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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YVO’S SHORTIES #178 – The Curator & Knock Knock

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around it’s all about two crime series… One an old favorite and one a new discovery. I’m a huge fan of the Tilly and Poe duo, so of course book number three The Curator turned into another new all time favorite. And Knock Knock by Chris Merritt turned out to be an excellent start of a series I will keep following.


Title: The Curator
(Washington Poe #3)
Author: M.W. Craven
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: June 4th 2020
Publisher: Constable
Finished reading: September 5th 2020
Pages: 384

“Go and get some rest, Tilly – we’re gonna Sherlock the fuck out of this thing tomorrow.”

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I decided to pick up this title on a whim as I thought it would be the perfect title to beat my beginning slump… Why? Well, I was blown away by the first two books of the series and it features one of my all time favorite character duos, so I thought I couldn’t go wrong with this third installment. And I was right, because The Curator did as expected and more. The holy guacamole is back!! M.W. Craven has written another absolute firecracker and I loved every single minute of my time with favorite characters Tilly and Poe. These books are dark, these books are suspenseful, these books are intense… And they all have that special humor and bantering between two characters that might seem like such an unlikely pairing, but somehow work brilliantly together. They bring that little something extra to what is already a fantastic crime thriller, and they have another nailbitingly intense and shocking case on their hands… Fantastic writing, brilliant plot development, ingenious and highly effective plot twist bombs and holy guacamole, that ending!! This series cannot go wrong for me and The Curator goes straight to my list of 2020 favorites. If you haven’t met Tilly and Poe yet, you are truly missing out on something special!


Title: Knock Knock
(Detectives Lockhart & Green #1)
Author: Chris Merritt
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 13th 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: September 7th 2020
Pages: 392

“Losing someone who had so much life left to live was tragic. It was the sort of thing that could tear you apart. He knew that more than most.”

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I’ve been curious about this series ever since I first saw the reviews of Knock Knock back in March… When I saw that the sequel was available on Netgalley, I just couldn’t resist getting a copy of both as I thought it would be a perfect excuse to finally try this series. My strange obsession with serial killer thrillers is no secret to those who follow my blog, and this first book of a series I already know I will be following in the future most definitely delivers on that point. While it took me a little while to get in the groove, once I did I simply couldn’t stop reading until that final page. I particularly liked how we don’t just have the detective angle with Lockhart, who I warmed up to quickly by the way, but we also have the psychological aspect analyzed with the help of Lexi Green’s POV. On top of this, the killer itself makes an appearance more than once as well… The story is more complex and intriguing as a consequence, and the psychology angle is further used to describe and analyze the killer and possible motives more thoroughly. I also loved how Knock Knock offered multiple suspects along the way and still managed to pull a surprise final twist out of the hat. 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. On to the sequel it is! I’m ready for more Lockhart and Green.


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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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YVO’S SHORTIES #177 – The Day We Meet Again & The 24-Hour Café

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time a double dose of contemporaries  with two books that have been recommended to me more than once: The Day We Meet Again by Miranda Dickinson and The 24-Hour Café by Libby Page. Both turned out to be excellent reads too!


Title: The Day We Meet Again
Author: Miranda Dickinson

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: September 5th 2019
Publisher: HQ
Finished reading: August 23rd 2020 
Pages: 384

“Maybe in the end we are all just stories waiting to be shared.”


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I know that contemporary romance isn’t my typical genre, but after I read Meggy’s review earlier this year I simply had no other option but to add it to my wishlist straight away. And guess what? It turned out to be yet another fantastic recommendation! I absolutely adored my time with Sam and Phoebe and I probably would have finished The Day We Meet Again in one sitting if it wouldn’t have been for all the redecorating going on just as I was starting this gem. Oh yes, I’m definitely adding Miranda Dickinson to my list of authors who can actually make me fall in love with the contemporary romance genre!

The Day We Meet Again uses a dual POV to tell the story, alternating between the two main characters Sam and Phoebe. I was able to connect to both characters very easily and I loved reading about both their adventures during their year apart. Their chapters are part love story, part self-discovery, part travel diary and part that je ne sais quoi vibe that really gives the story that spark. As someone who loves to travel, the travel elements were a huge bonus and the author did a brilliant job describing the different settings. Both characters are well developed and I liked most of the rest of the cast as well. The plot itself might be partly predictable, but I personally didn’t mind as I was too busy enjoying my time with Sam and Phoebe. The Day We Meet Again is a book that will both bring a smile to your face and might make you shed a tear or two… It’s a brilliant story full of love, self-discovery and wonderful characters you cannot help but fall for. Highly recommended!


Title: The 24-Hour Café
Author: Libby Page

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: January 23rd 2020
Publisher: Orion
Finished reading: September 3rd 2020
Pages: 416

“Happiness has a miraculous way of rubbing out the unsavoury parts.”


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I’ve had The 24-Hour Café recommended to me more than once since it was published, and I’ve been looking forward to meet up with main characters Hannah and Mona ever since I read the blurb and reviews. I have to say that I really enjoyed my time with this story! Especially the way it is centered around the Stella’s Café and its customers as well as the two main characters… Because The 24-Hour Café not only gives us the POVs of the two main characters Hannah and Mona, but also multiple POVs focusing on the customers in the cafe at the time as well as more than one colleague. This really gives the story a multidimentional feel and it’s almost as if you are people watching the customers along with the two waitresses. The plot structure itself was interesting as well: a story divided by hour as the time passes by in the cafe, sometimes switching between POVS within that hour and at times even including flashbacks as Hannah and Mona remember things from the past. While I do have to say that the flashbacks sometimes slowed down the pace a bit, overall they were really helpful to understand both their past and what is happening in the present. I loved how the focus of the story is on music and their friendship as well as little snippets of other people’s lives… And the Stella’s Café sounds like a place I would love to visit myself too. If you enjoy an interesting friendship-focused contemporary with lots of dept as well as different emotions, The 24-Hour Café is a great pick.


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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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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

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BUY LINKS

Amazon UK // Amazon US 


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