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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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 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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YVO’S SHORTIES #175 – Fruit Of The Drunken Tree & The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two books I’ve had really high expectations for… Sadly, Fruit Of The Drunken Tree didn’t live up to those expectations at all, but The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill turned out to be a delightful read.


Title: Fruit Of The Drunken Tree
Author: Ingrid Rojas Contreras
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: July 31st 2018
Publisher: Doubleday
Finished reading: July 21st 2020
Pages: 304

“War always seemed distant from Bogotá, like niebla descending on the hills and forest of the countryside and jungles. The way it approached us was like fog as well, without us realizing, until it sat embroiling everything around us.”

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Okay… I’m still not sure what happened here, as I really expected to find a new favorite in this story instead. I’ve always had a special interest in stories set in Latin America, and even more so if they are related to the drugs world and/or war on drugs… I thought this story with its 1990s Colombian setting would be a perfect fit for me, and the blurb of Fruit Of The Drunken Tree sounded fantastic as well, but somehow in the end it wasn’t ment to be. Even though I still believe the premise is both powerful, shocking and heartbreaking, the story itself failed to blow me away. I think the main reason I had such a strong negative reaction to Fruit Of The Drunken Tree despite my fascination for the topic had probably to do with the fact that I felt a strong aversion towards the writing style. I didn’t feel it flowed properly and I never connected to the writing, making it very hard to convince myself to keep reading as a result. I have to confess that I skimread at least half of the story; wanting to DNF, but not being able to let the story go completely until I knew what happened. This mostly had to do with the plot and the historical details rather than the main characters themselves, who in turn I never managed to warm up to either. I think this might have been due to the way they were described as well as the way they acted, or maybe even due to the fact that the writing style itself rubbed me the wrong way to such extreme. Either way, sadly Fruit Of The Drunken Tree ended up mosty definitely not being my cup of tea.


Title: The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill
Author: Abbi Waxman
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: July 9th 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: July 23rd 2020
Pages: 351

“She enjoyed people – she really did – she just needed to take them in homeopathic doses; a little of the poison was the cure.”

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I have been craving a good contemporary, and I admit that I have been eyeing The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill for a while now. I love bookish elements in my stories, and this book sounded like a perfect fit… And I definitely ended up having a brilliant time with this story. As I already expected, Nina was easy to like and relate to, and I loved getting to know her better. The characters in general are easy to connect to and I enjoyed spending time with them. Of course I love just how big of a role both books and pop culture play in Nina’s life and the story itself; with references to multiple books, the Harry Potter fandom, Game Of Thrones, The Simpsons, Friends… And we have the bookstore itself in the spotlight too of course. The plot might be a bit cheesy and predictable in points, but personally I was having too much fun to be bothered by it. The romance is quite cheesy as well, but as I liked both characters I really didn’t mind all that much either. I loved seeing Nina connect to the newly found family, and the trivia element was brilliant. The writing itself is super engaging and I literally flew through this story. Fans of the genre will most likely enjoy The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill as much as I did!


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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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AUDIO ARC REVIEW: His & Hers – by Alice Feeney @MacmillanAudio #netgalleyaudio

Title: His & Hers
Author: Alice Feeney
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 28th 2020
Publisher: MacMillan Audio
Finished reading: July 19th 2020
Pages: 336

Duration audiobook 10 hours 40 minutes
Narrated by Richard Armitage & Stephanie Racine

“Sometimes I think I am the unreliable narrator of my own life. Sometimes I think we all are.”

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

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I’ve been meaning to try one of Alice Feeney‘s books for a while now, and I thought that listening to the audiobook with the new Netgalley Shelf App feature would be the perfect way to kill two birds with one stone. The fact that the blurb of His & Hers intrigued me immediately and I’ve seen positive reviews popping up everywhere only made this decision easier to make… And I’m definitely glad I did choose the audiobook option, because I ended up having a fantastic time with this story and I think the audio only enhanced the experience for me. What a read!

