ARC REVIEW: The Couple On Cedar Close – by Anna-Lou Weatherley

Title: The Couple On Cedar Close
(Detective Dan Riley #2)

Author: Anna-Lou Weatherley
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: January 18th 2019
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: January 6th 2019
Pages: 378

“And I wonder then, if there’s no one to witness your life, do you even exist at all?”

*** 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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!! Happy publication day !!

After enjoying the first book of this detective series Black Heart last year, it was an easy decision whether to continue meeting up with detective Dan Riley. And now that I have gotten the chance to read The Couple On Cedar Close, I definitely don’t regret making that decision. There is one thing for sure: this is a very entertaining detective thriller sequel to be starting the year with. Not only is the writing style solid and easy to read, but the plot is filled with plot twists, suspense and a lot of mystery around what really happened that night. The Couple On Cedar Close also has one of the most interesting and well developed unreliable characters I’ve encountered with in a while. I know this technique might get a bit old, especially combined with an amnesia angle, but trust me: you will forget about your doubts as the story will put you under its spell. There are a lot of twists and turns as well as flashbacks that are ment to help you solve the puzzle as well as keep you guessing. Sadly I was able to guess most of the final reveals quite early on myself, but that might just be me having read so many detective thrillers that I can see through most tricks by now… Anyhow, it didn’t mean that I enjoyed the ride because of that tiny speed bump. I did have my doubts about the credibility of certain aspects of the plot and not all characters were exactly likeable. I never like cheating in a story either… But I do think The Couple On Cedar Close shines an important light on the fact that psychological abuse is still abuse and should be treated in the same way. All in all not perfect, but worth your time if you enjoy the genre.

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

Cedar Close used to be a nice and quiet suburban street to live in. Up until Laurie and Robert Mills moved in… First the scandal at the annual summer barbecue, and now something a whole lot more sinister happened inside number thirteen. Late one evening, Robert is found dead in his bedroom by his own wife. She doesn’t remember what happened during the last few hours, but she does know she didn’t kill him… Or did she?

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If you enjoy detective thrillers and unreliable characters, you will definitely have a blast with this detective Dan Riley sequel The Couple On Cedar Close. There is a lot of mystery around both Robert and Laurie and their past, adding suspense to the plot and it will keep you entertained as you guess about the details. The flashbacks are interesting as well as you try to fit them into the rest of the story… I did have some issues regarding the credibility of some parts of the plot and wasn’t sure about some of the characters, but overall it was still an entertaining ride.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #67 – Blue Blood & Girl With A Pearl Earring

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two older releases and two completely different genres. The first a detective thriller sequel of a Danish author: Blue Blood by Sara Blaedel. The second a historical fiction modern classic set in 1660s Delft: Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. Both were solid reads though.


Title: Blue Blood
(Louise Rick #2)
Author: Sara Blaedel

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: 2005
Publisher: Sphere
Finished reading: November 29th 2018
Pages: 448
(Originally written in Danish: ‘Kald Mig Prinsesse’)


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I always have a weak spot for detective thrillers, and I just couldn’t resist buying a copy of Blue Blood when I first saw it. I didn’t realize it was actually the second book of a series at the time, but thankfully the story can be read as a stand-alone as well. This translation from a Danish crime writer (also called Call Me Princess in some translations) was without doubt an entertaining ride. The writing style was easy to like, and I just loved the setting in Denmark. I was drawn to the story and plot straight away, and found myself literally flying through the pages… Trigger warnings are in place for rape and violence, but the subject is really well handled and reading more about the dangers of online dating is definitely intriguing. The main characters Louise Rick was quite easy to connect to, and I didn’t feel I was missing too much background information by not reading the first book (I’m not saying I don’t want to now though). I could have done without the cheating/romance subplot, but thankfully the main focus was on the case itself. I liked how things developed and even though I had some ideas about how things would end, Blue Blood also had some surprises in store. Fast, entertaining and just the right amount of suspense… I will definitely be reading more of Sara Blaedel‘s books.


Title: Girl With A Pearl Earring
Author: Tracy Chevalier

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
First published: 2000
Publisher: Penguin Books
Finished reading: December 5th 2018
Pages: 233

“He saw things in a way that others did not, so that a city I had lived in all my life seemed a different place, so that a woman became beautiful with the light on her face.”


