BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Betrayal – by Lilja Sigurðardóttir #RandomThingsTours #Orentober @RandomTTours @Orendabooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Betrayal Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I loved my time with the Reykjavik Noir Trilogy, so of course there was no way I could resist a new stand-alone written by the same author. And it turned out to be another solid piece of nordic noir! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: Betrayal
Author: Lilja Sigurðardóttir
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: October 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: October 4th 2020
Pages: 276
(Originally written in Icelandic: ‘Svik’)

“If only it was as easy to delete people in real life as it was on Facebook.”

*** 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 loved my time with the Reykjavik Noir Trilogy last year, so of course I couldn’t wait to try more of Lilja Sigurðardóttir‘s writing. This time around we have a stand-alone to enjoy with Betrayal, and it is without doubt another solid piece of nordic noir. Get ready to transport yourself to Iceland and enjoy an intricate and multi-dimentional story! Fans of the genre will have a great time with this one.

The Icelandic setting really shines through, and I loved how the translation stayed true to the original Icelandic names. On that note, a round of applause to Quentin Bates for the flawless translation and for enabling us to read this piece of Icelandic fiction in the first place! Betrayal is essentially a multi-dimentional story with a multiple POV structure and various different storylines in play. We have our main character Ursula and the focus on her work as a minister, we have Gunnar as her driver and bodyguard, we have the cleaner Stella and the LGBT angle, we have Petur and the mysteries around the past as well as the present… Lots of different angles and different storylines to keep you busy along the way. And of course that all important question: who is ‘the devil’ and what did he do?

There are multiple heavy elements in play… We have Ursula’s background with her work for Doctors Without Borders; the ebola in Liberia and the bombings in Syria. We have the rape case where a police officer is accused of rape and the case doesn’t seem to be investigated properly. We have the politics element and possible corruption. We have the stalking case and all it entails. We have the mystery around the death of Ursula’s father and Petur’s character in general. We have the alcoholism and addiction element. We have the cheating… And more. This seems like a lot of different elements to try and squeeze into just one story, but somehow it worked in Betrayal and I liked how the different elements were incorporated into the plot. It’s true that I’m never a fan of the whole cheating angle in a story and Ursula’s character let me down a bit because of it, but that is just a personal pet peeve I guess.
It was interesting to see the different storylines and characters develop over time. As the threats on Ursula’s character seem to increase, so does the tension and suspense and it was interesting to see those secrets and lies slowly unravel. Betrayal definitely ends with a bang too, and I like how our main character isn’t afriad to hand out a punch. Betrayal raises important questions about politics, how rape cases are handled and about women in power positions in general… And how the media can destroy a person in the blink of an eye. It is fascinating to see those small betrayals and lies building up and escalate until the situation really gets out of control… Betrayal is an excellent piece of nordic noir and perfect for fans of the genre who like diverse and complex reads.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, including Snare, Trap and Cage, making up the Reykjavik Noir trilogy, which have hit bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.


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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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


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YVO’S SHORTIES #179 – Heart Bones & A Boy And His Dog At The End Of The World

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two titles I’ve been looking forward to read… The first, Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover, turned out to be a new favorite, but sadly A Boy And His Dog At The End Of The World by C.A. Fletcher somehow just didn’t work for me.


Title: Heart Bones
Author: Colleen Hoover

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: August 19th 2020
Publisher: Hoover Ink
Finished reading: September 19th 2020
Pages: 338

“Damaged people recognize other damaged people. It’s like a club you don’t want a membership to.”


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Colleen Hoover titles can go both ways for me, but I’ve enjoyed her recent titles without fail so I have been highly anticipating her newest story Heart Bones. Both the blurb and the first reviews sounded fantastic, so I had high hopes it would be a good one for me as well… And the CoHo magic struck again, because I absolutely loved this story. Beyah’s character won me over from the very beginning, and I really liked Samson and the other main characters in play as well. They are realistic, flawed and so easy to warm up to that you cannot help but root for them almost immediately. I wasn’t even that bothered by the sexy scenes as I was too busy wondering how the plot and characters would evolve, and that is a true achievement as I normally hate any form of sexy time in my stories. The writing is engaging, flows easily and is packed with emotions. It’s a story about two broken individuals being drawn to each other and finding a connection that seems impossible to break… Both have their secrets and past, and there were definitely a few reveals I didn’t see coming. Heart Bones will mess with your heart and feelings, but the journey is oh so worth it. A new CoHo favorite to add to the list!


