BOOK REVIEW: Keeper – by Johana Gustawsson @Orendabooks

Title: Keeper
(Emily Roy & Alexis Castells #2)
Author: Johana Gustawsson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 15th 2017
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: August 27th 2019
Pages: 300
(Originally written in French: ‘Mör’)

“The news had hung in mid-air for a moment, a millisecond of incomprehension and doubt when reality only existed in words, as if it were gearing up to hit you where it hurts.”


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And it happened again… As with the first book of the Emily Roy & Alexis Castells series, I’ve been struggling to get a word on paper after finishing Keeper last week. Such is the power of these books! Many fellow bloggers have recommended this series to me over time, and I’ve definitely become a fan. Keeper has only reconfirmed my love for this series, and even a week after I’m still recovering from the shock of this absolutely brilliant and without doubt disturbing read. But it’s time for me to stop procrastinating as I really want to dive into my copy of Blood Song, so let’s see if I can put together a somewhat coherent review…

Like in the first book, the first thing that stands out in Keeper is the combination of two of my favorite genres: historical fiction and crime fiction. And not just any historical period: this sequel involves the infamous Jack The Ripper! That alone is a huge bonus for me, but having both genres merged so successfully really turns this series into something special. Both past and present are excellently developed and Johana Gustawsson has a way of making you feel like you are right there next to the characters. The historical chapters are described realistically and in great detail; I really loved how she incorporated the Jack The Ripper references into the plot as well. The historical chapters give this crime thriller an unique touch and once again really enhanced the reading experience for me.

Another thing I loved is the international setting. Having part of the story set in Sweden definitely added more dept to the story, especially with similar murders being discovered in both London and Sweden. Descriptions of both the Swedish setting and culture are thorough and give you the perfect backdrop for this blood chilling read. Because there is one thing for sure: you will have to prepare yourself for a particularly harrowing and brutal read…Trigger warnings are in place for themes including (child) abuse, addiction and (extreme) violence. Oh yes, this is not just another ‘simple’ serial killer case, and the things you will learn about the past and present will leave you flabbergasted. Keeper is definitely a keeper, but only for those with a strong stomach! You will get some relief though in the form of new favorite characters Emily Roy and Alexis Castells. Apart from the fact that I love that they are not the typical detective leads, but instead are a profiler (Emily Roy) and a true-crime writer (Alexis Castells), I really like both their dynamics and their personal development in this sequel. There was another character that really stood out for me in Keeper though: Aliénor. She really added a little something extra to the present chapters set in Sweden and I hope we will see more of her in the future… That said, the other characters are likewise well developed and it was fascinating to learn more about the who, how and why behind the murders as well as trying to discover how it could be connected to the events in 1888.

The structure of the plot is complex and has multiple POVs, flashbacks and different settings. This only adds to the richness of this story and it is one of the reasons this series in general is one of my favorite new discoveries this year. The chapters are well balanced despite the multiple POVs and settings… Since you already know quite a lot of characters from Block 46, it is really easy to just dive in, forget about pending chores and fully immerse yourself into the story. The writing is simply beautifully and the pace is just right; it was hook, line, and sinker from the very first chapter and I finished this briliant read in no time at all, albeit with a few fingernails less than before. Why? I can guarantee that the excellently developed plot twists, well placed moments of suspense and shocking paragraphs will have you biting your nails and checking your blood pressure repeatedly in no time at all.

In short, if you enjoy a well written, expertly crafted and unique crime thriller with a historical twist, you should definitely schedule yourself a meeting with Emily Roy and Alexis Castells. Both Block 46 and Keeper are exceptional books I can highly recommend to any fan of the genre.


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ARC REVIEW: The Sleepover – by Carol Wyer @bookouture

Title: The Sleepover
(Natalie Ward #4)

Author: Carol Wyer
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 5th 2019
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: August 21st 2019
Pages: 411

“Some days I wonder what on earth I’m doing. The world’s such a fucked-up place with millions of fucked-up individuals causing mayhem. We’re fighting a losing battle all the time.”

