YVO’S SHORTIES #174 – Dear Martin & Broken Hearts, Fences And Other Things To Mend

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two YA reads… One turned out to be absolutely fantastic (Dear Martin), while the other sadly failed to hit the mark for me (Broken Hearts, Fences And Other Things To Mend).


Title: Dear Martin
(Dear Martin #1)
Author: Nic Stone
Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: October 17th 2017
Publisher: Crown Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: July 4th 2020
Pages: 226

“You can’t change how other people think and act, but you’re in full control of you. When it comes down to it, the only question that matters is this: If nothing in the world ever changes, what type of man are you gonna be?”

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I already knew Dear Martin was probably have an impact on me after all those raving reviews, but I was blown away by just how much it hit the mark and left me reeling. This is such an important, powerful and absolutely heartbreaking debut and helps educate us just how real the American race problematics are even to this date. In the light of recent events, Dear Martin is even more of an eye opener and I cannot thank the author enough for getting Justyce’s story out in the world. I’m not sure where to even start describing this true gem other than with the words that this story shattered my heart into a million pieces, bulldozered right over those pieces and then left me raging at the injustice of it all in its wake. Dear Martin is a short, but immensely powerful and captivating debut and I literally read it in one sitting. The characters, the writing, the tackling of social injustice and race discrimination, the plot, the letters written to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr… It makes for a real firecracker of a story everyone should read. Dear Martin and its characters will stay with me for a long time without a doubt!


Title: Broken Hearts, Fences, And Other Things To Mend
(Broken Hearts & Revenge #1)
Author: Katie Finn
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: February 14th 2014
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Finished reading: July 9th 2020
Pages: 353

“It seems that thinking ‘things can’t get worse’ is an invitation for things to get much, much worse.”

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I confess that I have been meaning to read this one for years, and even my TBR jar ended up thinking it was long overdue. I was in the mood for a cute contemporary, and really thought Broken Hearts, Fences And Other Things To Mend was going to be a perfect fit… But I guess things weren’t ment to be. Things started out well as Katie Finn has a very readable and engaging writing style that makes it easy to fly through the pages. I initially really enjoyed this story, and was looking forward to see what would happen that summer in the Hamptoms… BUT. Things started to get really frustrating, as it was so clear what was really going on and I really just can’t believe Gemma didn’t realize what was happening right under her nose. Being able to see this ‘twist’ from a mile away as a reader was a huge disappointment, and I really didn’t like how the story and characters developed after that. I had problems with the credibility of certain aspects of the plot and the supposed ‘twists’, and that open ending was kind of a letdown too. I know this is part of a trilogy and the story will continue in the sequels, but still I wasn’t impressed when I saw the story was left hanging like that. And as I didn’t enjoy the first book enough, I don’t see myself reading the sequels and I guess I will never find out how things end between them. Oh well… Fans of the YA contemporary romance genre who don’t mind a cliche or two and a predictable plot will probably have a better time with this story though.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #171 – The Ten Thousand Doors Of January & The Switch #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two ventures into genres I don’t read all that often, but both turned out to be very successful experiences. I have found a new all time favorite in The Ten Thousand Doors Of January, which turned out to be an absolutely stunning read. And I had a great time with the two Eileen’s in The Switch.


Title: The Ten Thousand Doors Of January
Author: Alix E. Harrow

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
First published: September 10th 2019
Publisher: Redhook
Finished reading: June 19th 2020
Pages: 385

“Because the place you are born isn’t necessarily the place you belong.”


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I admit that this was cover love at first sight, but as soon as I read the blurb I knew I was most likely going to love The Ten Thousand Doors Of January. And after seeing one glowing review after the other, I decided to save it until I was in need of a story that could really blow me away… That time had come, and my instincts about this book turned out to be 200% on point. What an absolutely stunning and breathtaking read! I don’t even know where and how to start explaining this beauty of a story, as The Ten Thousand Doors Of January is one of those books where you should go in blind in the first place to fully explore and capture its magic. Historical fiction is mixed with fantasy in the most exquisite way, and I loved discovering more about January, the mysterious Doors, the magic and Adelaide’s adventures. This story is complex, this story is stunningly written, this story fits so cleverly together once you have all the pieces… It’s an absolute masterpiece I cannot recommend enough. I’m truly lost for words here, and will just throw in the following cliche phrase to finish these rambles: ‘just read the damn book‘. Trust me, you will be in for an absolute magical treat!


