BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Bone Jar – by S.W. Kane #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @RandomTTours

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Bone Jar Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I knew I wanted to read this story as soon as I first read the blurb and saw the abandoned asylum setting. Talk about a perfect creepy backdrop for a detective thriller! And I most definitely enjoyed my time with this story. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: The Bone Jar
(Detective Lew Kirby #1)

Author: S.W. Kane
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 1st 2020
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: June 11th 2020
Pages: 328

“He wondered what it was like to live here all alone – and not only that, but in the grounds of the very institution that had once removed you from society.”

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

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I confess that I was fully intrigued as soon as I took my first glimpse at the blurb of The Bone Jar. I always love a good detective thriller, and the promise of an abandoned asylum setting combined with hints at its past and secrets as well as a former patient involved in a present day murder investigation sounded simply irresistible. Talk about the perfect hair-raising backdrop for this first book of a new detective series! I had a hunch that I would enjoy this story, and my instincts definitely turned out to be right. The Bone Jar is a dark, eerie and atmospheric detective thriller that will chill you to the bone, and not just because of the winter wonderland descriptions. Without a doubt recommended if you enjoy the detective thriller genre!

There is no doubt that the Blackwater Asylum steals the show here. Not only does the majority of the story take place in or around the abandoned asylum, but its descriptions also give the story that spine-chilling feel as well as a hint of forboding. The descriptions are thorough and beautifully done, and really made the setting come alive for me. The fact that The Bone Jar takes place during the cold winter months only adds to the eerie atmosphere… The snow and cold weather used to add obstacles to the investigation as well as influencing how the plot as a whole develops. Especially the focus on the Blackwater Asylum was a huge bonus for me, as I have a weak spot for stories with that angle and its incorporation in the plot was handled splendidly.

The Bone Jar has quite a few characters in play, and I confess that initially I struggled a little to remember how they all connected. This feeling was only temporary though and as soon as I was able to fit them all into their place in the plot puzzle, I was fully hooked. I wish we could have seen more of new main character detective Lew Kirby, but we did get a few hints at his private life and I’m definitely intrigued. We mainly see the story and investigation through his eyes, but both Raymond and Connie are also key to the plot of this first book. Both will soon find themselves in the middle of everything and I quite liked getting to learn more about them. Especially Raymond is a fascinating character with his past and possible knowledge of present events as well as secrets about Blackwater Asylum.

I also really liked the mention of urban exploration and the connection more than one character had with this activity in the plot. It was interesting to learn a little about the urban exploration terms and I would have loved to see it even more present! The Bone Jar mainly focused on the asylum and its hidden secrets as well as the present murder case though. It was interesting to see Lew Kirby and the others investigating the crime and both the building up of suspense and the introduction of plot twists is more than solid. You keep wondering how everything and everyone connects and fits in, and the story will definitely have some surprises for you in store as well.

With its eerie and atmospheric derelict asylum setting, The Bone Jar sets the tone for what is an excellent start of a new detective series. Any fan of the genre will have a brilliant time meeting Lew Kirby as well as exploring Blackwater Asylum!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SW Kane studied History of Design and worked at the RIBA before taking on a series of totally unrelated jobs in radio and the music industry, where she still works as a freelance music PR. She has an MA in Creative (Crime) Writing from City University. She began reading crime fiction from an early age and developed an obsession with crime set in cold places. A chance encounter with a derelict fort in rural Pembrokeshire led to a fascination with urban exploration, which in turn became the inspiration for her crime novels. She lives London.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Collector – by John Maher #blogtour #InkubatorBooks @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Collector damppebles blog tour! A huge thanks to Emma Welton for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I always love a good detective thriller and knew I just HAD to try The Collector as soon as I saw that new lead character is a forensic linguist. And I definitely liked what I found! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…


Title: The Collector
(Detective Lucy O´Hara #1)

Author: John Maher
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 5th 2020
Publisher: Inkubator Books
Finished reading: June 23rd 2020
Pages: ?

“But that was the problem with asking yourself awkward questions. You never seemed to get a straight answer.”

