ARC REVIEW: The Last Resort – by Susi Holliday

Title: The Last Resort
Author: Susi Holliday
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Science Fiction
First published: December 1st 2020
Publisher: Amazon Publishing UK
Finished reading: October 28th 2020
Pages: 300

“It’s easy to paint a picture of happiness on your social media channels, when in reality you’re dying inside.”

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

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I’ve been meaning to try one of Susi Holliday‘s books for ages now, so I jumped at the chance to read her newest story The Last Resort early. I always love a good locked-room mystery, so I fully thought I was going to find a new favorite with this story after reading the blurb. Unfortunately, it wasn’t ment to be… And sadly the actual story didn’t live up to the blurb at all for me. I’ll try to explain briefly why below; it’s hard to talk about this story without giving away any spoilers and I don’t want to spoil the fun for those who find this story to be a better fit.

Like I said before, I still love the idea behind The Last Resort. I’m a sucker for a good locked-room mystery and this element is definitely present with the seven main characters being ‘trapped’ on a mysterious island. I don’t think the element itself reached its full potential though… Part of this probably had to do with the characters, which sadly were considerably unlikeable. I can live with unlikeable if they are at least interesting and well rounded, but most felt like stereotypes and there were a lot of cliches involved. I wasn’t able to connect to them at all, so I honestly didn’t care less about what happened to them… So the whole suspense around them possibly being in danger was lost to me.

As for the science fiction element… I love a good futuristic technology element when done right (I’m looking at you, John Marrs), but in this case I felt this element lost its mark. Sure, the whole memory-tracking device itself sounds intriguing and adds that technology and science fiction vibe to the typical locked-room thriller. But once again I hoped it to be a bit… I don’t know, more exciting? More thrilling? I can’t put my finger on what exactly would have worked better for me, but I do know that this element didn’t do the story any favors in its current state.

That said, I do have to say that if you look at the writing alone I can’t deny that it’s well written and easy to read. Despite the fact that I wasn’t actually enjoying the story and the pace was quite slow in points (for a story which such a fascinating blurb, nothing much happened most of the time and it was mainly focused on the cast of unlikeable characters), I did somehow finish this story rather quickly. This has a lot to do with the writing itself, so I will definitely try more of her work in the future to see if my reaction is different. The Last Resort, sadly didn’t work for me though, and not in the least because of that over-the-top and rather absurd ending… But I guess your reaction could be completely different depending on how you react to the main characters, pace and the science fiction element.


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ARC REVIEW: The Chalet – by Catherine Cooper

Title: The Chalet
Author: Catherine Cooper
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: October 31st 2020
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Finished reading: October 18th 2020
Pages: 400

“For many years I’ve managed to live a normal life, thinking I’d escaped what happened in the past.”

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

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There was just something about the blurb of The Chalet that made it impossible to resist the invitation to read this debut… It might have been the setting in the French Alps, it might have been the mystery around the missing man and the promise of secrets and a potential killer… But my instincts told me I was most likely going to enjoy my time with this story. Thankfully my instincts didn’t fail me! The Chalet turned out to be a multi-layered and entertaining thriller with a setting that makes for the perfect backdrop for this story. Fans of the genre will have a great time with this one.

The Chalet is mainly set within the La Madière ski resort in France, and the many descriptions of the setting definitely made it come alive for me. The snow, the brutal weather, the chalet, the bars with its mulled wine, the ski resort in general… It almost feels like a little vacation in the form of a book, and I love it when a story is able to make me feel as if I were traveling myself. The cold winter weather is also the perfect backdrop for this story, with a man going missing in the middle of a storm and the bad weather affecting the characters in the present too. It gave the story a hint of foreboding and definitely added to the suspense.

The Chalet uses a multiple POV structure as well as switches between past and present. Not only do we slowly get to see what happened back in 1998, but we also get flashbacks of a little girl with a very difficult home situation back in London as well as multiple POVs set in the present. While initially this might seem a bit of a struggle, it is quite easy to keep the different POVs apart and I liked how the plot itself was developed. While I did see some of the twists coming, I didn’t mind too much as the plot was interesting and layered enough to keep you focused.