Title: The Switch
Author: Beth O’Leary

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 16th 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Finished reading: June 21st 2020
Pages: 336

“There is no elixir for this. All you can do is keep moving forward even when it hurts like hell.”


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I know contemporary romance isn’t really my genre, but there are times when I crave a good contemporary and a select few authors can actually make me really enjoy the genre. I discovered last year Beth O’Leary is one of them when I read The Flatshare, and even the sexy scenes couldn’t put me off the rest of that story. I’ve been eagerly anticipating The Switch after that, especially when I discovered it involved an older main character as well as a life swap element. I must say that I had an excellent time with this story, and she is now officially another of my to-go-to authors when I’m in the mood for the genre. I think I might have enjoyed The Switch even a tiny bit more, mostly due to the focus on the relationship between the three generations of Cotton women and both Eileen’s more specifically. Sure, there were a couple of cliches involved. Sure, I saw the love interests coming from far far away. Sure, the story includes both the love triangle and cheating element I’m not a big fan of at all. But somehow, this just didn’t matter all that much, as I was having too much fun getting to know both Eileen’s and their adventures after the swap. This is both a fun and heartfelt story that will make you forget about your own problems for a little while… It’s the perfect escape from reality and the main characters will win over your heart in no time at all. If you enjoy the genre, The Switch is a little gem!


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BOOK REVIEW: Good Samaritans – by Will Carver @Orendabooks

Title: Good Samaritans
(Detective Sergeant Pace #1)
Author: Will Carver
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 15th 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: April 27th 2020
Pages: 318

“Because it won’t make your skin sparkle like it does your toilet basin. It will burn. It will blister. You will bleed. It will hurt like hell.

Unless you’re already dead.”

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So… Guess who has been struck by an Orenda book hangover once again and has been unable to put a word on paper for over a week now? Oh yes, Good Samaritans hit me hard and hit straight in the ‘flabbergasted’ bullseye. I’ve had a copy of this first book of what I already know will be a favorite series on my shelves for a little over a year now, and to be honest I’ve been saving it for rainy days as I already had that feeling I would love it. Why? Not only has it that Orenda guarantee, but fellow bloggers have loved this story (and its sequel) and their reviews convinced me I would too. After struggling with recent reads and feeling a little desperate to find a story that would completely blow my socks off again, I turned to my Orenda backlist and decided it was time to pick up Good Samaritans. And boy, I just couldn’t have picked better!

I’m still not sure where to begin my review even after letting more than a week pass, but let’s start with the basics. Good Samaritans is dark, sexy and utterly disturbing; it’s a complex and well written story that grabbed me from the start and was basically pitch black and twisted to the core. I guess that this alone is already enough to convince you that you need this book in your life (at least for me it is, but then again I like my stories black as night and seriously twisted)… But in case you need more convincing, let’s see which elements I loved more closely. It’s basically the whole book from start to finish, but let’s narrow it down… First off all I was blown away by the writing, which is simply splendid and bowled me over from page one. I knew I was now a fan of Will Carver‘s writing from the very first chapter, and that is something that doesn’t happen every day.

I also loved the plot and the sheer complexity of it all. We have multiple POVs to deal with, giving this story a multi-dimentional and rich feel. It really enhanced the reading experience for me and the structure was used to build the suspense, keep things from you while anticipating others in an absolutely brilliant way. You have not one, but multiple twisted characters to follow and Good Samaritans does an excellent job keeping you on your toes as you try to discover how everything fits together. The different characters are sublimely developed, they felt realistic and they made for a fascinating as well as seriously disturbed cast of characters… The best possible bunch if you like your thrillers pitch black and without sugar like myself.

Talking about the previously mentioned characters… I just loved that we didn’t just have one clear bad guy, but instead a selection of excellently and realistically developed disturbing personalities that each have their secrets and issues. Sure, we have the serial killer, but his identity is made less important as we have more than one suspect at first and later more than one character turned to the dark side to follow. Furthermore, Good Samaritans offers us both sides of the story,with POVs featuring victims, our new lead detective sergeant Pace and the more twisted individuals alike. This gives us a more complete picture of the whole situation as well as really enriching what is already a fantastic story.

Another thing that stands out is that while this book is the first Detective Sergeant Pace book, he doesn’t seem all that present during most of the story. Instead, the focus is mostly on the dark side and this definitely gave the story its unique feel. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before, but I loved how each POV had its own tone and it was really easy to spot which character was currently featured by the writing style and tone alone. I liked how Pace was represented and I will definitely be looking forward to see more of him in the future.

