BLOG TOUR REVIEW: A Song Of Isolation – by Michael J. Malone #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @RandomTTours @Orendabooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the A Song Of Isolation Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve been wanting to try Michael J. Malone‘s stories for a long time now as I keep hearing fantastic things about his books. I even have a couple of his backlist titles waiting on my kindle, so I’m still not sure why I didn’t follow through with my intentions until now… But what I do know is that I mean to return to his writing ASAP after a fantastic first experience with his work. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts.

Title: A Song Of Isolation
Author: Michael J. Malone
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 17th 2020
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: September 18th 2020
Pages: 300

“Please. Live well. Be my revenge, Amelie.”

*** 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’ve been meaning to try Michael J. Malone’s psychological thrillers for quite some time now, and especially since as far as I can remember I’ve only seen positive reviews so far. I figured that joining the blog tour for his newest title A Song Of Isolation would be both the perfect way to ensure I finally tried his work and also the little push I needed to pick up the backlist titles I have waiting on my kindle as well… And now that I have finally sampled his writing, I am most definitely hungry for more. Atmospheric, compelling, powerful, moving, brutal, emotional… A Song Of Isolation will claw its way into your head and heart and it is a story that will stay with me for a long time.

The story is told with the help of a multiple POV structure that follows three different characters over time: Amelie, Dave and Damaris. On top of this, the story is divided into three different years… First we have the flashbacks Amelie experiences from her time in London back in 2010 that will help explain why she moved to Scotland. Then we have the part of the story set in 2015, where all three characters feature and most of the time is spent. This part includes some fascinating perspectives on Dave’s side including the day when Dave is first arrested, the trial and the chapters set in prison. Then we have Damaris and the effect the events have on her during and after the trial… And last but not least Amelie struggling to support Dave and her time in France afterwards. The last part of the story is set in 2019, and this is were everything comes together and the story will have more than one surprise for you in store.

Nothing is as it seems in A Song Of Isolation and you are constantly wondering about what is true and what ended up being a fabrication. As the truth about the whole situation is key in interpreting the story, it feels as if you are walking on a knife’s edge the whole time, and this suspense never went away. The story includes multiple difficult themes, including child abuse, the possibility of false imprisonment, dealing with the aftermath of negative press, stalking, mental health issues and grief. Each element is incorporated realistically and fitted very well in the story as a whole, rather than just being a little something extra designed to shock alone. I was especially intrigued by the questions this story raises about child abuse and possible false imprisonment. I’m all for believing the child and its accusations first to protect the child, but what if the accusations are wrong? This could utterly destroy the life of an innocent man, but on the other hand you don’t want a guilty predator to get away with what he did… This dilemma really messed with my head and it’s one of the reasons this story ended up having such an impact on me.

The psychological aspect in general and the development of the different characters in play is simply sublime. Each felt realistic, flawed and really added something special to the story; while not all were exactly likeable, I couldn’t help but feeling that urge to discover how they would evolve and what would happen to them. Especially those chapters set in prison were fascinating, and I love the chapters set in France too as the descriptions really made Bordeaux come alive for me… But A Song Of Isolation as a whole is designed to mesmerize. The writing itself is a true pleasure to the eye and mind. In fact, the only reason I didn’t finish it in one sitting is because I started it too late in the day and couldn’t afford an all-nighter… Because trust me, it was extremely hard to tear my eyes off those pages and stop reading.

A Song Of Isolation was my first experience with his books, but I will rectify that mistake soon. I have multiple of his backlist titles all ready and waiting for me on my kindle and I have no doubt that they will bring more hours filled with a fantastic reading experience. Fans of darker psychological thrillers NEED to read this one!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines, After He Died and In the Absence of Miracles soon followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber &
Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.


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ARC REVIEW: Flowers For The Dead – by Barbara Copperthwaite

Title: Flowers For The Dead
Author: Barbara Copperthwaite
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 2nd 2015
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: September 17th 2020
Pages: 353

“It is the aftermath that normally catches people out, of course. They get too caught up in the moment, the build-up, and don’t bother giving a thought to what will happen after they have killed someone.”