*** 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 !!

I think most people know by now I’m a fan of Carol Wyer‘s books, as her detective thrillers seem to be a guarantee for an entertaining and thrilling ride. I still might prefer Robyn Carter a tiny bit more, but there is no doubt that Natalie Ward is a worthy contender. The Sleepover is already the fourth meeting with detective Natalie Ward and she is really growing on me despite initial reservations. I like the way she handles the investigations as well as the interactions with the rest of her team… I think this team work in general is what really makes the books work for me. The Sleepover is fast, thrilling and entertaining; without doubt another excellent addition to the series.The writing and plot development are more than solid and make it really easy to fly through this fourth installment. The plot will grab you straight away, and with its many twists, secrets and surprises you will find it difficult to stop reading before you discover the truth about it all. More and more secrets and lies are slowly untangled, still leaving you with more questions than answers as you try to solve the puzzle along with Natalie Ward and her team. It makes for an engaging and compelling read, and any fan of the detective thriller genre will have a great time reading it. Natalie’s personal story evolved a lot this time around as well, and I really hope she will stick with her final decision in the next book… Fingers crossed!


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BOOK REVIEW: The Willow Woman – by Laurence Westwood #buddyread

Title: The Willow Woman
(Philip Ye #1)

Author: Laurence Westwood
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
First published: January 7th 2019
Publisher: Shikra Press
Finished reading: August 8th 2019
Pages: 440

“He plays the game very well. But anyone who thinks Philip Ye is not his own master is blind. As a friend I would never turn my back on him, as an enemy I would never underestimate him.”

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*** First of all I have to say thank you to Kelly for introducing me to The Willow Woman and hosting a giveaway a while back and to the author Laurence Westwood for sending me a wonderful signed copy!! ❤ This hasn’t influenced my opinion about this book. ***

It doesn’t matter that there is a whole ocean and thousands of kilometres between us, thanks to the wonder of Twitter Nicki (Jersey in the Channel Islands) and myself (Argentina) are always able to make our buddy reads work. With only a few hours time difference, it was easy to catch up, discuss what was happening in the story, guess what would happen next and of course share the necessary photos of both book and the obligatory dose of sugar we found ourselves needing occasionally. 😉 It was without doubt another successful buddy read!! Make sure to read Nicki’s review as well if you want to find out exactly why and if we felt the same about this story.

I was curious about The Willow Woman as soon as I first saw Kelly mention it on her blog. I’m always in for a good detective thriller and the fact that the story has a (for me) foreign setting is a huge bonus. I haven’t had the chance to read many stories set in China before, and The Willow Woman was therefore a little goldmine filled with local culture. Oh yes, this story will transport you right to Chengdu with excellently elaborated descriptions of both the setting and Chinese culture in general. Both the local culture as well as the spirituality play a very important role in the development of the plot and the plot twists you will encounter along the way. Especially the spirituality was a very interesting touch, with many references to the spirit world and main character Philip Ye actually asking the spirits of the deceased to help him with the case. His beliefs are then contrasted in Xu Ya, who seems more pragmatic and doesn’t seem to believe in the paranormal. The inclusion of both Chinese culture and the paranormal aspect without doubt gave this detective story an unique twist and made this story stand out for me.

Another thing you notice almost straight away is just how complex this story is, and in a good way. While it’s true that the sheer amount of characters can be intimidating in the beginning, The Willow Woman has a very helpful index to check who is who and how they are related when in doubt. Trust me, you will find the index very helpful especially in the first couple of chapters! It will make juggling all those different characters so much easier and allows you to properly enjoy the story from the beginning. This story isn’t just complex due to the amount of characters though. The Willow Woman has an abundance of storylines and different point of views to revel in. These are used to build the plot and plot twists brick by brick and help you keep guessing about what is really going on. While it’s true that I made certain predictions about for example the professor and the boy that ended up being true quiet early on, there were also a lot of twists I could have never guessed. The story was getting more intriguing, complicated and intense by the minute and we both had to ease the tension with a dose of sugar more than once… Never underestimate the power of cake!