There are a lot of different and dark elements in play in Good Samaritans, including mental health issues, suicide, OCD and a healthy dose of violence. On top of that, you will also find a surprising amount of steamy scenes included too… Turning this story into something so essentially dark and sensual that it almost makes you feel naughty for reading it. And guess who was more than ready to misbehave? Oh yes, Good Samaritans was an instant favorite and blew me away completely from start to finish. Dark and simply glorious; if you think you can handle it, this book in an absolute must-read.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: I Am Dust – by Louise Beech #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @Orendabooks @annecater

Hello and welcome to my stop of the I Am Dust Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I consider Louise Beech to be one of my absolute favorite authors and her stories never fail to blow me away completely. I Am Dust is no exception and without doubt one of my favorite books I’ve had the chance to read so far this year. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!

Title: I Am Dust
Author: Louise Beech
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
First published: February 16th 2020
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: March 20th 2020
Pages: 300

“We never forget. We choose not to remember.”

*** 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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Speechless. Absolutely flabbergasted. Mindblown. Oh yes, Louise Beech has done it once again, and left me a complete blubbering mess. Even though I’m a bit late to the whole party, I’ve considered Louise Beech to be one of my absolute favorite authors ever since my first experience with her work last year (Call Me Star Girl). Each backlist title I’ve had the chance to read since has blown me away, so it’s easy to say that my expectations for I Am Dust were skyhigh. But guess what? Louise Beech not only met those expectations, but stamped all over them and went to the next level! It’s nearly impossible to choose a favorite among her books, as I simply treasure them all, but there is no doubt that I Am Dust is another absolutely stunning read and of an extraordinary quality. And yes, expect me to sound like a squeeling fangirl during the rest of this review, because my brain simply cannot deal with just how good this story was even a week after I finished it. That’s the Beech effect!

So, I Am Dust. I confess I knew I was going to love this story as soon as I read the blurb. I mean, the idea of a murder mystery turned ghost story turned dark psychological thriller with a theatre angle? How can that not be the perfect base for another absolutely fantastic story?! I fell in love with the story and characters even before I started reading, and that is something that doesn’t happen often. From that gorgeous cover, the blurb and the actual story afterwards… There isn’t a thing I didn’t love of my time spent with I Am Dust! I read this story as a birthday gift to myself last month to help distract myself from these dark and strange times, and I just couldn’t have picked a better read to do just that as well as making myself feel better in the process.

There are so many things I loved about I Am Dust and I’m having a hard time figuring out where to start to be honest… Let’s talk about the setting and Dust first. I personally loved the setting in a small town and the focus on the musical world as well as the Dead Wilson Theatre setting. The descriptions really made the setting come alive for me, and gave us readers a little insight in what the musical world looks like from an insider view. Directly related to this is the musical Dust of course, which plays an all important role in the plot. I love how both the musical itself and some of the songs are incorporated into the plot and its words are given a hidden meaning as well as give clues to what might happen. Dust gave this dark psychological thriller an unique twist and was also the perfect backdrop for the paranormal elements in I Am Dust.

I confess that I’m normally not a big fan of the paranormal, but I loved how this element was developed in I Am Dust. The murdered Dust actress haunting the theatre and set, the chapters set in the past with the ouija board, the things happening to the main characters… The different paranormal elements are perfectly developed and really added that ominous and daunting atmosphere to the story. I also liked the structure of the plot as a whole, and how past and present are interlaced to slowly reveal more about the past as well as give you a glimpse of what might happen in the future. Plot twists and timeline switches work together flawlessly and really enhanced the reading experience for me.

As for the characters… The main focus is on Chloe, who is an absolutely fascinating character. Flawed, troubled and somehow more open to the spiritual world, she is the perfect character to shoulder this story and take it to the next level. Jess (or Ginger) is likewise important to the plot, and especially the dynamics between Chloe and Jess and her connection to the musical world. It was interesting to see the two interact and slowly learn more about their shared past as well… The realistic and thorough character development really made them come alive for me and my heart ached for them as things were starting to become complicated. The secondary characters are likewise well rounded and each added their own little touch to the story too.