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

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I always love a good detective thriller and I knew I just HAD to try The Collector as soon as I saw that the new main character is a forensic linguist. Some might already know that I’m a philologist and I’m always interested in anything involving linguistics… I just couldn’t wait to see how this element was developed in the story and the actual criminal case in this first book of a new series sounded like a cracker too. Instincts told me that I was going to enjoy this one, so I jumped on the chance to join the blog tour and help spread the word. My bookish radar definitely didn’t fail here! The Collector is without doubt an excellent start of a new detective series with an international touch.

There is a lot to love in The Collector. The first thing that stands out for me is the international feel of both the plot and the characters. While the story mainly takes place in Ireland (both Dublin and other places), the plot also takes us abroad. We get a glimpse of both Hamburg (Germany) (which brought back great memories of our Eurotrip in 2018), Alicante (Spain) and flashbacks to Cairo (Egypt) for example… As someone who loves travelling, the different international settings were definitely a bonus.

The same international feel is represented in more than one character as well. First up is of course our new detective lead Lucy O’Hara, who has an interesting personal background with her French mother and Irish dad as well as growing up living in a bunch of different countries due to her father’s job. Lucy speaks multiple languages as a consequence, and I loved the forensic linguist details she helped bringing into the plot (although I kind of wish there would have been even more focus on this element). Lucy is not the only character with an international vibe though. The most obvious ones are the Lithuanian thug Lukas Petraskas as well as his Polish helper, but we also have more than one German character in play for example. On top of the setting and characters, The Collector also offers us little phrases in multiple languages throughout the story to help reinforce this same international vibe.

The plot has a multiple POV structure; the three main POVs are probably the detective and forensic linguist Lucy O’Hara, the Lithuanian Lukas Petraskas and the collector (der Sammler), but the POV of most of the characters in play will make their appearance at least once before you reach that final page. Having so many different POVs and characters to juggle might seem a lot, but their introduction felt natural and I personally didn’t have any issues keeping them apart. The writing is engaging and managed to draw me right in; the use of short phrases in multiple foreign languages added a little something extra and helpt giving the international feel of the story credibility. I liked the development of the plot, the building up of suspense was solid and the plot twists were mostly effective. I did guess part of the truth earlier than expected, but overall I had an excellent time with The Collector.

If you are looking for a new detective series with an original touch, you should definitely consider meeting up with detective Lucy O’Hara. I will definitely be looking forward to read more about her in the future myself!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Maher has published five novels and a collection of short stories. He has won national awards for radio play and short story with RTE in Ireland. His novel, The Luck Penny, was shortlisted for debut novel on BBC Radio 5.

A former teacher and lecturer, he holds a Phd from the School of Oriental and African Studies (London).

He lives in a small Irish village, between the Atlantic and the Irish Sea, from which he steals away, from time to time, to visit the world outside the island.

THE COLLECTOR will be his first novel published with Inkubator Books.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Website

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK // Amazon US


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ARC REVIEW: Left For Dead – by Caroline Mitchell

Title: Left For Dead
(DI Amy Winter #3)
Author: Caroline Mitchell
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 8th 2020
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: June 6th 2020
Pages: 336

“She was blind to the danger of her situation; in denial about the trouble she might be in. Her mind was focused on only one thing: apprehending the Love Heart Killer, before he struck again.”

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

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I’ve been turning to Caroline Mitchell’s thrillers for years now whenever I’m in the mood for a thrilling ride. I first met DI Amy Winter back in 2018 and I was instantly intrigued by the background of this character. I think that it’s no secret that I have a weird obsession with serial killer stories… Having a main character that is first adopted by a cop and now a DI herself, but on the other hand having her biological parents being a twisted serial killer duo? Talk about a background that had me hooked immediately! We learned more about Amy’s past in the first two books, and her personal storyline continues to develop in this third installment. This is one of the reasons why I would recommend reading the first books before tackling Left For Dead, as it would be a lot more difficult to get a proper grip on the dynamics between and development of the various characters in play. Plus, if you like intense detective thrillers with a dark twists, you will be in for a treat with all three in the first place.

