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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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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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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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Memories We Bury – by H.A. Leuschel #blogtour #damppebblesblogtours @HALeuschel @damppebbles

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Memories We Bury blog tour! A huge thanks to Emma Welton for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve enjoyed Helene Leuschel’s writing in the past, so I have been looking forward to try her newest story… And it turned out to be yet another excellent example of a well written psychological thriller. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!


Title: The Memories We Bury
Author: H.A. Leuschel
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: April 17th 2020
Publisher: EKT Selection Ltd
Finished reading: August 27th 2020
Pages: 314

“Trust is a fragile bird perched on a branch that is so dry it will break at the first unexpected breeze.”

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

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I was positively impressed by Helene Leuschel‘s short story collection Manipulated Lives as well as her stand-alone novella My Sweet Friend a few years back, so of course I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to join the blog tour for her first ‘full novel’ psychological thriller. She has a way of describing the psychological aspects and effects of manipulation that is both realistic and extremely thorough, and after reading the blurb of The Memories We Bury I could just feel it in my bones that I was in for another absolute treat. And that is exactly what this story turned out to be! If you enjoy a well written, realistic and utterly addicting psychological thriller, this title should definitely be on your wishlist.

Let’s look at the basics first. The Memories We Bury is told with the help of a dual POV structure, alternating between pregnant and later on new mother Lizzie and her lonely widow neighbor Morag. On top of this dual POV structure, the story also incorporates time jumps; The Memories We Bury starts out in 2016 after the main events have occured, only to jump back to 2013 and later 2014 to see the actual story slowly unfold. These first chapters set 2016 will tickle your curiosity and make you wonder what happened in the past for the two women to be the way they are right now… And they are a great teaser of what is yet to come. This structure is used to its best advantage and definitely helped keeping me invested during what might be a slightly slower beginning, as the promise of some sort of escalation was always there.

The Memories We Bury is a mostly character-driven psychological thriller, and the focus of especially the first half of this story is mainly on the development of the two main characters Lizzie and Morag. We slowly learn more about their past and their motivations, and it was fascinating to see both develop over time as the events took place. Once again we see the element of manipulation as well as obsession mastered perfectly, and especially the blurred line between victim and manipulator added a healthy level of suspense to the story. Who is manipulating who? What is really going on and who is the real victim? Although I did make a right guess quite early on, there were so many little details and twists that did surprise me along the way that I wasn’t too bothered by it in the end.

As for the characters… First of all, I have to say that I love the Scottish setting and I was stoked to see that the characters really complement that setting. Especially Morag stood out with the inclusion of Scottish dialect in her dialogue and this really made the setting feel a lot more authentic. Her background and development are realistic and thorough too, and it was interesting to slowly uncover her secrets and quirks. Lizzie made for a very interesting character as well, although her behavior and actions could get pretty frustrating in points. That said, it was a very realistic portrayal and she fitted her role in the story perfectly, so the fact that she wasn’t completely likeable could be forgiven. Her husband Markus did deserve a punch or two and he will most definitely get under your skin… But sadly I can’t deny it’s realistic portrayal of the typical absent husband and father, and he fitted his role well.

In short, The Memories We Bury is a well written, painstakingly realistic and compelling psychological thriller where the lines between manipulator and victim will blur. I can highly recommend this title if you enjoy the genre!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Helene Andrea Leuschel gained a Master in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She later acquired a Master in Philosophy, specializing in the study of the mind. Helene has a particular interest in emotional, psychological and social well-being and this led her to write her first novel, Manipulated Lives, a fictional collection of five novellas, each highlighting the dangers of interacting with narcissists. She lives with her husband and two children in Portugal.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Twitter // Facebook // Website // Instagram  

BUY LINKS

Amazon UK // Amazon US 


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: When I Was You – by Amber Garza #blogtour @HarlequinBooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the When I Was You blog tour! A huge thanks to Justine Sha for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. The premise of this story sounded absolutely fascinating, and I simply knew I HAD to read it as soon as I first read the description. And it most definitely lived up to expectations! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: When I Was You
Author: Amber Garza
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 25th 2020
Publisher: MIRA
Finished reading: August 25th 2020
Pages: 368

“My mom used to say that we all had our own kryptonite. A weakness. An obsession. Something that had the potential to destroy us.”

*** 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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There was just something about the blurb of When I Was You that made me want to read it instantly. A lonely empty-nester as the main character, her growing obsession with a young mother with the same name… It sounded like the perfect premise to build a story around. I’ve been looking forward to dive into this psychological thriller, and I can promise you that When I Was You most definitely lived up to expectations and more. Fans of the genre will be in for a treat with this one!

