Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two Goodreads Choice Awards nominees belonging to different genress. He Started It sadly didn’t live up to expectations for me; something I’m still surprised about… Only Mostly Devastated turned out to be a great read though.
“I wonder how many bad things have been explained by such a simple phrase, a simple idea. Because I could. Because no one stopped me. Because it was easy.”
Well, well, well, what do we have here? I guess it’s unpopular opinion time again… So many people have praised He Started It and after loving her previous book My Lovely Wife I was fully expecting to have a repeat experience with this one. Especially since I always enjoy road trip stories in the first place… I’m not sure if it’s because psychological thrillers don’t seem to work as well for me right now, but the fact is: I was bored. A LOT. Up to the point that I kept wondering when the cursed road trip was finally going to end so I could get this story over with. The pace was just way too slow for me, which is strange as the characters are basically in constant movement… But there was just something static about the whole story. Top this with highly unlikeable characters and I had a really hard time to stay invested. True, there were some surprises including the ending, but overall sadly I can’t say I enjoyed my time with this one.
“We had no way of knowing what the future held. People changed their minds, people passed away, people moved unexpectedly. The only thing we could ever really do was play it by ear.”
I admit that I was sold as soon as I saw the Grease mention… I must have watched that movie a million times as a kid, so I simply HAD to read Only Mostly Devastated for nostalgic reasons alone. I must say that I was expecting more of a fluffy romcom after the cover and blurb, which I can confirm that this story is not. In fact, Only Mostly Devastated is quite heavy on the more serious topics and has a healthy dose of drama as well as heartbreaking moments. And no, they are not just relating to the relationship between the main characters as the blurb might make you think… There is a big focus on Ollie and his parents trying to help his aunt and her family as she is fighting cancer, which might be triggering for some readers. That said, I did think this topic was quite well handled. Thankfully we will see lighter moments too, and I especially loved seeing Ollie interact with his new friends as well as his niece and nephew. Both Will and Ollie could get a little frustrating at times, but overall I did have a great time reading this story. Would I have loved to see more Grease elements? Most definitely. But I liked this spin off very much and it has a great cast of characters that will most likely appeal to those who enjoy the genre. Just make sure to brace yourself for quite a few heartbreaking moments thrown in instead of just your regular dose of fluff… Chocolates and tissues are probably mandatory.
Title: Deadly Betrayal
(Detective Jane Phillips #4)
Author: OMJ Ryan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Detective
First published: November 22nd 2020
Publisher: Inkubator Books
Finished reading: November 15th 2020
“Now she wondered if she had been spared each of those times because her fate was to die in the place where she had been born: Hong Kong.”
*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Inkubator Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***
I’ve been following this series ever since the first book came out last year, and Deadly Betrayal is already Detective Jane Phillips book number four… And without doubt another action-packed and entertaining ride! Technically you might be able to read this one as a stand-alone, but I don’t recommend it as you will be missing out on character background that might make it harder to understand the dynamics between the different characters. The case itself stands on its own though, and Jane Phillips and her team without doubt have another intriguing case on their hands.
The first thing that stands out in Deadly Betrayal is that this time around we don’t just stay in Manchester and its surroundings. Oh no, we get to travel all the way to Hong Kong for a few chapters as well! I really liked how this aspect of the investigation was incorporated into the plot and the descriptions and personal connection to Jane Phillips really made that setting come alive for me. And such shocking scenes too! The whole possible Triad connection in general managed to raise this story to the next level for me, and really gave the story an original touch.
These books always read superfast and Deadly Betrayal is no exception. This is one of those detective series where it’s best to clear your schedule, as you won’t even notice hours have passed until you reach that final page and stare at the clock. You won’t find a boring minute in Deadly Betrayal as it is packed with suspense, danger as well as your typical murder investigation. I had a brilliant time following Jane and her team as they try to get to the bottom of what is going on… And there is no doubt that this story ends with a bang too.
