BLOG TOUR REVIEW: When I Was You – by Amber Garza #blogtour @HarlequinBooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the When I Was You blog tour! A huge thanks to Justine Sha for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. The premise of this story sounded absolutely fascinating, and I simply knew I HAD to read it as soon as I first read the description. And it most definitely lived up to expectations! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: When I Was You
Author: Amber Garza
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 25th 2020
Publisher: MIRA
Finished reading: August 25th 2020
Pages: 368

“My mom used to say that we all had our own kryptonite. A weakness. An obsession. Something that had the potential to destroy us.”

*** 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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There was just something about the blurb of When I Was You that made me want to read it instantly. A lonely empty-nester as the main character, her growing obsession with a young mother with the same name… It sounded like the perfect premise to build a story around. I’ve been looking forward to dive into this psychological thriller, and I can promise you that When I Was You most definitely lived up to expectations and more. Fans of the genre will be in for a treat with this one!

There are a lot of things I loved about When I Was You, but let’s start with the plot itself. The plot of this psychological thriller is designed and executed brilliantly to completely mislead you along the way. The tension and suspicion is slowly build up until it reaches its climax, the plot interlaced with turns, secrets and plot twists to keep you guessing. The fact that we have two main characters sharing the exact same name is used to drop certain hints while also sending you off on the wrong track… Twisty, suspenseful and unexpected; When I Was You has more than one surprise for you in store before you reach that final page. And while I did guess some of the twists, there were also other turns I never saw coming. And I call that a success!

Now that we are talking about the characters, let’s properly focus on them. The main focus of the story is on the older Kelly Medina at first: an empty-nester who has been feeling extremely lonely after her son Aaron left for college last year. Initially, as a reader you are being kept in the dark about certain events in the past; a strategy fully designed to give the plot twists an even bigger impact. Kelly isn’t all that likeable if you look critically, but her development is more than solid and there is just something about her that makes you want to know more. Once the young Kelly comes in the picture, things are getting even more interesting. Who is this new mother sharing the exact same name with our main character? Why did she suddenly show up in the same town as our main character? Coincidence or is there something else at play? The mystery around young Kelly’s past and motive definitely turned up the level of suspense.

The author did a brilliant job disguising certain facts and witholding others, creating an air of suspicion and that ominous feel that something is about to spin out of control. We have older Kelly and her growing obsession, we have the questions about younger Kelly’s past and her motive, we have secrets, twists and turns to uncover… When I Was You is designed to keep you on your toes the whole way and trust me, you will be having a hard time stopping before you reach that final page. Especially once things are starting to REALLY escalate and certain plot twist bombs are being revealed… And that ending! Holy guacamole, what a way to go out with a bang!

If you enjoy a well written, misleading and suspenseful psychological thriller with an explosive ending, When I Was You should most definitely be on your wishlist. The two Kelly’s will keep you more than entertained!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber Garza has had a passion for the written word since she was a child making books out of notebook paper and staples. Her hobbies include reading and singing. Coffee and wine are her drinks of choice (not necessarily in that order). She writes while blaring music, and talks about her characters like they’re real people. She lives with her husband and two kids in Folsom, California, which is—no joke—home to another Amber Garza.

SOCIAL MEDIA

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

BUY LINKS

Harlequin // Indiebound // Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Books-A-Million // Target // Walmart // Google // iBooks // Kobo


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AUDIO ARC REVIEW: The Switch – by Beth O’Leary @MacmillanAudio #netgalleyaudio

Title: The Switch
Author: Beth O’Leary
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 16th 2020
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Finished reading: July 25th 2020
Pages: 336

Duration audiobook 10 hours 11 minutes
Narrated by Alison Steadman & Daisy Edgar-Jones

“There is no elixir for this. All you can do is keep moving forward even when it hurts like hell.”

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

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I had actually read The Switch already in June, but as I really enjoyed my time with both Eileens the first time around and I kept hearing how wonderful the audiobook was, I just couldn’t resist trying this format too. I must say that I think I liked my experience with this story even more the second time around! The audiobook version is indeed marvelous and fits the story very well.

