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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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Before I Die – by Jackie Morrissey #blogtour #damppebblesblogtour @damppebbles

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Before I Die blog tour! A huge thanks to Emma Welton for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I was intrigued by this story as soon as I read the blurb; a carer like Dolores would be anyone’s worst nightmare without a doubt! Want to know what my reaction was to this story? Please join me while I share my thoughts…


Title: Before I Die
Author: Jackie Morrissey
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 21st 2020
Publisher: Inkubator Books
Finished reading: June 9th 2020
Pages: ?

“A sense of unease ran through her, born of some instinctive recognition of threat.”

*** 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 confess that Before I Die won me over as soon as I read the blurb. Dolores sounded absolutely fascinating as a character with that possible angel of death angle (nurse or carer turned serial killer). You all know how I can’t resist a good serial killer story, and it has been a while since I last read one with this angle. While the whole angel of death plot has been done before, I liked the direction the premise of Before I Die took and it’s without one of the strongest aspects of this story. It definitely helped adding a healthy dose of suspense as well as a hint of forboding! And this story is thoroughly creepy both for anyone depending on a carer as well as for those who have loved ones under care. Imagine having to deal with your own personal Dolores! Before I Die is a solid psychological thriller with a dark angle, and while it was slightly predictable in parts and not too credible in other areas, I still found it to be an entertaining read.

As for the characters… I mostly ended up having mixed thoughts about them. I did like how the story had multiple older characters as well as Dolores and the younger son of a friend with a heroin addiction, as it added a level of dept to the story. Their development in general is quite thorough and the colorful and diverse cast of characters made the story feel more complex, but they weren’t exactly likeable and not every action or reaction could be considered credible. I’m sorry, but I just can’t believe Maureen never stood up for herself; especially in the beginning when Dolores still doesn’t have a big influence on her. I can believe Dolores having the power to manipulate others so successfully, but Maureen letting her walk all over her straight away without putting up a fight just didn’t feel credible at all to me. I also wondered if the Spanish Dolores didn’t come over as too much of a stereotype. The story makes it seem like she left Spain long ago (or at least that is how I interpreted it after finishing this story and knowing all the facts), and somehow she still seems to speak all halted… I liked the added Spanish words in the text, but the sentence structure used to describe her dialogues felt a bit too much like building a foreigner stereotype cliche. This might just be a personal reaction to her character though.

The writing is easy on the eye and I managed to finish reading Before I Die in no time at all. The plot itself has a multiple POV structure which makes it easier to get to know the different characters in play… The same structure is of course also used to hide certain facts and secrets until they are ready to be revealed. The story will have a couple of surprises for you in store even though it’s a bit of a shame you can basically guess the truth about Dolores straight away. I had my doubts about the credibility in certain parts, and the ending felt a bit too over the top and intense after a slower psychological thriller vibe during most of the story… Still, it was intriguing to see the whole situation develop and find out how both Maureen and Dolores react to the things that happen. The story definitely turned out to be a lot darker than I thought it would be! I don’t think that is a bad thing though. If you like a good twisted psychological thriller with an angel of death angle, Before I Die is a solid choice.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jackie Morrissey lives in County Dublin and worked for many years in adult education. Her job took her into colleges and prisons all around Ireland, and introduced her to a range of interesting people. She loved the buzz of teaching, but came to hate the tyranny of correcting assignments. She has written throughout her adult life and has had many short stories published, one of which won the Molly Keane Short Story award. She has also been a regular contributor of short pieces for the Irish radio program Sunday Miscellany. About four years ago, she took the decision to write full time. The psychological thriller Before I Die is her first published novel.

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK // Amazon US


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ARC REVIEW: What I Know – by Miranda Smith

Title: What I Know
Author: Miranda Smith
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 24th 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: June 3rd 2020
Pages: 285

“It’s wildly unfortunate we live in a society that waits for bad things to happen before doing anything.”

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

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I always love a good psychological thriller and I was intrigued by the blurb of What I Know, so I decided to request a copy on a whim. “My brother was thirteen the first time he tried to kill me.”: talk about one heck of an opening line! I’ve been looking forward to read this story ever since and had quite high expectations for this one, but somehow the actual story ended up falling a bit flat for me. I still can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but I will try to explain below what worked and didn’t work for me.