Title: A Boy And His Dog At The End Of The World
Author: C.A. Fletcher

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Science Fiction
First published: April 23rd 2019
Publisher: Orbit
Finished reading: September 26th 2020
Pages: 384

“If we’re not loyal to the things we love, what’s the point? That’s like not havign a memory. That’s when we stop being human.”


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I have been looking forward to A Boy And His Dog At The End Of The World ever since I read the first reviews last year. I love a good dystopian story every once in a while, and add an animal character in the spotlight and I’m immediately sold. I was fully expecting to find a new favorite, so that’s probably why I felt even more disappointed when I ended up having a completely different reading experience instead. It’s unpopular opinion time again! Don’t get me wrong: I still love the premise of this story and the idea behind this dystopian future as well as its development was interesting. I also like the idea behind Griz’ character and the dogs… But somehow, the actual story just didn’t work for me personally. I wasn’t a fan of the writing style somehow; I wasn’t able to warm up to the tone or the way the story was told in the form of Griz’ memoir written after the events. Somehow I wasn’t really a fan of how the plot developed either… I found the story to be considerably slow, and while I did enjoy the development of the dystopian world, I didn’t exactly have a good time following Griz’ story itself. I can’t put my finger on the why, but the story just wasn’t able to grab or hold my attention and I found myself skimreading more than often just to get to the end. I know I’m in the minority though as most people do seem to love A Boy And His Dog At The End Of The World, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that this story somehow definitely wasn’t for me. I definitely need a different dystopian read now to properly satisfy my dystopian cravings…


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ARC REVIEW: The Minders – by John Marrs

Title: The Minders
Author: John Marrs
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Science Fiction
First published: September 17th 2020
Publisher: Del Rey
Finished reading: September 11th 2020
Pages: 400

“It’s always what we don’t know about someone that piques our curiosity.”

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

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Speechless. Flabbergasted. Mind blown. Oh yes, John Marrs has done it once again and the holy guacamole is most definitely back!!! I know I might be a bit biased when it comes to his books; he’s easily one of my absolute favorite thriller authors and I’ve loved every single story I’ve tried so far… But there is no denying just how unique and original his stories are. The Minders is already the third book set in that same near future world with that sci-fi/dystopian feel, and it’s another fantastic story. Mind, this is officially a stand-alone story and you can quite easily without reading The One or The Passengers first as it’s no official sequel. BUT. Both books are absolutely brilliant as well and you won’t be able to spot references to those stories if you don’t read them first, so I can highly recommend just clearing your schedule and read all three if you haven’t already gotten yourself started.

So, The Minders. I’ve decided to keep these rambles short both because I’m still recovering from the massive book hangover this book gave me and because it’s simply one of those stories where it’s better to go in blind so you can fully savour the experience. The Minders is a bit of a mash up of a sci-fi, crime and action thriller all set in a near future world that seems surprisingly realistic and makes you worry about how our own future would look like. Why? Well, let’s just say that this particular future isn’t exactly a picnic, but at the same time a highly probable escalation of the present. This will put you immediately on edge and you will find yourself on the edge of your seat the whole time. I know I was!

The story uses a multiple POV structure where we switch between the different main characters in play. This might seem a bit much to handle initially, but trust me, it is absolutely worth it as you slowly get to know them better and understand the full scope of the situation. Each character is well developed and feels realistic; they might not seem exactly likeable, but they are each fascinating and their backgrounds explain perfectly why they would opt for a fresh start. The cast of characters is used to introduce a wide variety of different topics into the story, giving the story so much dept without it distracting from the plot itself. You will get crime, you will get violence, you will get emotions, you will get action, you will get suspense, you will get a psychological angle… The Minders is a true rollercoaster ride that will leave you breathless and shell shocked by the time you reach that final page. It’s a story that doesn’t fit into a neat box; a truly unique thriller with a sci-fi feel set in the near future that is destined to simply blow you away.


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ARC REVIEW: Who’s Next – by Chris Merritt

Title: Who’s Next?
(Detectives Lockhart & Green #2)

Author: Chris Merritt
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Detective
First published: September 11th 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: September 13th 2020
Pages: 449

“Lockhart wasn’t a believer in eye-for-an-eye justice. He subscribed to the rule of law, and the judicial process – flawed as it was.”