It’s true that I’m basically an audiobook newbie, but my experience with this story has convinced me I need to keep this option in mind for whenever the circumstances are right… Because I think the audio version only enhanced my experience with His & Hers. This book is narrated by Richard Armitage and Stephanie Racine, and both do a fantastic job making the story come alive for me. Each tackles one of the POVs of the two main characters in play: “Him” with DCI Jack Harper and “Her” with News Correspondent Anna Andrews. On top of these two point of views, we also have the mystery voice and POV to contend with. I think especially this POV made the audiobook stand out for me and the voice alteration gave the story that mysterious vibe. I think that both their voices fitted the characters very well, and the pace and flow of the story throughout was spot on for me. They also changed their voices slightly whenever different characters say something the dialogues, which made it a lot easier to keep them apart. I can highly recommend the audiobook experience to anyone who is interested in reading this story!

As for His & Hers itself: I’m definitely an instant fan of Alice Feeney now. I was fully intrigued as soon as I started listening to this story, and the two different POVs complement each other perfectly. I particularly liked the mystery voice and POV in between the “Him” and “Her” chapters, as it will make you wonder who is lying and who might be behind the murders… Both the building up of suspense and the development and placement of the plot twists is simply spot on, and this story most definitely managed to mislead me until the very end. Intense, suspenseful, shocking, intriguing and very well written indeed.

His & Hers will give you a psychological thriller and serial killer thriller in one, and the story deals with psychological elements as well as with plenty of gruesome scenes and heavy topics. Trigger warnings are in place for topics such as grooming, abuse, rape, mental health, addiction and violence… This story will go dark, twisted and dangerous, but the ride is absolutely fantastic and I loved how everything is explained in the end. Trust me, His & Hers will have more than one shocking surprise for you in store, and you will think you have it all figured out so many times that your mind is left reeling by the time you reach the final page and finally discover the truth. The plot is very cleverly written and I always love it when a story is able to mislead me this much, as it doesn’t happen all that often anymore… But His & Hers did the job, and how!

I’m still not sure if I actually like the main characters, but I loved learning more about them and slowly figuring out how they all fit together as well as what secrets they are hiding. The story warns you in the beginning that at least one of them is lying, and you will be on your edge the whole time as you keep being suspicious about everything you read. Who is behind it all? Why are they doing it? What does it have to do with the past? Or the present for that matter? Who is lying and who is telling the truth? Or are they all hinding something? There are so many questions, and trust me, you will be having a fantastic time trying to find answers for them all. If you enjoy a suspenseful, intense and well written thriller, His & Hers is without doubt an excellent choice.


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ARC REVIEW: Entre Senderos De Lavanda – by Mariela Gimenez

Title: Entre Senderos De Lavanda
Author: Mariela Gimenez
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
First published: November 1st 2019
Publisher: V&R Editoras
Finished reading: July 6th 2020
Pages: 464

“There was no greater loneliness than feeling adrift like a kite loose in the wind.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Babelio and V&R Editoras as part of the Masa Crítica Argentina program in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I admit that I was intrigued as soon as I saw that gorgeous cover and read the summary. Entre Senderos De Lavanda sounded like the perfect story to read in between my thrillers: a wonderful piece of contemporary romance as well as a story of self discovery. I was curious to see how the title would fit in the story, and I have been looking forward to spend time with this book ever since. I ended up having a wonderful time with Entre Senderos De Lavanda; completely swept away to the French lavender fields and into the lives of Anna and the Duvall family.

The first thing that stood out for me was the setting in France. First in Marseilles, but mostly in the small town of Gordes in the middle of lavander filled Provence, this setting makes the perfect backdrop for this story. I loved how the lavender fields were incorporated into the plot and had a hiddden meaning to more than one character. The wonderful descriptions really made the setting come alive for me, and I could almost smell the lavender fields as I imagined travelling there myself and walking alongside the main characters.

