ARC REVIEW: Snowy Nights At The Lonely Hearts Hotel – by Karen King

Title: Snowy Nights At The Lonely Hearts Hotel
Author: Karen King
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: November 9th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: October 16th 2018
Pages: 284

“Sometimes I think that people who have tough lives turn out better than those that are given everything on a plate.”

*** 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 know this title might come as a surprise as it’s not my typical genre, but every once and I while I like stepping out of my comfort zone. There was just something about Snowy Nights At The Lonely Hearts Hotel that caught my eye, and I’m definitely glad I decided to read this title. If you are looking for the perfect story to get you in the Christmas mood, Snowy Nights At The Lonely Hearts Hotel without doubt fits the bill. The setting in Cornwall sounds magical, and I really liked the idea behind the Christmas party for single parents. While the characters were quite easy to like, I also felt their personalities were a bit over the top for me and their emotions a bit extreme. Not every interaction or reaction to the situations felt all that natural to me and there were a lot of cliches involved as well. This feeling probably has to do with the fact that sappy and too cliche romance isn’t for me, and I think contemporary romance fans won’t be bothered all that much by it. I loved the lgbt angle and Robbie and Duncan were a great addition to the story. Entertaining, easy to read, Christmassy and I’m sure it will appeal to those who enjoy reading the genre.

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When her sister ends up being stuck abroad with two sick children unable to fly, it is up to Saffy to rescue the Christmas party her sister hosts every year for the single parents of her village. Saffy has to give up her own plans to do so, but reluctantly agrees as she knows a lot of people will be let down otherwise. Her sister has left detailed instructions, and she won’t be alone as neighbor Logan will help with some of the details. When she meets Logan and his daughter Chloe, it shows that Logan doesn’t seem to think Saffy could manage organizing a successful party… And Saffy is determined to prove him wrong.

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If you enjoy reading Christmas themed stories and contemporary romance in general, Snowy Nights At The Lonely Hearts Hotel will be a great addition to your wishlist. Sure, there are a lot of cliches involved and not every interaction and reaction to certain situations seemed natural. But the writing draws you right in, the characters are easy to like and overall it was absolutely an entertaining and feel good story. And the Cornwall setting sounds just magical!


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ARC REVIEW: The Darkness – by Ragnar Jonasson

Title: The Darkness
(Hidden Iceland #1)

Author: Ragnar Jonasson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 15th 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: October 14th 2018
Pages: 336
(Originally written in Icelandic: ‘Dimma’)

“Over the years she had spoken to so many suspects she had developed a knack of spotting when people were trying to pull the wool over her eyes.”

*** 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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!! Happy publication day !!

I’ve been meaning to try one of Ragnar Jonasson‘s books for some time now, so when I saw that the translation of Dimma was coming out I just couldn’t resist. I don’t think I’ve ever read a story set in Iceland before, so the setting alone was a huge bonus for me. But what stands out for me even more is the main character of The Darkness. Yes, she is a detective with a complicated past, which may sound as a cliche… But this is all forgotten as we finally have an older main character to follow; DI Hulda Hermannsdottir is 64 and almost retiring, and getting to see her at this point in her life is truly refreshing. The Darkness is both about Hulda and the secrets of her past and the death of an asylum seeker from Russia. While a bit slow at point, the development of the plot and plot twists is well done and this story definitely has some surprises in store for you. And that ending! I wish I could understand Icelandic so I could find out what happens next… I’m fully intrigued. There are three different POVs to deal with, one of them set in the past, and all add something to the plot even though it takes a while to figure out how everything connects. The writing is solid and reads easily, and despite a slower pace at times The Darkness is still a very good detective thriller.

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Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir is about to reach the age of retirement, but she is allowed to dive into one last cold case before she has to clear her desk. She decides to look into the death of a young asylum seeker from Russia. While the other detective had ruled it a suicide, Hulda is convinced they didn’t investigate all angles in the past. She starts her investigation, but soon finds out nobody actually wants her to keep investigating. The renewed attention to the case may have dangerous consequences…

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The Darkness both has an interesting setting and a strong main character to build a story around. I really appreciated to finally have an older main character, and Hulda is without doubt a very interesting one to follow. The mystery around her past and the cold case she is investigating will keep you on your toes, making the slower parts less noticeable. And what a shocking ending! I definitely didn’t see some of the reveals coming. Talk about ending things with a blast… I will be looking forward to book two.