As for the characters… I can’t say that I actually liked them, but as a whole they make for an interesting enough cast of characters to follow. The multiple POV structure might also work in favor of the story here, as you never spend too much time with one character to actively feel annoyed by some of the actions and plot developments. The writing itself is engaging and makes it really easy to keep turning those pages. I literally finished this story in less than a day! I will be looking forward to read more books by this author in the future.


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#ThrowbackThursday – I Am Dust – by Louise Beech #TBT #Orentober @Orendabooks

 

Today is already the last Thursday of the month, and in the spirit of celebrating all things Orenda during #Orentober month I will be joining #ThrowbackThursday one last time to share a previously published review of an Orenda favorite. Deciding which book to choose out of all the fantastic books I’ve had the chance to read so far has been tricky, but the honor this week goes to another of my 2020 top favorites: I Am Dust by Louise Beech. This is actually the second Louise Beech title featured in my Throwback Thursday posts, which shouldn’t be that big of a surprise honestly as she is hands down one of my favorite authors… I Am Dust is another absolutely stunning read I cannot recommend enough. More fangirling in the blog tour review I will be resharing below. You’ve been warned!

Title: I Am Dust
Author: Louise Beech
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
First published: February 16th 2020
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: March 20th 2020
Pages: 300

“We never forget. We choose not to remember.”

*** 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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Speechless. Absolutely flabbergasted. Mindblown. Oh yes, Louise Beech has done it once again, and left me a complete blubbering mess. Even though I’m a bit late to the whole party, I’ve considered Louise Beech to be one of my absolute favorite authors ever since my first experience with her work last year (Call Me Star Girl). Each backlist title I’ve had the chance to read since has blown me away, so it’s easy to say that my expectations for I Am Dust were skyhigh. But guess what? Louise Beech not only met those expectations, but stamped all over them and went to the next level! It’s nearly impossible to choose a favorite among her books, as I simply treasure them all, but there is no doubt that I Am Dust is another absolutely stunning read and of an extraordinary quality. And yes, expect me to sound like a squeeling fangirl during the rest of this review, because my brain simply cannot deal with just how good this story was even a week after I finished it. That’s the Beech effect!

So, I Am Dust. I confess I knew I was going to love this story as soon as I read the blurb. I mean, the idea of a murder mystery turned ghost story turned dark psychological thriller with a theatre angle? How can that not be the perfect base for another absolutely fantastic story?! I fell in love with the story and characters even before I started reading, and that is something that doesn’t happen often. From that gorgeous cover, the blurb and the actual story afterwards… There isn’t a thing I didn’t love of my time spent with I Am Dust! I read this story as a birthday gift to myself last month to help distract myself from these dark and strange times, and I just couldn’t have picked a better read to do just that as well as making myself feel better in the process.

There are so many things I loved about I Am Dust and I’m having a hard time figuring out where to start to be honest… Let’s talk about the setting and Dust first. I personally loved the setting in a small town and the focus on the musical world as well as the Dead Wilson Theatre setting. The descriptions really made the setting come alive for me, and gave us readers a little insight in what the musical world looks like from an insider view. Directly related to this is the musical Dust of course, which plays an all important role in the plot. I love how both the musical itself and some of the songs are incorporated into the plot and its words are given a hidden meaning as well as give clues to what might happen. Dust gave this dark psychological thriller an unique twist and was also the perfect backdrop for the paranormal elements in I Am Dust.

I confess that I’m normally not a big fan of the paranormal, but I loved how this element was developed in I Am Dust. The murdered Dust actress haunting the theatre and set, the chapters set in the past with the ouija board, the things happening to the main characters… The different paranormal elements are perfectly developed and really added that ominous and daunting atmosphere to the story. I also liked the structure of the plot as a whole, and how past and present are interlaced to slowly reveal more about the past as well as give you a glimpse of what might happen in the future. Plot twists and timeline switches work together flawlessly and really enhanced the reading experience for me.

