YVO’S SHORTIES #140 – Palm Beach Finland & Black Summer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two titles I’ve been really excited to read; both for the Magical Readathon Winter 2019 challenge. The first is Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen, which not only has a gorgeous cover but also is a fascinating mix of dark humor and nordic noir. Then we have sequel Black Summer by M.W. Craven, which has proven to me Tilly and Poe deserve their spot as one of my favorite character duos. What a read!


Title: Palm Beach Finland
Author: Antti Tuomainen

Genre: Nordic Noir, Humor
First published: September 2017
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: December 23rd 2019
Pages: 300
(Originally written in Finnish with the same title)

“The older you are when you wake up to your dreams, she thought, the more vigorous you pursue them. The more desperately. Because with every passing day there’s simply less to lose.”


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I admit that when I bought my copy of Palm Beach Finland I was both lured in by that stunning cover and the promise of a combination of black comedy and a page-turning thriller. I was planning to make this story my first encounter with this Finnish mastermind of black humor and Nordic noir, but fate had other plans in store and I ended up reading Little Siberia first a while back. This first encounter was without doubt a success and I have been looking forward to pick up my pink and fabulous copy of Palm Beach Finland ever since. Now I’ve had the chance to read it, I can confirm it’s another excellent read. It’s the combination of the dark humor and the Nordic noir elements that makes this story so unique… While it might not be for everyone, if you are able connect to the humor and writing you will find yourself to be very entertained by what is going on in the coldest beach resort on earth! Palm Beach Finland has an colorful cast of characters to say the least, each flawed and adding its own problems, views and intentions to the plot. Multiple POVs are used to give us a multidimentional view of what is going on in the small beach town, black humor spicing up the plot in between the other elements. If you are looking for a little something different and don’t mind the plot heating up as well as having unconventional characters, Palm Beach Finland will without doubt peak your interest! A round of applause to the translator David Hackston for enabling us to enjoy this unique and quirky mix of genres. Blacker than black humor and Nordic noir without doubt make for a tasty thriller cocktail!


Title: Black Summer
(Washington Poe #2)
Author: M.W. Craven

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: June 20th 2019
Publisher: Constable
Finished reading: December 25th 2019
Pages: 352

“Poe, we have a problem.”


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I finally had the chance to meet Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw a few months back when I picked up my copy of The Puppet Show, and they are hands down one of my new favorite character duos. I’ve been waiting impatiently to meet up with them again in Black Summer after the first book completely blew me away… And I ended up turning it into a little Christmas gift to myself by freeing my schedule to spend all day with Tilly and Poe. Best decision ever! The gloomy Christmas Day weather seemed to set the perfect atmosphere for this sequel set in Cumbria, and I was of course hooked from the very first chapter. While I do think I loved the first book a tiny bit more (please don’t hit me!), Black Summer was without doubt a brilliant sequel and as soon as Tilly made her entrance there was no way on earth I was putting down my copy. Thankfully I was able to spend most of Christmas Day in the company of my kindle, lots of tea, a sleeping cat closeby and a pile of leftover chocolate, so my wish came true and I was able to reach that final page almost in one sitting. And what a read! The plot, the characters, the twists, the writing, the setting… There is just so much to love in Black Summer and I’m more than addicted to Tilly and Poe’s adventures. This sequel only made me love their characters even more and they definitely deserve their spot on my favorites list. I literally can’t wait to find out what The Curator has in store next, and I can highly recommend this series to any thriller fan. Trust me, you are missing out if you haven’t met Tilly and Poe yet!!


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WWW Wednesdays #248 – December 25th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I hope everyone who celebrates is having a wonderful Christmas so far! I gave myself an early Christmas gift and finally started reading Black Summer by M.W. Craven, a title I’ve been eagerly anticipating after being blown away by the first book earlier this year. I might just have finished it by the time this post goes live depending on how much free time I could sneak in to read in between Christmas preparations yesterday. I’m also reading On The Bright Side by Hendrik Groen as a second Christmas gift. Who says I can’t spoil myself? 😉 I loved the first book and I’m enjoying the same snarky tone in the sequel as well. Hendrik reminds me so much of Ove!