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I’ve been meaning to read this modern classic for ages, and the When Are You Reading? challenge turned out to be a perfect excuse to do so. I’ve seen the painting of the story with my own eyes quite some years ago, so I thought it would be interesting to read about the story behind it. Girl With A Pearl Earring turned out to be a very interesting story set in the 1660s in a Dutch city called Delft. The description of both the setting and era is very well done, and I like how the author stayed true to the Dutch names. The writing was solid and made it easy to follow Griet’s story as things develop. The fact that Griet’s father is a tile painter is interesting, as Delft is famous for its blue and white decorations… And Vermeer is a very famous painter of course as well. I liked reading about her experience as a maid in the house of a famous author. The dynamics of a girl without experience being thrown into a new job and a family not sure how to react to Griet were interesting. There were a few things that rubbed me the wrong way though. The first is the love triangle, which partly ruined the story for me. Is this seriously necessary?! I think I would have enjoyed the story a lot more without the appearance of that trope. I also wasn’t sure about the interactions between Griet and some of the Vermeer family members… I still think it was a solid read and I enjoyed reading it for the most part though.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #66 – The Great Alone & Children Of Blood And Bone

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two highly popular books I’ve been a bit afraid to pick up, since hyped books and me don’t really get along… The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah turned out to be a huge success, while Children Of Blood And Bone by Tomi Adeyemi failed to blow me away completely.


Title: The Great Alone
Author: Kristin Hannah

Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: February 6th 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: November 20th 2018
Pages: 435

“All this time, Dad had taught Leni how dangerous the outside world was. The truth was that the biggest danger of all was in her own home.”


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After enjoying her other story The Nightingale in the past, I had high hopes for this one as well. I’ve heard lots of wonderful things about The Great Alone over time, and I’m glad to say I’m another one to join the fan club. The Great Alone is without doubt one of the best historical fiction stories I’ve read so far this year. I already knew the writing was going to be good, but that doesn’t take away I was overwhelmed by just how emotional, challenging and harrowing this story was going to be. The Alaskan setting is brilliantly developed and well described, making it feel as if you were discovering the island along with the characters. This setting was definitely a huge bonus! I also loved how the development of the setting reflected a development in the characters as well. The story is set in three different years (1974,1978, 1986), where we follow the same characters as Alaska changes them and things happen. Warning: The Great Alone is not a happy story. It is a story of survivors, emotional and hard to read. Trigger warnings are in place for abuse and violence… The development of the characters is excellent and makes them both feel realistic and easy to connect to. Especially Leni won over my heart easily (and Matthew of course!). Domestic abuse is a very difficult topic to write and read about, but I think Kristin Hannah did an excellent job of portraying it realistically. Did I feel frustrated sometimes by some of their actions? Definitely. But that doesn’t take away that I feel their situation was very realistically developed. There are a lot of difficult, sad and harrowing moments involved in The Great Alone, and I definitely suggest keeping a box of tissues close. But it is also a very rewarding read and I’m sure fans of both historical fiction and family dramas will love reading about Leni’s journey.


Title: Children Of Blood And Bone
(Legacy Of Orïsha #1)
Author: Tomi Adeyemi

Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: March 6th 2018
Publisher: Henry Holt And Co.
Finished reading: November 23rd 2018
Pages: 537

“You crushed us to build your monarchy on the backs of our blood and bone. Your mistake wasn’t keeping us alive. it was thinking we’d never fight back.”


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I wasn’t planning on reading this one at first. Hyped books and me don’t tend to get along, especially YA fantasy ones, and let’s face it: there has been a lot of hype around Children Of Blood And Bone. But there was just something about the cover and blurb that made me want to give it a go anyway. And while I do have to say that this first book of a new high fantasy series failed to blow me away completely, I can also understand the love for this story. In fact, I was going to give it an even higher rating before the appearance of the romance scenes… Which I felt were completely unnecessary and made me feel a little disappointed. The writing is good though, and I really like the idea behind Children Of Blood And Bone. While I did feel the many foreign sounding names and terms were a bit confusing in the beginning, they did add to the magical atmosphere. I admit I would have liked to see the worldbuilding a bit mor developed, with more details and sooner in the story to fully enjoy the setting. But the idea of the diviners and maji is fascinating as well as the different kinds of magic. The quest was a bit too simple to my taste, and the plot twists a bit too abrupt, but overall it was without doubt a very entertaining YA fantasy read with pleasant enough characters. They just didn’t really stand out for me.