First of all, I have to say that I still love the premise of the story and the blurb is without doubt a corker. I also liked the dual storyline structure, where we get to see main character Della in the present with Zoey and follow her back to the past with her brother Brian. This structure is used to draw parallels between both characters as well as adding a healthy dose of suspense… And definitely took the story to the next level. You are initially kept in the dark about the true extent of Brian’s darkness, although it is quite easy to guess how far it would go after reading the blurb and catching the first few hints. That’s probably why the final reveals around his character in the past were a bit of an anticlimax to be honest… The present storyline focusing on Della and Zoe was a lot more successful at keeping you on your toes though.

While the writing flows and makes it really easy to keep reading, I wasn’t always sure about the pace. Certain plot twists were really easy to guess, and drawing out the reveal of those twists slowed the story down instead of adding suspense… Or at least that was the effect it had on me. I always like it when a story is able to mislead me and keep me guessing, and that was not what happened here as I somehow had the characters figured out really early on. The lack of surprises was a bit of a letdown for me, and I honestly felt that it was a bit too convenient that nobody but Della saw the truth behind certain characters. It didn’t feel credible and the same goes for certain parts of the plot as well as the ending.

As for the characters… I found them to be very hard to like, which made it more difficult to connect to the story in turn. Some were ment to be unlikeable of course, but I was never able to connect to Della either both due to her attitude and actions. Initially I thought both Della and Danny would be a perfect match for me, as you don’t see too many stories about childless couples who made the decision not to have any children… It’s something I can relate to personally as with my hubby we stand by the same decision (have been for years as we just don’t see ourselves with children, or at least not in the forseeable future). I was a bit miffed to be honest to have Della suddently being saddled with an unplanned pregnancy; both because of Danny’s reaction and people judging how she feels about it. I know this is a personal reaction, but still… It made me enjoy the story and characters considerably less.

In short, What I Know is a psychological thriller with a dark edge: using a dual storyline, it switches back between past and present and introduces us to two twisted minds… What I Know has without doubt a lot of potential, and while the story sadly fell flat for me, others do seem to enjoy it a lot better.


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ARC REVIEW: Somebody’s Daughter – by Carol Wyer

Title: Somebody’s Daughter
(Detective Natalie Ward #7)
Author: Carol Wyer
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 9th 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: June 4th 2020
Pages: 379

“Victims of physical and mental abuse are strangled by their own inability to break free. They believe, for some bizarre reason, they actually deserve the hatred, the beatings and the sexual degradation. They lose their self-worth to the point they firmly believe they are worthless and they deserve to suffer.”

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

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I’ve been a fan of Carol Wyer‘s detective thrillers for quite some time now, and I have been following detective Natalie Ward since the very beginning back in 2018. Somebody’s Daughter is already book number seven of this series, and without doubt another thrilling ride! I can always rely on this series to give me a couple of hours of solid entertainment. A little warning: technically you can read this story as a stand-alone, but you will be missing out on quite a lot of background information about the main characters and you will probably not get the full experience if you don’t read the previous books first. Especially since the last two books focus on some very drastic developments in Natalie Ward’s private life as well as the development of some the other recurring characters in play. Plus, if you are a fan of the genre in the first place, you will be missing out on hours of detective entertainment!

I’ll be keeping this review short to avoid spoilers, but those who have had the chance to read the previous books will know what I mean when I say that life has been no picnic for Natalie Ward so far. Both book five and six had absolutely shocking developments that left me reeling, and definitely had a huge impact on Natalie’s private life…  Somebody’s Daughter once again focuses on the developments in Natalie’s private life as well as the new case. As she is now a DCI, and other known character Lucy has taken over her DI position, the balance between the characters in the team has shifted a little and we see more of Lucy than Natalie in the investigation. This gives the story a slightly different vibe, but I personally didn’t mind too much as it gave the story a fresh angle too.

The writing makes it really easy to keep turning those pages, and while the pace might be a tad slower in points, things will get more intense as the investigation gets more complicated. We have multiple POVs, flashbacks and plot twists to provide us with hurdles to overcome, and the story is packed with secrets to unravel. What seems like an easy case with an easy to identify suspect soon becomes a lot more complicated… The bodies start piling up and the question is how they all connect and if the team is really on the right track. While we see less of Natalie now she is a DCI, we still get the rest of her team and she still makes her appearance throughout the case. Certain aspects of the plot made you wonder about the credibility of it all, but overall the entertainment factor won me over. Somebody’s Daugher can get a bit graphic in points and includes difficult themes as grooming, abuse, rape and addiction. This is definitely  not a story for those with a weak stomach!