As for the characters… The main focus is on Chloe, who is an absolutely fascinating character. Flawed, troubled and somehow more open to the spiritual world, she is the perfect character to shoulder this story and take it to the next level. Jess (or Ginger) is likewise important to the plot, and especially the dynamics between Chloe and Jess and her connection to the musical world. It was interesting to see the two interact and slowly learn more about their shared past as well… The realistic and thorough character development really made them come alive for me and my heart ached for them as things were starting to become complicated. The secondary characters are likewise well rounded and each added their own little touch to the story too.

Both the plot development and writing were absolutely fantastic, and I definitely loved the direction this story took. The ending left me brokenhearted and simply speechless, unable to render a word or properly describe my love for I Am Dust. I still felt like a mess days later, and I still feel these rambles I tried putting on paper don’t do this story justice at all. In a way, I should have just kept it short and said: “do yourself a favor and just read the damn book. I Am Dust will sweep you off your feet and will haunt you even days after you reach that final page. You will be missing out if you don’t add I Am Dust to your wishlist!” I already know this story will be on my list of favorite 2020 reads even this early in the year.


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WWW Wednesdays #291 – October 28th

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 currently reading the Winternight sequel The Girl In The Tower by Katherine Arden… I’ve been looking forward to return to this trilogy! I’m also starting The Last Resort by Susi Holliday, which sounds like the perfect Halloween read.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Shadow Sands by Robert Bryndza (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 02/11
I’ve been a fan of Robert Bryndza‘s thrillers ever since I read the first Erika Foster book back in 2016, and his newest Kate Marshall series is quickly turning into a favorite too. I loved my time with the first book Nine Elms last year, and I have been eagerly anticipating the sequel for a long time… And now I’ve had the chance to read Shadow Sands, I’m happy to say that it turned out to be everything I hoped for and more. His books are just so damn readable! Highly addictive, fast-paced, dark and suspenseful… Shadow Sands will take you on another exhilarating ride.

2. The Silent Daughter by Kirsty Ferguson (DNF 23%; 0 stars) REVIEW 08/11
I confess that this was what I now call an ‘oops’ request… I’ve learned my lesson not to browse Netgalley while still half asleep the hard way, that’s for sure! Somehow psychological/domestic thrillers haven’t really worked for me lately, and my negative reaction to The Silent Daughter might have had something to do with that… But there is no denying that I REALLY struggled with this story, up until the point I had to make the difficult decision to make this title my fourth DNF of the year. In my DNF review I will be explaining briefly why.

3. The Invisible Life Of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab (5/5 stars) REVIEW 13/11
Fangirling alert coming in!! I know that I’m a bit biased when it comes to this author… I basically adore anything Schwab writes, and I have been eagerly anticipating The Invisible Life Of Addie LaRue. Especially knowing how much Addie’s story means to the author in the first place… I was afraid my expectations would be set too high, but I shouldn’t have worried as I literally devoured each and every single page. I do get why some people might find this story too slow or overlong, but I personally treasured every single minute I got to spend with Addie. Say hello to a new all time favorite!

4. Black Coral by Andrew Mayne (4/5 stars) REVIEW
I’m always in for a solid detective thriller and after highly enjoying my time with the first book of the Underwater Investigation Unit series earlier this year I just couldn’t say no to reading the sequel. The Florida police diver angle had me immediately intrigued, and after an intense and action-packed first book, I had high hopes for an entertaining second round… And Black Coral turned out to be exactly the exhilarating dose of action and detective thriller I was desperately craving!

5. We Were The Salt Of The Sea by Roxanne Bouchard (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 14/11
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.

6. We Begin At The End by Chris Whitaker (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 09/11
This was a buddy read with Nicki @ Secret Library Book Blog and we couldn’t have picked a better title! I definitely understand the love for this story now, as it turned out to be such a raw, emotional and simply heartwrenching read… I went in blind not sure what to expect, but I ended up being completely blown away by this story.