There are a lot of things I loved about When I Was You, but let’s start with the plot itself. The plot of this psychological thriller is designed and executed brilliantly to completely mislead you along the way. The tension and suspicion is slowly build up until it reaches its climax, the plot interlaced with turns, secrets and plot twists to keep you guessing. The fact that we have two main characters sharing the exact same name is used to drop certain hints while also sending you off on the wrong track… Twisty, suspenseful and unexpected; When I Was You has more than one surprise for you in store before you reach that final page. And while I did guess some of the twists, there were also other turns I never saw coming. And I call that a success!

Now that we are talking about the characters, let’s properly focus on them. The main focus of the story is on the older Kelly Medina at first: an empty-nester who has been feeling extremely lonely after her son Aaron left for college last year. Initially, as a reader you are being kept in the dark about certain events in the past; a strategy fully designed to give the plot twists an even bigger impact. Kelly isn’t all that likeable if you look critically, but her development is more than solid and there is just something about her that makes you want to know more. Once the young Kelly comes in the picture, things are getting even more interesting. Who is this new mother sharing the exact same name with our main character? Why did she suddenly show up in the same town as our main character? Coincidence or is there something else at play? The mystery around young Kelly’s past and motive definitely turned up the level of suspense.

The author did a brilliant job disguising certain facts and witholding others, creating an air of suspicion and that ominous feel that something is about to spin out of control. We have older Kelly and her growing obsession, we have the questions about younger Kelly’s past and her motive, we have secrets, twists and turns to uncover… When I Was You is designed to keep you on your toes the whole way and trust me, you will be having a hard time stopping before you reach that final page. Especially once things are starting to REALLY escalate and certain plot twist bombs are being revealed… And that ending! Holy guacamole, what a way to go out with a bang!

If you enjoy a well written, misleading and suspenseful psychological thriller with an explosive ending, When I Was You should most definitely be on your wishlist. The two Kelly’s will keep you more than entertained!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber Garza has had a passion for the written word since she was a child making books out of notebook paper and staples. Her hobbies include reading and singing. Coffee and wine are her drinks of choice (not necessarily in that order). She writes while blaring music, and talks about her characters like they’re real people. She lives with her husband and two kids in Folsom, California, which is—no joke—home to another Amber Garza.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Author Website // Twitter //Facebook// Instagram // Goodreads

BUY LINKS

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


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Last To Know – by Jo Furniss #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @RandomTTours

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Last To Know Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve been meaning to try Jo Furniss‘ books for a while now, and my first experience without doubt turned out to be successful… Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!

Title: The Last To Know
Author: Jo Furniss
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 11th 2020
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Finished reading: August 9th 2020
Pages: 318

“The truth depends on who’s telling the story.”

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

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I knew I HAD to read The Last To Know as soon as read Meggy’s brilliant review, and I simply couldn’t pass up on opportunity to join the blog tour when the invitation hit my inbox soon after. It’s a fact that I’ve been wanting to try one of Jo Furniss‘ books for quite some time now, and this sounded like the perfect opportunity to finally do so. I’m glad I did, as my first impression with her writing turned out to be more than solid!

The Last To Know is what you call a slowburner, and I admit it took me a while while to get in the groove. Once I did though, I was fully under the spell of this story, and I had a brilliant time trying to guess how things would evolve. I think that a lot of the power of this story lies with the setting. The Last To Know takes place in the small market town of Hurtwood, Shropshire, and this setting helps set the right ominous and somewhat gothic atmosphere the story is then build on. Especially the Hurtwood House itself with its hint at the supernatural and its creepy vibe set the tone for this story, and I think it’s the setting especially that makes this book. The descriptions made both the Hurtwood House and the town itself come alive for me.

The story told with help of a dual POV, switching between local police sergeant Ellie Trevelyan and American journalist Rose Kynaston. This contrast between local and foreigner gives us two fascinating views of both the town itself, its inhabitants and history, and gave the story an extra level of dept. Rose has an interesting background with her growing up as a military brat and moving around a lot; now suddenly having to face a tight-knit community where fitting in won’t be so easy with everybody being so prejudiced about her husband and his family. On the other hand we have Ellie, who is a local and has her own problems to face with her father suffering from Alzheimer’s. Both women help us slowly unravel the past and the present as the story evolves, with plenty of secrets and lies to uncover along the way.