Both the plot development and writing were absolutely fantastic, and I definitely loved the direction this story took. The ending left me brokenhearted and simply speechless, unable to render a word or properly describe my love for I Am Dust. I still felt like a mess days later, and I still feel these rambles I tried putting on paper don’t do this story justice at all. In a way, I should have just kept it short and said: “do yourself a favor and just read the damn book. I Am Dust will sweep you off your feet and will haunt you even days after you reach that final page. You will be missing out if you don’t add I Am Dust to your wishlist!” I already know this story will be on my list of favorite 2020 reads even this early in the year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To
Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. Her second book, The
Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her
previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely
reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The
Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic
Novel Award in 2019. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the
Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition,
as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her
husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House
Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #154 – Love And Other Words & The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two contemporary reads I’ve been meaning to read for a while… And both Love And Other Words and The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry turned out to be excellent reads.


Title: Love And Other Words
Author: Christina Lauren

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 10th 2018
Publisher: Gallery Books
Finished reading: March 16th 2020
Pages: 433

“It never occurred to me that love could be anything other than all-consuming. Even as a child, I knew I never wanted anything less.”


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I think most of you will probably know by now that contemporary romance and me don’t really tend to get along, but there are a select few authors that can make me enjoy the genre. I guess I can now add the Christina Lauren duo to that list too! My first experience with their work back in January, The Unhoneymooners, was a success and I had the exact same result with Love And Other Words. Despite the sexy scenes definitely not being for me, I fell in love with the characters and their story… The writing style made it really easy to keep turning those pages, and I like how the story switches back and forward between then and now, slowly letting you get to know the current and past Macey and Elliot. The question of what happened between them to cause such a rupture all those years ago added a level of intrigue to the story, and while the final reveal was a bit of an anticlimax for me mostly, I think the development of the plot and characters in general was well handled. I loved both characters as well as the bookish elements in the story… Sexy scenes and love triangle aside, I think this might be a new favorite Christina Lauren, and that is 100% thanks to both the characters and the writing in general. Fans of the genre will without doubt adore this book!


Title: The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry
Author: Gabrielle Zevin

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: April 1st 2014
Publisher:  Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Finished reading: March 23rd 2020
Pages: 320

“We read to know we’re not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone.”


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I’ve had The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry on my radar for a long time now, and I even bought a physical copy last year in the hope I would actually pick it up sooner. I guess that didn’t happen, and I’m definitely kicking myself now because I have found myself a new favorite nowI love bookish books and this story is without doubt filled to the brim with most wonderful bookish references. And that is not the only bookish thing about this book: most of the story takes place in a bookstore and we have a bookstore owner and publisher sales rep in the spotlight as two of the important characters. Talk about heaven if you love bookish books! The writing is wonderful and I really liked the plot and plot development as well. The main focus is on bookstore owner A.J. Fikry of course, and it is his quirky and grumpy personality as well as his personal development that really make this story special for me. The characters in general are so easy to like and my heart ached for them as the story continued… Sad moments are combined with more happy ones, and The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry will most definitely play with your emotions. It’s a story that will stay with me for quite some time, and I already know I will want to reread it in the future!


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Beast – by Matt Wesolowski #RandomThingsTours #blogtour @Orendabooks @annecater

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Beast Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. The first three Six Stories books simply blew me away last year and it’s easy to say Beast was right at the top of most-anticipated releases. And even with sky high expectations, book number four still turned out to be everything I could have hoped for and more! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts.

Title: Beast
(Six Stories #4)
Author: Matt Wesolowski
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 20th 2019
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: January 21st 2020
Pages: 320

“All anyone has to say is that they wonder why they did it, those three. That’s how it is these days. The killers become the story. The criminals are more exciting than the victims.”

*** 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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Holy bat in hell, what a read! I’ve been a Six Stories fan ever since I read the first book last year and all three books simply blew me away. In fact, both sequels ended up on my list of absolute top favorites of 2019! I’ve been waiting impatiently and eagerly for book four, and I literally dropped everything as soon as a copy of Beast arrived in my inbox. Such is the power of this series and Matt Wesolowski‘s writing! And of course once again I had a book hangover, and once again I found myself lost for words as I was trying to describe my experience with Beast afterwards. I don’t know how he keeps coming up with this stories and I honestly don’t care as long as they will keep appearing! Oh yes, this whole series has most definitely a worthy spot on my all time favorites list.

So, what makes Beast (and this series in general for that matter) so special? There are so many elements I loved in this story, but I think the first thing that stands out is the format. The whole series has an unique podcast format with a narrator, Scott King, who tries to be removed from the case he investigates. Scott King doesn’t judge, doesn’t solve the (cold) cases he talks about, but instead just puts six podcast episodes out there that might help those who follow his podcast uncover the truth. It is this unique and absolutely brilliant format that really takes the story to the next level, and it is also one of the few stories that actually makes me want to give audiobooks another chance, as I can imagine it would make for a fantastic listen.

