BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Road Out Of Winter – by Alison Stine #blogtour @HarlequinBooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Road Out Of Winter blog tour! A huge thanks to Lia Ferrone for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I don’t read nearly enough dystopian stories and there was just something about the blurb of Road Out Of Winter that made me want to try it straight away. And it definitely turned out to be an unique and satisfying read! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: Road Out Of Winter
Author: Alison Stine
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: September 1st 2020
Publisher: MIRA
Finished reading: August 29th 2020
Pages: 227

“I never realized, before last year, how dull winter was. How much the same of everything.”

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

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It’s a fact that I don’t read nearly enough dystopian stories, so I jumped on the chance to join the blog tour of Road Out Of Winter for not one, but two reasons. One: it was the perfect excuse for me to pick up the genre again. And two: the blurb itself had me completely under its spell and I loved the sound of the illegal marijuana growing angle. I’ve been looking forward to dive into what sounded like a fascinating story, and now I’ve read it I can confirm that it is without doubt out of this world. Unique, bitterly cold, mesmerizing and even terrifying: Road Out Of Winter gives us an image of an alternative near future with an air of possibility that will chill you to the bone.

There are a lot of interesting elements in this story, but let’s talk about the setting and the dystopian world first. Although there isn’t an exact date mentioned as far as I know, you immediately get a feel that the story is set in an alternative near future that is very close to our current world. This gave the dystopian elements even more impact for me, as it is quite easy to imagine how it could be like if the cold winter months suddenly never left again… And trust me, after more than two months of cold winter weather, that IS a terrifying thought. The main dystopian aspect of Road Out Of Winter is basically that somehow the season meter is stuck on ‘winter’. This might seem like something minor, but when you start thinking about the cycle of nature, growing plants and how many industries rely on weather changes, you will start to realize just how big of an impact this neverending cold will have on life. Road Out Of Winter does an excellent job portraying the effects and consequences as well as how far out of control things will spin.

What I also loved was the illegal marijuana growing element and how the plant growing element is incorporated into the plot in general. I’ve always had a strange interest in stories with a drugs element, and it was interesting to learn more about Wil’s background and home situation before the cold never left. The drugs element is mostly focused on the before, but the plant growing element will be important throughout the story and really shines through in Wil’s character with her having the talent to make things grow even under the most difficult circumstances. The growing element for me represented the hope for a better future, and I liked how it kept popping up along the way.

Road Out Of Winter can in a way been seen as a dystopian road trip story, where unlikely characters spend time together on an improvised and dangerous road trip while trying to reach a better and warmer destination down south. The dystopian vibe will mean a lot of obstacles and challenges, and there is no doubt whatsoever that this road trip will be no picnic. It has been interesting to follow their struggle as the different characters in play meet those challenges; the different plot twists and obstacles showing us more about the dystopian world and the consequences of no longer having no other seasons but winter.

As for the characters… Wil was without doubt an intriguing character, and it is her strength and perseverance that keeps everyone going. That said, I do think that her character lacks proper development, and the same can be said for all the other main characters in play. There is a lot of mystery around both their background and past, and they don’t exactly grow much during the story either… It’s as if they were frozen in time along with the stuck winter season, but somehow weirdly enough it did mostly work for the story. I think it has to do with the fact that they are basically a random bunch of individuals being thrown together on an impromptu road trip; it makes you forgive the fact that you don’t know almost anything about their background, as the characters are mostly living in the present anyway and they have more pressing things to deal with.

That said, I do have to say that I was quite disappointed by the final developments in the story. After everything that happened before, I felt that the ending was both rushed as well as what I consider way too open. The story left lots of questions unanswered and I didn’t feel my journey with the main characters was concluded or even paused in a satisfying way. I’m not sure if I missed the memo that this was actually the first book of a series, or the story simply ends this way, but the fact is that the final part did put a damper on my overall reading experience.

