ARC REVIEW: Cold Dark Places – by Kylie Brant @amazonpub

Title: Cold Dark Places
(Cady Maddix Mystery #1)
Author: Kylie Brant
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 4th 2018
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: November 18th 2018
Pages: 350

“People didn’t always act the way they should. Not even grown-ups. Sometimes the people who were supposed to protect you from monsters were monsters themselves.”

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

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I admit I was sold as soon as I saw the cover and read the blurb. A stunning cover AND the promise of meeting a new twisted serial killer? Yes please! I have been looking forward to start Cold Dark Places and there is no doubt that the story delivered. This complex, action-packed and heart stoppingly good thriller was everything I hoped for and more… The perfect start of a new series. What I liked is that Cold Dark Places isn’t just another detective thriller and instead treats us to a multiple POV story where we get to follow four different characters including the killer, two different law inforcement angles and a young woman with mental health issues. And that is not all: we also get a dose of flashbacks helping to reveal more about the past. This seems like a lot to stuff into just one thriller, but somehow Kylie Brant makes it work. A lot of this has to do with the excellent writing and a fast pace that will sweep you away until you have somehow reached the final page. The plot development and use of suspense and plot twists is also spot on: being able to create a constant atmosphere of urgency, danger and suspense. There is a lot of action involved as the hunt for the escaped killer is on, but this is not the only angle of the story. It is also about Eryn, her past and her mental issues, and we get indirect hints about Cady’s past as well. It was interesting to see how the different storylines slowly connected, and Cold Dark Places definitely has some shocking surprises in store for you. If you like your thrillers fast, action-packed, disturbing and suspenseful, this new series definitely is for you. Trigger warnings are in place for sexual and child abuse, violence and graphic scenes in general.

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When child killer Samuel Aldeen breaks out of a well guarded facility for the criminally insane, it is all hands on deck and everyone is called in to aid during the hunt. The authorities believe he had accomplices both on the inside and out, and it’s a race against the clock to find out their identities. Cady Maddix is one of the persons called in to track all of them down. When an unexpected lead brings her to Eryn Pullman, a young woman recently released from a closeby psychiatric facility, it not only brings back flashbacks of her own past but also more questions about the killer’s true motive behind his escape…

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I had a good feeling about Cold Dark Places and it turns out my instincts were right. I do love my detective thrillers, but I also love when a story is able to bring something original to the mix. Being able to get a glimpse inside of the head of both the serial killer Samuel and Eryn as well was simply fascinating. Another bonus was that both other POV characters Cady and Ryder were easy to like… The writing is spot on, the pace is superfast, the plot twists are brutal. Oh yes, this was one hell of a ride and an excellently constructed and complex one at that. I’ll be looking forward to see more of Cady Maddix in the future!


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ARC REVIEW: Last Lullaby – by Carol Wyer

Title: Last Lullaby
(Detective Natalie Ward #2)

Author: Carol Wyer
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 7th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: November 15th 2018
Pages: 361

“I thought she was heartless, but I’d no idea she was prepared to go to such lenghts to destroy other people’s happiness, to wreck my happiness.”

*** 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’ve been a fan of Carol Wyer‘s detective thrillers ever since I first read Little Girl Lost, and I’m always looking forward to any new installments. I was excited when I found out we were going to meet a new detective only a couple of months ago, and while I still prefer Detective Robyn Carter as a character, I have been looking forward to meet up with Detective Natalie Ward again. Last Lullaby is without doubt a great sequel and a chance to learn more about Natalie Ward and her team. While I admit I’m still not a fan of her, I liked how her team worked as a whole. The writing is of course as strong as ever and part of the reason her detective thrillers work so well for me. The same goes for the pace, plot and plot twists and the level of suspense. The case they are investigating in Last Lullaby seems to be quite straightforward at first glance, but turns out to have so many layers I would never have guessed. The plot twists are being executed brilliantly and the suspense is spot on, both only adding to the overall reading experience. There are a lot of wrong turns here and I like how we get to have a glimpse inside the head of the killer without the identity being revealed. Definitely a very strong case and a very strong sequel! I will be looking forward to the next book.

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When Adam finds the battered body of her wife Charlotte Brannon in their bedroom, detective Natalie Ward and her team are called in to investigate. Not only is her body badly beaten, but the killer has left a message on the wall: the word ‘why?’ written in her blood. As Natalie and her team begin digging into their lives, they discover both have been hiding a lot of secrets… It’s up to them to discover if they are related to the crime, and who is behind the death of the young mother.

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There is no doubt that Last Lullaby is a strong sequel and another excellent detective thriller by Carol Wyer. I always enjoy her way of writing; it’s engaging and really makes you fly through the pages. The case in this sequel is another fascinating one, especially since it’s almost like a Russian doll with all those hidden layers slowly being discovered. I love it when a story manages to surprise me and keeps me guessing about the identity of the killer until the final reveal. And even though Natalie Ward still isn’t a favorite of mine, I’m still looking forward seeing more of especially her team as a whole.