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Next Year In Havana by Chanel Cleeton (5/5 stars) REVIEW 27/12
There are so many characters I loved in this story, and they all play their role in teaching us more about Cuba as well. The plot itself is complex, multilayered and shows a thorough research into Cuban history as well as a wonderful romance story to counter the darker elements in Next Year In Havana. This story is an absolute must-read for historical fiction fans!

2. The Rules Of Murder by Rob Sinclair (4/5 stars) REVIEW 30/12
The Rules Of Murder is by no means a meek story and it will have plenty of action, suspense and properly twisted and graphic scenes for you in store. If you like your detective/serial killer thrillers fast and dangerous, you should definitely try this series!

3. Are You Watching? by Vincent Ralph (4,5/5 stars) BLOG TOUR STOP 08/01/2020
Look out for my full review during my stop of the blog tour… A little spoiler: it’s a true pageturner!

4. Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 31/12
I really enjoyed my first encounter with this Finnish mastermind of black humor and nordic noir, so I’ve been excited to pick up Palm Beach Finland. It’s without doubt another excellent read and the combination of the dark humor and the nordic noir elements is what makes this story so unique. It might not be for everyone, but I myself was very entertained by what was going on in the coldest beach resort on earth!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m hoping to get through a few more January ARCs and blog tours to take the pressure off next month… First up is A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone, which I’m really excited about as I loved his other title Breakers earlier this year. Then it’s pending blog tour number two (probably): Six Wicked Reasons by Jo Spain. I’m also planning on reading Caroline Mitchell‘s newest The Perfect Mother soon. My latest TBR jar pick is still Like This For Ever by Sharon Bolton, which I probably won’t be able to get to this year even though I’m looking forward to it.


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WWW Wednesdays #247 – December 18th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m finally reading Next Year In Havana by Chanel Cleeton for one of last week’s prompts for the Magical Readathon Winter 2019 challenge… And I’m also starting The Rules Of Murder by Rob Sinclair. I really enjoyed the first book a few months back, so I’m looking forward to meet up with main character Dani Stephens again! Also, you might remember I was starting Good Omens last week… I read the first few pages and couldn’t get into it, so I’ve decided to put it on hold for now and picked a different title for the readathon instead.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Secret Messenger by Mandy Robotham (3/5 stars) REVIEW 20/12
Tthere were things I loved in The Secret Messenger, including the WWII setting in Venice, its history and the story of the resistance and Stella’s story as a whole. There were also things that didn’t work for me, incluiding the slow pace during most of the story, the dual timeline and main character Luisa’s POV in general. As a result, I ended up having mixed thoughts about The Secret Messenger despite the fact that this story should have been a perfect fit, but fans of the genre should definitely give it a go as most people seem to react a lot better to the elements that didn’t work for me personally. I guess it was unpopular opinion time once again?

2. Snakes And Ladders by Victoria Selman (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW
As soon as I read the first line of the blurb on Netgalley I was sold. I mean: Psycho meets The Silence Of The Lambs… How on earth would I be able to resist that?! Add the promise of a serial killer and profiler angle, and I just HAD to add it to my shelves. I confess I wasn’t aware that Snakes And Ladders was actually the third book of a series when I requested a copy, but thankfully it turns out that this story works really well as a stand-alone as well. Fans of darker, complex and twisted serial killer thrillers who love a profiler and psychological angle will have a great time with this one!

3. The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 27/12
Even though I wasn’t as impressed by the sequel when I finally read it a few months back, when I discovered I had to read an urban fantasy for the Magical Readathon Winter 2019 challenge my thoughts went to this series almost immediately. I decided to give Rory another shot, and see if the third book would make me fall in love with the series again… Sadly, it wasn’t ment to be and The Shadow Cabinet turned out to be the weakest link of this series yet.

