BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Orphan Of Cemetery Hill – by Hester Fox #blogtour @HarlequinBooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Orphan Of Cemetery Hill blog tour! A huge thanks to Justine Sha for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I love a good gothic vibe in a story and I’ve been wanting to try the work of Hester Fox for a while now… So of course I couldn’t resist joining the tour for The Orphan Of Cemetery Hill as the blurb of her newest story sounded fantastic. And I will definitely be coming back for more after an excellent first impression of her writing! Want to know more? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: The Orphan Of Cemetery Hill
Author: Hester Fox
Genre: Historical Fiction, Paranormal
First published: September 15th 2020
Publisher: Graydon House
Finished reading: September 9th 2020
Pages: 384

“Tabby knew that her greatest fault was that, once won, her trust was too freely given.”

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

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I’ve been wanting to try this author for a while now, and I confess that I was immediately intrigued by the blurb of The Orphan Of Cemetery Hill as well as the atmospheric cover. I love a good gothic story and this book most definitely delivered the perfect spooky gothic atmosphere. The Orphan Of Cemetery Hill is set in mid 19th century Boston, and this historical setting is what sets the tone for a suspenseful and creepy read that packs a mean paranormal punch. The perfect marriage of gothic and paranormal with plenty of historical details to savour!

There were quite a few things I enjoyed of this story, but let’s start with the historical setting first. As far as a historical and gothic setting goes, I couldn’t have wished for something more atmospheric with the mid 19th century Boston setting and its focus on the cemetery. The descriptions and details are used to create the perfect creepy vibe and really gave the story that extra touch. Later on, we even get a bonus with the London and Edinburgh settings, which fitted right in the same gothic vibe. The setting and historical details were definitely one of the strongest assets of this story!

Another thing I loved was the paranormal angle. I confess this element isn’t always my cup of tea, but it worked really well in The Orphan Of Cemetery Hill and complemented the plot. The same goes for the whole mystery around the body snatching and grave robbing element… While it’s not the first time I see it incorporated into a story, it is an element that always intrigues me and it definitely added an air of creepiness as well as suspense to the plot. It was interesting to see both elements develop over time and I had fun figuring out how much both influence the direction of the plot.

The story is mainly told with the help fo a dual POV, with an added extra POV later on. I personally loved Tabby as the main character; both her gift itself and her character development in general stood out for me. I especially loved her relationship with Eli, but her development and reactions to the things happening in the plot were a delight to follow as well. She might seem like your typical strong female character, but she will win you over quickly with her charm and strength as well as her quirkiness. That said, I do have to say that I wasn’t too big of a fan of other main character Caleb though. I felt he was a bit too cliche and I just didn’t get a good vibe off him… This might just be because of the whole mention of the cheating and love triangle though, which is a personal pet peeve I never react well to. We didn’t see much of Tabby’s sister Alice, which is for obvious reasons of course, but I did like what I saw. Tabby is clearly the true star of the show though.

The writing itself is solid, and especially the gothic vibe and historical descriptions are spot on. While the pace was a bit haltered in points, and I could have done without the romance, overall I had a great time with this story. If you are looking for something creepy and enjoy a historical setting as well as a paranormal angle, The Orphan Of Cemetery Hill is a great option. It’s also perfect for the upcoming Halloween month!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hester Fox is a full-time writer and mother, with a background in museum work and historical archaeology. Most weekends you can find Hester exploring one of the many historic cemeteries in the area, browsing bookshops, or enjoying a seasonal latte while writing at a café. She lives outside of Boston with her husband and their son.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Author Website // Twitter // Instagram // Goodreads

BUY LINKS

Harlequin // Indiebound // Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Books-A-Million // Walmart // Google // iBooks // Kobo


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: A Song Of Isolation – by Michael J. Malone #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @RandomTTours @Orendabooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the A Song Of Isolation Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve been wanting to try Michael J. Malone‘s stories for a long time now as I keep hearing fantastic things about his books. I even have a couple of his backlist titles waiting on my kindle, so I’m still not sure why I didn’t follow through with my intentions until now… But what I do know is that I mean to return to his writing ASAP after a fantastic first experience with his work. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts.