I’m still pretty new with the whole audiobook experience, but I have to say The Switch has only reconfirmed that I have to give this format a chance. I think the audio version only enhanced my experience with this story. This book is narrated by Alison Steadman and Daisy Edgar-Jones, and both do a fantastic job giving both Eileens a voice. I especially loved the voice of grandma Eileen, as it fitted the image I had of her in my head perfectly. That said, Lena’s voice was very suitable too, and I like how both narrators changed their voice slightly whenever other characters are speaking. The pace and flow of the story was spot on, and the different emotions are well portrayed. If you enjoy audiobooks, I would definitely recommend trying the audio experience of The Switch!

As for the story itself… I know that contemporary romance isn’t my typical genre, but there are times when I crave a good contemporary and a select few authors can really make me enjoy the genre. I discovered last year that Beth O’Leary is one of them when I read The Flatshare and even the sexy scenes couldn’t put me off the rest of that story. I’ve been eagerly anticipating The Switch after that, especially when I discovered that it involved an older main characters as well as a life swap element. I must say that I had an excellent time with this story, and she is now officially another of my to-go-to authors when I’m in the mood for the genre.

I think I might have enjoyed The Switch even a tiny bit more than her debut, mostly due to the focus on the relationship between the three generations of Cotton women and both Eileens more specifically. Sure, there were a couple of cliches involved. Sure, I saw the love interests coming from far far away. Sure, the story includes both the love triangle and cheating element I’m not a big fan of at all. But somehow, this just didn’t matter all that much, as I was having too much fun getting to know both Eileens and their adventures after the swap. This is both a fun and heartfelt story that will make you forget about your own problems for a little while… It’s the perfect escape from reality and the main characters will win over your heart in no time at all. If you enjoy the genre, The Switch is a little gem!


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Big Chill – by Doug Johnstone #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @RandomTTours @Orendabooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Big Chill Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I became an instant fan of Doug Johnstone‘s writing after reading Breakers last year, and my second experience with A Dark Matter only reconfirmed these feelings. I’ve been looking forward to meet up with the Skelf women ever since, and The Big Chill turned out to be yet another excellent read. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: The Big Chill
(The Skelfs #2)
Author: Doug Johnstone
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 20th 2020
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: July 2nd 2020
Pages: 300

“Words have meaning, of course, but they’re so inadequate, and we each have a lifetime of hang-ups and quirks that feed into how we speak.”

*** 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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My first experience with Doug Johnstone‘s writing with Breakers last year simply blew me away, and after a repeat experience with A Dark Matter I’ve been waiting impatiently to meet up with the Skelf women again. It’s easy to say that my expectations were high, but I shouldn’t have worried as The Big Chill turned out to be another excellent read. A little warning: while technically you could read this sequel as a stand-alone, you would be missing out on the character background as well as important life changing events in the first book. I would recommend reading them in order! Trust me, both books will be well worth your time.

This series can be seen as a mix of a family drama and a crime thriller with a PI angle and is set in Edinburgh. The description and development of this Scottish setting is simply sublime, and really made Scotland come alive for me. I also love the focus on the funeral home both as a setting and part of the plot itself. It’s without doubt an unique angle and really set the right atmosphere for this story! Both death itself, the private investigator element and the things that happen in the funeral home in general play a key role in the plot, turning the funeral home into an integral part of the story.

The Big Chill once again evolves around three generations of Skelf women: Dorothy, her daughter Jenny and her granddaughter Hannah. Once again, these three different POVs are used to tell us the story, alternating between them as we slowly learn about the different storylines and characters in play. This gives the plot a multidimentional and complex feel and really took the story to the next level for me. It might seem like a lot to juggle initially, but once you get in the groove, you will find yourself fully under the spell of this story. Especially since each POV complemented the other two, adding to their own storyline as well as adding to the suspense and overall story…

This sequel has once again a lot of different elements and storylines in play. Among other things, we have the funeral home and everything it entails, the PI angle and active investigations, more follow-up on Craig after what happened in book one, an unexplained suicide, a body without identity, dealing with life changing and threatening events… This sounds like a lot to juggle in just one story, but somehow it simply works like a charm as each element is incorporated flawlessly. I do have to stay I found the pace to be a bit slower in The Big Chill, and I did wonder about the credibility of some of the plot twists introduced, but overall the rest of the story more than made up for it. Especially since both the writing as well as the suspense and plot twists are once again brilliant, and delivered the same high quality I’ve become used to with Doug Johnstone‘s books. This is a story that will keep you on your toes and there will be more than one shocking surprise before you reach that final page… And that ending will leave you breathless and wanting for more.