Talking about Beast in particular, I thought the plot itself was spot on. It is a more recent case this time around, which means memories of those involved might be fresher and evidence might be easier to find. This is not just another murder case though and the small town of Ergarth has a lot to hide… Three men were convicted for the brutal murder of twenty-four-year-old vlogger Elizabeth, and while there was talk about cult related activities, a real motive for the crime has never been confirmed. Instead, there has been talk about a vampire legend which is part of Ergarth’s history. Is there really something supernatural going on? And what about the Dead In Six Days challenge? And the victim? Oh yes, there is definitely a lot more going on that you can see on the surface…

There are a lot of elements in play in Beast, all contributing to a plot that is both rich, complex and utterly fulfilling. We have the horror element with the vampire legend, which definitely adds the right dose of suspense and creepiness to the story. We have the social media angle, which is absolutely fascinating and definitely on point. In Elizabeth we see just how far the need for likes, comments and statistics can go and both her character and those surrounding her help show how social media really can take over and potentially destroy lives… We also have the bullying, abuse and manipulation, which is of course partially related to the whole social media element in the first place. And this story also talks about other elements including animal cruelty, mental illness and piromancy. This seems like a lot to juggle in just one story, but each element is incorporated flawlessly into what is an absolutely brilliant read.

What more to say about Beast? The writing is sublime of course. And both the plot development and building up of suspense and tension is simply spot on. Instead of a constant intensity, the suspense is build up slowly but surely, and this story will most definitely creep you out before you reach that final page. You will find yourself unable to stop reading as you start picking at those threads to find the truth… And as always, the sixth and final episode brings a plot twist bomb and it is without doubt a shocker. And that ending! Most definitely a perfect way to reenforce the point made with the whole social media angle.

I bow to the podcast thriller master and I will  be counting the days until we find out what case Scott King will decide to investigate next… In the mean time, I will just fill my time pestering everyone who hasn’t read this series yet. And yes, that includes YOU if you haven’t! Because the sheer brilliance of each experience with this series is something that nobody should miss out on.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care.

Wesolowski started his writing career in horror and was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at ‘Bloody Scotland’; Crime Writing Festival 2015. His subsequent debut crime novel ‘Six Stories’ was published by Orenda Books in the spring of 2016 with follow-up ‘Hydra’ published in the winter of 2017 and ‘Changeling’ in 2018.

‘Six Stories’ has been optioned by a major Hollywood studio and the third book in the series, ‘Changeling’ was longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, 2019 Amazon Publishing Readers’ Award for Best Thriller and Best Independent Voice.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep – by H.G. Parry #blogtour @Tr4cyF3nt0n @OrbitBooks @hg_parry

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep blog tour! A huge thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I admit I was sold as soon as I read the blurb. I love my bookish books and I think any booklover would love to have the power to bring their favorite characters into the real world… I just couldn’t wait to read this debut, and it turned out be a serious contender for favorite book of 2020 even this early in the year. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!

Title: The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep
Author: H.G. Parry
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Books About Books
First published: July 23rd 2019
Publisher: Orbit
Finished reading: January 26th 2020 
Pages: 496

“Nothing stays hidden. Secrets are always found out, and the world is unforgiving.”

*** 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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First of all I have to say that my mind is blown by the fact that this is in fact a debut, and that I will most definitely be eagerly anticipating anything that H.G. Parry writes in the future. The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep literally had me as soon as I first read the blurb. I love my bookish books and I don’t think that there exists a booklover who wouldn’t want to have the power to bring their favorite literary characters into the world… Let alone reading a story about a main character who can do just that. My instincts told me I was going to enjoy this story, but what I didn’t expect was to find a story that blew me away so completely that it is already a serious contender for book of the year even this early into 2020. High praise, but 200% deserved!

So, what makes this book so special? Well, there are actually many aspects that contributed and together turned The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep into a true masterpiece. Let’s start with the beginning, and let’s talk about the worldbuilding behind this story. The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep is set in Wellington, New Zealand, but it is a setting in a real world with a twist. You can call it urban fantasy, you can call it magical realism, but the fact is that fiction and reality collide and this story has more than a magical touch. I personally adored this mix of fantasy and fiction and I thought the balance was just right. The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep has a firm foot in both ‘worlds’ and it shows in the fact that our main character Charley can in fact travel and exist in both.