Title: A Song Of Isolation
Author: Michael J. Malone
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 17th 2020
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: September 18th 2020
Pages: 300

“Please. Live well. Be my revenge, Amelie.”

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

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I’ve been meaning to try Michael J. Malone’s psychological thrillers for quite some time now, and especially since as far as I can remember I’ve only seen positive reviews so far. I figured that joining the blog tour for his newest title A Song Of Isolation would be both the perfect way to ensure I finally tried his work and also the little push I needed to pick up the backlist titles I have waiting on my kindle as well… And now that I have finally sampled his writing, I am most definitely hungry for more. Atmospheric, compelling, powerful, moving, brutal, emotional… A Song Of Isolation will claw its way into your head and heart and it is a story that will stay with me for a long time.

The story is told with the help of a multiple POV structure that follows three different characters over time: Amelie, Dave and Damaris. On top of this, the story is divided into three different years… First we have the flashbacks Amelie experiences from her time in London back in 2010 that will help explain why she moved to Scotland. Then we have the part of the story set in 2015, where all three characters feature and most of the time is spent. This part includes some fascinating perspectives on Dave’s side including the day when Dave is first arrested, the trial and the chapters set in prison. Then we have Damaris and the effect the events have on her during and after the trial… And last but not least Amelie struggling to support Dave and her time in France afterwards. The last part of the story is set in 2019, and this is were everything comes together and the story will have more than one surprise for you in store.

Nothing is as it seems in A Song Of Isolation and you are constantly wondering about what is true and what ended up being a fabrication. As the truth about the whole situation is key in interpreting the story, it feels as if you are walking on a knife’s edge the whole time, and this suspense never went away. The story includes multiple difficult themes, including child abuse, the possibility of false imprisonment, dealing with the aftermath of negative press, stalking, mental health issues and grief. Each element is incorporated realistically and fitted very well in the story as a whole, rather than just being a little something extra designed to shock alone. I was especially intrigued by the questions this story raises about child abuse and possible false imprisonment. I’m all for believing the child and its accusations first to protect the child, but what if the accusations are wrong? This could utterly destroy the life of an innocent man, but on the other hand you don’t want a guilty predator to get away with what he did… This dilemma really messed with my head and it’s one of the reasons this story ended up having such an impact on me.

The psychological aspect in general and the development of the different characters in play is simply sublime. Each felt realistic, flawed and really added something special to the story; while not all were exactly likeable, I couldn’t help but feeling that urge to discover how they would evolve and what would happen to them. Especially those chapters set in prison were fascinating, and I love the chapters set in France too as the descriptions really made Bordeaux come alive for me… But A Song Of Isolation as a whole is designed to mesmerize. The writing itself is a true pleasure to the eye and mind. In fact, the only reason I didn’t finish it in one sitting is because I started it too late in the day and couldn’t afford an all-nighter… Because trust me, it was extremely hard to tear my eyes off those pages and stop reading.

A Song Of Isolation was my first experience with his books, but I will rectify that mistake soon. I have multiple of his backlist titles all ready and waiting for me on my kindle and I have no doubt that they will bring more hours filled with a fantastic reading experience. Fans of darker psychological thrillers NEED to read this one!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines, After He Died and In the Absence of Miracles soon followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber &
Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.


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ARC REVIEW: Flowers For The Dead – by Barbara Copperthwaite

Title: Flowers For The Dead
Author: Barbara Copperthwaite
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 2nd 2015
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: September 17th 2020
Pages: 353

“It is the aftermath that normally catches people out, of course. They get too caught up in the moment, the build-up, and don’t bother giving a thought to what will happen after they have killed someone.”