*** 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 have a weak spot for a good detective and serial killer thriller, so I’ve been curious about the Detectives Lockhart & Green series ever since I first saw the reviews of book one Knock Knock back in March. I couldn’t resist getting a copy of the sequel Who’s Next? on Netgalley as a way to make sure I was reading both sooner than later… I guess it worked, as I’ve now read both books and I’m definitely a fan.

My strange obsession with serial killer thrillers is no secret, and Who’s Next? definitely gives us another twisted as well as intriguing take on the genre. While this sequel technically could be read as a stand-alone, you will be missing out on background information as well as the changing dynamics between the main characters in play… So I would personally suggest reading the books in order. Both are more than solid reads in the first place anyway! Who’s Next? once again focuses on both a new police investigation and developments in the personal lives of both Lockhart and Green. This gives us an interesting fluctuation in intensity and suspense, although things will get pretty intense on both sides as things start to escalate along the way.

The story uses a multiple POV structure, where we not only follow main characters Dan Lockhart and Lexi Green, but also other members of Lockhart’s team as well as the killer and more than one victim. Despite the many changes, it was quite easy to keep track of the different angles… Especially since we already know Lockhart and his team as well as Green. I always like being able to get a glimpse inside the head of a serial killer, and Chris Merritt once again as created a very intriguing individual to follow. On top of the murder investigation, Who’s Next? also focuses on a serial sexual assault case once of Lockhart’s team members is helping to solve… Basically a two for one in crime investigations!

I particularly liked how we don’t just have the typical detective angle with Lockhart, but also have a focus on the psychological aspect of the crimes which is analyzed with the help of Lexi Green’s POV. It definitely enhanced the plot; the many different angles in play make for a rich and dynamic plot that is both suspenseful and packs a punch. On top of this, multiple suspects are presented along the way, keeping you in the dark about the real identity and the final reveals definitely came as a surprise. I was totally wrong with my suspicions! This ride will get intense, exhilarating and pretty twisted along the way… It’s perfect if you have a taste for dark and disturbing serial killers hunts like me. I’ll be looking forward to more Lockhart and Green next year!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #177 – The Day We Meet Again & The 24-Hour Café

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time a double dose of contemporaries  with two books that have been recommended to me more than once: The Day We Meet Again by Miranda Dickinson and The 24-Hour Café by Libby Page. Both turned out to be excellent reads too!


Title: The Day We Meet Again
Author: Miranda Dickinson

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: September 5th 2019
Publisher: HQ
Finished reading: August 23rd 2020 
Pages: 384

“Maybe in the end we are all just stories waiting to be shared.”


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I know that contemporary romance isn’t my typical genre, but after I read Meggy’s review earlier this year I simply had no other option but to add it to my wishlist straight away. And guess what? It turned out to be yet another fantastic recommendation! I absolutely adored my time with Sam and Phoebe and I probably would have finished The Day We Meet Again in one sitting if it wouldn’t have been for all the redecorating going on just as I was starting this gem. Oh yes, I’m definitely adding Miranda Dickinson to my list of authors who can actually make me fall in love with the contemporary romance genre!

The Day We Meet Again uses a dual POV to tell the story, alternating between the two main characters Sam and Phoebe. I was able to connect to both characters very easily and I loved reading about both their adventures during their year apart. Their chapters are part love story, part self-discovery, part travel diary and part that je ne sais quoi vibe that really gives the story that spark. As someone who loves to travel, the travel elements were a huge bonus and the author did a brilliant job describing the different settings. Both characters are well developed and I liked most of the rest of the cast as well. The plot itself might be partly predictable, but I personally didn’t mind as I was too busy enjoying my time with Sam and Phoebe. The Day We Meet Again is a book that will both bring a smile to your face and might make you shed a tear or two… It’s a brilliant story full of love, self-discovery and wonderful characters you cannot help but fall for. Highly recommended!


Title: The 24-Hour Café
Author: Libby Page

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: January 23rd 2020
Publisher: Orion
Finished reading: September 3rd 2020
Pages: 416

“Happiness has a miraculous way of rubbing out the unsavoury parts.”