This brings us immediately to the literary references and elements in this debut, which are irrevocably related to both the worldbuilding and the plot. Why? It is the many literary characters and the mysterious appearance of the Street invisible to the real world that really makes this story stand out and they are without doubt the keystones this story is built on. From classic characters like Sherlock Holmes, Uriah Heep, Dorian Gray and Mr. Darcy to more modern representations such as Matilda and The White WitchThe Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep provides us with a rich and diverse literary selection to treasure as the different characters appear and contribute to this new story. Anyone who loves bookish elements and literary references in their stories will be absolutely delighted by not only just how many you can discover while reading The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep, but also by how they are incorporated into the story itself. And I have to be honest here and say that these elements alone already turned this story into a new favorite for me.

There is more to love in The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep though. Next up is the plot itself and its many twists as things slowly evolve towards that inevitable final confrontation. Like I said before, I loved the mix of fiction and fantasy and that same balance is used to construct the plot. We have two brothers, Rob firmly planted in the real world and Charley always with his nose in books and with a very peculiar power. His ability to bring literary characters into the real world is fascinating and it was intriguing to learn more about his powers and everything it entails as the plot evolves. The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep has that hint of danger and adventure as the main characters discover a street that nobody can see… And soon their world as they know it is turned upside down forever. The plot is filled with twists and turns and you will find yourself cheering on the characters along the way… Worrying for them as they encounter danger, and keeping your fingers crossed everything will be alright in the end. Engaging, well constructed and highly highly entertaining too!

The characters themselves are absolutely fascinating as well. There are the many literary characters of course, which were a pleasure to meet and I loved how they were incorporated into the story. They each seem to maintain their original personality traits as well as adding something extra to the plot… And it definitely made me pick up a couple pending classics as well as reread old favorites! The real star of this book is Charley of course, as he is the one with the power to bring literary characters into the real world, or as they call him ‘the summoner’. He is simply an ode to bookish characters and extremely easy to connect to… Even though he doesn’t always make the best decisions. His brother is the completely opposite and in that way helps balance the story as well as keeping the story from straying into the fantasy genre completely. I also loved the mystery around the villian of this story and how this unknown identity is used to add suspense and a hint of urgency and danger to the plot.

The writing was also simply sublime, and those final plot twist reveals as well as the ending itself utterly satisfying. I loved my time with The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep from the very first page until the very last and I can already see myself rereading this story in the future. It’s an absolutely brilliant debut I cannot recommend enough if you enjoy masterly crafted bookish stories with a magical touch and a hint of fantasy. And like I said before, a serious and worthy contender for Best Book Of 2020!!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

H.G. Parry lives in a book-infested flat in Wellington, New Zealand, which she shares with her sister and two overactive rabbits. She holds a PhD in English Literature from Victoria University of Wellington, and teaches English, Film, and Media Studies. Her short fiction has appeared in Intergalactic Medicine Show, Daily Science Fiction, and small press anthologies. The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep is her debut novel.


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BOOK REVIEW: How To Be Brave – by Louise Beech @Orendabooks

Title: How To Be Brave
Author: Louise Beech
Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary
First published: June 1st 2015
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: January 18th 2020
Pages: 300

“You have to know how to be sad to know how to be happy and if you know both of those things you’ll know how to be brave.”

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Oh boy, this book hit me hard! It’s been almost two weeks since I finished How To Be Brave, and I’m still struggling to get something somewhat coherent on paper… Such is the power of anything Louise Beech writes! My first two experiences with her work, Call Me Star Girl and The Lion Tamer Who Lost, already made me an ardent fan of her writing, and How To Be Brave has only reconfirmed my love. What an absolutely stunning read! Before I try to start my rambles about How To Be Brave, I just have to say that Louise Beech is one of the select few authors that can pull off a variety of different topics and genres and maintain that same high quality in each and every single story. For that same reason, Louise Beech now shares a spot right at the top of favorite auto-buy authors I would read no matter what without even checking the blurb or genre first!