*** 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 read and enjoyed various of Barbara Copperthwaite‘s psychological thrillers in the past, but somehow this earlier title had slipped between the cracks of mount TBR until now. Thanks to Bookouture republishing Flowers For The Dead and putting it on my radar again, I’ve now finally had the chance to meet Adam! And boy, he must be one of the most interesting serial killers I’ve gotten the chance to meet to this date, and probably the first that won over my heart and I felt really sorry for. Wait, feeling sorry for a serial killer?! Trust me, once you read Flowers For The Dead and get to know Adam, you will know exactly what I’m talking about.

Flowers For The Dead uses a multiple POV structure, although the two main POVs can be seen as Adam and Laura. Detective Sergeant Michael Bishop plays a smaller, but still important role too, but his perspective isn’t as developed and pales next to the other two. Adam’s POV is further divided into the present and flashbacks to his past and childhood where we get to know him better and the flashbacks also help to understand how he became the person he is today. Reading about his childhood is both shocking and heartbreaking; like I said before, this might just be the very first time my heart went out to a serial killer character. Laura’s POV is an interesting contrast to Adam, and we also get some glimpses to the past as she relives the car crash that killed the rest of her family. The main focus is on the present though, with what is happening to her. It was fascinating to see the two POVs collide and complement each other; slowly working toward that big finale.

This story incorporates quite a few difficult topics, including (child)abuse, stalking, grief, mental health issues and of course the crimes themselves. Each element is well incorporated into the plot, and plays its role perfectly. An element that also really stands out in Flowers For The Dead is the use of flowers as symbols and messages. I really liked how it was incorporated into the plot throughout and not only had a special meaning for the main character, but also had a mention at the start of each chapter. This element really made this story stand out for me.

The writing itself is engaging, and makes it really hard to stop reading before you reach that final page. In combination with the building suspense and escalation of events, you will have a hard time letting go of this story! And I most definitely didn’t see those final developments coming. Flowers For The Dead is an excellent serial killer thriller where the focus is on the serial killer and the victim rather than the detective angle for once. Perfect for fans of darker thrillers with an excellent character development!


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ARC REVIEW: Remember Me – by Mario Escobar

Title: Remember Me
Author: Mario Escobar
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: October 1st 2019
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Finished reading: September 14th 2020
Pages: 384
(Originally published in Spanish: ‘Recuérdame’)

“I learned a long time ago that to see what’s right in front of us requires enormous effort, because there’s no man so blind as the one who doesn’t want to see.”

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

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I knew I just HAD to get a copy of Remember Me as soon as I saw that it was a Spanish Civil War novel. I’ve always had a special interest in Spain and its history, and I’ve studied the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath during my Uni years… I actually did hear of the Children Of Morelia already, although I had forgotten about the exact details and I thought this story would be the perfect way to refresh my memory as well as see those historical details combined into a historical fiction read. While I did end up having mixed feelings about this story, both the fact that it’s based on historical events and its incorporation into the plot were probably the strongest element of this story.

Remember Me has multiple international settings as we follow Marco Alcalde and his sisters on their journey. It all starts in Madrid, a city that has a special place in my heart after having lived and studied there for eight months… The mentions of different places within that city brought back memories of my time there and really made the setting come alive for me. I also enjoyed reading about their journey and their time in Mexico, and I loved the fact that I was able to improve my knowledge about this part of Spanish history in general.

The descriptions of the historical situation and escalating violence and struggles during the Spanish Civil War set the right tone for what should have been an emotionally devastating and heartbreaking read. And here is where things went wrong for me… I can’t deny that the events described and the struggles Marco and his family have to face are horrifying, and they do give you an accurate description of the hardships people had to face during and after the civil war. BUT. Sadly, I just couldn’t find any real character development or personality in any of the main characters. I couldn’t for the life of me describe any of the characters by their personality; it is as if they were just tools to describe what happened to the children of Morelia in general and they just lack any characteristics to make them feel unique and real. This made it extremely hard to connect to them and feel for their situation in particular. And I think that if I weren’t so interested in anything related to the Spanish Civil War, I probably would have struggled to make it to the final page. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad read, but it feels more like a summary of the historical events related to the Children of Morelia rather than a historical fiction novel with properly developed characters and emotions. While I feel sad that I wasn’t able to enjoy the story better, I’m still glad I read it for the things I learned about the Spanish Civil War alone though… So I guess Remember Me can go both ways for you depending on how much you care about properly developed and believable characters and/or if you prefer a focus on the historical details instead.