*** 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 read and enjoyed various of Barbara Copperthwaite‘s psychological thrillers in the past, but somehow this earlier title had slipped between the cracks of mount TBR until now. Thanks to Bookouture republishing Flowers For The Dead and putting it on my radar again, I’ve now finally had the chance to meet Adam! And boy, he must be one of the most interesting serial killers I’ve gotten the chance to meet to this date, and probably the first that won over my heart and I felt really sorry for. Wait, feeling sorry for a serial killer?! Trust me, once you read Flowers For The Dead and get to know Adam, you will know exactly what I’m talking about.

Flowers For The Dead uses a multiple POV structure, although the two main POVs can be seen as Adam and Laura. Detective Sergeant Michael Bishop plays a smaller, but still important role too, but his perspective isn’t as developed and pales next to the other two. Adam’s POV is further divided into the present and flashbacks to his past and childhood where we get to know him better and the flashbacks also help to understand how he became the person he is today. Reading about his childhood is both shocking and heartbreaking; like I said before, this might just be the very first time my heart went out to a serial killer character. Laura’s POV is an interesting contrast to Adam, and we also get some glimpses to the past as she relives the car crash that killed the rest of her family. The main focus is on the present though, with what is happening to her. It was fascinating to see the two POVs collide and complement each other; slowly working toward that big finale.

This story incorporates quite a few difficult topics, including (child)abuse, stalking, grief, mental health issues and of course the crimes themselves. Each element is well incorporated into the plot, and plays its role perfectly. An element that also really stands out in Flowers For The Dead is the use of flowers as symbols and messages. I really liked how it was incorporated into the plot throughout and not only had a special meaning for the main character, but also had a mention at the start of each chapter. This element really made this story stand out for me.

The writing itself is engaging, and makes it really hard to stop reading before you reach that final page. In combination with the building suspense and escalation of events, you will have a hard time letting go of this story! And I most definitely didn’t see those final developments coming. Flowers For The Dead is an excellent serial killer thriller where the focus is on the serial killer and the victim rather than the detective angle for once. Perfect for fans of darker thrillers with an excellent character development!


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ARC REVIEW: Remember Me – by Mario Escobar

Title: Remember Me
Author: Mario Escobar
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: October 1st 2019
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Finished reading: September 14th 2020
Pages: 384
(Originally published in Spanish: ‘Recuérdame’)

“I learned a long time ago that to see what’s right in front of us requires enormous effort, because there’s no man so blind as the one who doesn’t want to see.”

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

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I knew I just HAD to get a copy of Remember Me as soon as I saw that it was a Spanish Civil War novel. I’ve always had a special interest in Spain and its history, and I’ve studied the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath during my Uni years… I actually did hear of the Children Of Morelia already, although I had forgotten about the exact details and I thought this story would be the perfect way to refresh my memory as well as see those historical details combined into a historical fiction read. While I did end up having mixed feelings about this story, both the fact that it’s based on historical events and its incorporation into the plot were probably the strongest element of this story.

Remember Me has multiple international settings as we follow Marco Alcalde and his sisters on their journey. It all starts in Madrid, a city that has a special place in my heart after having lived and studied there for eight months… The mentions of different places within that city brought back memories of my time there and really made the setting come alive for me. I also enjoyed reading about their journey and their time in Mexico, and I loved the fact that I was able to improve my knowledge about this part of Spanish history in general.

The descriptions of the historical situation and escalating violence and struggles during the Spanish Civil War set the right tone for what should have been an emotionally devastating and heartbreaking read. And here is where things went wrong for me… I can’t deny that the events described and the struggles Marco and his family have to face are horrifying, and they do give you an accurate description of the hardships people had to face during and after the civil war. BUT. Sadly, I just couldn’t find any real character development or personality in any of the main characters. I couldn’t for the life of me describe any of the characters by their personality; it is as if they were just tools to describe what happened to the children of Morelia in general and they just lack any characteristics to make them feel unique and real. This made it extremely hard to connect to them and feel for their situation in particular. And I think that if I weren’t so interested in anything related to the Spanish Civil War, I probably would have struggled to make it to the final page. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad read, but it feels more like a summary of the historical events related to the Children of Morelia rather than a historical fiction novel with properly developed characters and emotions. While I feel sad that I wasn’t able to enjoy the story better, I’m still glad I read it for the things I learned about the Spanish Civil War alone though… So I guess Remember Me can go both ways for you depending on how much you care about properly developed and believable characters and/or if you prefer a focus on the historical details instead.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Last To Know – by Jo Furniss #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @RandomTTours

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Last To Know Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve been meaning to try Jo Furniss‘ books for a while now, and my first experience without doubt turned out to be successful… Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!