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ARC REVIEW: Tell Nobody – by Patricia Gibney

Title: Tell Nobody
(Detective Lottie Parker #5)
Author: Patricia Gibney
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 3rd 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: October 3rd 2018
Pages: 458

“Now she was on the road with no idea whether she had successfully escaped the veil of evil that had shrouded her life, or if she was being catapulted head-first into a new horror show.”

*** 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 have been closely following detective Lottie Parker and her team ever since the first book came out, and each new book that comes out gives me that feeling of Christmas having come early. The series has been constantly excellent so far, delivering another complex, shocking and well developed story to feed our hungry detective thriller minds. This is why it comes as a total surprise to me I wasn’t able to enjoy Tell Nobody as much as the previous four books. Don’t get me wrong, book number five is still a solid detective thriller, with the same complexity and well crafted plot I have become used to, but for me some of the spark was missing this time. I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but I think part of it has to do with the fact that the behavior of the main characters really annoyed me this time with the constant negative attitudes, swearing and other unpleasant traits. This made me feel not as connected to the story, as I was distracted by my feelings of frustrations towards them. As for the investigations in Tell Nobody: trigger warnings are in place for abuse and child abuse, violence and possible graphic scenes. As always, there are a lot of different characters in play and a lot of twists and turns to distract you from the truth. I guessed part of the final reveals, but there were also a few things I definitely didn’t see coming. Disturbing, twisted and unsettling… Make sure you brace yourself before you start this one. The ending will be a shocker!

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first four books yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

One evening eleven-year-old Mikey disappears after scoring the winning goal for his soccer team and celebrating together in McDonalds. Two days later his lifeless body is found and Lottie Parker and her team are called in to investigate. They are having their hands full, as they are also investigating another case where the body of a newborn was found by no other than Lottie Parker’s own son Sean and his friend. Things are becoming personal, and quickly spin out of control… Will they be able to solve the cases in time?

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While Tell Nobody without doubt still is a solid detective thriller, I don’t think it hit the mark completely for me this time. A lot had to do with the fact that somehow the main characters and their negative attitude started to frustrate me, and maybe also with the fact that I saw part of the final reveal coming quite early on. That said, the writing was as solid as always as well as the construction of the plot and plot twists. There are some difficult themes involved including child abuse and this story definitely isn’t for the weak hearted.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #50 – The King’s Guard & Radiance Of Tomorrow

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! Today two completely different reads, but both worthwhile. The King’s Guard is the third and final Fire And Thorns novella and without doubt my favorite of the bunch. And I have been wanting to read Radiance Of Tomorrow forever, especially since Ishmael Beah‘s memoir made such an impact. This fictional story also set in his country Sierra Leone is another powerful and heartbreaking read.


Title: The King’s Guard
(Fire And Thorns #0.7)
Author: Rae Carson

Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: July 30th 2013
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Finished reading: September 19th 2018
Pages: 111

“The less you say, the more your words will matter.”


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I have been reading the Fire And Thorns novellas before tackling the sequel, and I have to say this third and final one is probably my favorite of the bunch. The King’s Guard is partly set in the royal palace and is partly an adventure and rescue mission. Hector makes a great main character of this novella and his character is very easy to like. The writing is solid as always and I managed to read it in no time at all… The plot and setting are well fleshed out for a novella and I had a great time reading this one. These novellas are a great addition to the original series and especially the last two novellas are without doubt worth the read if you enjoy the series.


Title: Radiance Of Tomorrow
Author: Ishmael Beah

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction
First published: January 7th 2014
Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books
Finished reading: September 20th 2018
Pages: 256

“We must live in the radiance of tomorrow, as our ancestors have suggested in their tales. For what is yet to come tomorrow has possibilities, and we must think of it, the simplest glimpse of that possibility of goodness. That will be our strength. That has always been our strength.”