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ARC REVIEW: A Woman Of War – by Mandy Robotham

Title: A Woman Of War
Author: Mandy Robotham
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: December 7th 2018
Publisher: Avon
Finished reading: November 30th 2018 
Pages: 352

“When you saw so much horror, destruction and inhumanity in one place, it was the simplest things that broke your resolve and reminded you of kindness in the world.”

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

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I always have a weak spot for WWII historical fiction… As soon as I recognized the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp entrance I was able to see with my own eyes a few months back on the cover, I just new I had to read A Woman Of War. Although I admit I was a bit disappointed to not see that particular camp featured, there is no doubt that the author has a very interesting premise here. The plot of A Woman Of War is a proper fictional one and more a what if? story than one based on true events. It also shows some pro-Nazi characters in a very positive light; something you don’t see often in historical fiction, but also something I’m not sure how I feel about. The writing style flows and makes it quite easy to read this story rapidly despite the sometimes heavy topics and more graphic scenes. It shows that the author is a midwife herself, as there are detailed descriptions about women in labor and birth itself. The main character Anke is a midwife and her role is key in A Woman Of War. It brings forth a very interesting ethical and moral question: either Anke helping one of Hitler’s inner circle’s women during her pregnancy and betraying her own beliefs, or her refusing and being responsible for the death of her family. Seeing pro-Nazi characters in a positive light makes me feel uncomfortable and I could have done without the romance, but overall it was quite an interesting read. Anke’s flashbacks of her life before working as a midwife and during her time as a prisoner in Ravensbrück were a good balance to the more ‘fictional’ present narrative. Fans of the genre will no doubtly find A Woman Of War an interesting read.

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Anke Hoff used to work as a midwife in Berlin, but she was caught helping a Jewish woman deliver her baby and sent to camp Ravensbrück as a political prisoner and enemy of the Reich. Then one day she is called with the request to serve as the midwife of one of Hitler’s inner circle, with a clear threat that if she refuses or doesn’t do her job, her family will die. Soon after her arrival at the Berghof she learns nothing is as it seems, and she finds herself torn between her duty as a midwife and her hatred for the regime.

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There is no doubt that A Woman Of War offers quite an original take on a what if? situation that could have changed everything. I’m not sure what to make of the way the pro-Nazi characters are portrayed, but it is definitely quite unique no matter how you feel about it. The writing was solid and I especially enjoyed Anke’s flashbacks even though the parts set in Ravensbrück were quite brutal. All in all an interesting although a bit unorthodox WWII historical fiction read.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #65 – The Cruel Prince & The Wife Between Us

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two very hyped books that (I should have known) didn’t live up to the hype for me even though they weren’t bad reads. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black and The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks &Sarah Pekkanen


Title: The Cruel Prince
(The Folk Of The Air #1)
Author: Holly Black

Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: January 2nd 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: November 17th 2018
Pages: 384

“Before, I never knew how far I would go. Now I believe I have the answer. I will go as far as there is to go. I will go way to far.”


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I have been hesitant, almost afraid to pick up The Cruel Prince for a long time. There has been such a hype around this book, and you all know how hyped books and me get along… But I figured I had waited enough to give it a try myself and see how I will react to the story. I was surprised when I saw just how well I reacted to the story initially. Of course I already knew I liked Holly Black‘s writing style, and this is part of the reason this story worked for me. And what a start! I like it when a YA fantasy story isn’t afraid to go dark and throw some blood and action at us. Things were going really well even though I’m not sure the plot itself is all that original. I would have liked to see the worldbuilding a little more developed and I think not enough attention was given to the description of the different characters. I mean, they are magical creatures and we only get so and so has a tail, that one has horns, that one has hooves etc? Without a more detailed description or more attention paid to the fact they are in fact not humans, I tended to forget about their special features completely after a few pages. The lack of sappy romance scenes in the beginning was a true relief though, although of course I should have had my hopes up. Of course the cliche romance scenes would come, and of course there would be another love triangle to deal with. Not talking about Locke, who I initially liked and came to despise. Jude is an interesting enough character though. While she in a way is just another typical strong female lead, I did enjoy reading about her development and how she would get themselves out of that mess. Did she lose points for the romance related actions in the second half? Most definitely yes. But I’m still intrigued enough to be looking forward to the second book. In short, while The Cruel Prince failed to blow me away completely, overall it was still a very entertaining read.