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ARC REVIEW: The Minders – by John Marrs

Title: The Minders
Author: John Marrs
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Science Fiction
First published: September 17th 2020
Publisher: Del Rey
Finished reading: September 11th 2020
Pages: 400

“It’s always what we don’t know about someone that piques our curiosity.”

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

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Speechless. Flabbergasted. Mind blown. Oh yes, John Marrs has done it once again and the holy guacamole is most definitely back!!! I know I might be a bit biased when it comes to his books; he’s easily one of my absolute favorite thriller authors and I’ve loved every single story I’ve tried so far… But there is no denying just how unique and original his stories are. The Minders is already the third book set in that same near future world with that sci-fi/dystopian feel, and it’s another fantastic story. Mind, this is officially a stand-alone story and you can quite easily without reading The One or The Passengers first as it’s no official sequel. BUT. Both books are absolutely brilliant as well and you won’t be able to spot references to those stories if you don’t read them first, so I can highly recommend just clearing your schedule and read all three if you haven’t already gotten yourself started.

So, The Minders. I’ve decided to keep these rambles short both because I’m still recovering from the massive book hangover this book gave me and because it’s simply one of those stories where it’s better to go in blind so you can fully savour the experience. The Minders is a bit of a mash up of a sci-fi, crime and action thriller all set in a near future world that seems surprisingly realistic and makes you worry about how our own future would look like. Why? Well, let’s just say that this particular future isn’t exactly a picnic, but at the same time a highly probable escalation of the present. This will put you immediately on edge and you will find yourself on the edge of your seat the whole time. I know I was!

The story uses a multiple POV structure where we switch between the different main characters in play. This might seem a bit much to handle initially, but trust me, it is absolutely worth it as you slowly get to know them better and understand the full scope of the situation. Each character is well developed and feels realistic; they might not seem exactly likeable, but they are each fascinating and their backgrounds explain perfectly why they would opt for a fresh start. The cast of characters is used to introduce a wide variety of different topics into the story, giving the story so much dept without it distracting from the plot itself. You will get crime, you will get violence, you will get emotions, you will get action, you will get suspense, you will get a psychological angle… The Minders is a true rollercoaster ride that will leave you breathless and shell shocked by the time you reach that final page. It’s a story that doesn’t fit into a neat box; a truly unique thriller with a sci-fi feel set in the near future that is destined to simply blow you away.


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ARC REVIEW: Who’s Next – by Chris Merritt

Title: Who’s Next?
(Detectives Lockhart & Green #2)

Author: Chris Merritt
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Detective
First published: September 11th 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: September 13th 2020
Pages: 449

“Lockhart wasn’t a believer in eye-for-an-eye justice. He subscribed to the rule of law, and the judicial process – flawed as it was.”

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

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I always have a weak spot for a good detective and serial killer thriller, so I’ve been curious about the Detectives Lockhart & Green series ever since I first saw the reviews of book one Knock Knock back in March. I couldn’t resist getting a copy of the sequel Who’s Next? on Netgalley as a way to make sure I was reading both sooner than later… I guess it worked, as I’ve now read both books and I’m definitely a fan.

My strange obsession with serial killer thrillers is no secret, and Who’s Next? definitely gives us another twisted as well as intriguing take on the genre. While this sequel technically could be read as a stand-alone, you will be missing out on background information as well as the changing dynamics between the main characters in play… So I would personally suggest reading the books in order. Both are more than solid reads in the first place anyway! Who’s Next? once again focuses on both a new police investigation and developments in the personal lives of both Lockhart and Green. This gives us an interesting fluctuation in intensity and suspense, although things will get pretty intense on both sides as things start to escalate along the way.