7. Maria In The Moon by Louise Beech (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 16/11
I’m a huge fan of her work and I’ve been saving her final backlist titles for special occasions… Orentober month fits the bill right? I wasn’t 100% sure when I started reading this story, but it snuck up on me and managed to bowl me over in the end. The Beech effect has struck again!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I will most likely pick up The Alienist by Caleb Carr next as it’s one of the final titles on my October TBR and I’ve been wanting to read it ever since I watched the Netflix adaptation. Afterwards I want to read The Winter Of The Witch by Katherine Arden so I can cross off another series on my list… I also need to listen to Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez as I got an audio on NG and I’m not sure when it will be archived. And I can’t wait to finally read Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo as I love her writing and I’ve heard so many great things about it.


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ARC REVIEW: Black Coral – by Andrew Mayne

Title: Black Coral
(Underwater Investigation Unit #2)
Author: Andrew Mayne
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: February 16th 2021
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: October 24th 2020
Pages: 317

“My point is that we like to shove things into convenient boxes, even when we know they won’t fit.”

*** 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’m always in for a solid detective thriller and after highly enjoying my time with the first book of the Underwater Investigation Unit series earlier this year I just couldn’t say no to reading the sequel. The Florida police diver angle had me immediately intrigued, and after an intense and action-packed first book, I had high hopes for an entertaining second round… And Black Coral turned out to be exactly the exhilarating dose of action and detective thriller I was desperately craving!

One of the things that makes this series stand out is the fact that it isn’t just your average detective thriller. The main character Sloan McPherson is a police diver and not your typical detective, and on top of this she has a very colorful family background. She is a strong, stubborn and resourceful woman and she is definitely one of the reasons this story works so well! Especially with her not being afraid to think outside the box and follow her instinct even if it means stepping on important toes or facing danger. Following Sloan is a guarantee for hours of entertainment and action-packed reading!

You can technically read this as a stand-alone, although you won’t be able to understand the character background and dynamics fully… So I would personally advice reading these in order. That said, I loved the diving angle in Black Coral, which is an element that really makes this series stand out for me. On top of this, we have a serial killer hunt and lots of action, danger and suspense involved… What more to wish for?! I did enjoy the first book a tiny bit more, but as a whole there is no denying that this was a very satisfying thriller read. If you like your thrillers fast, action-packed and exhilarating, this is definitely a series to put on your radar!


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ARC REVIEW: Art And Soul – by Claire Huston

Title: Art And Soul
Author: Claire Huston
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 23rd 2020
Publisher: Goldcrest Books
Finished reading: October 17th 2020
Pages: 395

“If you willingly enter the dragon’s lair, best to wait to see how it will react, rather than poke it.”

*** 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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I’ve been looking forward to pick up this contemporary romance story written by fellow book blogger Claire, so when I found myself in the mood for the genre I decided to simply give in and do so. And boy, I am kicking myself for not picking up Art And Soul sooner now! It turned out to be such a wonderful and uplifting story, and it was exactly what I was craving. If you enjoy a well written romantic story with a wonderful cast of character and a healthy dose of cake, you should definitely add Art And Soul straight to your wishlist.

The story is told with the help of a dual POV structure, switching between our two star characters Becky and Charlie. I was able to warm up to both characters almost immediately, and the same goes for the rest of the cast. I loved Becky with her strength and resourcefulness, Charlie with all his flaws and artistic talent, Ronnie with her baking skills, Lloyd with his flamboyance… And I can go on and on. The cast of characters made it really easy to warm up and connect to the story too, and reading Art And Soul felt like sitting down with a slice of your favorite cake and a steaming cup of tea. You will find yourself rooting for the main characters and keeping your fingers crossed everything will work out in the end… Trust me, Becky and Charlie will manage to win over your heart in record time.

I loved that this is a slowburn romance built on friendship. I’m not a big fan of the whole insta-love trope and I liked how the dynamics between the main characters were slowly build up and changed. I also loved that there are multiple elements in play in Art And Soul… We have the food element with the many mentions of cake, we have the art element with Charlie’s paintings and the art gallery, we have the struggles of a single mother/father… They all enrich the story even further and added a little something extra to the plot. A little warning: Art And Soul will leave you wanting to bake/eat cake, so make sure you have the ingredients or a cake at hand to satisfy those cravings. You can never have enough cake in the first place, right?