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I’ve had The 24-Hour Café recommended to me more than once since it was published, and I’ve been looking forward to meet up with main characters Hannah and Mona ever since I read the blurb and reviews. I have to say that I really enjoyed my time with this story! Especially the way it is centered around the Stella’s Café and its customers as well as the two main characters… Because The 24-Hour Café not only gives us the POVs of the two main characters Hannah and Mona, but also multiple POVs focusing on the customers in the cafe at the time as well as more than one colleague. This really gives the story a multidimentional feel and it’s almost as if you are people watching the customers along with the two waitresses. The plot structure itself was interesting as well: a story divided by hour as the time passes by in the cafe, sometimes switching between POVS within that hour and at times even including flashbacks as Hannah and Mona remember things from the past. While I do have to say that the flashbacks sometimes slowed down the pace a bit, overall they were really helpful to understand both their past and what is happening in the present. I loved how the focus of the story is on music and their friendship as well as little snippets of other people’s lives… And the Stella’s Café sounds like a place I would love to visit myself too. If you enjoy an interesting friendship-focused contemporary with lots of dept as well as different emotions, The 24-Hour Café is a great pick.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #176 – The Glass Hotel & Dark Pines #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two titles I’ve been looking forward to pick up for a while now. Sadly, The Glass Hotel somehow didn’t work for me at all, but I had a great time with the first Tuva Moodyson book.


Title: The Glass Hotel
Author: Emily St. John Mandel

Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary
First published: March 24th 2020
Publisher: Knopf
Finished reading: July 29th 2020 
Pages: 302

“Memories are always bent retrospectively to fit individual narratives.”


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So… I’m still not sure what happened here, but I guess it is unpopular opinion time again? I loved Station Eleven back when I read it in 2018, and I fully expected to have a repeat experience in The Glass Hotel. It was one of my most anticipated releases this year, and I still can’t wrap my head around my negative reaction to the writing and story itself. It might just be that I’m not in the right mindset for this story right now, but the fact is… I REALLY didn’t enjoy my time with The Glass Hotel. I wasn’t able to connect to the writing at all, the plot and POV switches felt all over the place and I struggled to keep everyone apart as well as to try and keep track of what part of the plot puzzle fitted where. I loved her writing in Station Eleven, so I’m a bit shocked to be honest to feel this way about her newest story, but it is what it is I guess. The fact that I started skimreading about a third into the story and had almost no motivation whatsoever to continue is a huge warning sign on its own… I’m so sad and disappointed I feel this way about such a highly anticipated story; especially since I seem to be the only one with such a negative reaction so far. Definitely don’t give up on this story on my account, as you probably won’t have that pesky unpopular opinion curse sticking to your back like I do… I might give The Glass Hotel a second chance in the future though to see if it just wasn’t the right time for this story at the moment, or if the story simply isn’t for me.


Title: Dark Pines
(Tuva Moodyson Mystery #1)
Author: Will Dean 

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 7th 2017
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Finished reading: August 2nd 2020
Pages: 323

“Details are important, they can have consequences.”


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I’ve rediscovered my love for the Nordic noir genre in recent years, and I’ve been meaning to meet up with Tuva Moodyson for quite some time now. I had a feeling that I was going to enjoy my time with this series, and my instincts hit the nail on the head. Dark Pines turned out to be an excellent start of a series I will be continuing very soon! I’ve followed the author on Twitter for a while now, and I love how he uses his experience living in Sweden to give us a thorough and realistic description of the Swedish setting. It really made the small town of Gavrik come alive for me, and set the right atmosphere for this Nordic noir gem. The writing drew me right in, and Tuva makes for a fascinating main character. The fact that she is deaf (although she can hear with hearing aids) is something you don’t see every day, and I really liked the journalism angle of the story. Dark Pines is part cold case and part active murder investigation set in the middle of the Swedish forrest. Through Tuva, we get to know the different characters and possible suspects in play, and it is without doubt an interesting cast. The plot has its twists and turns, and while there was some repetition and I saw some twists coming, overall Dark Pines was a solid start of a series I can’t wait to continue.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Lies Lies Lies – by Adele Parks #blogtour @HarlequinBooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Lies Lies Lies 2020 Summer Reads blog tour! A huge thanks to Justine Sha for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I was intrigued by Lies Lies Lies as soon as I read the blurb, and this story definitely lived up to expectations. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: Lies Lies Lies
Author: Adele Parks
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 4th 2020
Publisher: MIRA
Finished reading: July 22nd 2020
Pages: 384

“The thing about people is that it takes years, and years, and years to know them. Really know them. Because we hide things, all of us, all the time. We’re ashamed, cautious or secretive.”

