AUDIO ARC REVIEW: Furia – by Yamile Saied Méndez

Title: Furia
Author: Yamile Saied Méndez
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: September 15th 2020
Publisher: Workman Audio
Finished reading: October 30th 2020
Pages: 368

Duration audiobook 8 Hours, 51 Minutes, 38 Seconds
Narrated by Sol Madariaga

“I’d leave this house the first chance I got, but not by chasing after a boy, including my brother. I’d do it on my own terms, following my dreams, not someone else’s.”

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

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I confess that I have a weak spot for any story with a Latin American setting, and any story set in Argentina will instantly have a special place in my heart. As an immigrant who has had the opportunity to live in Argentina during (most of) the last decade, I love seeing the Argentinian culture and customs portrayed in my stories. As soon as I read the blurb of Furia, I knew I was going to be in for a treat. The setting in Rosario (a city I’ve had the chance to visit a couple of times over the years) as well as the prejudice the main character has to face as a female soccer player had me fully intrigued… And it most definitely turned out to be a powerful listen.

I know that I’m still a newby when it comes to the whole audiobook experience, and I also confess that I still prefer reading the stories myself, but there is just something about listening to a book set in Argentina that is narrated by someone with an Argentinian accent. While I do understand that some might be put off by this as non-Spanish speakers might be having a more difficult time understanding the many Spanish phrases thrown in, I personally felt it gave the story a real sense of authenticity. Sol Madariaga‘s voice grew on me almost immediately and I applaude her fluidity switching between English and (Argentinian) Spanish flawlessly. The pace and flow of the audiobook were just right for me, and I had no problems at all keeping up with the story. And I think that this audiobook might just only have enhanced my experience with this story for me.

Like I mentioned before, Furia is set in Argentina and it shows. Not only do we have many thorough descriptions of Rosario and Argentinian customs in general, but this story also deals with social issues including domestic abuse and violence. The all-popular soccer is another very important element of course, and the power of this sport can be felt throughout the story. It doesn’t stop there though, as Furia is made even more authentic through the use of many many (Argentinian) Spanish words and phrases that are woven expertly into the plot and dialogue. While I do understand that non-Spanish speakers might seem them as a burden, I personally loved how it gave the story that true Argentinian flavor.

I personally more of a rugby fan, but I have seen with my own eyes just how important soccer is in Argentina and I really liked how the sport was incorporated into the plot. Furia is about soccer as well as the struggles of the main character as a female soccer player, and the writing really made the sport and its players come alive for me. As for the characters… Camila was quite easy to warm up to, although I did end up having mixed thoughts about her. Why? I don’t want to give away spoilers, but the constant lying and ‘hot and cold’ treatment of Diego did get on my nerves… And I particularly found the whole keeping her soccer playing a secret for over a year unbelievable. Again, why? Well, let’s just say that people love to talk and gossip down here, and the soccer passion is in the blood of most… So I just don’t believe nobody ever mentioned something to her parents before, especially with her brother being a well known player too.

That said, I did enjoy most of this story and it felt like a true ode to Argentinian soccer and culture. Lighter moments and romance are mixed with heavier topics, and all in all Furia turned out to be a satisfying story to listen to. I can definitely recommend the audio version, but I would advice non-Spanish speakers to approach with caution as you might struggle understanding the Spanish words and phrases in the audio even though they do make the story feel more authentic.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #183 – The Bird Tribunal & Mexican Gothic

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around It’s All About Books has turned to the dark side with an eerie nordic noir story (The Bird Tribunal) and a piece of historical gothic horror set in Mexico (Mexican Gothic).


Title: The Bird Tribunal
Author: Agnes Ravatn

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: September 1st 2013
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: October 11th 2020
Pages: 192
(Originally published in Norwegian: ‘Fugletribunalet’)

“But here was the thing: it required willpower to build willpower.”