Despite the unsatisfying ending, Road Out Of Winter is still an unique, fascinating and highly readable dystopian story that will make you wonder what would really happen to our world if the cold winter weather suddenly becomes the only weather throughout the year. If you are looking for a little something different and a dystopian road trip in the middle of a cold cold winter sounds like your cup of tea, you will be in for a treat!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ALISON STINE lives in the rural Appalachian foothills. A recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), she was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. She has written for The Atlantic, The Nation, The Guardian, and many others. She is a contributing editor with the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Author Website // Twitter // Instagram // Goodreads

BUY LINKS

Harlequin // Barnes & Noble // Amazon // Books-A-Million // Powell’s


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ARC REVIEW: When She Was Good – by Michael Robotham

Title: When She Was Good
(Cyrus Haven #2)

Author: Michael Robotham
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 28th 2020
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group UK
Finished reading: June 29th 2020
Pages: 352

“The three biggest lies in the world are these: it gets better; everything will be OK; and I’m here for you.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Little, Brown Book Group UK in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I’ve been wanting to try Michael Robotham‘s work for a while now… I just couldn’t resist requesting a copy of When She Was Good so I would have the perfect excuse to finally do so and pick up both Cyrus Haven books. I’m definitely glad I did now, as both books turned out to be more than solid reads. A little warning though: this is one of those series where you have to read the books in order, because you won’t understand the complicated relationship between the main characters otherwise. Trust me, it won’t be much fun reading the sequel without the knowledge of the events and character background in Good Girl Bad Girl! That said, if you enjoy a darker crime thriller with a psychology angle and don’t mind twists getting a tad over the top, both books are recommendable.

So… When She Was Good. The first book kind of left me wanting to know how things would continue with Cyrus and Evie, and this sequel will without doubt explore more of Evie’s past. In When She Was Good there is no obviously separate case to investigate for Cyrus, but instead he will focus on discovering more about Evie’s past as things are spinning out of control. A metaphorical tripwire is somehow activated, creating a domino effect and a big pile of danger and plot twists are being thrown at the main characters as they fight to stay alive and unravel the truth. I have to be honest here and say I felt that the plot and plot twists ended up crossing the boundary of credibility for me and some of the twists were just too over the top to be believable. Sure, if you like plenty of action and a whole lot of dark twists and shocking details you will be in for a treat, but I don’t think this sequel was as good as my first meeting with Cyrus and Evie.

As for the writing… It took me a little while to fully commit to this story, mostly because the pace in the beginning is quite slow. Having just read the first book did make it easier to connect to the main characters, but somehow I felt that some of the spark of the first book was missing? The pace did improve as the story continued and the plot twists created a darker and even more dangerous environment… And there will be a lot of disturbing details revealed about Evie’s past before you reach that final page. But like I said before: I wasn’t too sure about the credibility of it all, and I wasn’t a big fan of the ending either as it left too many questions unanswered. And not only that, a certain detail of the ending felt too much like taking the easy way out… But that might just have been me.

In short, while I did prefer Good Girl Bad Girl personally, When She Was Good is still a solid read if you can look past the credibility of certain aspects of the plot and don’t mind a slower start. It was without doubt intriguing to learn more about Evie’s past!


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Deadly Vengeance – by OMJ Ryan #blogtour @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours #InkubatorBooks @OMJRYAN1

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Deadly Vengeance blog tour! A huge thanks to Emma Welton for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve been following this series ever since the first book came out last year and I have been looking forward to meet up with Jane Phillips again… And it was without doubt another successful meeting! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts.


Title: Deadly Vengeance
(Detective Jane Phillips #3)
Author: OMJ Ryan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 19th 2020
Publisher: Inkubator Books
Finished reading: July 10th 2020
Pages: 290

“It was usually when she was alone that her thoughts were at their darkest.”