Title: The Last To Know
Author: Jo Furniss
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 11th 2020
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Finished reading: August 9th 2020
Pages: 318

“The truth depends on who’s telling the story.”

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

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I knew I HAD to read The Last To Know as soon as read Meggy’s brilliant review, and I simply couldn’t pass up on opportunity to join the blog tour when the invitation hit my inbox soon after. It’s a fact that I’ve been wanting to try one of Jo Furniss‘ books for quite some time now, and this sounded like the perfect opportunity to finally do so. I’m glad I did, as my first impression with her writing turned out to be more than solid!

The Last To Know is what you call a slowburner, and I admit it took me a while while to get in the groove. Once I did though, I was fully under the spell of this story, and I had a brilliant time trying to guess how things would evolve. I think that a lot of the power of this story lies with the setting. The Last To Know takes place in the small market town of Hurtwood, Shropshire, and this setting helps set the right ominous and somewhat gothic atmosphere the story is then build on. Especially the Hurtwood House itself with its hint at the supernatural and its creepy vibe set the tone for this story, and I think it’s the setting especially that makes this book. The descriptions made both the Hurtwood House and the town itself come alive for me.

The story told with help of a dual POV, switching between local police sergeant Ellie Trevelyan and American journalist Rose Kynaston. This contrast between local and foreigner gives us two fascinating views of both the town itself, its inhabitants and history, and gave the story an extra level of dept. Rose has an interesting background with her growing up as a military brat and moving around a lot; now suddenly having to face a tight-knit community where fitting in won’t be so easy with everybody being so prejudiced about her husband and his family. On the other hand we have Ellie, who is a local and has her own problems to face with her father suffering from Alzheimer’s. Both women help us slowly unravel the past and the present as the story evolves, with plenty of secrets and lies to uncover along the way.

The Last To Know is mostly focused on the characters and their secrets as well as the town itself. This might be part of the reason why this story felt more slower paced, and it did turn out to be a slowburner for me where I even guessed some of the final reveals quite early on… But: overall the journey itself was still more than fullfilling for me. Like I said before, the power of this story is in its Hurtwood setting and the slightly gothic vibe as well as the hint at the supernatural. The stunning cover represents the setting very well, and it was exactly how I imagined Hurtwood House in my mind… The dark grey clouds hinting at that ominous feel that is so present all the time.

I haven’t talked much about the plot itself, and it is for a reason. I think The Last To Know is one of those stories where you benefit from going in blind, and you will enjoy the nuances of the plot developments and reveals all the better because of it. Fans of slower and character driven psychological thrillers with a touch of the gothic vibe will most likely have a great time with this story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After spending a decade as a broadcast journalist for the BBC, Jo Furniss gave up the glamour of night shifts to become a freelance writer and serial expatriate. Originally from the United Kingdom, she spent seven years in Singapore and also lived in Switzerland and Cameroon.

As a journalist, Jo worked for numerous online outlets and magazines, including Monocle and the Economist. She has edited books for a Nobel laureate and the palace of the Sultan of Brunei. She has a Distinction in MA Professional Writing from Falmouth University.

Jo’s debut novel, All the Little Children, was an Amazon Charts bestseller.

Connect with her via Facebook (/JoFurnissAuthor) and Twitter (@Jo_Furniss) or through her website: http://www.jofurniss.com/

AMAZON UK


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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: When She Was Good – by Michael Robotham

Title: When She Was Good
(Cyrus Haven #2)

Author: Michael Robotham
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 28th 2020
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group UK
Finished reading: June 29th 2020
Pages: 352

“The three biggest lies in the world are these: it gets better; everything will be OK; and I’m here for you.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Little, Brown Book Group UK in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I’ve been wanting to try Michael Robotham‘s work for a while now… I just couldn’t resist requesting a copy of When She Was Good so I would have the perfect excuse to finally do so and pick up both Cyrus Haven books. I’m definitely glad I did now, as both books turned out to be more than solid reads. A little warning though: this is one of those series where you have to read the books in order, because you won’t understand the complicated relationship between the main characters otherwise. Trust me, it won’t be much fun reading the sequel without the knowledge of the events and character background in Good Girl Bad Girl! That said, if you enjoy a darker crime thriller with a psychology angle and don’t mind twists getting a tad over the top, both books are recommendable.