The story uses a multiple POV structure, where we not only follow main characters Dan Lockhart and Lexi Green, but also other members of Lockhart’s team as well as the killer and more than one victim. Despite the many changes, it was quite easy to keep track of the different angles… Especially since we already know Lockhart and his team as well as Green. I always like being able to get a glimpse inside the head of a serial killer, and Chris Merritt once again as created a very intriguing individual to follow. On top of the murder investigation, Who’s Next? also focuses on a serial sexual assault case once of Lockhart’s team members is helping to solve… Basically a two for one in crime investigations!

I particularly liked how we don’t just have the typical detective angle with Lockhart, but also have a focus on the psychological aspect of the crimes which is analyzed with the help of Lexi Green’s POV. It definitely enhanced the plot; the many different angles in play make for a rich and dynamic plot that is both suspenseful and packs a punch. On top of this, multiple suspects are presented along the way, keeping you in the dark about the real identity and the final reveals definitely came as a surprise. I was totally wrong with my suspicions! This ride will get intense, exhilarating and pretty twisted along the way… It’s perfect if you have a taste for dark and disturbing serial killers hunts like me. I’ll be looking forward to more Lockhart and Green next year!


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Seven Doors – by Agnes Ravatn #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @RandomTTours @Orendabooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Seven Doors Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve rediscovered my love for the nordic noir genre in recent years and I’ve been wanting to try this author for a while now… And I’m definitely kicking myself for waiting this long now! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: The Seven Doors
Author: Agnes Ravatn
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Nordic Noir
First published: September 13th 2019
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: September 8th 2020
Pages: 276
(Originally published in Norwegian: ‘Dei sju dørene’)

“We often stumble in the dark, unaware of the full scope of our actions.”

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

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I’m always immediately tempted when I see a new nordic noir title popping up on my radar, and this happened once again as soon as I first heard about The Seven Doors. I’ve been meaning to try Agnes Ravatn‘s work ever since I started hearing fantastic things about her previous title The Bird Tribunal, and while that one somehow slipped between the cracks of my TBR mountain (something I plan to remedy soon), joining the tour for the translation of her newest title sounded like the perfect guarantee to not make the same mistake with this title. I’m most definitely glad I did, because I now have another name to add to my list of favorite nordic noir authors!

So… The Seven Doors. I admit that I was sold as soon as I read the blurb. I mean, how can I say no to the promise of a nordic setting AND an university professor investigating the mysterious disappearance of her tenant?! I’m glad I didn’t, because this story turned out to be a true gem. The Norway setting really shines through as soon as you start reading, and I felt transported to this nordic country along with the main characters straight away. The descriptions really made the different settings within Norway come alive for me, and I liked how certain places were not only incorporated into the plot naturally but were also quite fundamental for certain developments in that same plot.

It’s hard to put The Seven Doors inside just one neat genre box… This story can be seen as an amateur PI thriller turned psychological thriller turned domestic drama, all doused with that delicious nordic noir sauce to spice things up. On top of this, the story shows a focus on psychology as well as literature and incorporates many theories and background information along the way. You will find psychology related terms and theories, but also folklore stories and fairytales as well as literature theory related elements… And even the title refers to a folklore story with a key role in the plot, which I personally thought was a brilliant touch. Both elements really gave this nordic noir an unique angle that made this story stand out for me.

The story is told through the eyes of main character and university professor Nina. Both the investigation, her background and the final truth around the disappearance might seem a bit colored that way, but this sole POV is used perfectly to add suspense and keep the air of mystery around it all. It was interesting to see Nina develop over time and react to the things happening in the plot; especially once she started investigating Mari’s disappearance and kept going stubbornly despite the police not taking her seriously. The focus isn’t just on the investigation though, as we also learn about the changes in her personal life, her struggles with her family home that is about to be demolished as well as other secrets and events happening to those close to her. Both the investigation and the more personal angle are well balanced and I liked how they complemented each other.

The writing itself is fluid and descriptive and really made both the nordic setting and the main characters of this story come alive. I have to point out the flawless translation by Rosie Hedger too, as without her time and effort I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy this story in the first place… The Seven Doors has a more leisurely pace than my usual reads, but this slower pace is used to properly dive into the different characters and elements in play and makes you fully savour both. The story works steadily towards more than one highly explosive final reveal that will most likely end up hitting you with a sledgehammer. Why? Two words: THAT ENDING! What a way to leave us with our jaws hanging on the floor… BOOM.