Left For Dead continues where book two ended and once again we hear quite a lot of Amy’s biological mother Lillian Grimes and her appeal. The main focus is on the new case and the new dynamics in Amy’s team with the appearance of Donovan as the new DCI of course, but you will feel that Lillian’s presence is never far away and always lurking in the background. I like how the balance shifted a little and we see more of Donovan, although I hope these new dynamics won’t slow Amy down in the future… In book three Amy is still as fierce as ever though and I like how she uses her background and intimate knowledge of the twisted minds of her parents to get inside the heads of other serial killers. She definitely has an instinct for hunting and isn’t afraid to go off the books to get results… Even if it brings danger in the picture.

Left For Dead has a multiple POV structure, helping us follow both sides of the law as well as allowing the story to hide certain facts until the plot is ready to reveal the truth. The plot itself is interesting, and while the identity of the killer is revealed very early on, it was still very much a thrilling ride as Amy and her team try to catch him. The story has lots of twists and turns and while there are no major surprises to speak of, it was still a very satisfying detective thriller read as a whole. The ending was a shocker too, and I definitely can’t wait to discover how things will continue now.

The DI Amy Winter series has provided one solid and dark detective thriller after the other so far, and Left For Dead is no exception. In this third book, we have another twisted case on our hands as well as developments relating to Amy’s mother and her appeal… Recommended if you enjoy the genre.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #169 – Kill You Twice & The Poet X #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around my first two 20 Books Of Summer titles belonging to two completely different genres… But both were excellent reads. Kill You Twice by Chelsea Cain is already the fifth book of the series, and while not my favorite of the bunch I still had a great time reading it. And The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo turned out to be just as good as I hoped it would be.


Title: Kill You Twice
(Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell #5)
Author: Chelsea Cain
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: August 7th 2012
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Finished reading: June 10th 2020
Pages: 337

“Life was a series of near misses. Car accidents dodged by quick reflexes. Railings that broke falls. Antibiotics. Seat belts. Helmets. We should all be dead a hundred times over.”

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After finally continuing with this series last month, I decided to work my way through the rest of the books ASAP so I can cross off another series on my unfinished series list. I know that technically the author promised more books were yet to come, but as it’s been seven years since book six was published I don’t think that will happen any time soon. Kill You Twice is book number five and marks the return to the spotlight of Archie’s nemesis Gretchen. After being mostly absent in book four, this sequel benefits from her strong presence once again and it has been interesting to see the dynamics between Archie and Gretchen develop further. The plot introduces us to another killer, but Archie and the rest soon discover there is a lot more going on than they assume initially and they wonder if there is a possible link to Gretchen… Especially as she is determined to make contact with Archie again. Susan makes her appearance as well, and it has been great to see the different characters develop over time. The final reveals are definitely shocking! Kill You Twice is not my favorite of the series though (which might be due to the explicit adult scenes, which are always a turn off for me), and there is definitely a warning in place for more than one disturbing and rather gory description and scene. If you like your serial killer thrillers dark and twisted, this is an excellent series though and the connection between detective Archie Sheridan and serial killer Gretchen Lowell is simply fascinating.


Title: The Poet X
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Poetry
First published: March 6th 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Finished reading: June 12th 2020
Pages: 368

“She knew since she was little,

the world would not sing her triumphs,

but she took all of the stereotypes

and put them in a chokehold

until they breathed out the truth.”

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Wow, what an absolutely breathtaking read! I already fell in love with Elizabeth Acevedo‘s writing last year in With The Fire On High, but The Poet X has completely blown my socks off. Beautifully rendered, raw and simply stunning, The Poet X is simply slam dunk when it comes to poetry and the story itself is completely written in verse. I think the only reason I didn’t give it the full 5 stars is because of the focus on religion, mostly because I have a personal aversion to this element in stories… I know this exploration of religion was mentioned in the blurb, but I confess that I like going in blind and I didn’t investigate before reading this one. That said, the religious element didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would, as I was too busy devouring that glorious writing in verse. I love how the author gives us a glimpse of what it would be like to grow up with strict religious Dominican parents, and I loved the use of Spanish as it added an authentic feel to the story. The poem in Spanish is simply stunning! Xiomara, Xavier and the most of the others are easy to like and connect to, and while I strongly disliked the mother for obvious reasons, it was interesting learning a bit more about where her motivation came from. The Poet X is not an easy read as it covers difficult themes as forcing religious beliefs, parents pressuring their children, lgbt and not being able to come out and sexual harrassment among others. I love how Xiomara tries to find her voice through her poetry, and The Poet X is without doubt a powerful read completely written in verse I simply cannot recommend enough. I can’t wait to read Clap When You Land now as I believe it’s written in verse too!