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

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I’ve had Adele Parks on my list of authors to try for a while now, and after being intrigued by the blurb of her newest I just couldn’t resist signing up for the blog tour. I’m glad I did, because my first experience with her writing was most definitely successful. Lies Lies Lies is more domestic drama than thriller, but it packs a mean punch and it will definitely have you in its grip the whole time. Fans of the genre will be delighted!

Like I said, Lies Lies Lies felt mostly like a domestic drama and if you are looking for a superfast and action-packed thriller this book will most likely not be your cup of tea. If on the other hand you enjoy domestic thrillers with a focus on the character development, the psychological aspect as well as a healthy dose of shocking secrets and lies, you will be in for a treat.  Lies Lies Lies will deliver all of this and more! Using a dual POV and storyline, we get to hear the story from both Daisy and Simon’s side. We learn about their past, what happened in 2016 that changed their lives forever and what their life is like in 2019 for both after the life changing event. This dual POV is used to explore both characters as well as to build up the suspense and give the multiple secrets they are hiding more impact. Both the plot and plot twists are more than solid and the two POVs complemented each other very well.

As for the characters themselves… In this kind of psychological thriller and domestic drama, the character development is key. While neither Daisy nor Simon are all that likeable, their development is more than thorough, flawed and realistic and it was interesting to see them develop and grow over time. The rest of the cast likewise each had their role to play and they complemented the main characters well. There are a lot of secrets and lies involved in this story, and Lies Lies Lies will have more than a couple surprises in store for you. I especially found Simon’s 2019 chapters to be fascinating for obvious reasons, although I won’t be going into details to avoid spoilers.

Lies Lies Lies deals with a lot of difficult topics, including addiction, alcoholism, dementia, dealing with a life changing injury, infertility, abuse, rape and violence. Again, I won’t be going into details to avoid possible spoilers, but especially the addiction and alcoholism element plays a very important role in the plot and I thought this element and its consequences were represented well. Lies Lies Lies definitely is no picnic and if you are looking for an uplifting read this book is probably not a good choice. But if you are looking for a well written, character driven domestic thriller that isn’t afraid to go dark and packs a mean punch, Lies Lies Lies could be the perfect book for you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adele Parks was born in Teesside, North-East England. Her first novel, Playing Away, was published in 2000 and since then she’s had seventeen international bestsellers, translated into twenty-six languages, including I Invited Her In. She’s been an Ambassador for The Reading Agency and a judge for the Costa. She’s lived in Italy, Botswana and London, and is now settled in Guildford, Surrey, with her husband, teenage son and cat.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Author Website // Twitter // Instagram // Facebook // Goodreads

BUY LINKS

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


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Someone’s Listening – by Seraphina Nova Glass #blogtour @HarlequinBooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Someone’s Listening 2020 Summer Reads blog tour! A huge thanks to Justine Sha for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I was intrigued by Someone’s Listening as soon as I read the blurb, and this story definitely lived up to expectations. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: Someone’s Listening
Author: Seraphina Nova Glass
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 28th 2020
Publisher: Graydon House
Finished reading: June 14th 2020
Pages: 352

“The thing is, how can I blame the world for believing him? We need to believe victims.”

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

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There was just something about Someone’s Listening that attracted me straight away, and as soon as I read the blurb I knew I wanted to read this story. I think I was intrigued both by the description of the main character Faith and how her life suddenly fell apart… It sounded like a story filled with secrets, twists and that ominous feel and I thought the story and me would be a perfect fit. I’m definitely glad I decided to read Someone’s Listening now, because it turned out to be a more than solid read.

The plot itself is really well done. Both the mystery around the disappearance of Faith’s husband Liam, the mystery around her past, the things that happened in the previous months as well as her present situation will keep you on your toes the whole time. There are lots of different sub storylines to keep track of, and lots of suspects and possible truths too… I always like it when a psychological thriller is not transparent and instead leaves us with a puzzle and that hint of foreboding and urgency to solve the mystery before the story finally reveals its secrets. The multiple suspects, flashbacks and subplots give the story that multi-faceted feel and while I had a hunch about the truth early on, I never stopped doubting that hunch and therefore I didn’t mind too much that I ended up being right.