This detective thriller series has been highly entertaining and suspenseful from the very first book, and Somebody’s Daughter is already book number seven and no exception to the rule. Natalie and her team have another complicated case to solve, and the bodies are starting to pile up very quickly… Dark, twisted and highly entertaining if you enjoy a good detective thriller with a disturbing angle. If you enjoy the genre, you will most likely have a great time with this series!


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ARC REVIEW: Saving Ruby King – by Catherine Adel West

Title: Saving Ruby King
Author: Catherine Adel West
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
First published: June 16th 2020
Publisher: Park Row
Finished reading: June 8th 2020
Pages: 352

“The world takes so much, sometimes words are all one can possess.”

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

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I was invited to read Saving Ruby King last month, and I found myself to be immediately intrigued by the blurb of this title. Especially considering recent events in the world… Because we can’t have enough own voices stories out there to help educate us more. That said, I have to say that I’m having a really hard time rating this book, and I ended up having mixed thoughts about the story as a whole. I’ll try to explain below what worked and didn’t work for me.

On one hand, Saving Ruby King is undeniably a very important and powerful read: an own voices debut set in both present and past Chicago that helps give us some insight in the race problematics and issues black people have to face even to this day. This element was the driving force behind this story and the main reason I kept reading. BUT. On the other hand, a big part of the story also focuses on religion. There is nothing wrong with that, but I personally have a huge aversion to stories that focus on religion, and even more if they start sounding preachy. This has nothing to do with the quality of this story, but instead is rather a personal reaction to an element I wasn’t expecting to be so present… But the fact remains that I struggled to keep reading every time religion came in focus, which was a lot.

Apart from my obvious issues with the focus on religion, Saving Ruby King is a fantastic debut. The writing, the complexity of the plot, the multiple POV structure, the character development, the mystery around and secrets of multiple characters, the race problematics, the story of abuse, the violence and also a note of hope… This story has so many elements and it makes for a multi-faceted and rich story. The plot follows multiple characters both in past and present, and it can be a bit of a juggle in the beginning to keep track of how they all fit together, but Saving Ruby King provides us with helpful family trees to make things easier. I also particularly liked the perspective of the church, which was both unique and gave us a more neutral insight in past events.

This is not an easy story to read, and will most likely make you feel uncomfortable. I applaude Catherine Adel West for the realistic development of the plot and characters, and for not being afraid to show the ugly truth and for the characters and elements to go dark and unsettling. This is a story about race problematics as well as a story of domestic violence, child abuse, self harm, murder as well as a spark of hope… Beautifully rendered, and if you are not bothered by the strong presence of religion in the story, you will be blown away by this story. Trust me, this book is worth reading for the black voices and focus on race problematics alone. I’ll leave you with a couple of quotes that stood out to me…

“We’re a minute blip on someone’s television. Sixty seconds and my friend is ruined, or ruined even more than she already was.”

“They know they won’t be held accountable for their actions. America doesn’t need ropes and trees anymore to kill us. They have cops.”

“It’s a melting pot jigsaw puzzle with very distinctive boundaries. And those invisible lines still carve up the city, separating black, brown and yellow from white, opportunity and a void of such things.”

“I’m black. That’s what matters. Cops cover for cops. Blue covers blue. Blue doesn’t cover black.”


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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 #167 – The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time & Finding Dorothy

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a modern classic and a more recent release I’ve been meaning to read ever since it was released… My time with The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time sadly didn’t up being successful, but Finding Dorothy did hit the mark for me.


Title: The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time
Author: Mark Haddon
Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: July 31st 2003
Publisher: Vintage Digital
Finished reading: May 30th 2020 
Pages: 292

“I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them”


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I know I’m probably the last person on the planet to read this book… I’m not sure why I never did, but at least I now know what all the references to this story are about. Sadly, it turned out to be yet another unpopular opinion review though. Oh yes, unfortunately The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time and me weren’t ment to be… First of all, I have to say that I do applaude the originality of the writing style as well as the author enabling us to get a glimpse inside the head of a fifteen-year-old teenager on the autism spectrum. It shows that the author really investigated the matter thoroughly and it’s without doubt the strongest point of this book. The thing is… I somehow got tired of that unique writing style real fast, and the tone sounded really young to be considered YA to be honest. I know Christopher is on the autism spectrum and not like other teenagers, but still… I also hated the fact that animal cruelty appeared in the story, and especially in this banal way. And I wasn’t a fan of the whole cheating/lying about Mother angle either to be honest. All in all I found myself to be unable to connect to this story and I confess that I skimread most of the second half. I still love the idea behind this story and the fact that is shines a spotlight on autism, but sadly the execution just didn’t work for me. Oh well, at least I know this one wasn’t for me now.