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A Long Way Gone is one of the most devastating and heartbreaking memoirs I’ve read to this date, and well written at that. I’ve been meaning to read Radiance Of Tomorrow for years now, and I’m glad I’ve finally had the opportunity to do so. While Radiance Of Tomorrow is a fictional story this time around, it has the same setting in Sierra Leone and the same emotional rollercoaster ride. Make sure to brace yourself before you start this one, because it won’t be a happy journey. Radiance Of Tomorrow tells the story of what happens in the ruined village Imperi after the war in Sierra Leone ended. The beginning sets the tone of what will become a heartbreaking, devastating and very emotional read, with little lights shining upon the hope the characters have things will become better in the future. Descriptions of both characters and setting are excellently done and I loved the ‘fusion’ of different languages as the author translated expressions from other languages literally to describe things. This book shows us what it was like for the locals after the war, the struggles still there as they try to survive with all odds against them. You will take the characters under your wing and suffer with them as setbacks occur… Radiance Of Tomorrow has a wonderful bigger message and is without doubt a very powerful and emotional read. I’m glad I decided to finally pick up!


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ARC REVIEW: Lies Between Us – by Ronnie Turner

Title: Lies Between Us
Author: Ronnie Turner
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: October 1st 2018
Publisher: HQ Digital
Finished reading: September 18th 2018
Pages: 384

You miss the truth in its brutal, disgusting form. Far better to only see the sweet picture. But by missing the small things, you miss everything. Everything.

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

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First of all, it’s SO exciting to see another fellow book blogger getting her book published! I’ve been looking forward to read Lies Between Us ever since I first saw that cover, and there is no doubt that this is a very cleverly constructed psychological thriller debut. I admit it was a slowburner for me for reasons mentioned below, but above all the potential shines through and I will already be looking forward to what she will come up with next. Let’s talk a bit about my experience with Lies Between Us. Like I said before, I admit it took me some time to get used to the multiple POVs and I was confused as to how everything fit together at times. Especially the second person POV took some time getting used to, but that doesn’t mean it’s badly written or doesn’t fit the story. In fact, it only enhances the dark and slightly disturbing feeling around this character and adds to the overall suspenseful atmosphere of the book. There is no doubt that Lies Between Us is a complex and very cleverly executed psychological thriller that will keep you on edge. I did guess come of the twists though and some of the names are misleading… Those who have the chance to read this debut will probably understand what I’m referring to (don’t want to give away any spoilers!). Also, I was left with some questions after the final page, and would have liked to have some details explained to avoid the confusion. Still, Lies Between Us was a very satisfying psychological thriller with one heck of a creeper as one of the main characters… Talk about getting a look inside the head of a very disturbing individual! Fans of the genre will have a great time read this one.

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Three people with very different lives will soon be crossing paths under circumstances nobody wants themselves to find to be in. They all have something in common, although none of them know it yet… But the truth will not stay hidden forever. John has had a comfortable and happy life so far, but this is about to change as his daughter goes missing. Maisie is a nurse in a hospital and very dedicated, but hides a very traumatic experience in her past. And Miller has been struggling ever since he was little to fit in and be a ‘good boy’. How will they react to the things that happen to them and how does everything connect?

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While a slowburner for me, once I got the hang of the story I found myself to be absolutely hooked. Lies Between Us is a well crafted and complicated psychological thriller with multiple POVs and flashbacks that will keep you on your toes as you try to take everything in and fit everything together. The writing is solid and especially ‘Miller’s character development is extremely well done and spot on; he sure will give you goosebumps before the story is over. And despite a few minor problems mentioned above, I enjoyed spending time with Lies Between Us and it is without doubt a very promising debut.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #49 – The Shattered Mountain & The Ballroom

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a novella and a historical fiction read. The Shattered Mountain was a short and interesting addition to the Fire And Thorns series. And I had great hopes for The Ballroom, especially since the setting is fascinating, but the story fell flat for me.


Title: The Shattered Mountain
(Fire And Thorns #0.6)
Author: Rae Carson

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: March 26th 2013
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Finished reading: September 15th 2018
Pages: 106

“Maybe a large, single dose of pain now is better than the slow, burning pain of withering hope.”