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ARC REVIEW: Somebody’s Daughter – by Carol Wyer

Title: Somebody’s Daughter
(Detective Natalie Ward #7)
Author: Carol Wyer
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 9th 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: June 4th 2020
Pages: 379

“Victims of physical and mental abuse are strangled by their own inability to break free. They believe, for some bizarre reason, they actually deserve the hatred, the beatings and the sexual degradation. They lose their self-worth to the point they firmly believe they are worthless and they deserve to suffer.”

*** 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 been a fan of Carol Wyer‘s detective thrillers for quite some time now, and I have been following detective Natalie Ward since the very beginning back in 2018. Somebody’s Daughter is already book number seven of this series, and without doubt another thrilling ride! I can always rely on this series to give me a couple of hours of solid entertainment. A little warning: technically you can read this story as a stand-alone, but you will be missing out on quite a lot of background information about the main characters and you will probably not get the full experience if you don’t read the previous books first. Especially since the last two books focus on some very drastic developments in Natalie Ward’s private life as well as the development of some the other recurring characters in play. Plus, if you are a fan of the genre in the first place, you will be missing out on hours of detective entertainment!

I’ll be keeping this review short to avoid spoilers, but those who have had the chance to read the previous books will know what I mean when I say that life has been no picnic for Natalie Ward so far. Both book five and six had absolutely shocking developments that left me reeling, and definitely had a huge impact on Natalie’s private life…  Somebody’s Daughter once again focuses on the developments in Natalie’s private life as well as the new case. As she is now a DCI, and other known character Lucy has taken over her DI position, the balance between the characters in the team has shifted a little and we see more of Lucy than Natalie in the investigation. This gives the story a slightly different vibe, but I personally didn’t mind too much as it gave the story a fresh angle too.

The writing makes it really easy to keep turning those pages, and while the pace might be a tad slower in points, things will get more intense as the investigation gets more complicated. We have multiple POVs, flashbacks and plot twists to provide us with hurdles to overcome, and the story is packed with secrets to unravel. What seems like an easy case with an easy to identify suspect soon becomes a lot more complicated… The bodies start piling up and the question is how they all connect and if the team is really on the right track. While we see less of Natalie now she is a DCI, we still get the rest of her team and she still makes her appearance throughout the case. Certain aspects of the plot made you wonder about the credibility of it all, but overall the entertainment factor won me over. Somebody’s Daugher can get a bit graphic in points and includes difficult themes as grooming, abuse, rape and addiction. This is definitely  not a story for those with a weak stomach!

This detective thriller series has been highly entertaining and suspenseful from the very first book, and Somebody’s Daughter is already book number seven and no exception to the rule. Natalie and her team have another complicated case to solve, and the bodies are starting to pile up very quickly… Dark, twisted and highly entertaining if you enjoy a good detective thriller with a disturbing angle. If you enjoy the genre, you will most likely have a great time with this series!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #168 – Evil At Heart & The Night Season

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a double dose of Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell with book three and four of the series written by Chelsea Cain: Evil At Heart and The Night Season.


Title: Evil At Heart
(Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell #3)
Author: Chelsea Cain
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: 2009
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Finished reading: May 31st 2020
Pages: 317

“Susan shook her head. She had a copy to write. She didn’t have time to be murdered by Gretchen Lowell.”