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

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I first discovered this series last year, and I became an instant fan of detective Jane Phillips and her team. I had an excellent time with the sequel as well, so I jumped at the chance to read book three to discover what the characters are up to next. This time around the plot is all about a kidnapping case, and while Deadly Vengeance is not my favorite of the series, it still is a more than solid detective thriller fans of the genre will enjoy.

While Deadly Vengeance can technically be read as a stand-alone, you might not fully understand the dynamics between and development of the different characters in the detective team… It’s nothing too drastic, but the first two books are excellent reads and absolutely worth taking the time to read before you continue with this third book. I felt like Deadly Vengeance had a slightly different vibe though, although I can’t put my finger exactly on the why. It might have to do with the fact that the focus is on a kidnapping case instead of the good old murder investigation… I do always love it when detective thriller spends a lot of time focusing on the police work behind the case, and you definitely get a healthy dose of that in Deadly Vengeance.

The story uses a multiple POV structure, and while Jane Phillips is the star of the show of course, we also see the other members of the team as well as Hollie’s POV too. The different POVs complement each other and didn’t slow down the pace at all. In fact, Deadly Vengeance turned out to be an engaging and superfast read and I managed to finish it in no time at all. This is also due to the writing itself, which simply reads like a train. I also really liked the Manchester setting, as I spent a few weeks there ten years ago… I loved how the historical architecture of the city plays a role in the plot. It was interesting to see the different elements in the plot develop and evolve; the plot twists and developments in the kidnapping case slowly being revealed along the way. Some parts were a bit predictable, but overall I had a great time reading this story.

As for the characters… I still like Jane, her team and their banter. There isn’t too much development to speak of this time around (with one exception I don’t want to reveal too much about to avoid spoilers), but there were some hints at the future that left me intrigued. The behavior of Jane Phillips’ boss Fox was once again extremely annoying and frustrating though, and the same goes for some of the new characters including Saxby and Sir Richard Hawkins. I know they were supposed to be unlikeable and creating a nemesis might add more spice to the plot, but I felt it went just one step too far to my taste.

That said, if you enjoy a solid and engaging detective thriller and don’t mind an unlikeable character or two, Deadly Vengeance is an excellent choice.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hailing from Yorkshire, OMJ Ryan worked in radio and entertainment for over twenty years, collaborating with household names and accumulating a host of international writing and radio awards. In 2018 he followed his passion to become a full-time novelist, writing stories for people who devour exciting, fast-paced thrillers by the pool, on their commute – or those rare moments of downtime before bed. Owen’s mission is to entertain from the first page to the last.

Deadly Vengeance is the third Detective Jane Phillips book in the series and OMJ’s fourth book with Inkubator Books.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Twitter // Facebook // Website // Instagram

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK // Amazon US


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ARC REVIEW: How To Save A Life – by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

Title: How To Save A Life
Author: Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: July 14th 2020
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Finished reading: June 14th 2020
Pages: 303

“I’m struck by how much I take life for granted. How easily I – or anyone I care about – could be a part of any of these stories that make the papers.”

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

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I knew I wanted to read How To Save A Life as soon as I read the blurb and saw the mention of the Groundhog Day element. It reminded me of one of my all time favorite books The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle and I was immediately curious how this element would be developed into the plot. It’s without doubt also the reason this story will stay with me for quite some time! The Groundhog Day element gives the story a surreal touch as well as raising an interesting question as mentioned in the blurb: how far would you go to save the life of someone you love?

The main reason this story worked for me is that same Groundhog Day element. How To Save A Life starts out as an ordinary romantic contemporary when Dom meets his ex-fiancé Mia again after ten years… While this does sounds like a bit of a cliche, it’s a tolerable cliche and it was interesting to see the two react to their sudden meeting and what some might call fate. The plot thickens after the introduction of the Groundhog Day element, and it gave the story that magical realism vibe as you wonder if the things that are happening are real or if it is all in Dom’s head.