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I read the first Fire And Thorns novella earlier this month, and then decided to try and read the other two as well before continuing with the sequel. There is no doubt that this second novella is a lot stronger than the first one. I think this has a lot to do with the main character of this short story, which is quite easy to like and root for. Mara is a very interesting and strong character and she does some amazing things along with the other characters. The romance in The Shattered Mountain didn’t bother me one bit even though some cliches were involved. I think this mostly has to do with the fact there is a lot of focus on the dire situation the group is in instead as well as the worldbuilding of this high fantasy story. The writing is solid and makes it easy to fly through the pages… This novella is definitely worth your time if you enjoy the series.


Title: The Ballroom
Author: Anna Hope

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
First published: February 11th 2016
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Finished reading: September 17th 2018
Pages: 320

“Free. This small hard word that felt so cold. Could you live inside a word like that?”


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I first added The Ballroom to my TBR because of the cover as well as the promise of a fascinating historical setting and a mental health angle. It took me longer than planned to get to it, but the readathon was an excellent excuse to finally do so. There is no doubt that this historical fiction read set in a 1911 asylum has a very interesting premise and a lot of potential. Unfortunately, the story sort of fell flat for me… Part of this feeling has to do with the fact that the pace was considerably slow and it took me a lot longer than expected to read this story. The focus was on the characters and their development, but sadly there was nothing much for me to keep me focused to them or create a proper connection; instead I was mostly left both just wanting to get it over it and wanting the story to deliver something more. The fact that Charles is a very unlikeable character doesn’t really help either. Because as always with character-driven stories, being able to connect to the main characters is key. Surprisingly though, the romance in this story didn’t bother me that much. Fans of slower paced and character-driven historical fiction reads with an interesting setting and a Shakespearean love story will have a great time reading The Ballroom.


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ARC REVIEW: Toxic – by Lydia Kang

Title: Toxic
Author: Lydia Kang
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Romance
First published: November 6th 2018
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Finished reading: September 7th 2018
Pages: 320

“Funny how, with everything available to us, we still want to learn how to do things the old ways.”

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

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Toxic easily has one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve seen so far this year. This was the perfect definition of cover love: I knew I HAD to read this one even before I actually read the blurb. I know science fiction isn’t really my genre, but I like branching out every once and a while to mix things up. It’s been a while since I read a story set in space, and Lydia Kang was able to make it into a very interesting experience. I loved the idea behind Toxic with the biological ship Cyclo, the detailed descriptions of the ship, the use of colors to communicate… Cyclo was basically another character and I loved to see how the ship ‘evolved’ over time. As for the other characters: there are a few cliches involved, and I’m not sure I like Hana, but overall their development is interesting enough to follow. I do think Cyclo overshadows the other characters in its uniqueness though. That said, it was an entertaining enough ride with plenty of action as Cyclo becomes less and less predictable and more dangerous. I wish there would have been less romance scenes involves, especially since most of it is quite cliche and takes away attention from the more interesting sci-fi elements. I’m sure romance fans will take those scenes differently though. The writing is solid and makes this ride very enjoyable. Fans of more romantic YA sci-fi books will have a blast reading Toxic.

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Cyclo is the first biological ship out there and has been working fine for a long time, but time seems to have run out and the ship is dying. Everyone has been evacuated, and now a small crew is on their way to board the abandoned ship to record and analyze Cyclo’s final days. They have signed a contract, giving up their lives to document the death of Cyclo in exchange for a healthy sum of money to be awarded to the person they indicate, but only if they fulfill their mission. When they arrive, they find out the ship isn’t completely abandoned… A girl has been left behind, and she might just be the reason they won’t be able to finish everything on time. Especially since Cyclo seems to be more instable than originally indicated.

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Even though science fiction isn’t really my genre, it was actually those elements that stood out for me. Especially Cyclo was fascinating, since the ship was almost like another character with its own development, ’emotions’ and flaws. I could have done without the more cliche romance scenes, and I wasn’t a fan of Hana, but overall I really enjoyed my time with Toxic.


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