The writing draws you straight in and I literally finished Someone’s Listening in less than a day. The story incorporates difficult themes such as child and domestic abuse, drug addiction and alcoholism, but it was interesting to see these elements developed in the plot. The story will definitely have some twisted surprises for you in store as well! It was interesting to learn more about Faith’s past as well as seeing the present storyline developed as plot twists and secrets are being revealed and that ominous feel is slowly transformed into real danger. The final reveals are also brilliantly handled!

As for the characters… I think this was probably my main issue with the book. Why? While I do think Faith is a fascinating character with her background and past, I really didn’t like her. Sure, her alcohol and drugs problem can be related to recent events and grief, but I didn’t like the constant focus on it and the whole counting to four (to calm herself) mentioned multiple times got old fast too. I didn’t like the way she treated others and constantly complained about her life either… Sure, there is no denying that she had a difficult past and the things happening to her in the present are without doubt twisted, but I just couldn’t find myself feeling sympathy for her and wasn’t able to connect to her for the same reason. The other characters were not that easy to connect to either, but as the main focus is on Faith that didn’t bother me particularly. That said, this was probably my only issue with an otherwise excellent story though.

Someone’s Listening is an engaging, twisted and compelling psychological thriller that will keep you on your toes until the very last page. Recommended if you enjoy the genre and don’t mind reading about an unlikeable but intriguing main character.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Seraphina Nova Glass is a professor and Playwright-in-Residence at the University of Texas-Arlington, where she teaches Film Studies and Playwriting. She holds an MFA in playwriting from Smith College, and has optioned multiple screenplays to Hallmark and Lifetime. Someone’s Listening is her first novel.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Author Website // Twitter // Instagram // Facebook // Goodreads

BUY LINKS

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


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ARC REVIEW: Opium And Absinthe – by Lydia Kang

Title: Opium And Absinthe
Author: Lydia Kang
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Fantasy
First published: July 1st 2020
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Finished reading: July 3rd 2020
Pages: 379

“A vampire was shackled, it seemed, to the lusts and needs of his body. Tillie, too, felt her world as a closed casket, always around her, always constricting her.”

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

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I admit that it was cover love at first sight when I saw Opium And Absinthe, but I was completely sold as soon as I read the blurb. I’ve enjoyed Lydia Kang‘s books, including The Impossible Girl, in the past, and another historical setting with a medical twist sounded simply fantastic. On top of that, Opium And Absinthe promises to present us with a fantasy/horror retelling element involving Bram Stoker‘s Dracula, which had me even more excited. I know I’m basically allergic to vampire stories, but I did actually enjoy the original Dracula classic and I have to say that I really liked how Lydia Kang decided to incorporate this element into her story. It definitely ended up being one of the things that stood out for me!

That said, despite having high expectations for this story, somehow it didn’t work as well as I thought it would for me. I’m struggling to point out exactly why, but I’ll try to explain below. Part of the reason probably has to do with the slow pace as well as a bit of a repetitive plot with surprisingly dull moments. The slower pace made it harder to stay focused, and the lack of surprises and dull moments didn’t help either of course. I know that the book is set in 1899 and things were different back then (I actually enjoyed those historical descriptions), but the plot was just too repetitive and dull for me and it didn’t manage to engage me as I thought it would.

I also struggled with the constant repetition of the opium, morphine and even heroin use as well as the focus on just how dependent the main character Tilly becomes on it as it starts taking over her life and actions. While in a way realistically portrayed, I felt like it was turned into too much of a cliche and I didn’t feel like I was able to get to know the character too well due to this focus on Tillie’s spiralling addiction and the other characters both reacting to and fomenting said addiction. The characters themselves are not likeable at all (with the exception of Ian maybe) and as a result I struggled to connect to them. The main focus is on Tillie, and I found her to be too frustrating to really care for her and once again I found the focus on her substance abuse to be too much of a cliche and it took away the focus from more interesting elements such as the investigation into Lucy’s death, the medical details and the vampire element.

I confess that I saw most of the plot twists coming from a mile away, although I did manage to stumble upon one or two surprises. This wasn’t enough to make up for the things that didn’t work for me though. I liked the historical setting, the Dracula element and the investigation into Lucy’s death as well as the medical details… But the slow pace, the repetitive and sometimes dull plot and constant focus on the substance abuse instead of a proper focus on character and plot development ended up being mostly a letdown for me.


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