In short, Art And Soul is a well written, delightful and uplifting slowburn romance with a healthy dose of cake and art to brighten up your day. If you enjoy the genre, I can definitely recommend meeting up with main characters Becky and Charlie! Trust me, you won’t regret it.


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ARC REVIEW: The Book Of Two Ways – by Jodi Picoult

Title: The Book Of Two Ways
Author: Jodi Picoult
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: October 20th 2020
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Finished reading: October 15th 2020
Pages: 400

“We all have stories we tell ourselves, until we believe them to be true.”

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

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Well, well, well, what do we have here? I guess it’s unpopular opinion time again… Sigh. I have loved Jodi Picoult‘s recent books without fail, so I was fully expecting a repeat experience with The Book Of Two Ways. The blurb sounded absolutely fantastic, and I had high hopes of adding another title to my list of 2020 favorites… But fate had different plans in store, and somehow I ended up having a completely different reading experience instead. I’m not sure if this was just the wrong time for me to pick up this story, but the fact is that I struggled considerably with The Book Of Two Ways. How much? Well, let’s just say that I started skimreading long before I reached the halfway mark just so I could be done with the story quicker… And that is never a good sign. I’ll try to explain shortly why this story didn’t work for me below.

First of all, I have to say that I still love the premise of this story. Both the elements involving Egypt and its past and the death doula element are intriguing topics and definitely stand out in The Book Of Two Ways. BUT. I didn’t like how especially everything relating to Egyptian history was incorporated into the plot. There was a LOT of info-dumping going on, up to the point where I felt like I was reading a dense history book on the ancient burial sites and Egyptian history instead. I love learning new things in my books, but this was just way too much for me and really took the pleasure out of reading about Dawn’s time in Egypt. The focus on the death doula element was better incorporated, although once again there was some info-dumping going on and it sometimes it felt like the author was trying to explain what a death doula does in general instead of focusing on Dawn’s work in particular.

I also struggled with the flashbacks and switches between past and present as well as different locations. Instead of adding dept, it slowed down the pace even more for me as I tried to figure out which Dawn was in the spotlight. I would have preferred clearer boundaries between the different moments in time, as I felt that the different storylines were kind of bleeding into each other and less strong as a result. The writing itself is solid of course, but that is what I’ve come to expect of her work… But somehow the actual story just didn’t do it for me. The fact that I didn’t like the main characters, or that the story included one of my mayor pet peeves (cheating) didn’t really help either… I seem to be in the minority though, so definitely don’t give up on The Book Of Two Ways on my account.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #182 – Kiss My Cupcake & Tender Is The Flesh

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! Today two books that couldn’t have been more different… But both ended up being a success. Kiss My Cupcake was exactly the fun contemporary I was craving, while I still can’t wrap my head around just how twisted Tender Is The Flesh was. Definitely perfect for Halloween that one!


Title: Kiss My Cupcake
Author: Helena Hunting

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: August 11th 2020
Publisher: Forever
Finished reading: October 9th 2020
Pages: 368

“I’d rather struggle to make ends meet for a while than give up my own dreams.”


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I was in the mood for a good contemporary and I always love a food element in my stories, so I figured that Kiss My Cupcake would probably be a good choice. And it ended up exactly the type of story I was craving! Sure, there are quite a few cliches involved… For example: why does the male lead always have to be dropdead gorgeous?! Sure, there are quite a few sexy scenes involved and we all know how allergic I am to those. BUT. Somehow I didn’t really care too much as I was too busy having fun seeing Ronan and Blaire pitched against each other. The whole ‘enemy to lover’ vibe isn’t as strong as I thought it would be initially, but I loved how they are not two competing bakers, but instead competing business owners and neighbors. Both have their own background and dreams, and I had a great time getting to know them better and see their relationship evolve. It definitely made me want to bake my own batch of cupcakes though, as those descriptions of Blaire’s creations sounded heavenly. Another bonus: no love triangle to ruin the day, which I was particularly happy about myself. Fans of the romcom genre who like their stories sweet as well as sexy will have a great time with this one.