This was my first experience with Agnes Ravatn‘s work, but I have a copy of The Bird Tribunal hanging out on my kindle which I will pick up very soon (read: Orentober month)The Seven Doors is most definitely another nordic noir gem!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Agnes Ravatn (b. 1983) is a Norwegian author and columnist. She made her literary début with the novel Week 53 (Veke 53) in 2007. Since then she has written three critically acclaimed and award-winning essay collections: Standing still (Stillstand), 2011, Popular Reading (Folkelesnad), 2011, and Operation self-discipline (Operasjon sjøldisiplin), 2014. In these works, Ravatn revealed a unique, witty voice and sharp eye for human fallibility. Her second novel, The Bird Tribunal (Fugletribuanlet), was an international bestseller translated into fifteen languages, winning an English PEN Award, shortlisting for the Dublin Literary Award, a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick and a BBC Book at Bedtime. It was also made into a successful play, which premiered in Oslo in 2015. Agnes lives with her family in the Norwegian countryside.


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ARC REVIEW: The Wife – by Shalini Boland

Title: The Wife
Author: Shalini Boland
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: September 9th 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: September 4th 2020
Pages: 292

“But it all feels like an act. As if I’m going through the motions. What on earth is wrong with me?”

*** 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 Shalini Boland‘s psychological thrillers ever since I read her first title back in 2016, and every single book I’ve read since has been a success so far. The Wife is already my tenth psychological thriller by this author (I somehow missed one earlier this year, but I plan to remedy that as soon as I have more time), and without doubt another excellent example of a well written story with a shocking ending. Don’t let that rather generic title mislead you, as this story will definitely add some serious punch to what might seem like a typical set up in the beginning. Fans of the genre will have a blast reading The Wife!

The plot starts out pretty simple: we have our main character Zoe who is planning her ten-year anniversary party to celebrate this milestone with her husband. BUT. On her wedding day ten years ago, she somehow fainted before the ceremony and woke up with a gap in her memories and no recollection what happened in that missing time. Talk about introducing the amnesia element using a whole different angle! There is so much mystery around that fainting spell as well, as Zoe has a bad feeling about that missing time, but no concrete evidence that something bad actually happened… This definitely added a healthy dose of suspense as well as question marks to the plot.

There are in fact multiple elements that add to the suspense of this story. Not only do we have the missing time on Zoe’s wedding day, but we also have the disappearance of her estranged sister Dina ten years ago, the questions around what happened between Zoe and her then friend Cassie in the past and the strange things happening to Zoe in the present to contend with. This leads to a multi-dimentional plot where you will have plenty of different angles to explore and multiple possible answers to both the present and past will be revealed along the way. And while I do have to say that I found the first part of the story to be a tad slow, those super explosive final reveals definitely made up for it. Oh yes, The Wife will have more than one surprise for you in store, and I definitely didn’t see most of them coming! Without doubt another successful drop of those shocking plot twist bombs I’ve come to expect.

I confess that I wasn’t really that big of a fan of the main characters or how they behaved as a whole, but I do think that their development felt realistic and it was interesting to slowly learn more about them. Zoe is the perfect character to star this psychological thriller and both her past and the things happening to her in the present will have you under its spell. The Wife is another more than solid psychological thriller that shows that you can’t go wrong when it comes to Shalini Boland‘s books.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Road Out Of Winter – by Alison Stine #blogtour @HarlequinBooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Road Out Of Winter blog tour! A huge thanks to Lia Ferrone for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I don’t read nearly enough dystopian stories and there was just something about the blurb of Road Out Of Winter that made me want to try it straight away. And it definitely turned out to be an unique and satisfying read! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: Road Out Of Winter
Author: Alison Stine
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: September 1st 2020
Publisher: MIRA
Finished reading: August 29th 2020
Pages: 227

“I never realized, before last year, how dull winter was. How much the same of everything.”

