YVO’S SHORTIES #99 – Sweetheart & Alice In Zombieland

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two completely different genres and two completely different reading experiences… While I loved my second meeting with Archie and Gretchen in Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain, I couldn’t say the same for Alice In Zombieland by Gena Showalter. That one is without doubt a series I won’t be continuing any time soon (more likely never).


Title: Sweetheart
(Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell #2)
Author: Chelsea Cain

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: June 1st 2008
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Finished reading: May 2nd 2019
Pages: 328

“It broke his heart. Not because she was worried that he was in danger, but because she thought she had a chance of saving him.”


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WARNING: possible spoilers if you haven’t read the first book yet. 

I can’t believe it took me three years and a TBR jar to finally continue this series. I remember loving the first book way back: the serial killler up close and personal, the broken characters, the suspense, the sheer twistedness of it all. This series is exactly my cup of tea, but somehow it got lost between the other books on my TBR mountain. I’m definitely going to remedy that though, because Sweetheart has definitely reconfirmed my love for this series. What a delightfully disturbing and twisted read! I always love it when we get to see a serial killer up close and Gretchen Lowell is without doubt one to reckon with. I advice reading this series in order, because you will be missing out on details behind Archie’s state of mind and his unique relationship with Gretchen otherwise… Personally, details came back soon after I started reading Sweetheart and I found myself forgetting about prior engagements, hiding in a corner and just turning those pages instead. Both Gretchen and Archie play a key role in this series and having both a detective and serial killer that present definitely takes Sweetheart to a different level. It was fascinating to see how past events have affected Archie up to a point even his family and friends don’t seem to recognize him… This story has twists, turns and a healthy dose of action and suspense as well as an insight in the psychological aspects. You’ll be having a hard time putting this one down before you find out what happens, and the cliffhanger will most definitely leave you wanting for more. Guess who isn’t going to wait that long this time around to pick up book number three?


Title: Alice In Zombieland
(White Rabbit Chronicles #1)
Author: Gena Showalter

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: September 25th 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Finished reading: May 5th 2019
Pages: 408

“Truly living required risk.”


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I admit I was a bit wary to pick up this title, but I decided to pick it up anyway since I already had a copy on my kindle and needed it for a prompt of the BTB Bingo challenge. Unlike what you might guess from the pun in Alice In Zombieland, this first book of a series actually has very little to do with the original story. Wait, this isn’t a retelling? Nope, I would never consider calling it that. Why? Well, apart from the main character being called Alice and a white rabbit cloud appearing repeatedly, there are no references to or similarities between the classic and this concoction. I was surprised and a little disappointed after such a clear reference to it with the title and cover art. Instead, we have a story about zombies where we encounter a different kind of unread this time around; they are basically spirits and a lot more difficult to fight than your regular brain eaters. This could have been a premise for a very bloody and disturbing read, but sadly the fighting scenes and horror have been taken over almost completely by an overdose of cheesy and sappy romance scenes, a very frustrating love triangle and a whole lot of high school drama. The romance alone was so unbelievably cringeworthy I almost stopped reading there and then… Especially since some of those scenes were definitely too steamy to be appropriate for YA. The love triangle itself is so cliche it could have been an example in a dictionary… And all the high school drama, catfights and popularity contests in general were another huge turn off. Like I said, the idea behind the zombies is interesting and I would have loved to learn more about them and have more background on the slayers. The fighting scenes were pretty dark and did get bloody and almost horror worthy, but it’s almost like those scenes were put in as an afterthought. Alice In Zombieland and me definitely didn’t get along and it will be no surprise I won’t be picking up the next book any time soon (more likely never). If you don’t mind a huge amount of cheesy romance, cliches and high school drama and on top of that don’t object to a few dark and disturbing zombie fighting scenes either, you might have a better time with this story.


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BOOK REVIEW: Heartsick – by Chelsea Cain

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Title: Heartsick
(Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell #1)
Author: Chelsea Cain
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Horror
First published: 2007
Finished reading: May 29th 2016 
Pages: 421
Rating 4,5qqq

“Even the most blatant assholes seemed to function in a state of grace when confronted with the brutal loss of a loved one. ”

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I have been having a lot of back luck with my mystery/thriller reads lately, but I decided to give Heartsick by Chelsea Cain a go anyway since various people have recommended this series to me in the past. And now I’ve read it I totally agree with them; this is definitely one of my favorite newly discovered whodunit reads! I will definitely be continuing this series soon, because this first book of the Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell series was fast-paced, entertaining and had just the right amount of plot twists and gruesome details. It is true that some of the scenes might not be for those with a weak stomach, but the descriptions are really well done and add to the character development and general plot. My only small point of criticism would be that the main character Archie is quite the stereotype for the typical detective story: he has a really messed up personal life and that seems to be the norm for just about every succesful detective in these kind of series. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing and it works rather well in this book, but it is not exactly original either. Still, the rest of the story is definitely good enough to make up for it. Recommended!

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Archie Sheridan had been hunting down the beautiful serial killer Gretchen Lowell for a long time before she decided to capture him as her latest victim. Somehow Archie survived the ten days of horrifying physical and mental torture, and what is even more remarkable is that Gretchen actually ended up saving his life and handing herself in. And even two years after the fact, nobody understands why she did what she did. Archie has been so traumatized by the events that he has been on medical leave ever since and no longer lives with his wife, but with a new killer on the loose he is asked to return to his job. He is not sure he is fit to return, but he seems to be the only person qualified to understand the mind of this new psychopath. Will Archie be able to finally confront his demons of the past and catch this killer before any more teenage girls are being kidnapped and killed?

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Heartsick turned out to be one of the best whodunit reads I’ve read in a while. I will definitely be reading more of this series! While Archie might be a bit of a stereotype and not exactly original, there is no doubt that Gretchen is one of the creepiest and most messed up serial killers I’ve read about in a long time. Actually, some of the scenes might be a bit gruesome if you have a weak stomach… But they do add something to the story. If you are looking for a good whodunit, definitely consider reading this series.