As for the characters… While there are a lot of them, the ones that stood out most for me (and won over my heart almost straight away) were probably Philip Ye, Xu Ya, Fatty Deng, Ma and Mouse. Each is well developed and plays an important role in this story, although the role of some might not seem as important straight away. I’m not sure I agreed with certain decisions of some characters, including Xu’s actions towards the ending, but that was more me biting my nails and shouting ‘why would you do that?!‘ rather than a reason to enjoy the story less. You will have to ready yourself for some intense moments, especially towards the explosive ending! But I really liked how everything was wrapped up. I also really appreciated how references to the so-called Willow Woman were incorporated into the plot and how this element was ultimately explained.

In short, The Willow Woman is both excellently written and well constructed; the intricate plot, foreign setting with insights in Chinese culture and spirituality, abundance of characters and what you can roughly call a conspiracy angle making for a most fascinating read. If you are a fan of detective thrillers and are looking for a story with an unique twist, you should definitely schedule yourself a meeting with Philip Ye.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #116 – Dead Scared & The Archived

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two completely different genres that both turned out to be winners. The Lacey Flint sequel Dead Scared by Sharon Bolton was a twisted and very intriguing read, and I just loved The Archived! Then again I’m a bit biased when it comes to Victoria Schwab‘s work haha. I can’t believe I still hadn’t started this series! I’ll be reading the sequel VERY soon.


Title: Dead Scared
(Lacey Flint #2)
Author: Sharon Bolton

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: June 5th 2012
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Finished reading: August 1st 2019
Pages: 384

“There are times when just waking up can feel like the hardest thing anyone could ever ask you to do. The first morning after your child has died, perhaps. Or after the man you adore has walked out. You would give anything, certainly the rest of your life, to stay down in the darkness of not knowing.”


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I had my first encounter with Lacey Flint two years ago and while I didn’t manage to warm up to her character then, I’ve been meaning to read the sequel ever since as I thought the series had a lot of promise. I’m glad I finally picked up Dead Scared, because I ended up loving it! It’s been too long since I read the first book to make a proper comparison, but based on my general feelings I can say this book is without doubt stronger than the first book. What a plot! What a disturbing and twisted situation Lacey finds herself in! The writing is engaging and makes you turn the pages at hyperspeed, but it is the plot that is the true star of Dead Scared. The whole situation with the bad dreams, the creepy things happening to the characters and the suicides without doubt chilled me to the bone. The plot was very cleverly contructed, complex and filled with twists to keep you guessing about the full scope of the situation. There are a lot of twisted and disturbing scenes included in Dead Scared, and trigger warnings are in place for abuse, rape, violence, mental health and suicide among other elements. This story is definitely not fit for those with a weak stomach! But if you think you can manage, Dead Scared will attack you both with psychological terror and disturbing action scenes that will leave you feeling uneasy and looking over your shoulder. I really loved the undercover angle and the psychological aspect of this story as well! In short, Dead Scared is without doubt a very twisted and disturbing read, and literally stuff made out of nightmares. I’m curious to see if book three will be able to live up to this book!


Title: The Archived
(The Archived #1)
Author: Victoria Schwab

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: January 22nd 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Finished reading: August 1st 2019
Pages: 336

“Because the only way to truly record a person is not in words, not in still frames, but in bone and skin and memory.”


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I think most of you will know by now that Victoria Schwab is one of my absolute favorite authors and I still can’t explain it to myself why I haven’t started this series before. It’s true that The Archived is one of her earlier series and not as widely known as some of her other books, but it is without doubt one worth discovering. I’m still kicking myself for not reading The Archived sooner! This first book is a mix of contemporary with paranormal fantasy and I personally really liked the balance of the story. Elements as family, death, grief and moving on in the real or ‘Outer’ world are mixed with a fantasy setting we can find in the Narrows and The Archive. Main character Mackenzie Bishop is able to show us the different worlds and their meaning through her job as a Keeper. She was an interesting character and I enjoyed seeing her develop over time and handle the mystery and escalating situation as in the plot. I loved the idea behind the worldbuilding and its symbolism and the setting in the converted hotel added an eery atmosphere to the story… And the writing is just as brilliant as ever. I’m definitely going to read the sequel VERY soon!