The Big Chill is already the second book of this series around the Skelf family, and without doubt another excellent read. While the pace is initially slower than expected, this same pace will pick up as things start spinning out of control and both suspense and plot twists are build up brilliantly. This story definitely ends with a big bang! If you like books that won’t fit into a neat genre box and enjoy a well written and multidimentional crime thriller as well as a family drama element, this series is most likely a great fit.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Doug Johnstone is the author of more ten novels, most recently Breakers (2019), which has been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year and A Dark Matter (2020), which launched the Skelfs series. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his work has been praised by the likes of Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions – including a funeral home, which he drew on to write A Dark Matter – and has been an arts journalist for twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also player-manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh.


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ARC REVIEW: Entre Senderos De Lavanda – by Mariela Gimenez

Title: Entre Senderos De Lavanda
Author: Mariela Gimenez
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
First published: November 1st 2019
Publisher: V&R Editoras
Finished reading: July 6th 2020
Pages: 464

“There was no greater loneliness than feeling adrift like a kite loose in the wind.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Babelio and V&R Editoras as part of the Masa Crítica Argentina program in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I admit that I was intrigued as soon as I saw that gorgeous cover and read the summary. Entre Senderos De Lavanda sounded like the perfect story to read in between my thrillers: a wonderful piece of contemporary romance as well as a story of self discovery. I was curious to see how the title would fit in the story, and I have been looking forward to spend time with this book ever since. I ended up having a wonderful time with Entre Senderos De Lavanda; completely swept away to the French lavender fields and into the lives of Anna and the Duvall family.

The first thing that stood out for me was the setting in France. First in Marseilles, but mostly in the small town of Gordes in the middle of lavander filled Provence, this setting makes the perfect backdrop for this story. I loved how the lavender fields were incorporated into the plot and had a hiddden meaning to more than one character. The wonderful descriptions really made the setting come alive for me, and I could almost smell the lavender fields as I imagined travelling there myself and walking alongside the main characters.

The story is told with the help of a multiple point of view structure, and while the two main point of views are probably Anna and Pascal, we will visit most of the main characters along the way and I quite liked being able to get a glimpse inside the different perspectives. As far as the characters go, I was able to connect to them quite easily and I found myself to be rooting for them the whole time. While I wasn’t a fan of the love triangle element, I did love the character development in general. This development was thorough, felt realistic and really made the different characters come alive for me. They each have their flaws, making it only easier to relate to them and appreciate their development and growth even more. While the main focus is on Anna, most other characters will have some form of growth and each and every single one adds something extra to the plot.

The plot itself was more than solid. I really liked that this isn’t just another contemporary romance story about falling in love, but instead we also see Anna trying to find herself as well as reconnecting with what is left of her family. Not only that, we also find Anna grieving her mother and trying to make peace with both the past and present… And we have the whole Duvall family as well as Anna’s grandfather to consider too; each with their own little background and substories in the plot. It’s an interesting cast of characters that I loved seeing interact and grow over time; the plot and plot twists were handled brilliantly and I found myself to be glued to the pages as a result.

I really enjoyed the writing too, which flowed naturally and made it really easy to keep reading. The story is divided into different parts, and each chapter begins with a little quote by multiple authors that fits the current situation in the plot. I really loved this attention to detail; the same goes for the beautiful illustrations throughout my copy of Entre Senderos De Lavanda as well as the cover itself. I had a fantastic time reading this story, and I can highly recommend it to anyone who is in the mood for a beautifully written, emotional and engaging contemporary romance story.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #172 – Eight Perfect Murders & The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two 20 Books Of Summer titles and 2020 releases belonging to completely different genres… And both turned out to be excellent reads. Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson only reconfirmed my love for his writing, while debut The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael put Beth Morrey firmly on my radar.


Title: Eight Perfect Murders
(Malcolm Kershaw #1)
Author: Peter Swanson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 3rd 2020
Publisher: William Morrow
Finished reading: June 22nd 2020
Pages: 288

“Books are time travel. True readers all know this. But books don’t just take you back to the time in which they were written; they can take you back to different versions of yourself.”