The story is told with the help of a multiple point of view structure, and while the two main point of views are probably Anna and Pascal, we will visit most of the main characters along the way and I quite liked being able to get a glimpse inside the different perspectives. As far as the characters go, I was able to connect to them quite easily and I found myself to be rooting for them the whole time. While I wasn’t a fan of the love triangle element, I did love the character development in general. This development was thorough, felt realistic and really made the different characters come alive for me. They each have their flaws, making it only easier to relate to them and appreciate their development and growth even more. While the main focus is on Anna, most other characters will have some form of growth and each and every single one adds something extra to the plot.

The plot itself was more than solid. I really liked that this isn’t just another contemporary romance story about falling in love, but instead we also see Anna trying to find herself as well as reconnecting with what is left of her family. Not only that, we also find Anna grieving her mother and trying to make peace with both the past and present… And we have the whole Duvall family as well as Anna’s grandfather to consider too; each with their own little background and substories in the plot. It’s an interesting cast of characters that I loved seeing interact and grow over time; the plot and plot twists were handled brilliantly and I found myself to be glued to the pages as a result.

I really enjoyed the writing too, which flowed naturally and made it really easy to keep reading. The story is divided into different parts, and each chapter begins with a little quote by multiple authors that fits the current situation in the plot. I really loved this attention to detail; the same goes for the beautiful illustrations throughout my copy of Entre Senderos De Lavanda as well as the cover itself. I had a fantastic time reading this story, and I can highly recommend it to anyone who is in the mood for a beautifully written, emotional and engaging contemporary romance story.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Turn To Dust – by Rachel Amphlett #blogtour @RachelAmphlett @BOTBSPublicity

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Turn To Dust blog tour! A huge thanks to Sarah Hardy for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. Detective Kay Hunter is easily one of my absolute favorite detective series, so I was stoked to be able to join the blog tour for what is already book number nine. And as I already expected, it turned out to be another fantastic ride. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!

Title: Turn To Dust
(Detective Kay Hunter #9)
Author: Rachel Amphlett
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 13th 2020
Publisher: Saxon Publishing
Finished reading: June 6th 2020
Pages: 338

“Life went on, and so did the need for justice.”

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

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!! Happy publication day !!

I confess that I’m a bit late to the party when it comes to the Detective Kay Hunter series, but I finally met her in 2018 and I turned into a fan instantly. I have loved every single book since, and of course book number nine Turn To Dust was on my list on most anticipated releases ever since I first heard about it. I jumped on the opportunity to join the blog tour to help share the Kay Hunter love as soon as the email hit my inbox… Because yes, I was already 100% convinced I was going to love this newest installment as well. And guess what? My instincts were right! Turn To Dust is another worthy sequel and anyone who loves a good detective thriller will be in for an absolute treat. Technically you can read this book as a stand-alone too, although you might not fully understand the dynamics between Kay and the rest of the characters if you don’t read the previous books.

Detective Kay Hunter is easily one of my absolute favorite detective series and I feel giddy every time I’m lucky enough to spend more time with her. These books are a real treat, and I always clear my schedule before starting a new one as I know I won’t be able to stop reading once I read that first chapter. Turn To Dust is no exception, and I literally finished it in one sitting! It felt great to return to some of my favorite characters and see how they tackle their newest case. These books are actually refreshing, as you get more of a glimpse inside real police work with corresponding procedures and more realistic investigating. You will find no serial killer nor non-stop action in Turn To Dust, but instead you get a solid detective thriller that focuses on the police work itself as well as the development of the characters. And while I love my dark detective thrillers too, it is nice to have a little breather and Turn To Dust will still give you plenty of suspense and twists.

The plot in Turn To Dust is another interesting one. Finding a body in the middle of a field, and having no idea about the identity nor cause of death raises an interesting question: how can you investigate a murder if you don’t know the basic facts about the victim? It was intriguing to see this developed and the story offered us more than one shocking plot twist along the way. While it’s true that I had a hunch about those behind it all early on and it turned out to be true, I never guessed the full truth and the development of the plot as a whole was excellently done. There are definitely some darker scenes included too and a warning of the mention of animal cruelty might be in place… It makes you think about how your pet food is really made.