As for the characters… I’m still a fan of both Jane and her team. They are easy to like and their banter is a nice contrast with some of the heavier and action-packed moments of the story. Fox is still enormously frustrating though, and the story ends with a hint a different irritating character is going to be coming back in the next book… Overall, the plot and writing made up for those minor frustations though.
In short, if you enjoy the detective thriller genre and like your stories fast, suspenseful and action-packed, this series will always provide you with an entertaining ride.
Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a YA romance and a contemporary… The first, Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert, I sadly ended up DNFing as the sexy scenes were just WAY too crude and explicit for me. Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid turned out to be a great read though, and I understand why so many people seem to love it.
Title: Get A Life, Chloe Brown
(The Brown Sisters #1)
Author: Talia Hibbert
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: November 5th 2019
Finished reading: November 5th 2020
DNF at 45% (165 pages)
“When it comes down to it, everything we feel is in our head.”
Okay… I’m not sure what happened here. Or actually I do. I guess it’s unpopular opinion time again! I was in the mood for some romance, and Get A Life, Chloe Brown sounded like such a fun read, so I thought I had hit the jackpot when I started reading it. I connected to the writing and characters almost immediately. The snarkiness, the humor, the flawed and intriguing characters… I really enjoyed getting to know both Chloe and Red better, and I really thought I was well on my way to adding a new author to my romance list. But then… BOOM!! The first crude and WAY too explicit sexy scene showed up. I can normally tolerate them if they are not too explicit and I’m enjoying the rest of the story (which I was), but there was just something about the crude way of describing the scene that literally made me gag. Still, I decided to give the story another go, as I felt a connection to especially Chloe and wanted to know more about her. I tried to overcome that scene and it seemed to be working, up untill… BOOM!! Another even more crude and explicit sexy scene showed up that had all the signs of being even longer, and I just couldn’t bring myself to keep reading or even skimming to the end of the scene. Why not even skimming? I figured it wouldn’t be the last scene as there was still more than half of the story left, and I seriously felt like vomiting already. Ugh, this was most definitley not the story for me. *shudders* It’s such a shame, because I was really looking forward to spend more time with Chloe and Red… But it is what it is I guess. If you can stomach some serious adult content and enjoy the genre, you will probably have a great time with Get A Life, Chloe Brown though. Personally, I’ve decided to stay away from Talia Hibbert‘s books for now even though I did love her writing, character development as well as her sense of humor.
“I don’t need you to be mad that it happened. I need you to be mad that it just like… happens.”
There has been so much hype around this title and to be honest I was a bit hesitant to pick it up myself as hyped books and me don’t tend to get along all that well… But I’m glad I did pick up Such A Fun Age in the end, as I understand why it has been receiving so much praise. I’m definitely in love with the writing style, which made the story so damn readable! I literally finished it in less than a day, unable to pace myself or to stop reading… Racism is such an important topic and this story shows us so well that it is so easy to seemingly do the right thing for all the wrong reasons. I never did warm up to Alix, but I LOVED Emira and Briar together. Both won over my heart immediately and made it really easy to care about what was happening in the story… Lighter moments are mixed with heavier topics, and I definitely enjoyed how the story ended. If you enjoy a well written contemporary with interesting characters and a powerful message, Such A Fun Age is without a doubt worth reading.
I was inspired by Kelly’s post to keep track of things books have taught me during 2020… So the next time someone dares to ask me why I read fiction and how it’s not useful, I shove this post under their noses haha. I confess that with all the COVID-19 madness, I have been REALLY bad at keeping track after March/April, but I still wanted to share those facts I did manage to gather. Fiction can indeed teach us new things every day! Wonder what were some of the little facts I learned/was reminded of this year? Let’s get this party started!
Title: Breathe Your Last
(Detective Josie Quinn #10)
Author: Lisa Regan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Detective
First published: December 9th 2020
Finished reading: November 6th 2020
“If they knew what I’d done, I’d probably go to prison. If I went to prison, I wouldn’t be able to play my little game. Where would be the fun in that?”