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I’m a fan of Peter Swanson‘s writing and I’ve been looking forward to dive into Eight Perfect Murders ever since I first heard about it. I love books with bookish elements and I love my crime thriller stories, so the premise of this newest story sounded absolutely fantastic. While it’s true that I don’t exactly read or know a lot about crime classics (I prefer more modern thrillers myself), I think it’s the clever incorporation of the eight crime classics that really makes this story stand out for me. Why? Peter Swanson doesn’t just name the titles and explain what happens in the corresponding plot, but really incorporates the different stories and elements into its own plot in the most ingenious way. A fair warning though: if you still need/want to read the eight classics mentioned in the blurb, you will find mayor spoilers of those stories incorporated into Eight Perfect Murders that might spoil the fun. I personally didn’t really mind, as I had heard bits about the classics already and I actually quite liked discovering them through this rather unique ‘memoir’. The structure of the plot is brilliant, the writing engaging, the character development fascinating, the many bookish elements including the bookshop and Nero the cat simply divine… I had heaps of fun reading Eight Perfect Murders, and thought the ending was a perfect reference to crime classics (one in particular of course, but I don’t want to spoil the fun by mentioning it). If you are looking for an unique and clever crime thriller and don’t mind a spoiler or two of the eight crime classics mentioned in the blurb, you will most likely have an excellent time with this story too.


Title: The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael
Author: Beth Morrey
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: April 7th 2020
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Finished reading: June 26th 2020
Pages: 352

“If you really want something, you hang on. Don’t give up. Hang on, as if your life depended on it.”

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I admit that I was sold as soon as I saw the comparison to A Man Called Ove and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. I adored both books and its characters, and I just knew I HAD to meet Missy Carmichael to see if she could win me over too. The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael turned out to be both charming and heartbreaking at the same time. While I confess that it took me some time to warm up to Missy, once I did I found myself to be completely under her spell. The same goes for the rest of the characters; a wonderful cast of colorful and easy to like personalities that each added their own little something to the plot. Lighter moments are mixed with more heavy topics; flashbacks to Missy’s past used to get to know her better and help understand the ‘mistakes’ she mentioned as well as why she is the way she is.The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael will have a couple surprises and twists for you in store, an a few heartbreaking moments that will require having a box of tissues and a plate of your favorite comfort food at hand just in case. I loved seeing Missy develop and blossom over time, and if you are craving a heartfelt contemporary with well developed characters and don’t mind shedding a tear or two, this debut is an excellent choice.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #171 – The Ten Thousand Doors Of January & The Switch #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two ventures into genres I don’t read all that often, but both turned out to be very successful experiences. I have found a new all time favorite in The Ten Thousand Doors Of January, which turned out to be an absolutely stunning read. And I had a great time with the two Eileen’s in The Switch.


Title: The Ten Thousand Doors Of January
Author: Alix E. Harrow

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
First published: September 10th 2019
Publisher: Redhook
Finished reading: June 19th 2020
Pages: 385

“Because the place you are born isn’t necessarily the place you belong.”


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I admit that this was cover love at first sight, but as soon as I read the blurb I knew I was most likely going to love The Ten Thousand Doors Of January. And after seeing one glowing review after the other, I decided to save it until I was in need of a story that could really blow me away… That time had come, and my instincts about this book turned out to be 200% on point. What an absolutely stunning and breathtaking read! I don’t even know where and how to start explaining this beauty of a story, as The Ten Thousand Doors Of January is one of those books where you should go in blind in the first place to fully explore and capture its magic. Historical fiction is mixed with fantasy in the most exquisite way, and I loved discovering more about January, the mysterious Doors, the magic and Adelaide’s adventures. This story is complex, this story is stunningly written, this story fits so cleverly together once you have all the pieces… It’s an absolute masterpiece I cannot recommend enough. I’m truly lost for words here, and will just throw in the following cliche phrase to finish these rambles: ‘just read the damn book‘. Trust me, you will be in for an absolute magical treat!