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This is the second time my TBR jar had to remind me I needed to continue this series… I’m not sure why, as I loved the first two books, but it is not happening again as I’m now determined to finish the series ASAP. Book three Evil At Heart is without doubt another winner. I have a weak spot for serial killer and detective thrillers, and this series gives us best of both worlds by putting Beauty Killer Gretchen Lowell and detective Archie Sheridan in the spotlight. Before I continue, I have to stress that this is one of those series you need to read in order, because you won’t be able to understand the complicated relationship between Archie and Gretchen otherwise (and Claire, Henry and Susan as well for that matter). It’s worth it though! It has been fascinating to get a glimpse inside the head of such a twisted mind as well as seeing the development of Archie after surviving such a horrible event. Evil At Heart provides us with an interesting new twist and I literally raced through the pages while trying to discover the truth. This book is dark, this book is disturbing, this book is seriously twisted… But oh so good if you think you can stomach it! A little warning is in place though as some scenes can get pretty gory, but if I love a well written, dark and twisted serial killer thriller this is series is a must.


Title: The Night Season
(Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell #4)
Author: Chelsea Cain
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 1st 2011
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Finished reading: June 1st 2020
Pages: 335

“It had an extra weight, given Archie’s stay in the psych ward. Crazy was not such a faraway place for him. Crazy lived just up the road.”

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I decided to read The Night Season straight after book three, because when you are on a roll, you are on a roll… And I was also in the mood to spend more time with Archie and Gretchen. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Beauty Killer Gretchen hardly made her appearance in book four! The Night Season is the first book of the series without a heart element in the title, and also the first where Gretchen isn’t in the spotlight… And it shows. Sure, we still have Archie, Susan and the rest. Sure, we have a new twisted serial killer on the loose and the danger of the rising Willamette river to up the stakes. But it was the Archie-Gretchen dynamics that gave the previous books an extra edge, and I don’t think this story lives up to the previous ones. It is still a solid serial killer thriller; I liked the link to the past and both the impending flooding and the serial killer added a healthy dose of suspense and danger to the plot. Things will get dark, things will get disturbing, and nobody is safe… But on the other hand this story left me wanting for more as well and the final reveals were a bit too convenient. That said, I’m still looking forward to read the final two books!


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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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ARC REVIEW: The Girl Beneath The Sea – by Andrew Mayne @amazonpub

Title: The Girl Beneath The Sea
(Underwater Investigation Unit #1)
Author: Andrew Mayne
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 1st 2020
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: May 8th 2020
Pages: 328

“Sometimes you don’t get to choose your struggles – they choose you.”

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

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I’m always in for a good detective thriller, and I admit that I was sold as soon as I saw the Florida police diver angle. It sounded like a mix of CSI Miami and one of my favorite action thriller series Lori Anderson, especially with the treasure hunter and diver angle as well as the promise of a kickass female main character. And I definitely liked what I found! The Girl Beneath The Sea turned out to be exactly the thrilling and exhilarating dose of action and detective thriller I didn’t even know I was craving until I started reading it.

I love that it’s not just your average detective thriller. Not only is the main character Sloan McPherson a police diver and not a detective, but her father is a treasure hunter and her uncle is actually currently in jail. Talk about a colorful background for a colorful character who without doubt kicks ass! Sloan is very easy to connect to and I really liked both her attitude and her resourcefulness in general. She is not an official cop perse, and mostly lended out to help other police forces when an expert diver is needed. This gives the story an unique and very entertaining angle indeed… And when faced with danger, Sloan is not scared to take things in her own hands either and investigate unofficially. This whole premise makes for some very entertaining and action-packed reading!

I loved both the diving and treasure hunt angle, and especially just how big of a role both played in the plot as a whole. These elements give the story an unique touch and the Miami setting definitely helps setting the right tone for this extremely fast and sharp action thriller. I also liked how the diving element is incorporated not only through the fact that Sloan is a police diver and we see her at work, but also through her father and his treasure hunts as well as later on in the plot as it evolves. This isn’t just your plain detective case and things are bound to get very wet and perilous indeed! Especially towards the ending as the tension and danger are about to explode… Definitely make sure to brace yourself for a thrilling ride that doesn’t even give you room to breathe until you are desperate to come up for air.