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

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It’s a fact that I don’t read nearly enough dystopian stories, so I jumped on the chance to join the blog tour of Road Out Of Winter for not one, but two reasons. One: it was the perfect excuse for me to pick up the genre again. And two: the blurb itself had me completely under its spell and I loved the sound of the illegal marijuana growing angle. I’ve been looking forward to dive into what sounded like a fascinating story, and now I’ve read it I can confirm that it is without doubt out of this world. Unique, bitterly cold, mesmerizing and even terrifying: Road Out Of Winter gives us an image of an alternative near future with an air of possibility that will chill you to the bone.

There are a lot of interesting elements in this story, but let’s talk about the setting and the dystopian world first. Although there isn’t an exact date mentioned as far as I know, you immediately get a feel that the story is set in an alternative near future that is very close to our current world. This gave the dystopian elements even more impact for me, as it is quite easy to imagine how it could be like if the cold winter months suddenly never left again… And trust me, after more than two months of cold winter weather, that IS a terrifying thought. The main dystopian aspect of Road Out Of Winter is basically that somehow the season meter is stuck on ‘winter’. This might seem like something minor, but when you start thinking about the cycle of nature, growing plants and how many industries rely on weather changes, you will start to realize just how big of an impact this neverending cold will have on life. Road Out Of Winter does an excellent job portraying the effects and consequences as well as how far out of control things will spin.

What I also loved was the illegal marijuana growing element and how the plant growing element is incorporated into the plot in general. I’ve always had a strange interest in stories with a drugs element, and it was interesting to learn more about Wil’s background and home situation before the cold never left. The drugs element is mostly focused on the before, but the plant growing element will be important throughout the story and really shines through in Wil’s character with her having the talent to make things grow even under the most difficult circumstances. The growing element for me represented the hope for a better future, and I liked how it kept popping up along the way.

Road Out Of Winter can in a way been seen as a dystopian road trip story, where unlikely characters spend time together on an improvised and dangerous road trip while trying to reach a better and warmer destination down south. The dystopian vibe will mean a lot of obstacles and challenges, and there is no doubt whatsoever that this road trip will be no picnic. It has been interesting to follow their struggle as the different characters in play meet those challenges; the different plot twists and obstacles showing us more about the dystopian world and the consequences of no longer having no other seasons but winter.

As for the characters… Wil was without doubt an intriguing character, and it is her strength and perseverance that keeps everyone going. That said, I do think that her character lacks proper development, and the same can be said for all the other main characters in play. There is a lot of mystery around both their background and past, and they don’t exactly grow much during the story either… It’s as if they were frozen in time along with the stuck winter season, but somehow weirdly enough it did mostly work for the story. I think it has to do with the fact that they are basically a random bunch of individuals being thrown together on an impromptu road trip; it makes you forgive the fact that you don’t know almost anything about their background, as the characters are mostly living in the present anyway and they have more pressing things to deal with.

That said, I do have to say that I was quite disappointed by the final developments in the story. After everything that happened before, I felt that the ending was both rushed as well as what I consider way too open. The story left lots of questions unanswered and I didn’t feel my journey with the main characters was concluded or even paused in a satisfying way. I’m not sure if I missed the memo that this was actually the first book of a series, or the story simply ends this way, but the fact is that the final part did put a damper on my overall reading experience.

Despite the unsatisfying ending, Road Out Of Winter is still an unique, fascinating and highly readable dystopian story that will make you wonder what would really happen to our world if the cold winter weather suddenly becomes the only weather throughout the year. If you are looking for a little something different and a dystopian road trip in the middle of a cold cold winter sounds like your cup of tea, you will be in for a treat!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ALISON STINE lives in the rural Appalachian foothills. A recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), she was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. She has written for The Atlantic, The Nation, The Guardian, and many others. She is a contributing editor with the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Author Website // Twitter // Instagram // Goodreads

BUY LINKS

Harlequin // Barnes & Noble // Amazon // Books-A-Million // Powell’s


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ARC REVIEW: Deadly Waters – by Dot Hutchison

Title: Deadly Waters
Author: Dot Hutchison
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 1st 2020
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: August 31st 2020
Pages: 302

“What a wasted life if your death is met largely with relief. Sad and, well… horrible.”