Title: Finding Dorothy
Author: Elizabeth Letts
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: February 12th 2019
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Finished reading: June 3rd 2020
Pages: 352

“Magic isn’t things materializing out of nowhere. Magic is when a lot of people all believe in the same thing at the same time, and somehow we all escape ourselves a little bit and we meet up somewhere, and just for a moment, we taste the sublime.”


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I’ve been wanting to read this story ever since I first heard about Finding Dorothy last year and glowing reviews started popping up. The idea of learning the story behind the famous The Wizard Of Oz book and movie based on real historical facts sounded absolutely fascinating, and I think it’s one of the reasons this book worked so well for me. Basically, Finding Dorothy gives us two for one: not only do we get to follow the making of the The Wizard Of Oz movie with Judy Garland in 1939, but we also go back in time as we get to know both the author Frank L. Baum and his wife Maud. The story switches back between past and present, using the main character Maud as a red thread to weave the two different storylines together… Both storylines complimented each other; the more glamorous 1939 setting giving contrast to the sometimes more harsh and even dire circumstances Maud and Frank found themselves in over the years. While I did find the pace to be a tad slow in parts, the story as a whole did not disappoint and I had a wonderful time learning more about Maud and her family as well as the making of the original movie. Especially little references to the future book that started popping up and being able to read more about Frank’s (probable) inspiration was a wonderful touch. This is fiction mixed with historical facts at its best, and both historical fiction and The Wizard Of Oz fans will be delighted.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #166 – You Are Not Alone & The Child

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! Today a thriller round: new release You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen, which sadly failed to blow me away, and a German crime thriller The Child by Sebastian Fitzek, which definitely turned out to be a dark, disturbing but very much entertaining read.


Title: You Are Not Alone
Author: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: March 3rd 2020
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: May 27th 2020
Pages: 344

“Some people contend there are two primal fears. The first and most basic is the end of our existence. The second is isolation; we all have a deep need to belong to something greater than ourselves.”


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I know, I know, I should have known to stay away from yet another hyped book… Especially since my first experience with this author duo, The Wife Between Us, failed to hit the mark back when I read it in 2018. But I just couldn’t resist taking a peek anyway, and I think I have just confirmed to myself the writing of Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen might just not be for me. I’m not saying that You Are Not Alone is a bad read; I think the writing itself is solid and I’m impressed by the fact how well the story flows with two different authors wielding the pen. That said, I can’t say I was blown away by this story either. On it’s own it’s quite an interesting plot with lots of plot twists and secrets waiting to be unraveled. There is suspense, there is tension, and I can’t deny there were even a few minor surprises. BUT. Overall I was a bit disappointed by how predictable the story felt as a whole, and I saw the whole situation coming from a mile away… Which is always a shame. I did like the structure of the plot in different parts and with multiple POVs and flashbacks (although the two main POVs would be Shay and Cassandra & Jane). The characters each have their development, although some fell a bit flat for me and most were not that easy to like. Shay is probably the most approachable, although you will find yourself feeling frustrated more and more by her actions as you keep reading… Overall, I felt like You Are Not Alone was trying to hard, and turned out to be a tad to slow and predictable for me. That said, it looks like the unpopular opinion curse has struck once again, so don’t give up on this book on my account.


Title: The Child
Author: Sebastian Fitzek

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: 2007
Publisher: Sphere
Finished reading: May 29th 2020
Pages: 384
(Originally written in German: ‘Das Kind’)

“But he wasn’t afraid of burglars, only of observers: of people who might see through his carefully constructed façade of expensive suits, shiny cars and smart offices with a view of the Brandenburg Gate. If they did, they would discern the empty husk that was Robert Stern’s soul.”