*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Bookouture in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***
We all have our series we cannot wait to get back to, those characters and settings that feel like old friends every time you have the pleasure to return to when you pick up a new installment. The Detective Josie Quinn series is exactly that for me. I’ve been a fan of this detective series ever since I read the first book back in 2018, and I’ve devoured every single sequel since then. This series is known for its lightning fast and action-packed plots, and I can definitely recommend clearing your schedule as it will be really hard to stop reading once you’ve read the first chapters. These books are highly addictive and simply exhilarating!
While technically you could read Breathe Your Last as a stand-alone, I would suggest reading the books in order as you will be missing out on significant character background otherwise. And trust me, you will be missing out on hours and hours of detective thriller entertainment in the first place! Breathe Your Last has once again a very interesting plot as well as developments on a personal level for Josie Quinn. It might not be all too credible to have that many criminals and serial killers running around in the small town of Denton, but I’m not complaining as it means more Josie Quinn adventures to enjoy! Things can be said about the credibility in general, but I personally don’t mind as I’m always too busy turning those pages and having fun.
We get to see the story unfold both through the eyes of Josie and the killer. The chapters with the killer’s POV were particularly interesting, as I always appreciate an opportunity to get a glimpse inside the head of a serial killer. The plot was another interesting one, and you will find yourself on the edge of your seat as the case starts to develop. It definitely won’t be easy to guess the identity of the killer early either! You will also find a healthy dose of action and suspense, and I confess at one point towards the ending my heart nearly stopped and I suddenly wanted to throw my kindle at the wall… Trust me, you will know exactly what I’m talking about as soon as you reach that point in the story. I really liked how everything was wrapped up though, and I’m already looking forward to the next one. What a read!
If you enjoy a well written, fast and action-packed detective thriller series that just keeps delivering, you should definitely find the time to schedule a meeting with Josie Quinn. This is without doubt one of my favorite detective series, and Breathe Your Last is another winner!
Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! Today is translated fiction day with two translations… The first, We Were The Salt Of The Sea, somehow sadly didn’t work for me at all, but I absolutely loved my time with Anxious People. No surprise here, as I adore everything Fredrik Backman writes in general…
Title: We Were The Salt Of The Sea
(Enquêteur Moralès #1)
Author: Roxanne Bouchard
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: 2014
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: October 25th 2020
(Originally published in French: ‘Nouse étions le sel de la mer’)
“Sometimes all we want is for time to stop catching up with us.”
Okay… I’m not sure what happened here, but I guess it’s unpopular opinion time again? I’m still surprised as I’ve never had an Orenda miss before and fellow bloggers seem to love We Were The Salt Of The Sea… But somehow this story just didn’t seem to work at all for me. It might just have been the wrong time for me to pick up this story, but the fact this that I really struggled with both the writing style and plot in general. Somehow, I was never able to connect to the writing, and the catch phrases of some of the characters (‘Heee’ and ‘Christ in a chalice!’) REALLY got on my nerves after a while. Instead of making it easier to recognize the characters, it only made me like both the characters and the story considerably less… Always a complication but even worse in a mostly character-driven story. And as much as I loved the setting and the many descriptions of the sea, the plot was a bit all over the place for me as well. On top of this, We Were The Salt Of The Sea also included one of my mayor pet peeves: cheating. I never react well to this element and although this is a personal reaction, it made me dislike Morales considerably. It didn’t really help improving my reaction to the story in general either… All in all We Were The Salt Of The Sea definitely wasn’t my cup of tea, but most people do seem to enjoy it a lot better so don’t give up on my account.
Title: Anxious People
Author: Fredrik Backman
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: April 25th 2019
Publisher: Atria Books
Finished reading: November 3rd 2020
(Originally written in Swedish: ‘Folk med ångest’)
“Anyone can nurture a myth about their life if they have enough manure, so if the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, that’s probably because it’s full of shit.”