*** 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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Oh boy… I certainly didn’t expect to have this reaction to Dot Hutchison‘s newest story at all. I mean, I loved her The Collector series, and I fully expected to have a similar reaction to Deadly Waters too. I confess that I requested this title months ago without even reading the blurb (something I tend to do when I’ve loved multiple books by an author), and I started reading this story without reading the already available reviews first… I kind of wish I would have done that now, because I would have been warned at least that way. Warned, you say? Yes, sadly Deadly Waters wasn’t what I was expecting at all, and not in a good way. I’ll try to explain why this book didn’t work for me below and I’ll try not to turn it into a rant along the way (no promises though).

So… Basically, Deadly Waters is all about an over the top, exaggerated man-hating world where all men are abusing, rapist bastards and the girls on the Florida campus are all in constant danger. You would think I must be exaggerating with that description, but sadly this is an all too accurate summary of what you will find in this first book of a new series… And this is where it all starts going downhill. Don’t get me wrong, I normally applaude authors for bringing attention to abuse/rape victims and the struggles they have to face while trying to find justice, but doing so with such a negative vibe simply has the opposite effect. And then we’re not even talking about the credibility of it all… Oh yes, this was definitely a miss for me.

It doesn’t stop with that constant negativity and hate oozing out of the pages though. Oh no, there were a lot of other elements that unfortunately didn’t work for me either. The plot itself feels extremely exaggerated and over the top, using excessive violence and attacks to create an atmosphere were all men are predators and every girl is in constant danger. With exaggeration I’m talking multiple attacks on just about every female character in play and just about every male character popping up acting like a bastard. How on earth is this credible? How on earth is this supposed to help abuse/rape victims finally find their voice? It only makes for uncomfortable and trigger warning worthy reading, all doused with so much hate and negativity that it was hard to swallow. This lack of credibility was omnipresent and continued until the very end… Another nail on the coffin.

To make things worse, even the characters didn’t make up for it. Instead of an interesting and well developed cast of characters, we are dealing with what is basically a group of college student cliches. The good girl, the bad girl, the silent girl, the crush on the older male, the drunk college boys, the bastards… And I can go on and on. Apart from the fact that it lacks originality and doesn’t add dept to the story, the characters themselves didn’t really experience any development either. Instead, they just kept behaving as cliches; the female characters raging at the world and how all men are bastards and they should get what they deserve. Ugh, I’m getting angry all over again just trying to type down my thoughts, and that’s not me angry at what happens in the book, but angry with the book itself. It’s normally a good sign when a book manages to provoke strong emotions, but somehow I don’t think this was the emotion they were looking for.

Let’s pause this negativity and try to add some positive thoughts instead. What I did think had potential was the whole murder part of the plot with the alligators. How ingenious is that?! Especially how it relates to the college itself with its Gator mascott and all… Those chapters set from the killer’s POV where a bit of a relief, even though even those chapters were doused with negativity and man-hate. Talking about the killer: I actually saw that twist coming early on and I basically only kept reading to hopefully discover I was wrong… But I guess I wasn’t that lucky. I can’t deny that the story made the most of its Florida setting though.

Wow, this has really turned into a rant after all… I guess I really did have strong feelings about this book that needed to come out. I’ll stop now as these rambles are becoming way too long already, and leave you with a short summary before I sign off. Basically, with all that anger and hate literally streaming out off the pages, Deadly Waters turns into a very VERY unappetizing read. Combine this with the undeveloped character cliches, the exaggerated plot with excessive violence and attacks and lack of credibility in general, I really wish I would have just opted to DNF Deadly Waters instead. Am I sad to feel this way about a story I had highly anticipated? Yes. But that doesn’t make my reaction any less real, and judging the other reviews I’ve seen so far I’m not the only one who feels this way either. You’ve been warned!


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