The plot itself is entertaining, action-packed and basically a mix of a detective and action thriller with that mafia vibe and a hint of a conspiracy plot thrown in as a bonus. It has that lightning fast CSI Miami vibe and plenty of threats and action around every corner… It has plot twists in store for you as well, although the main focus is mainly on the action itself and Sloan trying to solve the case and save their lives. If you like your thrillers fast and dangerous, you will be in for a treat with this first book of a new series!


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BOOK REVIEW: Good Samaritans – by Will Carver @Orendabooks

Title: Good Samaritans
(Detective Sergeant Pace #1)
Author: Will Carver
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 15th 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: April 27th 2020
Pages: 318

“Because it won’t make your skin sparkle like it does your toilet basin. It will burn. It will blister. You will bleed. It will hurt like hell.

Unless you’re already dead.”

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So… Guess who has been struck by an Orenda book hangover once again and has been unable to put a word on paper for over a week now? Oh yes, Good Samaritans hit me hard and hit straight in the ‘flabbergasted’ bullseye. I’ve had a copy of this first book of what I already know will be a favorite series on my shelves for a little over a year now, and to be honest I’ve been saving it for rainy days as I already had that feeling I would love it. Why? Not only has it that Orenda guarantee, but fellow bloggers have loved this story (and its sequel) and their reviews convinced me I would too. After struggling with recent reads and feeling a little desperate to find a story that would completely blow my socks off again, I turned to my Orenda backlist and decided it was time to pick up Good Samaritans. And boy, I just couldn’t have picked better!

I’m still not sure where to begin my review even after letting more than a week pass, but let’s start with the basics. Good Samaritans is dark, sexy and utterly disturbing; it’s a complex and well written story that grabbed me from the start and was basically pitch black and twisted to the core. I guess that this alone is already enough to convince you that you need this book in your life (at least for me it is, but then again I like my stories black as night and seriously twisted)… But in case you need more convincing, let’s see which elements I loved more closely. It’s basically the whole book from start to finish, but let’s narrow it down… First off all I was blown away by the writing, which is simply splendid and bowled me over from page one. I knew I was now a fan of Will Carver‘s writing from the very first chapter, and that is something that doesn’t happen every day.

I also loved the plot and the sheer complexity of it all. We have multiple POVs to deal with, giving this story a multi-dimentional and rich feel. It really enhanced the reading experience for me and the structure was used to build the suspense, keep things from you while anticipating others in an absolutely brilliant way. You have not one, but multiple twisted characters to follow and Good Samaritans does an excellent job keeping you on your toes as you try to discover how everything fits together. The different characters are sublimely developed, they felt realistic and they made for a fascinating as well as seriously disturbed cast of characters… The best possible bunch if you like your thrillers pitch black and without sugar like myself.

Talking about the previously mentioned characters… I just loved that we didn’t just have one clear bad guy, but instead a selection of excellently and realistically developed disturbing personalities that each have their secrets and issues. Sure, we have the serial killer, but his identity is made less important as we have more than one suspect at first and later more than one character turned to the dark side to follow. Furthermore, Good Samaritans offers us both sides of the story,with POVs featuring victims, our new lead detective sergeant Pace and the more twisted individuals alike. This gives us a more complete picture of the whole situation as well as really enriching what is already a fantastic story.

Another thing that stands out is that while this book is the first Detective Sergeant Pace book, he doesn’t seem all that present during most of the story. Instead, the focus is mostly on the dark side and this definitely gave the story its unique feel. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before, but I loved how each POV had its own tone and it was really easy to spot which character was currently featured by the writing style and tone alone. I liked how Pace was represented and I will definitely be looking forward to see more of him in the future.

There are a lot of different and dark elements in play in Good Samaritans, including mental health issues, suicide, OCD and a healthy dose of violence. On top of that, you will also find a surprising amount of steamy scenes included too… Turning this story into something so essentially dark and sensual that it almost makes you feel naughty for reading it. And guess who was more than ready to misbehave? Oh yes, Good Samaritans was an instant favorite and blew me away completely from start to finish. Dark and simply glorious; if you think you can handle it, this book in an absolute must-read.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Creak On The Stairs – by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @Orendabooks @annecater

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Creak On The Stairs Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I have a weak spot for nordic noir and as soon as I read the blurb of The Creak On The Stairs I knew I just had to read it. Especially since two fellow trusted bloggers had already raved about it too… And now I’ve had the chance to read this first book of a new series, I can say that they were absolutely right to do so. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!