Title: Tender Is The Flesh
Author: Agustina Bazterrica

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Horror
First published: November 29th 2017
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Finished reading: October 13th 2020
Pages: 224
(Originally written in Spanish: ‘Cadáver Exquisito’)

“Today I’m the butcher, tomorrow I might be the cattle.”

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Holy cow, this was one dark, brutal and twisted story! I’m kind of lost for words when it comes to Tender Is The Flesh… I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while now, and while I intended to read the original, I ended up picking up the translation instead (call me lazy). And boy, this is a story I won’t forget any time soon… Think dystopia. Think a world where cannibalism is legal and humans are breeded like cattle only to be slaughtered for their meat. This will give you some idea of where this story might go… A word of advice: definitely don’t read Tender Is The Flesh if you have a weak stomach, and definitely don’t read it just before dinner. It’s been a while since I read a story this brutal, this shocking, but somehow it is powerful as well and the writing is without doubt enchanting. Marcos makes for a very interesting main character and I liked seeing him evolve over time. If you are looking for a dark, gory and shocking horror read and aren’t put off by cannibalism being the star of the show, Tender Is The Flesh would without doubt make for the perfect Halloween read.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Waiting Rooms – by Eve Smith #Orentober @Orendabooks

In the spirit of celebrating all things Orenda during #Orentober month, I will be sharing my thoughts on The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith: a compelling and terrifying thriller set in a dystopian world that feels a little too realistic to be comfortable… The current COVID-19 situation gives this story an even bigger impact.

Title: The Waiting Rooms
Author: Eve Smith
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: May 9th 2020
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: October 16th 2020
Pages: 379

“That’s the trouble with hope. Just when you think you’ve weaned yourself off it, its devilish little head rears up and sucks you back in.”

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I actually won an e-copy of The Waiting Rooms in a Twitter giveaway back in March, but with the whole COVID-19 situation I haven’t been in the mood to read it until now… I’m glad I waited, because this story might just have been too much for me back then. Why? The Waiting Rooms is a compelling and terrifying thriller set in a dystopian world that feels a little too realistic to be comfortable… The current state of the world gives this story an even bigger impact and makes the dystopian world seem like a logical possible next step. Most terrifying indeed! If your nerves can stomach it, this story is absolutely brilliant though.

It’s hard to put The Waiting Rooms into a neat little genre box… Part dystopia, part medical thriller, part mystery and part domestic/family focused, we get a wonderful mix of different elements that together form a recipe for a terrifyingly perfect cocktail. This story has multiple POVs, multiple settings as well as different timeframes. We switch back between past and present (or pre-Crisis in this dystopian world), but we also switch between South Africa and the UK as well as the different characters in play… This gives the story a rich and multi-layered feel, and the different parts are combined splendidly.

The chapters in South Africa really stood out to me, but this has a lot to do with the fantastic descriptions of the setting and fauna. The descriptions made the setting really come alive for me, and I loved how the research looked into using plants and knowledge of the locals to try and create new medicins. The whole cheating angle was a bit of a letdown for me, but then again it’s one of my mayor pet peeves to that was just a personal reaction. That said, this feeling was just a blip on the radar as the rest of the story is simply fantastic.

The medical element as well as the dystopian world are truly terrifying. The current COVID-19 situation gives this story an even bigger impact, as you wonder just how much worse things can get. Imagine a world where antibiotics no longer work and people can die of a scratch… The dystopian world as described in The Waiting Rooms sounds bloodcurdlingly realistic and all too possible considering the recent situation: a true nightmare situation that will have you biting your nails and will chill you to the bone.

Thankfully the pre-Crisis chapters as well as the time Kate spends looking for her birth mother distract a little from the dystopian present, and the different elements were brilliantly balanced. The Waiting Rooms turned out to be an absolutely fascinating, captivating as well as alarming read. It’s one of those stories you have to be in the mood for, but if you think you can stomach it, The Waiting Rooms will blow you away.