Title: The Switch
Author: Beth O’Leary

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 16th 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Finished reading: June 21st 2020
Pages: 336

“There is no elixir for this. All you can do is keep moving forward even when it hurts like hell.”


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I know contemporary romance isn’t really my genre, but there are times when I crave a good contemporary and a select few authors can actually make me really enjoy the genre. I discovered last year Beth O’Leary is one of them when I read The Flatshare, and even the sexy scenes couldn’t put me off the rest of that story. I’ve been eagerly anticipating The Switch after that, especially when I discovered it involved an older main character as well as a life swap element. I must say that I had an excellent time with this story, and she is now officially another of my to-go-to authors when I’m in the mood for the genre. I think I might have enjoyed The Switch even a tiny bit more, mostly due to the focus on the relationship between the three generations of Cotton women and both Eileen’s more specifically. Sure, there were a couple of cliches involved. Sure, I saw the love interests coming from far far away. Sure, the story includes both the love triangle and cheating element I’m not a big fan of at all. But somehow, this just didn’t matter all that much, as I was having too much fun getting to know both Eileen’s and their adventures after the swap. This is both a fun and heartfelt story that will make you forget about your own problems for a little while… It’s the perfect escape from reality and the main characters will win over your heart in no time at all. If you enjoy the genre, The Switch is a little gem!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #162 – Pet Sematary & Reconstructing Amelia

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two backlist titles I’ve been meaning to read; one a dark thriller and one a YA mystery TBR jar pick. Pet Sematary by Stephen King turned out to be a great read, but I somehow ended up having mixed feelings about Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight instead…


Title: Pet Sematary
Author: Stephen King

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Horror
First published: November 14th 1983
Publisher: Scribner
Finished reading: May 2nd 2020
Pages: 561

“It’s like many other things in life, Ellie. You keep on the path and all’s well. You get off it and the next thing you know you’re lost if you’re not lucky.”


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I’m planning on slowly making my way through Stephen King‘s backlist and as I’ve been wanting to watch the new movie adaption I decided to pick up Pet Sematary first… And I ended up having an excellent time reading this story. While I expected the story to be more creepy and full-scale horror than it turned out to be, as a paranormal thriller with psychological horror elements Pet Sematary still aimed to please. The story has got that ominous feel from the start, and while nothing all that much is happening in the beginning, you know things will escalate sooner or later. That ominous feel of danger and the supernatural grows stronger and stronger, and especially once Jud introduces Louis to Ludlow’s secret in the woods… The horror is mostly psychological and slow-building, but well constructed and I liked how the development of this element correlated with the development of the main characters (especially Louis and Jud). There is a lot of focus on the character development in general, and it was fascinating to learn more about the past of Jud as well as the town itself. Likewise, Louis is a fascinating character to follow; especially how he changes and reacts to the different events. If you are looking for a character-driven thriller with paranormal and psychological horror elements, Pet Sematary is a great choice.


Title: Reconstructing Amelia
Author: Kimberly McCreight

Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
First published: April 2nd 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins
Finished reading: May 5th 2020
Pages: 405

“All they want to do is to put a label on you. Call you this or that. Then that’s all you are, forever.”


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So… I’m not sure if the unpopular opinion curse has struck again, but the fact is that somehow Reconstructing Amelia and me didn’t get along as well as I thought we would. My reading mood has been all over the place lately, so this might just not have been the best time for me to read this story… But the fact is that I ended up having mixed thoughts about Reconstructing Amelia. It took me a long time to get into the story, especially with all the POV changes and timehops… Keeping track of what happened to whom and when felt mostly like a chore as I wasn’t really connecting to the story in the first place. The idea behind this debut is interesting, but even though I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, I wasn’t all that blown away by the execution. It might have been the ending, which was an anti-climax and too convenient to be honest and I expected more. It might have been the high school cliches and all the bitching and bullying element. It might have been the fact that I don’t think the whole investigation is all that credible, especially with Kate being present as the detective investigates and questions people. It might also have been the fact that I never really connected to any of the characters. But the fact is that Reconstructing Amelia didn’t impress me as I thought I would… I seem to be in the minority though?