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BOOK REVIEW: Block 46 – by Johana Gustawsson @Orendabooks

Title: Block 46
(Emily Roy & Alexis Castells #1)

Author: Johana Gustawsson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 21st 2016
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: July 26th 2019
Pages: 300
(Originally written in French: ‘Block 46’)

“Whatever she did, the words were dislodged by her thoughts; like a swarm of bees hounded from their hive, they scattered erratically, unable to organise themselves.”


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It’s been three weeks since I finished reading Block 46 and I’m still struggling to get a word on paper. Oh yes, such is the power of this story! After multiple recommendations and reading fantastic reviews about both Block 46 and Keeper, I knew I could not go wrong with this series and I’ve been meaning to pick it up for quite some time now. I think the only reason I hesitated was that I knew I was going to be blown away and that it would be impossible to write a decent review afterwards… Guess what? That is EXACTLY what happened! Even three weeks later, I’m still recovering from the shock of this brilliant and harrowing read, but the time has come to stop procrastinating and try getting something constructive on paper. I do have a copy of Keeper waiting for me I want to read before the blog tour for Blood Song starts next month after all…

The first thing that stands out is that Block 46 is basically a combination of two of my favorite genres: historical fiction and crime fiction. Having both genres merged so beautifully and successfully was a huge bonus for me, as well as the fact that I have a weak spot for WWII stories and the chapters set in Buchenwald were both harrowing and fascinating at the same time. I’ve read my share of WWII fiction, and I truly believe Johana Gustawsson describes and developes the events in the Buchenwald concentration camp thoroughly and realistically. Shocking, gut-wrenching and definitely not for the weak-hearted, but then again the Holocaust was no picnic in the first place. The WWII flashbacks are expertly incorporated into the plot and give us background information as well as a possible explanation about what is happening in the present. They give this crime thriller an unique touch and really enhanced the reading experience for me.

Another thing I loved was the setting: I have a weak spot foreign settings and having part of the present story set in Sweden was a huge bonus for me. Descriptions of both London and Sweden setting were again thorough and really made both places come alive for me. I loved the references to Swedish culture and customs and it gave Block 46 another unique touch. Likewise, I found it to be really easy to connect to the main characters of this story. I’ve become an instant fan of Emily Roy and Alexis Castells, their character development well crafted and realistic and making me root for them as they try to get to the bottom of what is going on. I love that instead of having the typical detective leads, we have a profiler (Emily Roy) and a true-crime writer (Alexis Castells) instead. Talk about an interesting combination! The other characters were likewise well developed and I always love it when we get to glimpse inside the head of a serial killer.

The writing is beautiful and combined with the pace and plot I found myself to be fully absorbed in the story from the very first chapter. The structure of the plot is complex, with multiple POVs and flashbacks, adding to the richness of Block 46 and really taking this story to the next level. This story has also quite a few surprises for you in store; certain developments you definitely won’t see coming and will leave you with your mouth hanging wide open. The suspense is well present and Block 46 definitely ends with a bang! This first book of what I already know will be a very successful series for me is a beautifully written and harrowing read, and 200% worth your time. If you enjoy unique crime thrillers and haven’t met Emily Roy and Alexis Castells yet, now is the time to change that… Go get a copy! Trust me, you won’t regret it.


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ARC REVIEW: Her Silent Cry – by Lisa Regan @bookouture

Title: Her Silent Cry
(Detective Josie Quinn #6)

Author: Lisa Regan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: August 14th 2019
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: July 24th 2019
Pages: ?

“Every one of us goes through our days looking straight at people and things but not really taking them in.”

*** 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’ve been a fan of this series ever since I read the first book about eighteen months ago. With each new meeting with Detective Josie Quinn, my love for this series is only reconfirmed all over again and each book brings the promise of yet another intense and suspenseful ride. Her Silent Cry is no exception to the rule, and already the sixth successful installment of this detective series. Want to know why?