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I bought a copy of this book on a whim last year, as I was fully hooked after reading the first line of the blurb. I mean, having a ten-year-old main character who claims to be a serial killer… How could I say no to that?! I’m definitely glad I got a copy of The Child now, because it turned out to be a shocking, very much disturbing but also intriguing ride. This story is definitely not for those with a weak stomach, and not even for the murder elements, but mostly because of the focus on child abuse. The Child focuses mainly on two characters: lawyer Robert Stern and the ten-year-old Simon with a severe illness. The reason the two characters meet is simply fascinating and I admit that I was hooked as soon as I started reading. The serial killer element, the regression and strange memories of Simon, the blackmailing, the danger, the mystery around the death of Robert’s son, the trafficking angle… There is a lot going on in The Child, and you definitely have to prepare yourself for a very intense, dangerous and action-packed ride. While I’m not sure some scenes are exactly credible, I somehow didn’t really mind as I was too busy racing through those pages. The Child is definitely a great read for those who enjoy dark and disturbing crime thrillers with a twist.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: This Is How I Lied – by Heather Gudenkauf @parkrowbooks #blogtour

Hello and welcome to my stop of the This Is How I Lied blog tour! A huge thanks to Lia Ferrone for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve been meaning to try Heather Gudenkauf‘s books for a while now and just couldn’t resist the blurb of This Is How I Lied… And it turned out to be an excellent first impression of her writing! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: This Is How I Lied
Author: Heather Gudenkauf
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 12th 2020
Publisher: Park Row Books
Finished reading: May 11th 2020
Pages: 352

“Dark places made it so much easier to be cruel, to exact revenge.”

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

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I’ve been meaning to try Heather Gudenkauf‘s books for a while now and just couldn’t resist the blurb of This Is How I Lied when I received the blog tour invitation… I’ve been looking forward to read this story ever since, and I wasn’t disappointed by what I found. It turned out to be an excellent first impression of her writing, and I will definitely be wanting to read more of her work in the future! This Is How I Lied is a suspenseful and addicting story that will speak to detective and psychological thriller fans alike.

So, what made This Is How I Lied so successful for me? The first thing that stood out for me was the writing, which is both engaging, flows naturally and manages to draw you right in. While I do feel that this is a slower read than expected and mostly focuses on the characters, the story did have a healthy dose of suspense and action in store for you as well. I guess this dual approach has something to do with the fact that This Is How I Lied can be seen as a mix of a cold case detective thriller and a dark psychological thriller, and you basically get the best of both worlds offered as you read.

This Is How I Lied is not afraid to go dark and has more than one difficult topic incorporated into the plot, including abuse, grooming, mental illness, hoarding, dementia, violence and what some may consider a form of animal cruelty. This might seem as a lot, but each topic is woven into the plot with care and contributes to the background of certain characters… Together they turn this story into a considerably complex and multi-faceted read.

This complexity also has to do with the structure of the plot: the story is told with the help of multiple POVs as well as flashbacks to 1995-1996 (when Eve was killed and the original investigation took place). The story switches between Maggie and Nola in the present and adds Eve’s POV in the past… This structure is used to hold back certain details while slowly revealing other facts as well as secrets, and it definitely added to the whole building up of suspense. Eve’s murder has in fact multiple viable suspects and more than one is quite unlikeable too… The interesting part is that the twist is revealed quite early on to help build tension between certain characters, which was both kind of a letdown as well as an intriguing technique at the same time. Why? Well, you didn’t get the full truth either and you were kept wondering how the character would deal with having the secret threatened to come out after so long… It’s definitely a different take on the typical ‘whodunnit‘ stories.

I have to be honest here and say that the ending did end up being a letdown for me. Especially when the story shows you a certain truth at first and sticks with it, but you are also kept uncertain about who really killed her (there are at least four viable suspects at all times), only to have the DNA bomb dropped at the last possible moment to confirm who actually did it. This honestly felt like a huge anti-climax after such an intense read and especially after the scenes before the final reveal… And I can’t say I found it a satisfying ending after all that happened. That said, I do think this was my only main issue with this book.

A quick note about the characters… While they are not exactly likeable, I did find them to be well developed and with their flaws and issues they felt realistic. It was easy to worry about both Maggie and Eve (although you already know it will end badly for Eve), which made it easy to stay invested in the story itself. Furthermore, we have a long string of suspects and basically unlikeable characters, including Nick, Cam Harper and Nola herself. Abuse, grooming, maiming and dissecting animals, violence, mental health issues… Oh yes, those characters are no picnic indeed. Maggie’s father and former chief is another interesting character with his dementia, as you wonder why he never sold Eve’s murder case and if he knew more back then… Especially now those memories are seemingly lost forever.

In short, This Is How I Lied is a multi-dementional and suspenseful mix of a cold case detective thriller and a dark psychological thriller that isn’t afraid to drop some heavy topics on you as you try to discover what happened in Grotto all those years ago. Recommended for fans of the genre!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heather Gudenkauf is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of many books, including The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden. Heather graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages. She lives in Iowa with her husband, three children, and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Lolo. In her free time, Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, hiking, and running.