The writing is excellent, but that’s what I’ve come to expect of this series and Rachel Amphlett‘s work in general. Turn To Dust won me over from the very first page, and I had a fantastic time meeting up with Kay Hunter and her team again. I also love finding out what animal Adam brings home next! There are developments in the team as well, and I’m curious to see how that would work out in the future.

In short, if you enjoy detective thrillers and are looking for an engaging read with more focus on real police work, definitely give Turn To Dust and the rest of the series a go. Trust me, Kay Hunter won’t disappoint! Nine books of absolute detective reading pleasure and counting (I hope).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a film extra and freelanced in radio as a presenter and producer for the BBC.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and is a bestselling author of crime fiction and spy thrillers, many of which have been translated worldwide.

Her novels are available in eBook, print, large print and audiobook formats from libraries and worldwide retailers.

A keen traveller, Rachel has both EU and Australian citizenship.

Website // Email: info@rachelamphlett.com // Twitter: @RachelAmphlett // Instagram: @RachelAmphlett // Facebook


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YVO’S SHORTIES #173 – Good Girl Bad Girl & The Sun Down Motel #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a double thriller dose with Good Girl Bad Girl by Michael Robotham and The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James. Both turned out to be excellent reads!


Title: Good Girl Bad Girl
(Cyrus Haven #1)
Author: Michael Robotham
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 23rd 2019
Publisher: Sphere
Finished reading: June 28th 2020
Pages: 416

“Evil is not a state, it is a ‘property’, and when a person is in possession of enough ‘property’, it sometimes begins to define them.”

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I’ve been meaning to try this author for quite some time now, and being approved for an ARC of the Cyrus Haven sequel was the perfect excuse to finally do so. Good Girl Bad Girl is without doubt an engaging as well as twisted start of this series. The story uses a dual POV, where we switch between new lead character and psychologist Cyrus Haven and Evie (a.k.a. Angel Face). Both have a disturbing background and it was fascinating to see the two matched and develop over time. The main focus of the story is on the new case Cyrus is called in to assist (Jodie’s murder), but both Evie’s past and her present situation play a big role too. The two different storylines mix as well as collide, and it was intriguing to see the different plot twists change the course of the story. I have to say that I was able to guess most of the twists early on, but one or two did hit the mark… The ending was quite open though and I definitely can’t wait to read the sequel to discover how things will continue. Recommended if you like a good crime thriller with a psychology angle and don’t mind things getting pretty dark and twisted in points.


Title: The Sun Down Motel
Author: Simone St. James
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Horror
First published: February 18th 2020
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: June 30th 2020
Pages: 336

“The person who could be truly alone, in the company of no one but oneself and one’s thoughts – that person was stronger than anyone else. More ready. More prepared.”

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I’ve heard nothing but great things about this title, and now I’ve had the chance to read The Sun Down Motel myself I can definitely understand the love for this story. This book is most definitely worth the hype, and it turned out to be just as good as I hoped it would be! It’s the perfect mix of paranormal mystery and crime thriller that had me literally racing through the pages. The Sun Down Motel uses a dual POV structure, where we switch back and forth between Vivian in 1982 and Vivian’s niece Carly in 2017. Both the POV switches and plot twists are brilliantly placed; they will keep you in the dark and only slowly reveal what Viv discovered in the past as well as what Carly unravels in the present. I loved both storylines equally, as both characters were easy to connect to and their stories managed to draw me right in. The paranormal aspect is again brilliantly handled; giving the story that creepy vibe as well as an ominous feel. On top of this, the story has the possible serial killer angle and the whole mystery around Viv’s disappearance in 1982… This story has more layers than an onion and you will love peeling away each one to discover the full picture. The Sun Down Motel turned out to be a fantastic reading experience and I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who loves a little dose of paranormal with their crime thriller. Creepy, ominous and oh so engaging!


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