This was easily one of my most anticipated releases this year and I simply couldn’t wait to pick it up… I know that I am a bit biased when it comes to Fredrik Backman‘s books, but I absolutely adored every single minute I spent with Anxious People. There is just something about his writing and humor that is a match made in heaven for me and this newest story has once again shown me why he is one of my absolute favorite authors. He is an absolute master in creating flawed and strangely likeable characters, and we have another fantastic cast in Anxious People. True, there are a lot of different characters in play here, but each is so unique that it is really easy to keep them apart… And they all add there little something to the plot too. I liked the structure of the plot, with different POVS mixed with police interviews with the different witnesses. You are kept in the dark along with the police officers about what really went on inside that apartment, and I thought that the different twists and the hidden identity of the bank robber was cleverly done. Humor and heavier elements are blended perfectly, and I found myself snickering more than once along the way. Fredrik Backman‘s characters have once again won over my heart and this is hands down one of my favorite stories I have had the chance to read this year.
WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.
- WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
Together with Nicki @ Secret Library Book Blog, we are currently buddy reading The Devil And The Dark Water by Stuart Turton… After a fantastic buddy read with his first title last year, we had immediately decided to buddy read his newest title even before the title and blurb were announced. xD I’m SO excited to see what we will make of this one! I’m also reading Fallen Angels by Gunnar Staalesen for my upcoming blog tour stop.
- WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?
1. Dead Girls Don’t Lie by Jennifer Shaw Wolf (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 26/11
It has been months since my TBR jar decided it was about time for me to finally read Dead Girls Don’t Lie, but somehow I never actually picked it up until now. The blurb sounded interesting enough, and I was curious about it, but I guess in the end my instincts did smell something funny and made me look in the other direction for months. Don’t get me wrong; it is not necessarily a bad read, but most of it turned out to be just so darn cliche!
2. Beach Read by Emily Henry (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 26/11
I’ve honestly been a bit hesitant to pick up my copy of Beach Read. There has been a lot of hype around this title, and you all know how hyped books and me tend to get along… But my curiosity won in the end and I just couldn’t help myself reading it despite the sometimes mixed reviews. And guess what? Beach Read turned out to be an exception to the rule and I loved my time with this story!
3. Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales (4/5 stars) REVIEW 24/11
I admit that I was sold as soon as I saw the Grease mention… I must have watched that movie a million times as a kid, so I simply HAD to read Only Mostly Devastated for nostalgic reasons alone. I must say that I was expecting more of a fluffy romcom after the cover and blurb, which I can confirm that this story is not. In fact, Only Mostly Devastated is quite heavy on the more serious topics and has a healthy dose of drama as well as heartbreaking moments. I liked this spin off very much though and it has a great cast of characters that will most likely appeal to those who enjoy the genre.
4. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas (4/5 stars) REVIEW 28/11
I’ve been seeing Cemetery Boys mentioned a lot and as it was nominated in two Goodreads Choice Awards categories, I decided to see for myself what the hype was all about. And I must say that I definitely understand now why so many people rave about this debut! I haven’t seen many books with a well developed trans representation before, and to have a Latinx trans main character at that? Talk about a double bonus! I especially loved the building up of the fantasy/paranormal part of this YA urban fantasy, as it’s packed to the brim with Latinx culture and references to the Dia de Muertos celebrations.
5. Deadly Betrayal by OMJ Ryan (4/5 stars) REVIEW 23/11
I’ve been following this series ever since the first book came out last year, and Deadly Betrayal is already book number four… And without doubt another action-packed ride! Jane Phillips and her team have another intriguing case on their hands, and I loved that we even got to travel to Hong Kong along the way. These books read superfast and if you enjoy the detective thriller genre this series will always provide you with an entertaining ride.