The story is told in a series of repeat Thursdays as Dom wakes up and experiences the same day all over again. This might sound repetitive, but there are enough changes in the events as well as enough growth in Dom’s character to keep you interested. By doing things different each Thursday, we slowly learn more about Dom, Mia and their past as well as the other characters in play. I didn’t particularly like the hint at the love triangle nor the stack of cliches used throughout the story, but overall I was intrigued enough by how it would all end to keep reading.

As for the characters… I’m still not sure if I actually like them, but they were all well developed and felt mostly realistic. I had a great time getting to know Dom and Mia better over time… It was also interesting to see the dynamics between the different characters, and I actually quite liked the ending too. How To Save A Life proved to be a very interesting read; a mostly character driven story about Dom trying to save the love of his life while also learning more about himself. It’s definitely not your ordinary lost love story!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #168 – Evil At Heart & The Night Season

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a double dose of Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell with book three and four of the series written by Chelsea Cain: Evil At Heart and The Night Season.


Title: Evil At Heart
(Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell #3)
Author: Chelsea Cain
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: 2009
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Finished reading: May 31st 2020
Pages: 317

“Susan shook her head. She had a copy to write. She didn’t have time to be murdered by Gretchen Lowell.”

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This is the second time my TBR jar had to remind me I needed to continue this series… I’m not sure why, as I loved the first two books, but it is not happening again as I’m now determined to finish the series ASAP. Book three Evil At Heart is without doubt another winner. I have a weak spot for serial killer and detective thrillers, and this series gives us best of both worlds by putting Beauty Killer Gretchen Lowell and detective Archie Sheridan in the spotlight. Before I continue, I have to stress that this is one of those series you need to read in order, because you won’t be able to understand the complicated relationship between Archie and Gretchen otherwise (and Claire, Henry and Susan as well for that matter). It’s worth it though! It has been fascinating to get a glimpse inside the head of such a twisted mind as well as seeing the development of Archie after surviving such a horrible event. Evil At Heart provides us with an interesting new twist and I literally raced through the pages while trying to discover the truth. This book is dark, this book is disturbing, this book is seriously twisted… But oh so good if you think you can stomach it! A little warning is in place though as some scenes can get pretty gory, but if I love a well written, dark and twisted serial killer thriller this is series is a must.


Title: The Night Season
(Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell #4)
Author: Chelsea Cain
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 1st 2011
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Finished reading: June 1st 2020
Pages: 335

“It had an extra weight, given Archie’s stay in the psych ward. Crazy was not such a faraway place for him. Crazy lived just up the road.”

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I decided to read The Night Season straight after book three, because when you are on a roll, you are on a roll… And I was also in the mood to spend more time with Archie and Gretchen. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Beauty Killer Gretchen hardly made her appearance in book four! The Night Season is the first book of the series without a heart element in the title, and also the first where Gretchen isn’t in the spotlight… And it shows. Sure, we still have Archie, Susan and the rest. Sure, we have a new twisted serial killer on the loose and the danger of the rising Willamette river to up the stakes. But it was the Archie-Gretchen dynamics that gave the previous books an extra edge, and I don’t think this story lives up to the previous ones. It is still a solid serial killer thriller; I liked the link to the past and both the impending flooding and the serial killer added a healthy dose of suspense and danger to the plot. Things will get dark, things will get disturbing, and nobody is safe… But on the other hand this story left me wanting for more as well and the final reveals were a bit too convenient. That said, I’m still looking forward to read the final two books!


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ARC REVIEW: Little Whispers – by K.L. Slater

Title: Little Whispers
Author: K.L. Slater
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: May 21st 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: April 19th 2020
Pages: 259

“But how far should we go in our quest? What should we put up with, or hide, to stop our kids from hurting or facing the truth?”

*** 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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It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of anything K.L. Slater writes, and I’m always looking out for any of her new psychological thrillers. Having the chance to read two new titles in less than a month is definitely a huge bonus for me! I was intrigued by the premise of Little Whispers and I have been looking forward to pick it up. And as always, the writing is most definitely solid and it turned out to be an entertaining psychological thriller. Definitely a great pick for fans of domestic thrillers with a fair share of secrets!