4. Bitter Falls by Rachel Caine (4/5 stars) REVIEW 20/01/2020
The first two books of this series are on my all time favorites list, and I still think this series is brilliant, but I’m starting to think that maybe it’s just better to leave things as it is? Don’t get me wrong, the writing is still brilliant and it is without doubt an intense, twisted and thrilling ride, but you can only have that much stuff happening to the main characters before it starts becoming REALLY unbelievable. Book four, like book three, misses some of that spark of the first two books… I still devoured every single page, but I also started looking a bit more critical at certain aspects of the plot and that is never a good sign. This story will have your heart racing though!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I don’t want to fall behind with the Magical Readathon Winter 2019 challenge, so I’m probably reading Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen next. When I saw the third chapter prompt mention a book with pink or purple cover, I KNEW I had to pick up my pink and fabulous copy of this one! Then it’s back to ARCs and I’m planning on reading two early January blog tour books: Are You Watching? by Vincent Ralph and A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone. I can’t wait to read both! My latest TBR jar pick is still Like This For Ever by Sharon Bolton, which I probably won’t be able to get to this year even though I’m looking forward to it…


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WWW Wednesdays #242 – October 16th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m finally reading my copy of Thin Air by Michelle Paver, a cover love buy with a very promising premise and a title I thought would be perfect for this Halloween month. I’m also finally starting The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech, although I admit I’m a bit worried my heart will suffer immensely before I reach the final page… And also that I’ll have yet another impossible review to write afterwards. xD

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Little Siberia by Antti Tuomainen (4/5 stars) REVIEW
The first thing that people seem to mention when it comes to Antti Tuomainen‘s recent books is the way he is able to introduce dark comedy more than successfully into an already solid crime thriller. Nordic noir with a healthy dose of blacker-than-black humor? You can definitely count me in for that! I’ve been looking forward to finally discover his work for some time now, and while I thought it was going to be my pink and fabulous copy of Palm Beach Finland, I’m more than happy my first introduction has been Little Siberia in the end. If you like your humor dark and your Nordic Noir lighting fast, bloodchilling and touching at the same time, Little Siberia is simply a must-read. It’s like a big black bowl of delicious and hilarious crime magic!

2. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (5/5 stars) REREAD
Ove is easily one of my all time favorite characters, and A Man Called Ove was long overdue for a reread… After watching the Swedish movie adaptation last week, I decided to just give in and meet up with Ove again, and the story was just as magical the second time around. The Swedish movie adaptation is highly recommendable as well as it stays so close to the original story and it portrays Ove and the other characters perfectly. I won’t be writing a new review, but you can find my 2016 review here if you are interested.

3. Hydra by Matt Wesolowski (5/5 stars) REVIEW 23/10
Boy, this book blew me away! I already had a brilliant experience with the first Six Stories book, but Hydra left me lost for words and unable to write a proper review… The podcast format, the premise, the characters, the paranormal and horror elements, the writing, the suspense and plot twists… I don’t even know where to start my review, as everything was just pure magic.

4. Like Follow Kill by Carissa Ann Lynch (4/5 stars) REVIEW 20/10
The writing is solid and makes it really easy to fly through those pages. The plot is also well constructed and handled perfectly to keep building up that suspense as well as managing to mislead you successfully. Things can be said about the credibility of certain aspects of the plot, but there is no denying that Like Follow Kill was a very entertaining ride with an ending that I never saw coming and left me flabbergasted. Those final chapters are on fire!! If you enjoy reading psychological thrillers with an unreliable narrator and an explosive twist, Like Follow Kill should definitely be on your wishlist.

5. Infinity + One by Amy Harmon (4/5 stars) REVIEW 25/10
I think most will be aware of the fact that I adore Amy Harmon‘s books by now… I’ve decided to make the wait for her next story Where The Lost Wander a little less painful by tackling some of her backlist titles I still had pending. I was going to finally pick up The Bird And The Sword, but my heart screamed for a dose of contemporary romance and Infinity + One sounded perfect for the job. And it definitely was! While this story isn’t my absolute favorite of her work, it’s undeniably an excellent read fans of the genre will love.