The Last To Know is mostly focused on the characters and their secrets as well as the town itself. This might be part of the reason why this story felt more slower paced, and it did turn out to be a slowburner for me where I even guessed some of the final reveals quite early on… But: overall the journey itself was still more than fullfilling for me. Like I said before, the power of this story is in its Hurtwood setting and the slightly gothic vibe as well as the hint at the supernatural. The stunning cover represents the setting very well, and it was exactly how I imagined Hurtwood House in my mind… The dark grey clouds hinting at that ominous feel that is so present all the time.

I haven’t talked much about the plot itself, and it is for a reason. I think The Last To Know is one of those stories where you benefit from going in blind, and you will enjoy the nuances of the plot developments and reveals all the better because of it. Fans of slower and character driven psychological thrillers with a touch of the gothic vibe will most likely have a great time with this story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After spending a decade as a broadcast journalist for the BBC, Jo Furniss gave up the glamour of night shifts to become a freelance writer and serial expatriate. Originally from the United Kingdom, she spent seven years in Singapore and also lived in Switzerland and Cameroon.

As a journalist, Jo worked for numerous online outlets and magazines, including Monocle and the Economist. She has edited books for a Nobel laureate and the palace of the Sultan of Brunei. She has a Distinction in MA Professional Writing from Falmouth University.

Jo’s debut novel, All the Little Children, was an Amazon Charts bestseller.

Connect with her via Facebook (/JoFurnissAuthor) and Twitter (@Jo_Furniss) or through her website: http://www.jofurniss.com/

AMAZON UK


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Night Swim – by Megan Goldin #blogtour @StMartinsPress

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Night Swim blog tour! A huge thanks to John Karle for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I had a brilliant time with The Escape Room last year, so of course I couldn’t say no to joining the blog tour for Megan Goldin’s newest… And I think this story might just be even better! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: The Night Swim
Author: Megan Goldin
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 4th 2020
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: July 26th 2020
Pages: 352

“To tell you the truth, I don’t get how we can almost unanimously agree that murder is wrong, yet when it comes to rape some people still see shades of gray.”

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

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I had a brilliant time with The Escape Room last year, and I have been looking forward to read more of Megan Goldin‘s writing ever since. I couldn’t resist joining the blog tour for The Night Swim, as I had a feeling I was going to enjoy my time with this story… And my instincts turned out to be right, as I had a brilliant time the second time around as well. In fact, I might have enjoyed this one even better, although both stories are very different and it’s probably not fair to compare the two. Dark, harrowing as well as powerful: The Night Swim talks about the very difficult topic of rape and helps show just how hard it is for victims to find justice and peace of mind.

First of all, I have to say that I loved the podcast element in The Night Swim. While the whole podcast element has been done before, I really liked how this element was incorporated into the plot here. Our main character Rachel is the crime podcast host and for her third season she decided to cover a rape trial in a small town live. The plot includes transcripts of those podcast episodes called Guilty or Not Guilty, in which Rachel talks about what happens during the trial and gives background about the participants, always trying to be objective of course. This story includes controversial and strong opinions and is used to talk about rape and show just how much a victim struggles and how they are often judged unfairly. On top of that, this story also shows that as a consequence victims often prefer not going to trial to avoid having to relive their trauma over and over again. Especially since it is very hard to get a conviction in the first place as it is the classic ‘he said/she said’ scenario. Even today, there is a lot of stigma around rape and victim blaming; I thought The Night Swim did a great job showing the different issues in play.

The story uses a dual POV structure in between the different podcast episodes. We switch between podcast host and journalist Rachel and Hannah, who is less present but basically key to the cold case investigation part of the plot. Because The Night Swim isn’t just about the upcoming rape trial which will be covered in the third podcast season, but it’s also about what happened to Hannah’s sister 25 years ago. Back then her death was ruled an accidental drowning, but Hannah claims that her sister was actually murdered and Rachel cannot help but feel intrigued. She is determined to try her best to find out more, especially after Hannah’s unusual way of contacting her. This cold case part of the plot is used both to take a break from the harrowing rape case as well as to add suspense and mystery to the plot. It was intriguing to slowly discover more about the past and the story definitely had some surprises in store along the way.

While the pace is slower in points, it didn’t bother me as much as I liked the balance between the present, the podcast episodes and the investigation into the past. The mystery around Hannah and her not wanting to meet Rachel in person to discuss her sister’s death had me fully intrigued. Why not come forward sooner? Was it a cover up, was it really a drowning, what happened exactly and who was involved? What does Hannah know? There were a lot of questions to keep me busy, and I always like it when a plot keeps me on my toes. The characters weren’t all that likeable, but their development was solid and felt realistic. It’s an interesting cast to shoulder both the past and present storyline, and they fit their different roles very well.