Title: The Creak On The Stairs
(Forbidden Iceland #1)
Author: Eva Björg Ægisdóttir
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: April 24th 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: April 25th 2020
Pages: 315
(Originally written in Icelandic: ‘Marrið í stiganum’)

“She had to remind herself that she wasn’t a little girl anymore.

That the real evil wasn’t to be found lurking in dark corners but in the human soul.”

*** 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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It’s no secret that I love my nordic noir and I’m always looking for new authors to discover. I admit that I was sold as soon as I read the blurb of The Creak On The Stairs, and the raving reviews of two fellow trusted bloggers (yes, Eva and Kelly, YOU!) only confirmed to me that I made the right decision to join the blog tour. I have been looking forward to read The Creak On The Stairs ever since I read those reviews and I now completely agree this is a fantastic start of a new nordic noir series.

There is a lot to love in The Creak On The Stairs… The first thing that stands out is the Icelandic setting. I love foreign settings as it makes me feel like I’m travelling from the comfort of my own reading chair… And the atmospheric and extensive descriptions did just that and really made Iceland come alive for me. Thanks to the thorough descriptions, it is very easy to visualize the different Icelandic settings and it makes it feel as if you were right next to the main characters seeing the world through their eyes. The Icelandic setting was the perfect backdrop for this story and gave the plot that cold and daunting feel any nordic noir fan will be delighted with.

I also loved both the plot and the writing. And that means the writing in general, and not just the previously mentioned descriptions… The writing is enticing, well paced and very successful at drawing you in from the very first chapter. The plot itself is intriguing and I really liked the structure of the story in general. You are thrown in without knowing much of the main characters and have different POVs and flashbacks to juggle, but it only added to the suspense and intrigue instead of slowing you down. The complex structure of the plot allows the story to hide things from you, with the result that you have more than one secret to unravel. The woman showing up dead, who is behind it, the secrets of her past, the secrets of our new lead character Elma… There are a lot of puzzles to solve and isn’t that the best thing while reading a detective thriller?

As for the characters… It looks like we have another lead character detective with a complicated past on our hands, although we are not exactly told what happened in her past and this definitely added to the intrigue around Elma. We actually don’t get to know her all that much in the first Forbidden Iceland book, but the bites we get offered were more than promising and leave you wanting for more. I liked the dynamics of the detective team in Akranes in general too. The other characters in play were all well developed and felt realistic, and even though most were not all that easy to like, I wasn’t too bothered by that as they all played their roles flawlessly. Especially Beta turned out to be an absolutely fascinating character study.

The Creak On The Stairs also isn’t afraid to go dark and this includes difficult topics such as (child) abuse and alcoholism. Especially the first plays quite a big role and might be a turn off for some… But the element was developed realistically and played an important role in both the plot and the character development. The plot twists and reveals of the different secrets are well balanced out in the plot, and the ending definitely left me wanting for the next book of the series. Because while the case in the first book was solved, I’m more than ready to see more of Elma and her team!

Dark, ominous and atmospheric, this first book of the Forbidden Iceland series shows us an image of Iceland any nordic noir fan would love to discover. It’s an excellent start of a new series that is more than worth being on your radar if you enjoy the genre!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Born in Akranes in 1988, Eva moved to Trondheim, Norway to study my MSc in Globalisation when she was 25. After moving back home having completed her MSc, she knew it was time to start working on her novel. Eva has wanted to write books since she was 15 years old, having won a short story contest in Iceland.

Eva worked as a stewardess to make ends meet while she wrote her first novel. The book went on to win the Blackbird Award and became an Icelandic bestseller. Eva now lives with her husband and three children in Reykjavík, staying at home with her youngest until she begins Kindergarten.


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