Let’s try and discuss How To Be Brave now. There are so many elements I loved in this story, and I’m honestly having a hard time figuring out where to start. I was tempted to leave it at “just read the damn book” and call it a day, which would pretty much be a summary of my thoughts in the first place, but it doesn’t do this stunning and heartbreaking read justice at all… So let’s start at the beginning, and let’s talk about the plot. How To Be Brave is roughly split in two with a dual timeline. On one hand, we have the contemporary family drama storyline where Natalie and her nine-year-old daughter Rose struggle to come to terms with a diabetes 1 diagnosis that changed both their lives forever. To contrast this, we have a historical fiction survivor story set in 1943, where we read about the survivors of a shipwreck during WWII. Both fascinating stories on their own, and combined they truly turn this story into something else. With a technique that had that timeslip vibe, both storylines are combined through the diary of Natalie’s grandfather Colin who was one of the men that survived the shipwreck. Past and present are blurred as not only Colin seems to guide both Natalie and Rose through the changes diabetes 1 introduces into their lives, but Rose also seems to appear in the past… This technique is definitely one of the elements that makes How To Be Brave both unique and a worthy new all time favorite to add to my list.

Let’s talk about the contemporary storyline first. The focus is on Natalie and her nine-year-old daughter Rose, who has just been diagnosed with diabetes 1. I loved how this story was able to teach us more about what it is like to adapt your life after such a diagnosis, and show us how heartbreaking, difficult and seemingly hopeless the struggle can be when it involves a child. How To Be Brave helps shine a light on diabetes 1 and I applaude the author for incorporating a theme so close to home into one of her books. Especially as there is still so much misinformation and ignorance about diabetes 1… The struggle of both Natalie and Rose is portrayed realistically and beautifully, and will most likely break your heart before you reach that final page.

The historical part of this story is set in 1943, with Natalie’s grandfather Colin as the narrator. After a shipwreck, Colin and part of the crew manage to survive and find themselves on a lifeboat waiting to be rescued. We learn about what happens in the days after through Colin’s diary, the same diary Natalie uses to distract Rose during her injections as they start reading the pages. I loved that the lifeboat story of Colin is actually based on what happened to the author’s own grandfather in 1943 and it definitely makes this story feel so much more authentic because of it. Part memoir, part biography, part fiction and without doubt a very powerful combination that takes the story to the next level!

The writing is once again sublime, and the same can be said for the character development of the main characters. Both Natalie, Rose and Colin are thoroughly and realistically developed, making my heart feel for them as I was fully absorbed in their lives. Realistic stories and characters have their ups and downs, and this was masterfully achieved in How To Be Brave. Oh yes, this story is an emotional, raw and heartbreaking story with an ultimate message of hope and learning how to be brave. It’s yet another story that completely blew me away and left me lost for words after that final page… How To Be Brave is simply a fascinating mix of historical fiction and a contemporary family drama, combined through a diary and that timeslip vibe. I’m also already 100% positive it will appear on my list of 2020 favorite books!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #144 – The One & A Dark And Twisted Tide

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a double thriller dose… I’ve been meaning to read The One by John Marrs for ages and I’m definitely kicking myself now, because I’ve found myself a new favorite! And I decided to read the final Lacey Flint book while memories of book three were still fresh… A Dark And Twisted Tide isn’t my favorite of the bunch, but still an entertaining read.


Title: The One
Author: John Marrs

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Science Fiction
First published: July 15th 2016
Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Finished reading: January 10th 2020
Pages: 416

“They say you can’t miss what you’ve never had, but that’s not true.”


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I’ve been meaning to read The One for ages, and I’m still not sure why it took me this long to do so. I’m definitely kicking myself now, because I absolutely loved this one! The One has once again reconfirmed that John Marrs deserves to be on my list of favorite thriller authors and this story was absolutely brilliant. I literally cancelled all plans and flew through it in less than a day… The idea behind Match Your DNA is simply fascinating and makes for an excellent plot. It also makes you think about the ‘what if’ situation: if this test would actually exist, would you do it? Because as The One shows us, those matches not always have a happy ending… The story is divided into five different POVs, each with their own completely separate storyline and the only link between the different characters being them having found their Match. It’s like having five stories for the price of one! This structure gave the story a lot of dept and definitely took it to the next level for me. There are so many elements in play in the different storylines, each developed brilliantly into the plot. A serial killer, a Match on the other side of the planet, cancer, family issues, a same sex Match for a man about to be married, death and even the scientist who discovered the gen used to determine the matches… All of this and more will make its appearance before you reach that final page. There are so many twists and turns along the way, and your ideas about happy endings will soon be blown apart as secrets and plot twists come to light. There are so many shocking reveals in The One that it is easier to just keep your jaw on the floor until you reach the ending… The One might be based on the very romantic idea of finding your perfect Match, but it’s definitely mostly a mix of (family) drama and a solid thriller with a healthy dose of suspense and even crime sprinkled on top. A perfect recipe for a perfect read I already know will appear on my list of 2020 favorites!


