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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Lobizona – by Romina Garber #blogtour @WednesdayBooks @RominaRussell

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Lobizona blog tour! A huge thanks to Meghan Harrington for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I just knew I HAD to read this story as soon as I read the blurb and saw the mention of the Argentine folklore element. As someone who has called Argentina her home for quite a few years now, it was just irresistible… And this story definitely turned out to be everything I could have hoped for in a story and more. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!


Title: Lobizona
(Wolves Of No World #1)
Author: Romina Garber
Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: August 4th 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Finished reading: July 16th 2020
Pages: 400

“Sometimes reality strays so far from what’s rational that we can only explain it through fantasy.”

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

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I knew I just HAD to read Lobizona as soon as I first read the blurb. As an immigrant who has been living in Latin America since 2010, and most of that time in Argentina, I just couldn’t resist the promise of both the immigrant aspect and the Argentine folklore element. I had a feeling this book would be a perfect match for me, and my instincts turned out to be 200% correct. I absolutely loved my time with this first book of a new series, and it is without doubt a new favorite! Trust me, that absolutely gorgeous cover matches its content perfectly.

There are so many elements that I loved in Lobizona and I’m having a bit of a hard time figuring out where to start… But let’s talk about the Argentine folklore and the influence of Argentine culture and customs in general first. As someone who has experienced Argentine life from up close during years (my hubby is actually Argentinian), I absolutely loved how important this element is in the story. The references to food, customs, culture and folklore were numerous and I LOVED just how many Spanish phrases were included. And not only that, but specific Argentine phrases as well as localisms from other countries were included; an absolute treat for the Spanish philologist in me. I do understand that someone without any knowledge of the Spanish language or Argentine culture might struggle, but I personally thought this element gave the story authenticity and made it stand out far above other books of the same genre. And with the main character Manu being bilingual, helpful translations of most if not all Spanish phrases are being included in the dialogue without slowing down the pace or flow of the story.

Another thing that stands out for me in Lobizona is that it is basically a mix of urban and high fantasy, where the real world of Miami and the fantasy world of Lunaris collide. Both worlds are thoroughly described and developed; these descriptions make it really easy to fully immerse yourself in the story. Especially the worldbuilding of Lunaris as well as el Laberinto really made the fantasy part of this story come alive… And I just loved getting the chance to learn more about the world as well as both the werewolves, witches and their powers. Some part of the story almost had that magical realism feel, and the mention of more than one famous Latin American author (including Gabriel García Márquez and Jorge Luis Borges) contributed to that same magic.

The Miami setting is used to help discuss the topic of immigrants and the struggles they face… Especially how hard it is for illegal immigrants to change their fate. As someone who has been an immigrant during the last ten years, this is a topic close to my heart and the way Romina Garber incorporated it into the plot is splendid. The main character Manu is a fascinating character in that way, as her struggle to fit in and exist legally applies in both worlds, albeit for different reasons. On top of the immigrant topic, Lobizona also discusses important topics such as gender discrimination, sexism and the hostility towards the lgbt community… Oh yes, Lobizona is so much more than just another YA fantasy read filled to the brim with romance; instead we have a multi-dimentional and diverse story full of dept that simply blew me away.

I also loved how the focus of the story was on Manu, her self discovery, her development and her struggle to fit in as well as her struggle to find safety. While there is some romance involved in the plot, it is mostly a slowburn romance and somehow it didn’t bother me at all. The characters themselves are well developed and easy to like in general. I loved Manu’s history as well as her development over time, and the rest of the characters were well rounded and intriguing too. It is definitely a cast I will be looking forward to meeting up with again!

The writing itself is in one world brilliant. And I’m not only talking about the writing style as a whole, but also about the many Spanish phrases as well as the flow and pace of the story… I literally devoured each page, impatient to absorb more and more of this wonderful story. I know Lobizona might not be everyone’s taste and some might struggle with the many Spanish phrases, but for me personally it was a match made in heaven. The plot development was spot on and the plot twists were also well handled; the ending definitely left me craving for more!

In short, if you are looking for an unique YA fantasy read with Argentine folklore elements, that magical feel and a healthy dose of interesting topics that give the story dept, Lobizona is simply a must-read.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ROMINA GARBER (pen name Romina Russell) is a New York Times and international bestselling author. Originally from Argentina, she landed her first writing gig as a teen—a weekly column for the Miami Herald that was later nationally syndicated—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Her books include Lobizona. When she’s not working on a novel, Romina can be found producing movie trailers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core.

SOCIAL LINKS

Twitter: @RominaRussell // Instagram: @RominaGarber

BUY LINK 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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ARC REVIEW: Entre Senderos De Lavanda – by Mariela Gimenez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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!! Happy publication day !!

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

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

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

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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YVO’S SHORTIES #172 – Eight Perfect Murders & The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two 20 Books Of Summer titles and 2020 releases belonging to completely different genres… And both turned out to be excellent reads. Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson only reconfirmed my love for his writing, while debut The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael put Beth Morrey firmly on my radar.