While I confess that this story isn’t my favorite Slater and I did feel that some of that spark was missing when I read the story, I still think Little Whispers is a more than solid read. It might just even be that these kind of domestic psychological thrillers just are not a good match for me right now… Because let’s face it: in these strange times my reading taste has been all over the place and can hardly be trusted. That said, let’s see if I can explain briefly what made me feel this way. First of all, I liked the premise of the story and the idea of ‘outsiders’ moving into a new posh neighborhood and trying to fit in makes for an intriguing story. The main focus is on the secrets and gossip of course… And I liked how the tension and suspense was slowly build up without giving away those secrets and twists.

That said, I do have to say is that I found some of the reveals to be quite an anti-climax, and especially those secrets relating to Janey’s past. Somehow I was expecting something a whole lot more daunting? Sure, it was shocking and all, but I don’t see why it should affect Janey that much as it didn’t involve anything she did or could have influenced personally. It did raise an interesting question though: how far are we accountable for the actions of others? This question is also raised by the actions of her husband of course, and in a lesser way in Tracy too. In fact, we have a big cast of characters with things to hide, and as a consequence a lot of secrets and lies to unravel along the way…

The story uses a separate POV (in cursive) to add an ominous feel to the whole situation, as the woman in question seems to be in accute danger and you wonder how she fits in with the rest of the story. Switching between her and the other characters in play definitely added more suspense as well as making the plot feel more complex. As for the characters… I have to be honest here and say I wasn’t really able to connect to any of them, but their development was well handled and their personalities fitted the part they played in the plot. And there were definitely a couple plot twists I didn’t see coming! Especially those relating to the final reveals and the whole situation involving what Janey’s husband was up to…

In short, Little Whispers is without doubt a solid psychological thriller that has that domestic vibe. While it’s not my favorite of hers, I can still recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading the genre.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #153 – I’ll Be Gone In The Dark & If I Stay

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two backlist titles with a completely different target group and genre, but both I’ve been meaning to read for a while and both were stories I ended up enjoying. The true crime title I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara and If I Stay by Gayle Forman.


Title: I’ll Be Gone In The Dark
Author: Michelle McNamara

Genre: Non Fiction, True Crime
First published: February 27th 2018
Publisher: Harper
Finished reading: February 25th 2020
Pages: 340

“If you commit murder and then vanish, what you leave behind isn’t just pain but absence, a supreme blankness that triumphs over everything else.”


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True crime has always intrigued me, so I’m not sure why I don’t pick it up more often… I’ve been meaning to read I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara ever since it was first published two years ago, but somehow I just never got to it. I’m happy I finally did pick it up though. I confess I hadn’t heard of the Golden State Killer before, so this book was a true goldmine filled to the brim with information about his crimes and the investigation as it evolved both back in the 1970s and 1980s when they were first investigated as well as the cold case investigation in the 21st century with the help of DNA tests. True crime journalist Michelle McNamara played a big role in the investigation around the identity behind the Golden State Killer and it is sad that her untimely death ment she wasn’t able to see the guy finally get caught in 2018… Still, I’ll Be Gone In The Dark shows just how talented and determined the author was in her investigation and I can imagine just how big of a help she was in uncovering the truth after all that time. The details of the Golden State Killer crimes, both the rapes, home invasions and the murders, are pretty brutal and it’s hard to believe that with so many victims and attacks he was still able to escape justice for this long… I’ll Be Gone In The Dark doesn’t sugarcoat the graphic and gruesome facts, and definitely makes you glad you weren’t living in the areas mentioned back then… Or at least rethink about how terrifying the knowledge that someone dangerous is prowling close to where you live is, and how difficult it would be to defend yourself if he suddenly shows up in your bedroom that way. Definitely not a read for those with a weak stomach, but more than recommended if you are a true crime fan!