Title: A Dark And Twisted Tide
(Lacey Flint #4)
Author: Sharon Bolton

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 8th 2014
Publisher: Bantam Press
Finished reading: January 12th 2020
Pages: 448

“Misery was like mud, she thought, as she turned on the water. It was greedy and jealous, grabbing hold and sucking you down. Misery stank like mud. It got in your eyes, making them sting and smart, and into your throat, drawing it closer and tighter so that you wondered how you’d ever breathe again.”


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I decided to go ahead and read the fourth and final book of the Lacey Flint series while memories of book three were still fresh… Especially since it ment that I would have one less unfinished series to worry about in 2020. Main character Lacey isn’t part of the actual investigation, but rather forced into the spotlight again… As A Dark And Twisted Tide will once again bring a killer to her doorstep (or boat in this case). While Lacey’s character is essentially an intriguing one with a mysterious background and all, somehow I never actually warmed up to her and this made it harder to connect to the series (with exception of book two). In this fourth and final book, the whole damaged and flawed main character was getting a bit old and I wasn’t really convinced by the tad chaotic plot and too many different storylines. I was also surprised to find the pace of the story a bit slow in points, and as a whole I don’t think it had the same quality of the last two books. That said, overall it was still quite an entertaining read and it was interesting to see how the story and series ended. I hoped this series would end on a higher note and I would have liked to see a bit more closure for the different characters, but at least the case in this fourth book did come to a close… In short, A Dark And Twisted Tide wasn’t my favorite of the series and could be a bit slow and chaotic in points, but overall it was still an entertaining ride.


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ARC REVIEW: Come Tumbling Down – by Seanan McGuire @torbooks

Title: Come Tumbling Down
(Wayward Children #5)
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: January 7th 2020
Publisher: Tor
Finished reading: January 2nd 2020 
Pages: 160

“For people like her students – people like Eleanor herself – belief was the rarest gift of all.”

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

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I’ve been a Wayward Children fan ever since I read the first book back in 2018, and each sequel so far has only reconfirmed my love for this series. I’ve been waiting impatiently for book number five ever since I finished In An Absent Dream last year, so of course I was over the moon when my request for Come Tumbling Down was actually approved and I was offered the chance to read this sequel a few days early. I literally dropped everything I was doing and devoured this little gem in a matter of hours after it appeared on my kindle… And guess what? I have just found a new favorite Wayward Children installment!

Oh yes, I already loved my previous meetings with Eleanor West’s students, but there was just something about Come Tumbling Down that made me love this newest adventure even more. From the very first pages to the last, I was completely under the spell of both the writing, plot and characters. First of all a disclaimer: this is definitely a series you need to read in order, because you will both be missing out on crucial information about characters and their worlds as well as finding yourself spoilers for the previous adventures otherwise. Trust me: you won’t regret reading them, as every single one has been fantastic so far in the first place… That said, in Come Tumbling Down we return to the horror world of Jack and Jill, a world we first learned about in the second book Down Among The Sticks And Bones. A selection of other students make their appearance as well as they join Jack on a new quest when she returns to ask for help. You will find multiple references to the previous books along the way, both regarding the characters and the things that happened… I personally loved those little reminders and it definitely made me want to binge reread all books together to see if I remembered everything right.

I have loved the worldbuilding behind this series since the beginning, with the students finding doors to different worlds and afterwards being trapped in the real world again. Regular fiction is mixed with fantasy and it has been fascinating to learn more about the different worlds the students once belonged to and now want to return to. Each world is unique in its own way, and the Moors Jack and Jill traveled to is without doubt one of the most brutal ones. Like the second book, Come Tumbling Down is essentially a very dark read with quite a few horror elements; those including the vampire and mad scientist references. It was absolutely fascinating to learn more about how the Moors exactly work, with its electricity and the delicate balance between the different powers at play.

As for the characters… Most characters we already know, and meeting up with them again felt like meeting up with old friends. The main characters in general are easy to like and being able to see them evolve over time has been a true pleasure. We have some new characters as well, including Alexis and Gideon, and I liked what they added to the plot. The plot itself is quite complex for a story this short, but well rounded and with an ending that is without doubt satisfying. I loved every single minute with Come Tumbling Down and I already know it will appear on my list of 2020 favorites even this early on in the year. Oh yes, it’s THAT good! Simply electrifying.


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