The Night Swim is a well written, dark and harrowing read that divides its attention between an upcoming rape trial and a death that happened 25 years ago. Both storylines are equally fascinating, and I ended up having a brilliant time with this story. The rape element can be hard to stomach, but I thought it was well done and the story definitely helps to shine a light on the issues rape victims still encounter while trying to find justice. Without doubt a powerful read!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MEGAN GOLDIN worked as a correspondent for Reuters and other media outlets where she covered war, peace, international terrorism and financial meltdowns in the Middle East and Asia. She is now based in Melbourne, Australia where she raises three sons and is a foster mum to Labrador puppies learning to be guide dogs. The Escape Room was her debut novel.

SOCIAL LINKS

Author website // Twitter // Facebook // Author Blog // GoodReads

BUY LINKS

Macmillan // Books-A-Million // Barnes & Noble // Amazon


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Sight Unseen – by Sandra Ireland @22_ireland @BirlinnBooks @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Sight Unseen Love Books Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Kelly Lacey for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I admit I was fully intrigued by this book as soon as I read the blurb, and I most definitely enjoyed my time with this story. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: Sight Unseen
(A Sarah Sutherland Thriller #1)
Author: Sandra Ireland
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 6th 2020
Publisher: Polygon
Finished reading: July 27th 2020
Pages: 256

“Stories are like puzzles, charity shop jigsaws with half the pieces missing. It’s up to you to fill in the blanks, let your mind form a version of the true picture.”

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

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I admit that I was fully intrigued as soon as I read the blurb of Sight Unseen. The promise of the 1648 flashbacks and a world of witches, scorcery and folklore to contrast the contemporary sounded absolutely fantastic and frankly simply irresistible. I had a feeling that I would enjoy my time with this first book of a new series, and my instincts most definitely turned out to be right. My first meeting with Sarah Sutherland was without doubt a success!

The first thing that stands out is the setting. Sight Unseen takes place in the fictional Kilgour, a small Scottish town with a fascinating history. The many descriptions really made the setting come alive for me and kind of made me wish the town was real so I could visit it someday… The flavor of Scotland is well represented and turns the setting into a real treat. We got to learn more about both the surroundings and the history of Kilgour through the tourist walk the main character Sarah hosts, and it was without doubt an unique way of getting to know the Scottish town.

I loved everything related to the 1648 flashbacks to Alie Gowdie and Rev. William Wilkie’s time. Alie is known as the Kilgour witch and has an intriguing history, and I loved her connection with Sarah as she is currently living in the same house as Alie once inhabited. Sarah has investigated Alie’s life for a long time, and it has been interesting to see more of the true story around Alie slowly come to light. The 1648 scenes without doubt took the story to the next level, and added more dept to the plot as well. The way the new information is comporated into the plot in different ways is a nice touch, and Sarah basically plays historical detective as she tries to unravel the truth of 300 years ago.

I also loved the hint of the paranormal and supernatural in Sight Unseen. We have the story of the witches and the witch hunt of the 17th century, the talk of the devil, the folklore elements, the sightings by Sarah’s father John… All these elements definitely have the story a hint of the haunted and they were a nice contrast with the daily life and other elements in play in the plot. Oh yes, the contemporary storyline is also packed with ‘ordinary’ elements: Sarah’s background, her relationship with her backpacking daughter, Sarah caring for her father, her work in the supermarket, her second job storytelling… All doused with a dose of mystery, romance and a hint of action to spice things up. It was especially fascinating to read more about the so-called Charles Bonnet Syndrome as part of the explanation, as I hadn’t heard of it before and I liked how this element was developed in the story.

It is true that this story could have done without the romance, as it felt forced and not naturally developed. I didn’t think the romance added anything substantial to the plot either, and only distracted from the whole situation with John as well as Alie’s story. Sight Unseen uses a dual POV structure by switching between Rachel and her father John. On top of this, we get 1648 diary fragments written by Rev. William Wilkie as well as different POV fragments which identity is revealed later. The writing is easy on the eye and engaging, and while the pace is slow in points overall Sight Unseen is without doubt a solid and very entertaining read.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sandra Ireland was awarded a Carnegie-Cameron scholarship to study for an MLitt in Writing Practice and Study at the University of Dundee, graduating with a distinction in 2014. Her work has appeared in various publications and women’s magazines. She is the author of Beneath the Skin (2016), Bone Deep (2018) and The Unmaking of Ellie Rook (2019). She lives in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Lobizona – by Romina Garber #blogtour @WednesdayBooks @RominaRussell

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Lobizona blog tour! A huge thanks to Meghan Harrington for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I just knew I HAD to read this story as soon as I read the blurb and saw the mention of the Argentine folklore element. As someone who has called Argentina her home for quite a few years now, it was just irresistible… And this story definitely turned out to be everything I could have hoped for in a story and more. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!