Title: If I Stay
(If I Stay #1)
Author: Gayle Forman

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 2nd 2009
Publisher: Speak
Finished reading: March 3rd 2020
Pages: 196

“He got it before I did. If I stay. If I live. It’s up to me.”


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I’m probably the last person on the planet to read this one! I’ve been meaning to try If I Stay for years now, but to be honest I wasn’t so sure if this story would be for me… I was afraid it was going to be too sappy and cliche for me, and that the hype around it simply wasn’t worth it. I confess I kept my expectations low, and the unexpected happened: I ended up being so much more invested in this story about Mia and Adam than I thought I would be! While I do feel part of the plot is a bit cliche, and especially the flashbacks can be a bit slow, there were also other elements I really loved. The most important of them being just how important music is throughout the story. Both the classical cello and the rock guitar come together beautifully and also represent the different characters in play in If I Stay… Somehow I ended up rooting for Mia and Adam despite the cliches, and I loved the fact that we saw the present story progress from the point of view of Mia’s unconscious self. Definitely an unique angle! The story introduces questions about life and death and it was intriguing to see Mia struggle to decide whether to stay or let go after this tragedy… Cliches and sometimes slow pace aside, I had a great time reading If I Stay and I might even have almost shed a tear or two at some point.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #152 – Blue Night & Beton Rouge by Simone Buchholz

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around the first two books of the Chas Riley series (at least the first that have been translated from German); a series I’ve been meaning to read for a while now and the current blog tour for the third book Mexico Street was a perfect excuse to finally catch up. I admit I was a bit confused in the beginning, but once I warmed up to the writing and got to know who was who, I was fully hooked!


Title: Blue Night
(Chas Riley #6)
Author: Simone Buchholz

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 7th 2016
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: February 27th 2020
Pages: 276
(Originally written in German: ‘Blaue Nacht’)

“We just let ourselves fall into the mist and all the sad things run under their own steam. Loneliness, for example. Or fear. Or being cut off from everything.”


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Blue Night has been on my radar for a while now… Both because I’m a huge sucker for any drugs and/or organized crime angle and because more than one trusted fellow blogger has recommended the series in the past. I’m definitely not disappointed by what I found! While Blue Night is the first Chas Riley title that has been translated into English and is technically called the first book of a new crime series, it is in fact already book number six published in German and it showed in my less than smooth first experience when I started Blue Night. Why? Let’s just say that it felt like I was thrown into the deep end without any helping hand or any helpful background information to make the introduction to Chastity Riley and the others a little smoother. It took me a while to get used to the short and snappy writing style, and I also had a hard time figuring out who was who in the beginning. The flashback chapters were especially confusing at first, as you have no background as to who is who and how they all fit together. I honestly wasn’t sure if this story would be for me… BUT. Somehow, after I decided to take a little break and continue with fresh eyes, I started to warm up to Blue Night. Once I got the hang of both the writing style and the different characters in play, I was hooked. Or more than hooked; I literally devoured the pages, hungry for more. The writing style sure is something else, and combined with the unique and diverse cast of characters and the fascinating plot this was definitely a slowburner turned explosive pageturner for me. Definitely recommended if you enjoy an original, sharp and action-packed crime thriller and don’t mind being kept in the dark for a bit until you get used to the unique writing style and cast of characters.


Title: Beton Rouge
(Chas Riley #7)
Author: Simone Buchholz

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: August 7th 2017
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: February 28th 2020
Pages: 276
(Originally written in German: ‘Beton Rouge’)

“Breathing this haze, which seems to soak up the big-city smog like a sponge, is a bit like smoking. I also light a cigarette – double poisoning is more reliable.”