So… When She Was Good. The first book kind of left me wanting to know how things would continue with Cyrus and Evie, and this sequel will without doubt explore more of Evie’s past. In When She Was Good there is no obviously separate case to investigate for Cyrus, but instead he will focus on discovering more about Evie’s past as things are spinning out of control. A metaphorical tripwire is somehow activated, creating a domino effect and a big pile of danger and plot twists are being thrown at the main characters as they fight to stay alive and unravel the truth. I have to be honest here and say I felt that the plot and plot twists ended up crossing the boundary of credibility for me and some of the twists were just too over the top to be believable. Sure, if you like plenty of action and a whole lot of dark twists and shocking details you will be in for a treat, but I don’t think this sequel was as good as my first meeting with Cyrus and Evie.

As for the writing… It took me a little while to fully commit to this story, mostly because the pace in the beginning is quite slow. Having just read the first book did make it easier to connect to the main characters, but somehow I felt that some of the spark of the first book was missing? The pace did improve as the story continued and the plot twists created a darker and even more dangerous environment… And there will be a lot of disturbing details revealed about Evie’s past before you reach that final page. But like I said before: I wasn’t too sure about the credibility of it all, and I wasn’t a big fan of the ending either as it left too many questions unanswered. And not only that, a certain detail of the ending felt too much like taking the easy way out… But that might just have been me.

In short, while I did prefer Good Girl Bad Girl personally, When She Was Good is still a solid read if you can look past the credibility of certain aspects of the plot and don’t mind a slower start. It was without doubt intriguing to learn more about Evie’s past!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #173 – Good Girl Bad Girl & The Sun Down Motel #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a double thriller dose with Good Girl Bad Girl by Michael Robotham and The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James. Both turned out to be excellent reads!


Title: Good Girl Bad Girl
(Cyrus Haven #1)
Author: Michael Robotham
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 23rd 2019
Publisher: Sphere
Finished reading: June 28th 2020
Pages: 416

“Evil is not a state, it is a ‘property’, and when a person is in possession of enough ‘property’, it sometimes begins to define them.”

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I’ve been meaning to try this author for quite some time now, and being approved for an ARC of the Cyrus Haven sequel was the perfect excuse to finally do so. Good Girl Bad Girl is without doubt an engaging as well as twisted start of this series. The story uses a dual POV, where we switch between new lead character and psychologist Cyrus Haven and Evie (a.k.a. Angel Face). Both have a disturbing background and it was fascinating to see the two matched and develop over time. The main focus of the story is on the new case Cyrus is called in to assist (Jodie’s murder), but both Evie’s past and her present situation play a big role too. The two different storylines mix as well as collide, and it was intriguing to see the different plot twists change the course of the story. I have to say that I was able to guess most of the twists early on, but one or two did hit the mark… The ending was quite open though and I definitely can’t wait to read the sequel to discover how things will continue. Recommended if you like a good crime thriller with a psychology angle and don’t mind things getting pretty dark and twisted in points.


Title: The Sun Down Motel
Author: Simone St. James
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Horror
First published: February 18th 2020
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: June 30th 2020
Pages: 336

“The person who could be truly alone, in the company of no one but oneself and one’s thoughts – that person was stronger than anyone else. More ready. More prepared.”

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I’ve heard nothing but great things about this title, and now I’ve had the chance to read The Sun Down Motel myself I can definitely understand the love for this story. This book is most definitely worth the hype, and it turned out to be just as good as I hoped it would be! It’s the perfect mix of paranormal mystery and crime thriller that had me literally racing through the pages. The Sun Down Motel uses a dual POV structure, where we switch back and forth between Vivian in 1982 and Vivian’s niece Carly in 2017. Both the POV switches and plot twists are brilliantly placed; they will keep you in the dark and only slowly reveal what Viv discovered in the past as well as what Carly unravels in the present. I loved both storylines equally, as both characters were easy to connect to and their stories managed to draw me right in. The paranormal aspect is again brilliantly handled; giving the story that creepy vibe as well as an ominous feel. On top of this, the story has the possible serial killer angle and the whole mystery around Viv’s disappearance in 1982… This story has more layers than an onion and you will love peeling away each one to discover the full picture. The Sun Down Motel turned out to be a fantastic reading experience and I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who loves a little dose of paranormal with their crime thriller. Creepy, ominous and oh so engaging!


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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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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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