Title: Eight Perfect Murders
(Malcolm Kershaw #1)
Author: Peter Swanson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 3rd 2020
Publisher: William Morrow
Finished reading: June 22nd 2020
Pages: 288

“Books are time travel. True readers all know this. But books don’t just take you back to the time in which they were written; they can take you back to different versions of yourself.”

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I’m a fan of Peter Swanson‘s writing and I’ve been looking forward to dive into Eight Perfect Murders ever since I first heard about it. I love books with bookish elements and I love my crime thriller stories, so the premise of this newest story sounded absolutely fantastic. While it’s true that I don’t exactly read or know a lot about crime classics (I prefer more modern thrillers myself), I think it’s the clever incorporation of the eight crime classics that really makes this story stand out for me. Why? Peter Swanson doesn’t just name the titles and explain what happens in the corresponding plot, but really incorporates the different stories and elements into its own plot in the most ingenious way. A fair warning though: if you still need/want to read the eight classics mentioned in the blurb, you will find mayor spoilers of those stories incorporated into Eight Perfect Murders that might spoil the fun. I personally didn’t really mind, as I had heard bits about the classics already and I actually quite liked discovering them through this rather unique ‘memoir’. The structure of the plot is brilliant, the writing engaging, the character development fascinating, the many bookish elements including the bookshop and Nero the cat simply divine… I had heaps of fun reading Eight Perfect Murders, and thought the ending was a perfect reference to crime classics (one in particular of course, but I don’t want to spoil the fun by mentioning it). If you are looking for an unique and clever crime thriller and don’t mind a spoiler or two of the eight crime classics mentioned in the blurb, you will most likely have an excellent time with this story too.


Title: The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael
Author: Beth Morrey
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: April 7th 2020
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Finished reading: June 26th 2020
Pages: 352

“If you really want something, you hang on. Don’t give up. Hang on, as if your life depended on it.”

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I admit that I was sold as soon as I saw the comparison to A Man Called Ove and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. I adored both books and its characters, and I just knew I HAD to meet Missy Carmichael to see if she could win me over too. The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael turned out to be both charming and heartbreaking at the same time. While I confess that it took me some time to warm up to Missy, once I did I found myself to be completely under her spell. The same goes for the rest of the characters; a wonderful cast of colorful and easy to like personalities that each added their own little something to the plot. Lighter moments are mixed with more heavy topics; flashbacks to Missy’s past used to get to know her better and help understand the ‘mistakes’ she mentioned as well as why she is the way she is.The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael will have a couple surprises and twists for you in store, an a few heartbreaking moments that will require having a box of tissues and a plate of your favorite comfort food at hand just in case. I loved seeing Missy develop and blossom over time, and if you are craving a heartfelt contemporary with well developed characters and don’t mind shedding a tear or two, this debut is an excellent choice.


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ARC REVIEW: Fifty Fifty – by Steve Cavanagh @orionbooks

Title: Fifty Fifty
(Eddie Flynn #5)

Author: Steve Cavanagh
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 9th 2020
Publisher: Orion
Finished reading: May 20th 2020 
Pages: 368

“No one is infallible. Everyone can be conned. Even me.”

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

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I first met Eddie Flynn last year reading Thirteen, which made me an instant fan of the former con artist and clever lawyer. I decided to do a series binge-read of the first four books of the series in May, and I just couldn’t help myself reading the ARC of Fifty Fifty straight after even though it’s not due for quite some time… Because one thing is true: these books are seriously addicting. You’ve been warned!

Fifty Fifty is no different than the previous books, and reads almost like an action movie. Book number five gives us another mindblowing case to lose ourselves in… Although this book does have a different feel than the previous books. Instead of focusing on Eddie Flynn as the main POV, Fifty Fifty opts for a multiple POV structure where both Eddie, new character and lawyer Kate and the murderer (named ‘She’) share the spotlight. On top of that, we have other POVs popping up as needed, both to add suspense and give us clues of what is going to happen next… But the main focus is always on both Eddie, Kate and the killer. This new POV structure by no means made me enjoy the story less though, and it made for a very interesting change in tone of this series.

I liked that the Fifty Fifty title made reference to more than one aspect of the plot. How? Well, not only do we have two sisters and a 50% probability of guessing right which sister is guilty, but we also have Eddie now having to share the attention fifty fifty with new character and lawyer Kate. While in a way I was a bit sad to see less of Eddie, I did like the introduction of Kate and her friend and investigator Bloch. Both are strong female characters that added their little something to the plot, and I hope to see more of them in the future!

Talking about the characters… Apart from being introduced to new characters, old favorites like Harry, Eddie and Harper make their appearance again too. Every time I start a new Eddie Flynn book it feels like meeting up with old friends, and these characters are definitely part of the reason this series is one of my favorites. The characters are realistically developed and feel rounded, especially since they have flaws as well as strength. Fifty Fifty does have a twist involving one on the characters that completely shocked me and left me feeling sad even after I finished the story… I don’t want to give away too much to avoid spoilers, but those who have already read Fifty Fifty will know what I’m talking about.