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ARC REVIEW: The Living – by Isaac Marion

Title: The Living
(Warm Bodies #3)
Author: Isaac Marion
Genre: YA, Dystopia, Science Fiction
First published: November 13th 2018
Publisher: Zola Books
Finished reading: November 13th 2018
Pages: 384

“It’s easier to fall than to climb, and yet against all logic, life keeps rising.”

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

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Before I start I have to make a confession and say that I probably would never have decided to read The Living if I would have read The Burning World before requesting a copy of this final book. Why? I was considerably underwhelmed by the sequel, and I had serious problems with the writing style. Still, part of me hoped that this final book of the Warm Bodies series would be an improvement and a satisfying conclusion to R and Julie’s story. Sadly it wasn’t meant to be. The Living follows the same structure as the sequel and even intensifies the confusing writing style and structure as the end is coming near. Once again, I felt that the story in general lacks a proper plot and that both plot and characters were mostly all over the place and running into random trouble instead of following a coherent line. As for the writing style: especially the WE chapters were frustratingly confusing and there were too many jumps and switches between past, present and the different characters to make for a coherent story. I can forgive a zombie story not being scary and the humans being the bad guys for once. This is actually quite a refreshing angle. I can forgive the romance, especially since we are spared a love triangle. But between the writing, lack of proper plot and general feeling of confusement I can’t say I had a great time reading The Living, and to be honest I was relieved when I finally reached the final page. I didn’t find the ending particularly satisfying either… All in all not exactly a positive experience unfortunately.

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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…

R used to be a flesh-eating zombie, but now he is breathing again. But what if he was something worse before he turned that first time? He finally remembers his former life, and what he has learned terrifies him. Especially if he things how it will change how Julie sees him… R feels the only way to redemption is to destroy what he once helped create, but how to start such an impossible task? And who will help him achieve that goal?

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I was really hoping The Living would be a more positive reading experience for me, but sadly it was a repeat experience of The Burning World. The whole different stages of zombies and returning to life angle is without doubt refreshing, and the story has some interesting aspects. But between the writing style, lack of plot, confusing POV switches and WE chapters I just couldn’t enjoy this final installment. I was in fact relieved it was finally over, and that is never a good sign. If you are able to connect to the writing style though, you will probably have a significantly better experience.


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ARC REVIEW: The Liar’s Wife – by Samantha Hayes @bookouture

Title: The Liar’s Wife
Author: Samantha Hayes
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: November 22nd 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: November 8th 2018
Pages: 372

“Someone who doesn’t even know her. Someone who doesn’t know that she’s trapped. Stuck inside her own nightmare.”

*** 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 !!

First of all, excuse me while I go and pick up my jaw off the floor. Flabbergasted, baffled, shocked, astonished… I can keep on stacking one synonym on top of the other, but I think you got the idea. The Liar’s Wife surprised me. Blew me away. I literally couldn’t believe my eyes as I tore through the pages, my brain screaming ‘do not compute!’ over and over again. Oh yes, this one is a shocker indeed. It will also grab you from the start and won’t let go, so make sure to free up your schedule before you start reading The Liar’s Wife. One of the most original and twisted psychological thriller plots I’ve seen in a while… And it get’s better. It was my first experience with Samantha Hayes’ writing, and it definitely won’t be my last. Because I was completely hooked by her writing style, pacing and way of constructing her plot and plot twists. The Liar’s Wife mixes chapters set in the past and present, always dangling that wanted carrot in front of you without actually revealing the information you are dying to discover. This development of the suspense and the use of plot twist and the dual time line is simply spot on. The Liar’s Wife has quite a few shocking surprises in store for you, and you won’t believe the ending! Any psychological thriller fan should add The Liar’s Wife to their wishlist. Trust me, it’s worth it. Just bear in mind a few trigger warnings are in place for abuse, rape and some graphic scenes.


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Ella has kept during herself during most of her adult life, working hard and never interested in socialising. She likes it that way, feeling safe and comfortable with her own predictable schedule. Everything changes forever when Ella wakes up one day in the hospital after she was hit by a van on her way home from work. She has been in an induced coma for days and is still scared an confused as she wakes up… But not so confused that she doesn’t know she isn’t actually married like her nurse and the get-well-soon card in her room claim. In fact, she has been alone for a long time. Who is this man that claims to be her husband? Fear paralyzes her as soon as she finds out his identity… And she has no choice but to play along with his sick game.

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If the blurb of The Liar’s Wife doesn’t convince you already, I can promise you that this is only just the tip of the huge iceberg of plot twists, shocking surprises and suspenseful scenes that this story has in store for you. Make sure to free some time, because you will want to keep turning those pages until you find out what exactly happened all that time ago and how everything fits with what is happening now. Without doubt an excellent psychological thriller and a very satisfying read despite some difficult themes.