6. The Other Daughter by Shalini Boland (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 05/11
I’ve been a fan of her psychological thrillers ever since the first one came out, and The Other Daughter is another excellent read. Well written and with a humongous plot twist bomb I never saw coming!!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m probably reading Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson next so I can finally finish the final era for the When Are You Reading? challenge… I also need to read the ARC Cold Fear by Mads Peder Nordbo some time soon. And it’s time for another dose of Matt Wesolowski with the third Six Stories book Changeling as soon as I’m able to get my thoughts together and actually finish my review for Hydra. I also need to finally read my latest TBR jar pick The Museum Of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman some time soon.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Little Siberia – by Antti Tuomainen #RandomThingsTours #blogtour #Orentober @Orendabooks @annecater

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Little Siberia Random Things blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve been meaning to pick up Antti Tuomainen‘s books for quite some time now, and after reading the blurb of Little Siberia I just couldn’t resist posponing Palm Beach Finland slightly and read this newest story first. I definitely understand the love for his books now! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: Little Siberia
Author: Antti Tuomainen
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 17th 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: October 9th 2019
Pages: 300
(Originally written in Finnish: ‘Pikku Siperia’)

“It seems that the turning points in our lives are always associated with a strange combination of the banal and the extraordinary, like watching a spaceship land in a perfectly everyday landscape.”

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

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The first thing that people seem to mention when it comes to Antti Tuomainen‘s recent books is the way he is able to introduce dark comedy more than successfully into an already solid crime thriller. Nordic noir with a healthy dose of blacker-than-black humor? You can definitely count me in for that! I’ve been looking forward to finally discover his work for some time now, and while I thought it was going to be my pink and fabulous copy of Palm Beach Finland, I’m more than happy my first introduction has been Little Siberia in the end. I definitely understand all that buzz around this Finnish dark comedy magician now!

So, dark comedy. Humor is basically a tricky element to introduce in any story, as it is extremely hard to get the tone and type of humor just right. Not everyone likes the same kind of humor, and black humor can go wrong real fast and even become offensive to some readers in a blink of an eye… I’m personally all for dark comedy and sarcasm when done right, and there is one thing for sure: Antti Tuomainen knows how to handle his humor. Sharp, hilarious and blacker than those seemingly endless Finnish nights… Oh yes, Antti Tuomainen‘s humor is definitely right up my alley. He is not only able to make me chuckle with his wittily wicked comments, but somehow he is also able to combine it flawlessly with one of my favorite genres. Humor and crime are not exactly natural partners, no matter how dark that humor might be, but Little Siberia makes you realize just how well both work together when someone who knows what he’s doing takes the reins.

That’s not the only thing that stands out in Little Siberia though. The remote and small town Hurmevaara up in Northern Finland is without doubt the perfect setting for this story. The descriptions of the setting are thorough, plentiful and really make the story come alive for me. The remoteness, the cold, the closeness to the Russian border… It all plays a carefully crafted role in the plot and Hurmevaara isn’t just an ordinary setting that could be swapped with a different town. Instead, Hurmevaara almost feels like yet another character of this story and its existence is basically essential to the plot. That same plot is both highly original, addictive and basically an emotional rollercoaster ride. The basics of this story are actually quite simple, but you soon realize that the finale of Little Siberia is constantly being dangled in front of you like a carrot, while at the same time little plot twist bones are being thrown your way to keep you hungry for more. Less in more in this case, although it is true that we still have quite a cast of characters to juggle.

What I love of this story is that the main character Joel is actually a priest. Quite unexpected and without doubt the driving force behind the successful introduction of humor into the plot… Joel has a fascinating history and his development is undeniably key to the story. Through his character, we are introduced both to the crime element and the more poignant story of his home life. After recent events, Joel is forced to fight for what he thinks is right, and decides to play both security guard and amateur detective to do so. This leads to all kinds of witty, awkward and even dangerous situations, and Little Siberia consequently has a healthy dose of action, suspense and violence in store for you. Things WILL escalate and you will find yourself biting your nails long before the end is in sight… Always having that wicked humor thrown in to ease the tension just when you think you are about to explode. Little Siberia has a very eclectic and well developed mix of characters to enjoy as well, each adding a little something to the plot and the story is all the more interesting because of them. On top of that, Little Siberia most definitely ends with a bang!