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While it took me some time to get used to the writing style and characters in Blue Night, I had no such problem with Beton Rouge. I was fully hooked as soon as I read the first chapter, and the same short and snappy chapters kept me turning those pages like there was no tomorrow. I definitely managed to race through my second Chas Riley book in no time at all! Beton Rouge is a lot more ‘readable’ and easier to follow for those who, like me, don’t know a lot about the background of the main characters. This makes it quite easy to read Beton Rouge as a stand-alone as well, although the characters are worth sticking around and reading the other books for. Chas is an absolutely brilliant character and I just love her sass and sarcasm… The cast of characters in general is diverse, well developed and they truly feel unique and quirky; they all add that little je ne sais quoi to the story and really take this series to the next level. The case Chase finds herself involved in this time around is without doubt intriguing as well, and I had a great time following her as she was trying to solve the puzzle involving the tortured men showing up unconscious in cages. The plot and plot twists work perfectly together with the short and snappy chapters, making it impossible to stop reading as you simply keep devouring those pages. There are no diet restrictions possible here! Chas and the rest of her crew will have you under their spell, and you won’t be let go until after you read the final shocking new developments. Trust me, you will be dying to read the next book as soon as you finish Beton Rouge! This series is quickly turning into a new favorite of mine.


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ARC REVIEW: The Electric Heir – by Victoria Lee

Title: The Electric Heir
(Feverwake #2)

Author: Victoria Lee
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: March 17th 2020
Publisher: Skyscape
Finished reading: January 10th 2020
Pages: 479

“Just because something is a stereotype doesn’t make it true.”

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

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After enjoying the first book of this duology last year, I was excited to meet up with the main characters again in The Electric Heir. But before we continue with my rambles, can we just take a second to admire this absolutely gorgeous cover? Both Feverwake covers are simply stunning and most definitely fit this story as well, as it can be seen as a direct reference to the magical powers so fundamental to this story. Cover love aside, there are quite a few other elements that made this duology work for me.

The first thing that stands out in the Feverwake books is the dystopian setting and worldbuilding in general. While not entirely original, the dystopian world where a magical virus ravages the world, killing most and leaving the survivors with supernatural powers, is without doubt intriguing. While roughly based on actual US states and cities by name, the story has an obvious dystopian feel both because the country and government as we know it is long gone and the story is actually set in the future (2123 to be exact). The worldbuilding itself isn’t all that extensive, but solid enough to give the story the right backdrop.

One of the things I liked most about both books was the magic and the fact that there was a wide range of different supernatural powers as well as level of strength after surviving the virus. It was interesting to see the different characters develop their power over time as well as seeing the power change them… And as the blurb already states, the sudden absence of that power too. Magic is without doubt essential to the plot and definitely spiced up this story! As for the plot itself… It was interesting to see the new direction this story took. Lehrer is clearly the supervillian of this story and the main goal is to defeat him before things really spin out of control. I do admit that some parts of the plot were quite cliche and the pace can be considerably slow in points. Especially the second made the story drag in certain parts, but overall curiosity won out as I wanted to know how it would all end.

There are a lot of trigger warnings involved when it comes to The Electric Heir, including genocide, abuse, rape, mental health, suicide and addiction (full list available on the author’s website). There are a lot of deeper meanings to be uncovered while reading this duology and some parts even give off a political vibe, but I personally thought this only gave the story a little something extra. There are quite a lot of heavy elements included in The Electric Heir and if you are looking for a balanced and happy story this would definitely be the wrong place to look for it. But life isn’t all about happy endings and it made this story feel a lot more realistic because of it. I personally found the ending itself of The Electric Heir a bit abrupt, but I guess it does give you closure and all in all it’s a well rounded duology that wrapped things up nicely. If you are looking for an entertaining YA dystopia that isn’t afraid to go dark, love a good LGBT romance and don’t mind a dose of teen angst and a slower pace, this Feverwake duology is definitely for you.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #151 – (Modern) Classics Edition

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a flash round with very short shorties reviews featuring four (modern) classics I’ve read recently.