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WWW Wednesdays #197 – November 21st

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?

I’m still trying to read as many Goodreads Choice Awards nominees as possible and I’ve been meaning to read Children Of Blood And Bone by Tomi Adeyemi for months now, so I’m looking forward to see what I’ll make of it. I’m also finally reading my final pending NG ARC for this month: Heresy by Melissa Lenhardt. Western themed historical fiction it is!

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Educated by Tara Westover (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 29/11
I have been looking forward to finally read Educated for months now, especially after reading so many glowing reviews. This is probably one of the reasons my expectations might have been too high, that and the fact that this memoir has been compared to The Glass Castle. The fact is: I was quite underwhelmed by all of it. This was not what I was expecting, and I feel sad for feeling this way, but it is what it is… Be prepared for a loooong ‘shorties’ review explaining why.

2. Last Lullaby by Carol Wyer (4/5 stars) REVIEW 24/11
There is no doubt that Last Lullaby is a strong sequel and another excellent detective thriller by Carol Wyer. I always enjoy her way of writing; it’s engaging and really makes you fly through the pages. The case in this sequel is another fascinating one, especially since it’s almost like a Russian doll with all those hidden layers slowly being discovered. I love it when a story manages to surprise me and keeps me guessing about the identity of the killer until the final reveal. And even though Natalie Ward still isn’t a favorite of mine, I’m still looking forward seeing more of especially her team as a whole.

3. The Cottingley Fairies by Ana Sender (3/5 stars) REVIEW 14/12
I first fell in love with the cover of The Cottingley Fairies, and after I read in the blurb it was based on true events I was fully intrigued. Proof that fairies really exist, and a reference to the famous author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? It cannot get more intriguing than that. I was looking forward to find out more about Elsie and Frances’ story, since this was the first time I had heard about it. In the end I was unfortunately quite underwhelmed by The Cottingley Fairies.

4. Not A Clue by Chloe Delaume (DNF 9%) DNF REVIEW 30/11
As soon as I started reading Not A Clue I knew we won’t be able to get along. Why? The writing style. Right from the very first sentence, I found myself scratching my head and wondering what the heck I just started reading. The writing style is just one big humble bumble of random words and nonsense being woven together, short ‘sentences’ mixed with randomness and endless weird descriptions and repetitions over and over again.  I’m not sure if this is a case of ‘lost in translation’ or a writing style that is 200% not for me, but I just couldn’t bring myself to keep struggling through the pages. I almost never make the decision to DNF, especially this early in a story, but sadly Not A Clue and me just weren’t ment to be.

5. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 03/12
I was surprised when I saw just how well I reacted to the story initially. Of course I already knew I liked Holly Black‘s writing style, and this is part of the reason this story worked for me. And what a start! I like it when a YA fantasy story isn’t afraid to go dark and throw some blood and action at us. Of course things turned south later on and I had some problems with this book… But overall it was still mostly an entertaining read.

6. Cold Dark Places by Kylie Brant (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 25/11
I had a good feeling about Cold Dark Places and it turns out my instincts were right. I do love my detective thrillers, but I also love when a story is able to bring something original to the mix. Being able to get a glimpse inside of the head of both the serial killer Samuel and Eryn as well was simply fascinating. Another bonus was that both other POV characters Cady and Ryder were easy to like… The writing is spot on, the pace is superfast, the plot twists are brutal. Oh yes, this was one hell of a ride and an excellently constructed and complex one at that. I’ll be looking forward to see more of Cady Maddix in the future!

7. The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen (3/5 stars) REVIEW 03/12
I guess it’s unpopular opinion time again! I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but part of the reason The Wife Between Us didn’t manage to convince me probably has to do with the fact I felt this book was simply trying to hard. Sure, there are a LOT of twists involved and a lot of things I couldn’t guess beforehand, but I’m not sure if I actually LIKE how these plot twists are presented or developed. Instead of being shocked and saying ‘wow, I definitely didn’t see that coming!’, I was mostly left confused and not in a good way. Let’s just say my eyebrows worked overtime with this one…

8. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (/5 stars) REVIEW 09/12
..

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

Depending on how fast I finish my current reads, I’m going to try and squeeze in more Goodreads Choice Awards nominees before the final round closes. The two titles that have caught my eye are When The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and The Death Of Mrs Westaway. I’ve heard good things about both so fingers crossed. I also need to continue with my ARCs so I can hopefully keep my promise to mostly read my own books in December. Hunting Annabelle by Wendy Heard is up next. My newest TBR jar pick is still The Insect Farm by Stuart Prebble; I don’t think I’ll get to it this month, but I’m hoping to read it before the year is over.