Title: The Wife Between Us
Author: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: January 9th 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: November 19th 2018
Pages: 346

“We all layer them over our remembrances; the filters through which we want to see our lives.”


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In a way I’ve been hesitant to pick up The Wife Between Us due to the enormous hype around it earlier this year. I almost never react well to hyped books, but I was also curious about this title so I decided to give it a go. Now I’ve read it, I’m not sure what to make of it. I guess it’s unpopular opinion time again! I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but part of the reason The Wife Between Us didn’t manage to convince me probably has to do with the fact I felt this book was simply trying to hard. Sure, there are a LOT of twists involved and a lot of things I couldn’t guess beforehand, but I’m not sure if I actually LIKE how these plot twists are presented or developed. Instead of being shocked and saying ‘wow, I definitely didn’t see that coming!’, I was mostly left confused and not in a good way. Let’s just say my eyebrows worked overtime with this one… I’m not denying some of the twists were very clever, but they just didn’t do it for me (mostly related to the feeling this story was trying too hard). The writing style itself was pleasant to read and the unreliable narrator technique well used. It’s by no means a bad read and I can understand the love for it, but sadly The Wife Between Us just didn’t hit the mark for me.


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ARC REVIEW: Hunting Annabelle – by Wendy Heard

Title: Hunting Annabelle
Author: Wendy Heard
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
First published: December 18th 2018
Publisher: MIRA
Finished reading: November 24th 2018 
Pages: 336

“Every day I feel like I’ve lost another grain of myself, like I’m a mist settling over the ground and getting burned off by it.”

*** 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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Hunting Annabelle is one of those titles I have been looking forward to for quite some time now. The blurb sounded fantastic, with a mental health angle and a potentially dangerous and unreliable main character. And there is no doubt that Hunter Annabelle isn’t your ordinary thriller read. While I do think the story read more YA than adult despite the twenty-something characters, this doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it any less. And the fact that the story is set in 1986 instead of the present is an interesting touch, because although not as present in the plot as a whole, it does show in the little details (mostly referring to the developments in mental health and police investigation). All in all it definitely wasn’t the story I was expecting, but mostly in a good way. The writing on its own is engaging and the use of the unreliable narrator method well developed. The main character Sean is the perfect unreliable narrator candidate and him being both the good and bad guy at once is refreshing. While I did have some issues with the credibility and some of the plot twists, I do think that overall it was quite an interesting and original read. I wasn’t sure about the final twists and chapters though… It seemed a bit farfetched and too big of change for me. But all in all I can still recommend Hunting Annabelle to any mystery/thriller fan looking for something different and refreshing.

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Sean Suh had to spend three years in a psychiatric prison, and now he is released he is determined to never go back. He wants to stay away from temptation, still punishing himself for what happened in the past… But he can’t resist Annabelle, who is both beautiful and the only person who can see past the monster he feels he is. Then Annabelle is kidnapped, something that happened right before Sean’s own eyes. But is he a reliable witness? Why doesn’t anyone seem to believe him? Sean is determined to find Annabelle no matter what it costs…

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If you are looking for an interesting thriller read with an original touch, Hunting Annabelle is a good option. Set in 1986, this story doesn’t follow the typical thriller structure and plot and with the help of unreliable narrator Sean you will find yourself spinning in circles while you try to figure out what is happening. The final twists were a bit too farfetched and over the top to be credible for me, but it definitely isn’t something you will see coming… Dark, intriguing, a healthy dose of blood and serial killer and a very interesting mental health angle: Hunting Annabelle has it all.


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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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