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YVO’S SHORTIES #161 – The Guest Cat & The One-In-A-Million Boy

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a double dose of contemporary and two titles I’ve been looking forward to: The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide and The One-In-A-Million Boy by Monica Wood. Sadly both ended up disappointing me…


Title: The Guest Cat
Author: Takashi Hiraide

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: 2001
Publisher: Picador
Finished reading: April 26th 2020
Pages: 146
(Originally written in Japanese: ‘猫の客 [Neko no kyaku]’)

“There’s a photographer who says cat lovers always believe their own cat is better looking than anyone else’s. According to her, they’ve all got blinders on.”


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I’ve been curious about this title ever since I finished The Travelling Cat Chronicles last year and saw it recommended under similar Japanese fiction titles… I think it’s no secret that I’m a huge catlover, so I was looking forward to dive into some cat infused fiction again. It’s easy to say that I ended up to be quite quite disappointed by The Guest Cat instead. In fact, I’m really not sure why this book even has this title, as the focus is mostly on the guest house and the couple which POV the story is narrated from… Sure, we have Chibi and later some other cats, but they didn’t really play as big of a role as I thought they would. Instead, The Guest Cat is a story where nothing much happens, and it’s mostly one elaborate description after the other. And while I can appreciate beautifully written descriptions, it was just too much to have to read a story build up out of 90% of those descriptions and only 10% what you can call a very meager plot. The writing didn’t fully convince me either (I think the phrase ‘lost in translation’ might apply here), and overall I had a really hard time keeping focused. In fact, I struggled reaching that final page, and the only reason I finished it is because it’s so short in the first place. The open ending was yet another disappointment, and I was honestly seriously underwhelmed by the whole experience.


Title: The One-In-A-Million Boy
Author: Monica Wood

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: April 5th 2016
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Finished reading: April 29th 2020
Pages: 336

“How tranquilizing it was to arm yourself with information, how consoling to unpack the facts and then plan them like fence pickets, building a sturdy pen in which you stood alone, cosseted against human fallibility.”


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I’ve been curious about The One-In-A-Million Boy ever since I first heard about it a few years back, and both the cover and blurb had me convinced I was going to enjoy my time with this story. Sadly, I somehow ended up having mixed thoughts instead… I’m not sure if it’s just the wrong time for me to read this story, as my reading taste has been all over the place in these strange times, but the fact is that I somehow expected more of this story. There were things I loved in The One-In-A-Million Boy, while other elements of the story ended up letting me down a bit… The main star of the story is 104-year-old Ona of course, who I adored and she is basically one of the sole reasons I kept reading. The glimpses you get of the boy makes it really easy to like him too and it makes you wish you could have met him properly… I loved learning more about Ona’s past and she is such a fascinating character and oh so easy to connect to; the boy is quirky and very loveable too. As for the other characters: Quinn isn’t too bad and I liked the music elements he helped including in the plot. I wasn’t a fan of Belle at all though and her actions and the way she keeps treating Quinn were starting to get very very annoying. I felt like I would have loved a story solely based on Ona and the boy more, as they made up the best part of this story and I felt the other characters and subplot started to let the story down. I do get that one of the big elements, grief and moving on, wouldn’t be possible without things going the way they are, but still… Somehow I just expected more of The One-In-A-Million Boy, and the actual story, while by no means a bad read, just fell a little flat for me.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #159 – The Girl In The Tree (DNF) & The Light Between Oceans

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around an ARC I had to sadly take the decision to DNF quite early on despite being excited to finally read it (The Girl In The Tree) and a backlist title I’ve been meaning to read for ages now and I definitely wish I would have picked up sooner (The Light Between Oceans).


Title: The Girl In The Tree
Author: Şebnem İşigüzel

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: December 2016
Publisher: Amazon Crossing
Finished reading: April 16th 2020
Pages: 360
DNF at 11% (40 pages)
(Originally written in Turkish: ‘Ağaçtaki Kız’)

“Laughter is the wind of the mind and soul – it picks you up and whisks you far away.”

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


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I was actually really looking forward to The Girl In The Tree, as the blurb sounded intriguing and I always love discovering new international authors. I certainly wasn’t expecting to have the reaction I had when I finally started reading it… But it is what it is I guess. I hate DNFing this early in a story and I feel more than guilty, but I just couldn’t take it anymore… I will keep this DNF review short as I only managed to read 11% (about 40 pages) before I threw in the towel, but I’ll try to explain shortly why I made the difficult decision to DNF this early on.