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I’ve had The Bird Tribunal on my radar for a while now, and after a fantastic experience with her newest title The Seven Doors I decided to simply give in and finally read it. I’m honestly a bit lost for words as this turned out to be such an odd and intriguing story! Basically there isn’t all that much happening plot wise; the focus is instead on the main characters and what is an absolutely fantastic description of the Norwegian setting. Oh yes, both the setting and the brilliant creation of that eerie and ominous vibe steal the show and are definitely the strongest asset of this piece of nordic noir together with the beautiful writing. Where the characters were a tad too unlikeable for me and I found the ending to be too predictable, it was the writing and the stunning descriptions of the Norwegian setting that swept me off my feet… And we even get a dose of Norse mythology along the way as well. Like I said, I wasn’t really a fan of the characters though, which did cause some inconvenience as this is mostly a slower-paced and essentially character-driven story. Somehow I was never able to warm up to Allis nor Sigurd… But that might just have been me. You will want to read The Bird Tribunal for the stunning writing and descriptions alone though if you are a fan of the nordic noir genre.


Title: Mexican Gothic
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Genre: Historical Fiction, Horror
First published: June 30th 2020
Publisher: Del Rey
Finished reading: October 20th 2020
Pages: 304

“The serpent does not devour its tail, it devours everything around it, voracious, its appetite never quenched.”


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I confess that I was going to try Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s other story Gods Of Jade And Shadow first, but there has been so much hype around Mexican Gothic that I simply couldn’t resist trying it myself. Now that I’ve finally gotten the chance to read it, I can understand the love for it. This story is dark, this story is eerie, this story is gothic horror at its best… It’s simply glorious! I loved the 1950s Mexico setting and the ominous and gloomy atmosphere of the High Place mansion is simply spot on. Historical elements are mixed with horror and even the supernatural and the writing itself is simply exquisite. I can’t deny the pace is considerably slow in points though… And this can definitely be a turn off for those who prefer a story with a faster pace. The glorious writing mostly made up for this feeling of slowness for me, and I liked how the secrets of High Place are only slowly revealed as the main character Noemí discovers them herself. She might seem like a flighty character, but I liked how she reacted to the situation in High Place as well as her determination in doing what is best for her cousin. The plot itself is once again quite slow-paced, but does work towards a final escalation and the story definitely ends with a bang. If you enjoy the gothic horror genre, don’t mind a slow pace or a touch of the supernatural and appreciate dark and atmospheric reads, Mexican Gothic might just be the perfect match.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #181 – The Boy On The Bridge & The Bear And The Nightingale

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a YA edition… The Boy On The Bridge is a dystopian prequel of an all time favorite The Girl With All The Gifts, and it was entertaining but not as good as the other story. And I still can’t believe it took me this long to pick up The Bear And The Nightingale, but I definitely understand the love for this series now!


Title: The Boy On The Bridge
(The Girl With All The Gifts #2)
Author: M.R. Carey

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Science Fiction
First published: May 2nd 2017
Publisher: Orbit
Finished reading: October 3rd 2020 
Pages: 456

“He had already learned to read, but now he learned the pleasure of stories which is like no other pleasure—the experience of slipping sideways into another world and living there for as long as you want to.”


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I LOVED The Girl With All The Gifts back when I read it four years ago, and I’m still not sure why it took me this long to pick up this sequel set in the same world… The bright orange cover called my name once again the other day, and I finally gave in. And even though I didn’t love The Boy On The Bridge as much as the first book, it most definitely satisfied my dystopian cravings! This story can be easily read as a stand-alone, as I have to be honest here and say I had forgotten about the details of the first book beyond Melanie and I didn’t encounter any issues along the way. The Boy On The Bridge is more focused on the science and quite a bit slower, but the dystopian world makes for an interesting setting and Stephen is without doubt the star of the show. It was really easy to warm up and love his character, and I loved the dynamics between him and Rina too. They are definitely the main reason I enjoyed this story, together with Stephen’s observations and discoveries along the way. If you enjoy a good dystopian story and don’t mind a sometimes slowish pace and a lot of science talk, The Boy On The Bridge is probably a good match.


Title: The Bear And The Nightingale
(Winternight Trilogy #1)
Author: Katherine Arden

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
First published: January 7th 2017
Publisher: Del Rey
Finished reading: October 8th 2020
Pages: 336

“I would rather die tomorrow in the forest than live a hundred years of the life appointed to me.”