The writing itself draws you right in and the different POVs allow different angles to be brought to attention while also making you doubt what is true and which sister is guilty. Fifty Fifty is no ordinary legal thriller, and while part of the focus is on the court case, you will also get plenty of action, violence, a serial killer and a conspiracy plot to frame their sister. Basically, the story has a lot going on at once, will keep you on your toes and the danger grows as it becomes clear that those who know too much about the case tend to lose their lives… The building up of the suspense is simply spot on and that vibe of foreboding and danger is omnipresent.

There is a lot to love in Fifty Fifty and while I do think Thirteen is my absolute favorite of the series so far, Fifty Fifty comes a close second. This is without doubt one of the most exhilarating legal thriller series I’ve read to this date and I definitely can’t wait to find out what Steve Cavanagh has in store for Eddie Flynn next.


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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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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Stranger In The Lake – by Kimberly Belle #blogtour @parkrowbooks @HarlequinBooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Stranger In The Lake 2020 Summer Reads blog tour! A huge thanks to Justine Sha for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I knew I wanted to read Stranger In The Lake as soon as I read the blurb, and there is no doubt that my instincts were right about this story. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: Stranger In The Lake
Author: Kimberly Belle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 9th 2020
Publisher: Park Row
Finished reading: May 24th 2020
Pages: 352

“Sacrifice.

Penance.

Atonement.

Justice.

In the end, we all reap what we sow.”

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

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I’ve heard nothing but great things about Kimberly Belle‘s books and they have been on my radar for a while now. This makes it easy to explain why I just HAD to jump at the chance to read her newest story Stranger In The Lake early, especially after reading the blurb… And you can definitely consider me a fan now. I literally read this story in less than a day and I can recommend it to anyone who loves psychological thrillers involving dark secrets.

There is lots to love in Stranger In The Lake, and that includes the writing style. There is just something about the writing that managed to draw me straight in and I was literally hooked from the first chapter. The story is mainly told from the POV of Charlotte (Charlie), who gives us a very interesting view on everything in Lake Crosby considering her personal background. To further enrich the plot, we also have flashbacks to 1999 with multiple POVs, designed to slowly let you in on past events that might or might not have influenced the present situation. This made the plot feel a lot more complex and definitely enhanced the reading experience for me!

I really liked the plot as a whole, as it felt multi-dimentional and was filled with secrets, lies and suspense. As a first layer we have Charlotte and her personal situation as a poor girl who married a rich widower and who is now shunned by most people in town. Then we have the layer involving the death of the first wife Katherine and the mysterious circumstances around her death. While it’s true that her husband Paul was cleared, you can’t stop wondering if he escaped justice or if he was really innocent… Another layer is next with the discovery of the body and the investigation into her death, which leads to yet another layer relating to the victim herself and the whole reason she was in town in the first place. And on top of that we have a flashback layer that will slowly unravel past secrets of what happened back in 1999 and how these events might have influenced the present. That’s basically more layers than an onion and a perfect ingredient to prepare that delicious psychological thriller meal with.

As for the characters… Charlotte is the star of the show of course, and she is quite easy to connect to thanks to an excellent and realistic character development. She can be seen as both an outsider and right in the middle of the action at once; she isn’t originally from the rich part of town, but now lives there and suddenly finds a body almost in the same spot the body of her husband’s first wife was found. Talk about an explosive situation! It’s easy to understand why it’s so difficult for her, especially with her husband behaving so strangely. I really liked her strength, development and growth over time and she is one of the reasons this story works well in the end. The three friends Paul, Jax and Micah are likewise well developed, but somehow less easy to like as you keep wondering what they are hiding… They all played their role in the story perfectly though, as well as the other characters in play.

Both the secrets, lies and plot twists play a key role in Stranger In The Lake. You are being mislead along with Charlotte, and together with the main character you will find yourself on a quest to discover the truth. Why is Paul so furtive? What is he hiding? What about Jax? And why did he become the way he is? What about the victim? Who is behind her death and what was she doing in town in the first place? What does the past have to do with it all? There are a lot of questions you can’t wait finding answers for as you start reading this story, adding a healthy dose of suspense as well as making sure you keep turning those pages. The plot twists are expertly placed for maximum effect and while I saw some coming, other surprised me completely. The secrets and lies definitely took this story to the next level!

In short, Stranger In The Lake is a well written, multi-layered and suspenseful psychological thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat the whole time. Secrets, lies and plot twists are designed to keep you on the wrong track, and fans of darker stories will have an excellent time with Kimberly Belle‘s newest offer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kimberly Belle is the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of six novels, including the forthcoming Stranger in the Lake (June 2020). Her third novel, The Marriage Lie, was a semifinalist in the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Mystery & Thriller, and a #1 e-book bestseller in the UK and Italy. She’s sold rights to her books in a dozen languages as well as film and television options. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Belle divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam.

SOCIAL LINKS

Author website // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Goodreads

BUY LINKS

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Bookshop // IndieBound // Books-A-Million // Kobo // AppleBooks // Google Play


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