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Magical Readathon: Christmas At Hogwarts

I’ve been loving my time with Book Roast‘s Harry Potter themed Magical Readathons, so of course I just HAD to join her newest upcoming readathon as well. This one sounds superfun! It’s a Christmas themed readathon running from December 17th to December 26th, and we get to spend Christmas at the most magical place possible: Hogwarts! Everything is explained in her video below:

I love the idea of the map and each of use being able to choose our own path to the Christmas feast! The map is below, and since December 17th is still ages away I’m not creating a TBR just yet. 😉

Below are the requirements for each prompt… In red the prompts I’m 99% I will pick next month, and I’m still not sure whether I want to help Hagrid decorate the trees or have a snowball fight with the Weasley twins. I guess it will depend on whether I find a book with a golden detail on it I want to read. 😉 (Also, I might end up going for the Dobby, Restricted Section option, I still haven’t decided…)

# Finish your coursework – finish your current read
# Help Hagrid decorate the trees – book with a golden detail
# Have a snowball fight with the Weasley twins – a book you think will be humorous
# Visit 3 Broomsticks for muller pixie wine – a read that should only take you a day/evening
# Exchange presents at your Common Room – read featuring/about friendship
# Sneak into the kitchen to gift dobby odd socks – read that has an item of clothing on the cover
# Attend a Yule Ball – book you’ve been preparing yourself for
# Fly around snowy Hogwarts grounds – building on the cover
#Put on your knitted sweater from Molly Weasley – read with present parents or a focus on family
#Use your Invisibility Cloak to get to the Restricted Section of the Hogwarts Library – read a banned book
# Bring a festive treat to Hedwig at the Owlery – animal on the cover/title/series name
# Attend the Christmas Feast – watch a Harry Potter movie (optional)


Are you joining this readathon? I confess I’m not a big Christmas fan, but this Harry Potter themed readathon sounds like a fun way to spend the days before Christmas in between preparations.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #62 – The Burning World & Elevation

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two stories that ended up disappointing me unfortunately. The Warm Bodies sequel The Burning World by Isaac Marion and the ‘impossible to understand why this is horror’ Elevation by Stephen King.


Title: The Burning World
(Warm Bodies #2)
Author: Isaac Marion

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Science Fiction
First published: February 2nd 2017
Publisher: Atria
Finished reading: November 6th 2018 
Pages: 512

“There’s no bigger threat to the world than people who think they can improve it. “


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I confess I actually read the first book so long ago (three years) that I confused my feelings for the first book with another zombie read. Oops? It turns out I wasn’t convinced by the first book Warm Bodies, and sadly this sequel didn’t wow me either. The first thing you have to know before you start the series is that the zombies are not actually scary and they are in fact not the real enemy. That on its own isn’t a real problem, as the idea of having different kind of zombie states is actually quite interesting and original. What I didn’t expect is just how NOT scary either book is. And of course, the romance plays a big role in the story. While I appreciate the idea of a zombie and human being together and all (you can’t deny it’s a slightly disturbing but original idea), it doesn’t lend itself for the most exciting plot. And talking about plots, I found that The Burning World in general lacks a proper plot and that both plot and characters were mostly all over the place and running into random trouble instead of following a coherent line (although things might become clearer in the final book I guess). This wasn’t the only thing I struggled with though, as more importantly I wasn’t a fan of the writing style itself. Especially the WE chapters were frustratingly confusing and there were too many jumps and switches to make for a coherent story. The story was overlong for me with its 500+ pages and I sincerely hope my experience with the final book will be better.


Title: Elevation
Author: Stephen King

Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy, Science Fiction
First published: October 30th 2018
Publisher: Scribner
Finished reading: November 8th 2018
Pages: 160

“This was the same. Not a wind, not even a high, exactly, but an elevation. A sense that you had gone beyond yourself and could go farther still.”


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I was curious when I saw a new Stephen King was coming out, and I’m sure we can all admit that cover is gorgeous. Even though Elevation is a novella and I don’t read a lot of those, I was really looking forward to reading it. The first thing that stands out for me is that I have no clue whatsoever why this novella is marked as ‘horror’. Contemporary romance with a hint of sci-fi and even a far-fetched urban fantasy… Maybe. But horror? I don’t think anyone would find Elevation scary unless you are afraid of hights or stepping on the scale. That was the first thing that went wrong for me. The second thing had to do with the characters. I know it’s only a novella, but the characters just felt like one big cliche for me and didn’t add anything interesting to the story for me. A big problem, as the story is mostly focused on them. I did like the huge focus on the running, but overall there wasn’t really that much of a plot to talk about. Just a guy losing his pounds until he is closer and closer to zero… Not horror, not thrilling at all, and mostly a cliche contemporary story on how one person’s doom can bring other people together. And mostly just a meh story for me.


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