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#ThrowbackThursday – Beast – by Matt Wesolowski #TBT #Orentober @Orendabooks

Today is Thursday, and in the spirit of celebrating all things Orenda during #Orentober month I will be joining #ThrowbackThursday and share a previously published review of an Orenda favorite. Deciding which book to choose out of all the fantastic books I’ve had the chance to read so far has been tricky, but the honor this week goes to another of my 2020 top favorites: Beast by Matt Wesolowski. This series has blown me away since book one, and the books just don’t stop delivering. Beast is another absolutely brilliant read I cannot recommend enough! Below I will be resharing my review that was part of the blog tour back in February.

Title: Beast
(Six Stories #4)
Author: Matt Wesolowski
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 20th 2019
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: January 21st 2020
Pages: 320

“All anyone has to say is that they wonder why they did it, those three. That’s how it is these days. The killers become the story. The criminals are more exciting than the victims.”

*** 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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Holy bat in hell, what a read! I’ve been a Six Stories fan ever since I read the first book last year and all three books simply blew me away. In fact, both sequels ended up on my list of absolute top favorites of 2019! I’ve been waiting impatiently and eagerly for book four, and I literally dropped everything as soon as a copy of Beast arrived in my inbox. Such is the power of this series and Matt Wesolowski‘s writing! And of course once again I had a book hangover, and once again I found myself lost for words as I was trying to describe my experience with Beast afterwards. I don’t know how he keeps coming up with this stories and I honestly don’t care as long as they will keep appearing! Oh yes, this whole series has most definitely a worthy spot on my all time favorites list.

So, what makes Beast (and this series in general for that matter) so special? There are so many elements I loved in this story, but I think the first thing that stands out is the format. The whole series has an unique podcast format with a narrator, Scott King, who tries to be removed from the case he investigates. Scott King doesn’t judge, doesn’t solve the (cold) cases he talks about, but instead just puts six podcast episodes out there that might help those who follow his podcast uncover the truth. It is this unique and absolutely brilliant format that really takes the story to the next level, and it is also one of the few stories that actually makes me want to give audiobooks another chance, as I can imagine it would make for a fantastic listen.

Talking about Beast in particular, I thought the plot itself was spot on. It is a more recent case this time around, which means memories of those involved might be fresher and evidence might be easier to find. This is not just another murder case though and the small town of Ergarth has a lot to hide… Three men were convicted for the brutal murder of twenty-four-year-old vlogger Elizabeth, and while there was talk about cult related activities, a real motive for the crime has never been confirmed. Instead, there has been talk about a vampire legend which is part of Ergarth’s history. Is there really something supernatural going on? And what about the Dead In Six Days challenge? And the victim? Oh yes, there is definitely a lot more going on that you can see on the surface…

There are a lot of elements in play in Beast, all contributing to a plot that is both rich, complex and utterly fulfilling. We have the horror element with the vampire legend, which definitely adds the right dose of suspense and creepiness to the story. We have the social media angle, which is absolutely fascinating and definitely on point. In Elizabeth we see just how far the need for likes, comments and statistics can go and both her character and those surrounding her help show how social media really can take over and potentially destroy lives… We also have the bullying, abuse and manipulation, which is of course partially related to the whole social media element in the first place. And this story also talks about other elements including animal cruelty, mental illness and piromancy. This seems like a lot to juggle in just one story, but each element is incorporated flawlessly into what is an absolutely brilliant read.

What more to say about Beast? The writing is sublime of course. And both the plot development and building up of suspense and tension is simply spot on. Instead of a constant intensity, the suspense is build up slowly but surely, and this story will most definitely creep you out before you reach that final page. You will find yourself unable to stop reading as you start picking at those threads to find the truth… And as always, the sixth and final episode brings a plot twist bomb and it is without doubt a shocker. And that ending! Most definitely a perfect way to reenforce the point made with the whole social media angle.

I bow to the podcast thriller master and I will  be counting the days until we find out what case Scott King will decide to investigate next… In the mean time, I will just fill my time pestering everyone who hasn’t read this series yet. And yes, that includes YOU if you haven’t! Because the sheer brilliance of each experience with this series is something that nobody should miss out on.


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