First of all, I struggled to connect with the writing. And with struggle, I mean REALLY struggling, and I wasn’t able to enjoy it at all. But more importantly, there was no plot whatsoever to speak of and the story seemed more like a collection of brain farts, random thoughts and random facts about characters you don’t know being thrown at you… Mixed in with random pop culture elements including Twilight and (the death of) Amy Whinehouse. I sadly found the whole ordeal to be tasteless, chaotic, confusing and I really couldn’t be bothered wasting more of my time to see if things would improve later on. Oh yes, this story definitely hit a nerve, and not in a good way. Such a shame, because I was actually looking forward to reading this… Don’t give up on The Girl In The Tree on my account though, as it seems like you will either love or hate this story depending on how you react to the writing style. It’s a book of extremes and most certainly not for everyone… And that includes myself sadly.


Title: The Light Between Oceans
Author: M.L. Stedman

Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: July 2012
Publisher: Scribner
Finished reading: April 17th 2020
Pages: 356

“There are times when the ocean is not the ocean – not blue, not even water, but some violent explosion of energy and danger: ferocity on a scale only gods can summon.”


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I’ve been meaning to pick up The Light Between Oceans for years now. I’m not sure why it took me this long to actually read it, as I’m a big fan of historical fiction and settings that enable me to travel to places I’ve never been… But what I do know is that I regret not reading this story sooner now. The post WWI setting on a small island near the Australian coast, the lighthouse keeper element, the strong presence of the ocean… These elements really gave The Light Between Oceans a more than solid base to build the rest of the story around, and especially the Janus Rock setting and lighthouse references made the story stand out for me. The main focus of the story is on family life, both grief and struggles related to multiple miscarriages and the arrival of the ‘mystery’ baby on the small island and its consequences for the future. It was interesting to follow both Tom and Isabel as they try to overcome the struggles life keeps throwing at them… And although I don’t agree with some decisions and certain behavior, I still had a great time reading about both their lives. The Light Between Oceans is a mostly character driven book with a fascinating setting that gives the story the perfect backdrop to develop both plot and characters. And while there were certain elements/details especially in the second half that started to irk me, I still ended up really enjoying my time with this historical fiction read.


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ARC REVIEW: Broken Branches – by M. Jonathan Lee

Title: Broken Branches
Author: M. Jonathan Lee
Genre: Mystery, Horror
First published: July 27th 2017
Publisher: Hideaway Fall Publishing
Finished reading: April 14th 2020
Pages: 329

“Ian had no recollection of whether he was actually responsible. He didn’t trust his memory anymore. In fact, he didn’t trust his mind at all.”

*** 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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I’ve seen Broken Branches mentioned in the past and I’ve always been curious about it… So when the opportunity arose, I couldn’t resist adding a copy to my shelves on Netgalley. Between the ominous cover and the promise of a curse, I was looking forward to what seemed like a dark and creepy read… But somehow I ended up having mixed thoughts about this story instead. I’ll try and explain why I felt this way briefly below.

While I did like the writing itself, I sadly enough found the actual story to be rather lacking, as there was no real plot to speak of and the characters were impossible to like or connect to. The idea of the curse as well as the premise of Broken Branches itself is intriguing, and I really wish both characters and the plot would have been more fleshed out in the story. As it is, I was unable to connect to any of the main characters, which was a real shame. The fact that the story switches POVs between chapters and goes back and forth between past and present without proper warning doesn’t really help either, as things can become confusing and you don’t always know which character and which moment in time you are reading about straight away. I did like the idea of the flashbacks in the story, as they helped shine a light on Ian’s family, past, secrets and the curse of course, but I kind of wish the flashback chapters and POV changes would have been marked more clearly. This would have avoided those moments of possible confusion…

As I mentioned before, I did enjoy the writing on its own, but sadly the beautiful writing did not make up for the fact that the story itself lacked development in both plot and characters. On top of that, I wasn’t really satisfied with the ending either, and I guessed part of the final reveals quite early on. All in all it wasn’t a bad read and both the premise and the writing were a bonus, but the actual story didn’t quite hit the mark for me.


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