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I still can’t believe it took me this long to finally pick up this trilogy… I’ve been meaning to ever since it was first published since I kept seeing raving reviews, and I’m definitely kicking myself for waiting this long now. I can understand the love for this trilogy after reading The Bear And The Nightingale, because I ended up having a fantastic time with this story. The historical setting in Russia, the Russian folklore, the magic, the characters, the writing, the plot… There is so much to love in this first book of what I already know will be a favorite trilogy, and it was everything I could have hoped for and more. Especially the Russian folklore references were fantastic, and I loved how they were incorporated into the story. Vasilisa makes for a brilliant main character, and I loved learning more about both her and the rest of her family. The magical elements were very well incorporated as well, and I loved how the historical and fantasical were balanced. On to book number two it is as soon as I have time!


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ARC REVIEW: Dead Perfect – by Noelle Holten

Title: Dead Perfect
(DC Maggie Jamieson #3)

Author: Noelle Holten
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Detective
First published: October 16th 2020
Publisher: One More Chapter
Finished reading: October 1st 2020
Pages: 448

“The overcast sky and spittle of rain hitting her face on the way into work that morning almost seemed to perfectly reflect Maggie’s mood that day.”

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

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I’ve been a fan of this series and its main character ever since I read the first book last year, and I’ve been looking forward to meet up with DC Maggie Jamieson and the others again. Dead Perfect is already book number three of the series, and while it technically can be read as a stand-alone, it would be easier to properly connect with the characters in play if you have the background information provided by the previous two books. Both are excellent and absolutely worth your time in the first place!

Dead Wrong ended with cliffhanger of atomic bomb proportion, and book three continues right where the second story left off. This surge of adrenaline sets the tone for the rest of the story, and Dead Perfect will definitely have some disturbing scenes for you in store. The story is told with the help of a multiple POV structure, which is used to learn more about (among others) Maggie and Kate as well as the killer and the motives behind the crimes. There will be personal developments as well as a new case to investigate, and it will definitely hit close to home this time around… The pressure to solve the case seems even higher with one of their own at stake, and it shows in the level of suspense. We have the Living Doll element, the stalker case, kidnapping, murder; things will get hot and dangerious along the way, and the clock never stops ticking.

I do have to say that I felt a bit bummed that I guessed the identity of the killer almost immediately. I kept hoping I was wrong, but that didn’t turn out to be the case and I ended up feeling quite disappointed because of it. There definitely seems to be a bit of a lack in other viable suspects this time around… I also wondered about how credible it would be for Maggie to keep investigating a case when someone she has such strong feelings for is involved. Even if she says she can keep her feelings under control, I feel it would be a conflict of interest to do so? Anyway, while I still think Dead Perfect is a solid crime thriller, it’s not my favorite of the series so far. The ending left me wanting for more though! Oh yes, this one ends once again with a cliffhanger… You’ve been warned.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Confessions On The 7:45 – by Lisa Unger #blogtour @HarlequinBooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Confessions On The 7:45 blog tour! A huge thanks to Justine Sha for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve enjoyed Lisa Unger‘s writing in the past and I was intrigued by the promise of a Strangers On The Train element, so I simply couldn’t resist this story. And it definitely turned out to be an intriguing read! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: Confessions On The 7:45
Author: Lisa Unger
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: October 6th 2020
Publisher: Park Row
Finished reading: September 24th 2020
Pages: 368

“You can’t con someone who doesn’t want something, who wasn’t willing to wade into a gray area to get it.”

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

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I’ve enjoyed Lisa Unger’s writing in the past and I admit that I was intrigued as soon as I saw the mention of an Strangers On The Train element in the blurb. Confessions On The 7:45 managed to grab my attention immediately, and I have been looking forward to dive into this story. And it most definitely turned out to be an unique, multi-dimentional and intriguing read! If you like psychological thrillers and are looking for a little something different that packs a punch, this story is a great choice.

There are so many layers, secrets and plot twists in Confessions On The 7:45 and I’ve decided to keep my rambles short as to not spoil the fun of peeling away all those layers yourself to discover what is underneath. Trust me, this is a story where it’s best to go in blind so you can fully savour the complexity of the plot and the twists! True, I do have to confess that I found the story to be quite confusing initially, as there are a lot of different POVs in play and there are even multiple identities of the same character as well as the story switching back and forth between past and present. It was quite hard to place all those different storylines initially, but once you get the hang of the basic situation you will find yourself hooked.