First of all, the simple fact of being able to meet up with some of your favorite characters again is always a fantastic feeling. Josie Quinn and her team managed to win over my heart from the start, and with each new story it feels as if you are meeting up again with old friends. You can see their characters develop over time, the events of the different books leaving its mark on their characters as well as the dynamics between them. While it’s true you can technically read Her Silent Cry as a stand-alone with only minor loss of background information, you will miss out on references to the past and might not fully get the dynamics between the different characters. And with the first five books all being thrilling and intense rides, there’s no excuse not to catch up with the past before diving into the newest Detective Josie Quinn!

In Her Silent Cry you will find new developments relating to the personal life of Josie Quinn, and that part of the storyline definitely left me wanting for more! Josie, Noah, Gretchen and even Misty and Trinity play a role throughout the story, although the main focus is on the new case that started developing right under Josie’s nose. It’s a missing child this time around, and a case that turns out to be a lot more sinister and complicated than you might think when little Lucy first goes missing… The little chapters with nameless characters give you a hint, but you’ll find yourself wondering how everything actually connects as you keep turning those pages and things are getting more and more critical. A fast pace is combined with a suspenseful and twisted plot filled with secrets and turns and together they will make the intensity level go through the roof. Josie Quinn and her team are finding themselves in a race against the clock, desperately trying to find Lucy alive and stop more people from getting hurt… But things are not that simple as certain people seem to be hiding crucial information that could potentially help them get Lucy back. As always, you might wonder about the credibility of certain aspects of the plot, but I myself was too busy flying through the pages and enjoying myself to really stand still by that. If you are a fan of intense and thrilling detective thrillers that pack a punch, you should definitely schedule yourself a meeting with Detective Josie Quinn soon!


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ARC REVIEW: The Silent Ones – by K.L. Slater @bookouture

Title: The Silent Ones
Author: K.L. Slater
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 24th 2019
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: July 6th 2019
Pages: 432

“I have nurtured and protected my daughter for ten whole years, and now she’s slipping away from me like sand through my fingers and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Nothing 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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I think most will know by now I’m a huge fan of Kim Slater‘s psychological thrillers and she is without doubt one of my favorite authors of the genre. I absolutely loved 2019 release Finding Grace earlier this year, and I might have squeeled a little when I saw that we were going to have a second Slater title coming out this year. Of course I couldn’t resist getting a copy as soon as I saw it was available on Netgalley, and of course I knew it wouldn’t be waiting long on my kindle either. And guess what? The Silent Ones was without doubt another winner! The only reason I didn’t finish this story in one sitting is that I started it too late in the evening and I needed to get some sleep in to be able to function as a human being the next day… Because trust me, this is one of those stories that will make it hard to let go and stop reading before you reach the final page. What a read!

Why was The Silent Ones yet another success for me? The first thing that stands out is the writing, which is just as brilliant as always and draws you right in. I found myself to be hooked as soon as I read the first chapter, and the beginning of the story sets the right tone for the rest of the book. The Silent Ones is basically a family focused psychological thriller with a dramatic twist and a LOT of secrets that will keep you on your toes. I think this contrast between the family drama and the shocking crime and accusation of the two ten year olds is what makes this plot so fascinating. On the one hand we have the two sisters, Juliet and Chloe, who seem to have their issues and secrets within their family and past. More about this part of the story is slowly revealed in the chapters set in the past as well as the present, and this storyline serves as a contrast with the more brutal and accute present situation. Because the real ‘stars’ of The Silent Ones are their ten year old daughters Maddy and Brianna. The fact that they are the only suspects of the brutal assault of an older member of a small community is shocking considering their age, and you are left wondering if one of them really could have done it. Likewise, we have that same community already convicting the whole family before the girls are even charged with something… Something that sadly is all too believable and still happens all the time. I admit I did see part of the final reveals coming, but it cannot be denied that it was a brilliant way of turning around the story completely. If you are looking for your next psychological thriller read, you should definitely consider this well written, complex and gripping little gem.


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