6. One By One by Ruth Ware (3/5 stars) REVIEW 28/11
I loved her previous two books, so I had superhigh expectations for One By One… Especially since I always love a good locked room mystery. Sadly, somehow I ended up feeling underwhelmed by this story. It’s not a bad read perse, but it’s quite slow and I found the whole thing rather boring most of the time? Not up to the point that I would DNF, but I never felt invested in the story either. Also, I kind of saw one of the big twists coming quite early on, and the whole Snoop stats each chapter were quite annoying. I guess it’s another unpopular opinion review to add to the pile…
- WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?
I want to keep working on my unread Goodreads Choice Awards nominees, so I’ll probably read either You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria, The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett or The Guest List by Lucy Foley next depending on what genre I’m in the mood for. I’m also planning on reading my current TBR jar pick When by Victoria Laurie soon…
Duration audiobook 8 Hours, 51 Minutes, 38 Seconds
Narrated by Sol Madariaga
“I’d leave this house the first chance I got, but not by chasing after a boy, including my brother. I’d do it on my own terms, following my dreams, not someone else’s.”
*** A copy of this audiobook was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Workman Audio in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***
I confess that I have a weak spot for any story with a Latin American setting, and any story set in Argentina will instantly have a special place in my heart. As an immigrant who has had the opportunity to live in Argentina during (most of) the last decade, I love seeing the Argentinian culture and customs portrayed in my stories. As soon as I read the blurb of Furia, I knew I was going to be in for a treat. The setting in Rosario (a city I’ve had the chance to visit a couple of times over the years) as well as the prejudice the main character has to face as a female soccer player had me fully intrigued… And it most definitely turned out to be a powerful listen.
I know that I’m still a newby when it comes to the whole audiobook experience, and I also confess that I still prefer reading the stories myself, but there is just something about listening to a book set in Argentina that is narrated by someone with an Argentinian accent. While I do understand that some might be put off by this as non-Spanish speakers might be having a more difficult time understanding the many Spanish phrases thrown in, I personally felt it gave the story a real sense of authenticity. Sol Madariaga‘s voice grew on me almost immediately and I applaude her fluidity switching between English and (Argentinian) Spanish flawlessly. The pace and flow of the audiobook were just right for me, and I had no problems at all keeping up with the story. And I think that this audiobook might just only have enhanced my experience with this story for me.
Like I mentioned before, Furia is set in Argentina and it shows. Not only do we have many thorough descriptions of Rosario and Argentinian customs in general, but this story also deals with social issues including domestic abuse and violence. The all-popular soccer is another very important element of course, and the power of this sport can be felt throughout the story. It doesn’t stop there though, as Furia is made even more authentic through the use of many many (Argentinian) Spanish words and phrases that are woven expertly into the plot and dialogue. While I do understand that non-Spanish speakers might seem them as a burden, I personally loved how it gave the story that true Argentinian flavor.
I personally more of a rugby fan, but I have seen with my own eyes just how important soccer is in Argentina and I really liked how the sport was incorporated into the plot. Furia is about soccer as well as the struggles of the main character as a female soccer player, and the writing really made the sport and its players come alive for me. As for the characters… Camila was quite easy to warm up to, although I did end up having mixed thoughts about her. Why? I don’t want to give away spoilers, but the constant lying and ‘hot and cold’ treatment of Diego did get on my nerves… And I particularly found the whole keeping her soccer playing a secret for over a year unbelievable. Again, why? Well, let’s just say that people love to talk and gossip down here, and the soccer passion is in the blood of most… So I just don’t believe nobody ever mentioned something to her parents before, especially with her brother being a well known player too.
That said, I did enjoy most of this story and it felt like a true ode to Argentinian soccer and culture. Lighter moments and romance are mixed with heavier topics, and all in all Furia turned out to be a satisfying story to listen to. I can definitely recommend the audio version, but I would advice non-Spanish speakers to approach with caution as you might struggle understanding the Spanish words and phrases in the audio even though they do make the story feel more authentic.
“But when you’re alone in the dark, impossible things grow bones and flesh.”