What initially seems like the typical psychological thriller with the complicated home situation and the cheating (an element I confess I’m never a fan of), ends up being so much more… The cheating is almost lost in the background as more urgent storylines and events take their spotlight. We have a missing person case, we have the mysterious meeting in the train, we have multiple characters with a tragic background, we have the con element… Nothing is as it seems, and while I did guess some of the twists, there were also other reveals I never saw coming.

The placement of all those different layers, plot twists, secrets and different identities is more than solid. It definitely keeps the tension and suspense in the picture, and Confessions On The 7:45 is a story that will keep you on your toes as you try to fit all the different pieces of the puzzle together. I wasn’t really a fan of the characters though, but the uniqueness and complexity of the plot mostly made up for that. Confessions On The 7:45 is a multi-faceted story that will be a perfect fit if you are looking for something different.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa Unger is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of eighteen novels, including CONFESSIONS ON THE 7:45 (Oct. 2020). With millions of readers worldwide and books published in twenty-six languages, Unger is widely regarded as a master of suspense. Her critically acclaimed books have been voted “Best of the Year” or top picks by the Today showGood Morning AmericaEntertainment WeeklyAmazonIndieBound and others. Her essays have appeared in The New York TimesWall Street JournalNPR, and Travel+Leisure. She lives on the west coast of Florida with her family.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Author Website // TWITTER: @lisaunger // FB: @authorlisaunger // INSTA: @launger // Goodreads

BUY LINKS

Harlequin // Indiebound // Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Books-A-Million // Target // Walmart // Google // iBooks // Kobo


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YVO’S SHORTIES #180 – Dead Wrong & A Heart So Fierce And Broken

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two sequels, albeit two completely different genres. Dead Wrong turned out to be just the dose of crime thriller I was craving and A Heart So Fierce And Broken made me realize I really need to dive into the high fantasy genre more often again.


Title: Dead Wrong
(DC Maggie Jamieson #2)
Author: Noelle Holten

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 14th 2020
Publisher: One More Chapter
Finished reading: September 27th 2020
Pages: 432

“She was always in awe of the landscape around some prisons and secure units. Beautiful on the outside, but housing evil behind the walls.”


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I really enjoyed my time with the first book Dead Inside last year, and I have been looking forward to continue the series ever since… I’m not sure why it took me this long to actually do so, but I guess that in a way I’m kind of glad I did now because that cliffhanger ending is nuclear!! Oh yes, Dead Wrong has the most shocking ending and I will definitely be diving into book three ASAP to find out what happened there. The ending isn’t the only exciting thing happening in this sequel though. While Dead Wrong has a slightly different feel than the first book due to the focus on the murder investigation this time around, both the psychology angle with criminal psychologist Kate and the probation angle with probation officer Lucy will make its appearance along the way. Both women give this crime thriller series a refreshing touch and I really liked the balance with the rest of the murder investigation team. We get to know main character Maggie a little better this time around too, and she is a great character to follow while you are trying to uncover the truth about it all. Dead Wrong will definitely have some twists and surprises for you in store! The writing reads like a train too, and if you are looking for a well written and suspenseful crime thriller, this series in general is an excellent choice.


Title: A Heart So Fierce And Broken
(Cursebreakers #2)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: January 7th 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Finished reading: September 29th 2020
Pages: 464

“Choices are never easy. There are good and bad options, but the most dangerous is to not make any choice at all.”