Title: Lobizona
(Wolves Of No World #1)
Author: Romina Garber
Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: August 4th 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Finished reading: July 16th 2020
Pages: 400

“Sometimes reality strays so far from what’s rational that we can only explain it through fantasy.”

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

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I knew I just HAD to read Lobizona as soon as I first read the blurb. As an immigrant who has been living in Latin America since 2010, and most of that time in Argentina, I just couldn’t resist the promise of both the immigrant aspect and the Argentine folklore element. I had a feeling this book would be a perfect match for me, and my instincts turned out to be 200% correct. I absolutely loved my time with this first book of a new series, and it is without doubt a new favorite! Trust me, that absolutely gorgeous cover matches its content perfectly.

There are so many elements that I loved in Lobizona and I’m having a bit of a hard time figuring out where to start… But let’s talk about the Argentine folklore and the influence of Argentine culture and customs in general first. As someone who has experienced Argentine life from up close during years (my hubby is actually Argentinian), I absolutely loved how important this element is in the story. The references to food, customs, culture and folklore were numerous and I LOVED just how many Spanish phrases were included. And not only that, but specific Argentine phrases as well as localisms from other countries were included; an absolute treat for the Spanish philologist in me. I do understand that someone without any knowledge of the Spanish language or Argentine culture might struggle, but I personally thought this element gave the story authenticity and made it stand out far above other books of the same genre. And with the main character Manu being bilingual, helpful translations of most if not all Spanish phrases are being included in the dialogue without slowing down the pace or flow of the story.

Another thing that stands out for me in Lobizona is that it is basically a mix of urban and high fantasy, where the real world of Miami and the fantasy world of Lunaris collide. Both worlds are thoroughly described and developed; these descriptions make it really easy to fully immerse yourself in the story. Especially the worldbuilding of Lunaris as well as el Laberinto really made the fantasy part of this story come alive… And I just loved getting the chance to learn more about the world as well as both the werewolves, witches and their powers. Some part of the story almost had that magical realism feel, and the mention of more than one famous Latin American author (including Gabriel García Márquez and Jorge Luis Borges) contributed to that same magic.

The Miami setting is used to help discuss the topic of immigrants and the struggles they face… Especially how hard it is for illegal immigrants to change their fate. As someone who has been an immigrant during the last ten years, this is a topic close to my heart and the way Romina Garber incorporated it into the plot is splendid. The main character Manu is a fascinating character in that way, as her struggle to fit in and exist legally applies in both worlds, albeit for different reasons. On top of the immigrant topic, Lobizona also discusses important topics such as gender discrimination, sexism and the hostility towards the lgbt community… Oh yes, Lobizona is so much more than just another YA fantasy read filled to the brim with romance; instead we have a multi-dimentional and diverse story full of dept that simply blew me away.

I also loved how the focus of the story was on Manu, her self discovery, her development and her struggle to fit in as well as her struggle to find safety. While there is some romance involved in the plot, it is mostly a slowburn romance and somehow it didn’t bother me at all. The characters themselves are well developed and easy to like in general. I loved Manu’s history as well as her development over time, and the rest of the characters were well rounded and intriguing too. It is definitely a cast I will be looking forward to meeting up with again!

The writing itself is in one world brilliant. And I’m not only talking about the writing style as a whole, but also about the many Spanish phrases as well as the flow and pace of the story… I literally devoured each page, impatient to absorb more and more of this wonderful story. I know Lobizona might not be everyone’s taste and some might struggle with the many Spanish phrases, but for me personally it was a match made in heaven. The plot development was spot on and the plot twists were also well handled; the ending definitely left me craving for more!

In short, if you are looking for an unique YA fantasy read with Argentine folklore elements, that magical feel and a healthy dose of interesting topics that give the story dept, Lobizona is simply a must-read.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ROMINA GARBER (pen name Romina Russell) is a New York Times and international bestselling author. Originally from Argentina, she landed her first writing gig as a teen—a weekly column for the Miami Herald that was later nationally syndicated—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Her books include Lobizona. When she’s not working on a novel, Romina can be found producing movie trailers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core.

SOCIAL LINKS

Twitter: @RominaRussell // Instagram: @RominaGarber

BUY LINK 


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