BUY LINKS

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

SOCIAL LINKS

Author Website // Twitter: @hgudenkauf // Instagram: @heathergudenkauf // Facebook: @HeatherGudenkaufAuthor // Goodreads


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Creak On The Stairs – by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @Orendabooks @annecater

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Creak On The Stairs Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I have a weak spot for nordic noir and as soon as I read the blurb of The Creak On The Stairs I knew I just had to read it. Especially since two fellow trusted bloggers had already raved about it too… And now I’ve had the chance to read this first book of a new series, I can say that they were absolutely right to do so. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!

Title: The Creak On The Stairs
(Forbidden Iceland #1)
Author: Eva Björg Ægisdóttir
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: April 24th 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: April 25th 2020
Pages: 315
(Originally written in Icelandic: ‘Marrið í stiganum’)

“She had to remind herself that she wasn’t a little girl anymore.

That the real evil wasn’t to be found lurking in dark corners but in the human soul.”

*** 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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It’s no secret that I love my nordic noir and I’m always looking for new authors to discover. I admit that I was sold as soon as I read the blurb of The Creak On The Stairs, and the raving reviews of two fellow trusted bloggers (yes, Eva and Kelly, YOU!) only confirmed to me that I made the right decision to join the blog tour. I have been looking forward to read The Creak On The Stairs ever since I read those reviews and I now completely agree this is a fantastic start of a new nordic noir series.

There is a lot to love in The Creak On The Stairs… The first thing that stands out is the Icelandic setting. I love foreign settings as it makes me feel like I’m travelling from the comfort of my own reading chair… And the atmospheric and extensive descriptions did just that and really made Iceland come alive for me. Thanks to the thorough descriptions, it is very easy to visualize the different Icelandic settings and it makes it feel as if you were right next to the main characters seeing the world through their eyes. The Icelandic setting was the perfect backdrop for this story and gave the plot that cold and daunting feel any nordic noir fan will be delighted with.

I also loved both the plot and the writing. And that means the writing in general, and not just the previously mentioned descriptions… The writing is enticing, well paced and very successful at drawing you in from the very first chapter. The plot itself is intriguing and I really liked the structure of the story in general. You are thrown in without knowing much of the main characters and have different POVs and flashbacks to juggle, but it only added to the suspense and intrigue instead of slowing you down. The complex structure of the plot allows the story to hide things from you, with the result that you have more than one secret to unravel. The woman showing up dead, who is behind it, the secrets of her past, the secrets of our new lead character Elma… There are a lot of puzzles to solve and isn’t that the best thing while reading a detective thriller?

As for the characters… It looks like we have another lead character detective with a complicated past on our hands, although we are not exactly told what happened in her past and this definitely added to the intrigue around Elma. We actually don’t get to know her all that much in the first Forbidden Iceland book, but the bites we get offered were more than promising and leave you wanting for more. I liked the dynamics of the detective team in Akranes in general too. The other characters in play were all well developed and felt realistic, and even though most were not all that easy to like, I wasn’t too bothered by that as they all played their roles flawlessly. Especially Beta turned out to be an absolutely fascinating character study.

The Creak On The Stairs also isn’t afraid to go dark and this includes difficult topics such as (child) abuse and alcoholism. Especially the first plays quite a big role and might be a turn off for some… But the element was developed realistically and played an important role in both the plot and the character development. The plot twists and reveals of the different secrets are well balanced out in the plot, and the ending definitely left me wanting for the next book of the series. Because while the case in the first book was solved, I’m more than ready to see more of Elma and her team!

Dark, ominous and atmospheric, this first book of the Forbidden Iceland series shows us an image of Iceland any nordic noir fan would love to discover. It’s an excellent start of a new series that is more than worth being on your radar if you enjoy the genre!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Born in Akranes in 1988, Eva moved to Trondheim, Norway to study my MSc in Globalisation when she was 25. After moving back home having completed her MSc, she knew it was time to start working on her novel. Eva has wanted to write books since she was 15 years old, having won a short story contest in Iceland.

Eva worked as a stewardess to make ends meet while she wrote her first novel. The book went on to win the Blackbird Award and became an Icelandic bestseller. Eva now lives with her husband and three children in Reykjavík, staying at home with her youngest until she begins Kindergarten.


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