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I really enjoyed A Curse So Dark And Lonely when I read it last year, so I have been looking forward to read the sequel ever since… It took me longer than expected to finally do so, but I ended up really enjoying my time with A Heart So Fierce And Broken too despite the slower pace in points. There is a shift in focus on the main characters in this sequel, but I actually liked spending more time with Grey instead of Rhen. While I did miss Harper, most of the other interesting characters of the first book take the spotlight along with Grey and a couple of new characters; some might be disappointed by this, but I personally didn’t mind. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that I love Grey’s character, and I really liked new character Lia Mara and what she added to the plot. A bonus: no clear love triangle and instead a slowburn romance between two interesting and easy to like characters. I call that a win! On top of this, we have more magic, a fascinating creature (scraver) and a whole new complicated situation in Emberfall… And that ending!! I definitely can’t wait for book three now to see how things will develop next.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Orphan Of Cemetery Hill – by Hester Fox #blogtour @HarlequinBooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Orphan Of Cemetery Hill blog tour! A huge thanks to Justine Sha for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I love a good gothic vibe in a story and I’ve been wanting to try the work of Hester Fox for a while now… So of course I couldn’t resist joining the tour for The Orphan Of Cemetery Hill as the blurb of her newest story sounded fantastic. And I will definitely be coming back for more after an excellent first impression of her writing! Want to know more? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: The Orphan Of Cemetery Hill
Author: Hester Fox
Genre: Historical Fiction, Paranormal
First published: September 15th 2020
Publisher: Graydon House
Finished reading: September 9th 2020
Pages: 384

“Tabby knew that her greatest fault was that, once won, her trust was too freely given.”

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

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I’ve been wanting to try this author for a while now, and I confess that I was immediately intrigued by the blurb of The Orphan Of Cemetery Hill as well as the atmospheric cover. I love a good gothic story and this book most definitely delivered the perfect spooky gothic atmosphere. The Orphan Of Cemetery Hill is set in mid 19th century Boston, and this historical setting is what sets the tone for a suspenseful and creepy read that packs a mean paranormal punch. The perfect marriage of gothic and paranormal with plenty of historical details to savour!

There were quite a few things I enjoyed of this story, but let’s start with the historical setting first. As far as a historical and gothic setting goes, I couldn’t have wished for something more atmospheric with the mid 19th century Boston setting and its focus on the cemetery. The descriptions and details are used to create the perfect creepy vibe and really gave the story that extra touch. Later on, we even get a bonus with the London and Edinburgh settings, which fitted right in the same gothic vibe. The setting and historical details were definitely one of the strongest assets of this story!

Another thing I loved was the paranormal angle. I confess this element isn’t always my cup of tea, but it worked really well in The Orphan Of Cemetery Hill and complemented the plot. The same goes for the whole mystery around the body snatching and grave robbing element… While it’s not the first time I see it incorporated into a story, it is an element that always intrigues me and it definitely added an air of creepiness as well as suspense to the plot. It was interesting to see both elements develop over time and I had fun figuring out how much both influence the direction of the plot.

The story is mainly told with the help fo a dual POV, with an added extra POV later on. I personally loved Tabby as the main character; both her gift itself and her character development in general stood out for me. I especially loved her relationship with Eli, but her development and reactions to the things happening in the plot were a delight to follow as well. She might seem like your typical strong female character, but she will win you over quickly with her charm and strength as well as her quirkiness. That said, I do have to say that I wasn’t too big of a fan of other main character Caleb though. I felt he was a bit too cliche and I just didn’t get a good vibe off him… This might just be because of the whole mention of the cheating and love triangle though, which is a personal pet peeve I never react well to. We didn’t see much of Tabby’s sister Alice, which is for obvious reasons of course, but I did like what I saw. Tabby is clearly the true star of the show though.

The writing itself is solid, and especially the gothic vibe and historical descriptions are spot on. While the pace was a bit haltered in points, and I could have done without the romance, overall I had a great time with this story. If you are looking for something creepy and enjoy a historical setting as well as a paranormal angle, The Orphan Of Cemetery Hill is a great option. It’s also perfect for the upcoming Halloween month!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hester Fox is a full-time writer and mother, with a background in museum work and historical archaeology. Most weekends you can find Hester exploring one of the many historic cemeteries in the area, browsing bookshops, or enjoying a seasonal latte while writing at a café. She lives outside of Boston with her husband and their son.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Author Website // Twitter // Instagram // Goodreads

BUY LINKS

Harlequin // Indiebound // Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Books-A-Million // Walmart // Google // iBooks // Kobo


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

SOCIAL MEDIA

Author Website // Twitter // Instagram // Goodreads

BUY LINKS

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


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ARC REVIEW: 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

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PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK // Amazon US


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