*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Penguin in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***
I’ve been curious about Harrow Lake ever since I first read the blurb. The horror movie element, the small town where strange things happen… It sounded like the perfect premise for a creepy read, and also a perfect story to read close to Halloween. And while I did end up having mixed thoughts, I can’t deny that Harrow Lake nailed that creepy and eerie vibe.
There is no doubt that the star of the show is the town, Harrow Lake, itself. Between the many descriptions, background as well as what is happening in the present, this town gives us the perfect backdrop for the story. Creepy, eerie and with a hint of the supernatural… It gives us that perfect ominous feel and a hint of foreboding; you just feel in your bones things are going to get out of hand fast. The history behind Harrow Lake was intriguing, and I loved how seamlessly the story switched between the supernatural and the ‘real’ world. I could also really appreciate the important role the horror movie Nightjar played throughout the story. As Lola revisits the many places that were part of the movie her father filmed there, you will learn more about the town itself as well as her missing mother… The upcoming movie festival also adds that little something extra to the plot.
That said, I can’t say that I was charmed by the main characters at all. Especially Lola started to get really annoying, and I swear that if she says ‘Optimal‘ one more time I’m going to smack her in the head. I found her personality itself to be rather bland too… And I didn’t really get a proper feel off the rest of the characters either. Like I said before, the town itself is the true star of the show and I almost felt like it had more personality than the characters itself… I can’t say that I was a fan of the ending either, and I saw some of the twists coming quite early on. The writing did make it quite easy to keep reading though.
All in all it wasn’t a bad read and I most definitely loved the horror movie element as well as that eerie Harrow Lake setting, but there were also elements that didn’t work that well for me. If you like creepy reads with a hint of the supernatural and a thoroughly developed eerie small town setting, Harrow Lake might just be for you.
Title: The Last Thing To Burn
Author: Will Dean
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: January 21st 2021
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton / Atria Books
Finished reading: November 4th 2020
“There is no handcuff keeping me here, there is no manacle locked around my ankle. And yet I am imprisoned.”
*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton/Atria Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***
I really enjoyed Will Dean‘s writing in his Tuva Moodyson series, so I knew I wanted to read this stand-alone as soon as I first heard about it. I mean, have you seen that blurb?! A man keeping an illegal woman trapped in his home, pretending to be his wife… That most definitely sounds like a rock solid premise to build your story around. I had a feeling that I was going to enjoy my time with The Last Thing To Burn, and my instincts turned out to be absolutely right. You will want to clear your schedule for this one, as it will be REALLY hard to stop reading before you reach that final page. Unputdownable indeed!
Like I said, the premise itself is rock solid. While you can argue that nothing much is going on, as it is basically the two main characters inside the same house in the middle of nowhere during most of the story… But its power is in its simplicity. With other distractions stripped away, the sole spotlight is on that house and what happens inside. This gives the story an even bigger impact, and the descriptions of the tired house and its surroundings most definitely set the right tone for the story. An air of desperation, loneliness and a hint of foreboding… You will know things will escalate, and the future seems bleak, but you won’t be able to stop reading to see if things will improve against all odds.
The Last Thing To Burn is a character-driven story, and the focus is mainly on Thanh (Jane) and her ‘husband’. We see the events unfold through Thanh’s eyes as we learn a little about the past, but mainly about what happens in the present. It’s a truly terrifying and inhumane situation she finds herself in, something so hopeless that it is hard to imagine how she could ever find a way out of it all… Plot developments and twists will arrive along the way, both showing her strength and moral dilemma as she considers the consequences of her actions if he finds out. The last part of The Last Thing To Burn definitely amps up the suspense and action, and I was literally biting my nails as I kept turning those pages. The ending was more than satisfying!
All in all The Last Thing To Burn is a brilliantly written, atmospheric and suspenseful character-driven thriller and a title to watch out for in 2021. Enjoy thrillers and wonder what to put on your wishlist for next year? You have found your next addition.