Title: A Study In Scarlet
(Sherlock Holmes #1)
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle

Genre: Classics, Mystery, Thriller
First published: 1887
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Finished reading: January 31st 2020
Pages: 143

“There’s a scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.”


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I’ve been meaning to meet up with the original Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson for ages now, and after watching the Netflix series and a recent mention in another book, I finally had the perfect excuse to do so. I must have read various retellings over the years as well as watch more than one screen adaptation, but it was without doubt fun to go back to the roots and see how the original Holmes Arthur Conan Doyle created was like. I was already familiar with most of the details of the case in A Study In Scarlet, so that didn’t come as a big surprise for me… What was a huge surprise to say the least was the second part of this first installment. Part two is seemingly completely different from the first part with Sherlock and Watson and is set in the US rather than the UK… A story about a man and a little girl rescued by the Mormons, forced to join their beliefs or face the consequences when disobeying. I personally found this part to be far less interesting and a bit too dragged out, and only towards the ending you will understand why this story is included. I highly enjoyed the first part and the ending though and I will definitely continue with the series soon.


Title: The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Genre: Classics, Fiction
First published: May 27th 1922
Publisher: Juniper Grove
Finished reading: January 31st 2020
Pages: 41

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want.”


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The movie adapation of The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button recently popped up in my mind and I remembered I somehow never read the short story it was based on despite wanting to do so. Since it’s a supershort read with only 41 pages, I decided to squeeze it in between my other books I was planning to read… It is without doubt a quick and quite entertaining read, although it did leave me wanting for more. This could have been such a perfect story for a full blown novel, as right now we don’t see a lot of dept, character development or insight in the different ages of Benjamin Button. That’s probably why I think I prefer the movie in this case? That said, if you are looking for a quick and surprisingly fun classic to read, this is a great choice for sure. I just don’t want to think about the poor Mrs. Button for having to give birth to a seventy-year-old man though! xD


Title: Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer
Author: Patrick Süskind

Genre: Classics, Thriller, Crime
First published: 1985
Publisher: Penguin Books
Finished reading: February 5th 2020
Pages: 263
(Originally written in German: ‘Das Parfum: Die Geschichte eines Mörders’)

“Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odor cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it.”


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This story had intrigued me ever since I first watched the movie years back, but somehow it took me a long time to finally make time for the original story. I’m definitely glad I finally did read the book! Patrick Süskind has a way with his words that really makes the descriptions come alive and Grenouille’s story is both horrifying and absolutely fascinating at the same time. I already knew what was going to come as I’ve seen the movie muliple times, but even so I highly enjoyed reading this modern classic. The building up to the moment Grenouille turns into a real ‘monster’ is excellently done. There is something strange and almost supernatural about his character from the start, with him having no smell and his extraordinary nose for detecting and identifying the most minimal scent… His character development is the main focus of the story, as well as anything involving scents of course. A dark and quite shocking serial killer thriller set in 18th century France, and without doubt a great pick if you are looking for an intriguing and engaging modern classic to read.


Title: Peter Pan
Author: J.M. Barrie

Genre: Classics, Children, Fantasy
First published: December 27th 1904
Publisher: Puffin
Finished reading: February 18th 2020
Pages: 207

“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.”


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I loved watching the Peter Pan adaptations when I was little, so I fully expected to love the original story and classic as well… But I guess it wasn’t ment to be. Warning: it’s unpopular opinion time again! I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t a fan of the writing at all and except for a few entertaining moments I found the story mostly dull and rather slowpaced… I even started skimreading at one point and that is never a good sign. The story just never managed to grab me and I kept wondering if I left it too late and maybe would have had a complete different experience as a child? That said, I definitely didn’t enjoy the story at all as an adult, while the adaptations still manage to entertain me even now. The story was also a lot darker and chaotic than expected, something that came as quite a surprise. Oh yes, the original Peter Pan definitely wasn’t my cup of tea, and turned out to be quite a disappointing experience to be honest. I’ll stick with the adaptations this time around!


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