Hunter and her team are called in to investigate. What initially seemed to be an easy case, soon turns out to be a lot more complicated as more and more secrets and lies are exposed… Who wanted Sophie dead and why?

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Detective Kay Hunter is without doubt one of my new favorite characters and I just love spending more time with her. My experience with book number three One To Watch was no different and I literally devoured this story in one sitting. Highly addictive, well written and a plot and plot twists that will keep you hooked until the very end! Oh yes, if you are a fan of the genre, you are missing out if you don’t read this series. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed by Kay Hunter and her investigations.


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ARC REVIEW: Saigon Dark – by Elka Ray @crimewavepress

Title: Saigon Dark
Author: Elka Ray
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: September 5th 2016
Publisher: Crime Wave Press
Finished reading: June 28th 2018
Pages: 231

“Closure? When I hear people use this word, I dismiss them as idiots, or worse. Just the idea is a travesty, like you could close a door on your love, lock it up tight, and paint over it. Real love is a part of you, like your heart or your liver. You might survive massive trauma but you won’t ever be the same.”

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

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I always enjoy reading books with a foreign setting, especially when I haven’t been there myself as it feels like a mini-vacation just being able to read about it. Between the promise of a setting in Vietnam and an intriguing premise, I knew I had to give this story a go. Saigon Dark is a mix of a domestic drama and a psychological thriller set in a timespan of roughly ten years. The story jumps forward a lot between chapters, but if you keep track of the dates mentioned the story isn’t that difficult to follow. I liked the writing style, which flowed naturally and easy on the eye. The plot is an interesting one with just the right amount of secrets and twists. Did I understand the reasoning behind the things the main characters? Not always. Do I think she should have said something when it happened all those years ago instead of doing what she did? Yes. But I guess there wouldn’t have been a story otherwise. I did feel there were some holes in the plot, or at least bits I would have liked to see more developed. And I kind of struggled with the ending, which felt rather abrupt. I was left wanting to know more and learn how things continued since a lot was left unsaid. Saigon Dark has a few pretty decent twists, although I did guess part of the final reveals early on. But in general I can’t deny Saign Dark was a very interesting read with a foreign setting I was able to explore thanks to the story. Trigger warnings are in place for abuse and violence though.

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Lily is a successful plastic surgeon and the single mom of two small kids. Then one day her life changes forever as she finds her little daughter has drowned in the backyard. She is unconsolable and stricken by grief, and that might explain the split-second decision to take in her neighbor’s neglected and abused daughter and whisk her away from her home. Lily spends the next decade living a lie, telling everyone the girl she practically kidnapped is her own dead daughter. Just as she remarries and starts to feel safe, she receives a threatening note… Will she able to keep her past a secret?

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Saigon Dark is without doubt an interesting read. The main character Lily’s situation is a very complicated one and while I don’t agree with her actions, I can see how grief can make people do things they normally wouldn’t. There is no doubt she saved the girl from more abuse and neglect in the years that followed, but denying her the truth about her past isn’t exactly ethical either. It was interesting to see how things slowly started to unfold though, although I still would have wished a less abrupt ending. I’m having a feeling especially fans of domestic thrillers will enjoy this one.


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ARC REVIEW: The Year Of The Snake – by M.J. Trow #buddyread

Title: The Year Of The Snake
Author: M.J. Trow & Maryanne Coleman
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
First published: July 1st 2018
Publisher: Endeavour Media
Finished reading: June 24th 2018
Pages: 313

“There comes a time when even the luckiest of charms runs out.”

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

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!! Happy Publication Day !!

This was actually a buddy read with the wonderful Nicki @ Secret Library Book Blog… I’m so happy she asked me to read this title together, because I’m not sure how I would have made it to the end otherwise. Oh yes, let’s just say my encounter with this story wasn’t an entirely positive one. I was initially drawn to both the cover of The Year Of The Snake and the promise of a story set in ancient Rome. I was already familiar with the general details around Emperor Nero and his reputation, and I had high hopes for this story connected to him. Sadly, The Year Of The Snake turned out to be quite a disappointment for me, and I found especially the first half of the story to be quite weak. The promise of a good story is there, with a murder mystery, a cult and the ruthless Emperor, but the execution for me was lacking. Why? The first thing that stood out for me were the formatting problems, which made it harder to read the story. I can forgive those since it’s an ARC and not a final version, but still. I wasn’t a fan of the writing style and tone in general (including crude language) and the many many POV switches every other page made it a lot harder to keep track of the story and the different characters. In fact, I found the plot itself quite weak and chaotic and would have preferred a more ordered storyline with a lot less switches and more time to get used to each character. This would have made the story and plot a lot stronger for me. It also would have helped connecting to the characters in a more solid way, which as it is I wasn’t really able to do. To be honest, I found most characters to be rather flat and lacking a more detailed description… But. I do have to say things improved considerably in the second half of the story, after the investigation of Nerva’s death intensifies and we see just what Nero and his mother are actually made of. This higher level of suspense and intrigue being incorporated into the plot saved the story for me, and the final twist was quite a good one as well. All in all, whiile the story behind The Year Of The Snake sounds really promising, the execution needs a lot of editing for me to really work.

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When Senator Gaius Lucius Nerva dies a few days after he had taken ill at a dinner party, the recently freed slave Calidus is the only one to suspect it wasn’t a natural death. And as he organizes the funeral ceremonies, he becomes more and more convinced that his former master was murdered. Calidus starts an investigation, which is harder than it seems with his status as a freedman. And he sure is stepping on a lot of important toes to get to the truth…

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I was really looking forward to this one since I can’t seem to find that much historical fiction reads with an ancient Rome setting, but sadly this one didn’t hit the mark for me. While the general idea behind The Year Of The Snake sounds promising and has a lot of potential, I ended up struggling considerably with the story itself. Thanks again Nicki for making this ride more bearable! The story wasn’t all bad and has it’s positive points, especially in the second half when things become more intense. But between the chaotic feel, lack of proper plot, too many POV switches, crude language and lack of connection to both the writing style AND characters, it definitely wasn’t an easy read for me.


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ARC REVIEW: The Silent Sister – by Shalini Boland

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

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

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

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

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

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


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