Before I stop today’s rambles, a big thank you is in place to David Hackston for enabling us to enjoy this fantastic story through his flawless translation. We are so lucky to have fantastic translators out there who make it possible for us to enjoy our dose of Nordic Noir to the fullest! And there is no doubt that Little Siberia is a little gem. If you like your humor dark and your Nordic Noir lighting fast, bloodchilling and touching at the same time, Little Siberia is simply a must-read. It’s like a big black bowl of delicious and hilarious crime magic!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his
literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. In 2011, Tuomainen’s third novel,
The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’
and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. Two years later, in 2013, the Finnish
press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart
was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the
first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark
and hilarious The Man Who Died (2017) became an international bestseller,
shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards. Palm Beach Finland (2018)
was an immense success, with The Times calling Tuomainen ‘the funniest writer
in Europe’.


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WWW Wednesdays #241 – October 9th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’ve probably already finished Little Siberia by Antti Tuomainen by the time this post goes live… I’ve been flying through it and I definitely understand the love for his writing now! More in my blog tour review going live this Saturday October 12th. I’m also starting the sequel Hydra by Matt Wesolowski for an upcoming #WesolowskiWednesdays #Orentober post… And I read the first few pages of Like Follow Kill by Carissa Ann Lynch before I realized my blog tour stop was really close, so I’ll continue with that after I finish the other two.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Tunnel Of Bones by Victoria Schwab (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 19/10
I think everyone probably knows by now I’m a huge fan of Victoria Schwab’s books, and I’ve loved every single book I tried so far. This middle grade series is no exception, and even with high expectations Tunnel Of Bones was just as good as I was hoping for. If you are looking like a fun, quick and fabulous Halloween story, you have just found your next read! You will find paranormal elements, humor, friendship, a dose of forboding and a hint of danger, all sprinkled with that French je ne sais quoi that makes you love every single page of this story. Is it too soon to ask about the next book yet? I’m seriously addicted to this series.

2. Close To You by Kerry Wilkinson (4/5 stars) REVIEW 18/10
Look out for my full review during my stop of the blog tour!!

3. The Bride Test by Helen Hoang (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 21/10
I admit I took a chance when I decided to get a copy and read The Bride Test. I’m very much allergic to sexy scenes in contemporary romance reads, and after a less than favorable reaction to The Kiss Quotient I thought it would be better to just stay away. But there is no denying that Helen Hoang can write and I love how she develops her characters, so I just couldn’t resist giving this story a try in the end. I’m so glad I did, because while I found the many many sexy scenes to be cringeworthy, I somehow enjoyed the actual story a lot better than the first book.

4. The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 21/10
I had that feeling that it would be a perfect read for the time of the year, and both my instincts and the reviews I read in the past were absolutely right. If you are looking for a little something to get you in the right mood for Halloween, The Twisted Tree is a fantastic choice. Norse mythology, horror and paranormal elements are mixed together with a YA contemporary story in the most successful way… Both the Norse mythology elements and the actual setting on a small island in the middle of nowhere Norway really took this creepy story to the next level.

5. The Dinner Party by R.J. Parker (3/5 stars) REVIEW 13/10
I had quite high expectations for this story, but somehow I didn’t end up having the reaction I expected to have to this story… If you are looking for a twisty, explosive and shocking thriller, The Dinner Party fits all those points and more. The tension is build up slowly but steadily in the rest of the story, mixing secrets and twists with moments of action and suspense. I initially had a very good feeling about this story, but as the storyline continued and evolved, I started wondering about the credibility of it all. As for the characters… Sadly, I can’t really say I liked them.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I need a little break from the thriller genre again after my current reads, so I’m picking up another Amy Harmon backlist title next: Infinity + One. I love her books so far and I’m planning on reading the last missing backlist titles ASAP. Then it’s either Halloween theme again with Thin Air by Michelle Paver or a psychological thriller ARC The Other Daughter by Shalini Boland depending on what I’m in the mood for. I also need to read my latest TBR jar pick The Museum Of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman some time soon.


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