YVO’S SHORTIES #149 – Things In Jars & The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two titles I have been really excited about and I’m still not sure why it took me this long to pick them up… I won a gorgeous hardback copy of Things In Jars last year and I have been eyeing it ever since; I’m still kicking myself for not reading it sooner as I absolutely loved it. And I had high hopes for The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry as Harold sounded like my kind of character, and he is definitely the reason this story worked so well for me.


Title: Things In Jars
Author: Jess Kidd

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Fantasy
First published: April 4th 2019
Publisher: Canongate Books
Finished reading: February 8th 2020
Pages: 416

“Here is time held in suspension.

Yesterday pickled.

Eternity in a jar.”


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I actually won a gorgeous hardback copy of Things In Jars in a giveaway last year, but somehow it took me way longer than expected to actually read it… I’m kicking myself now, because it was an absolutely brilliant read. I admit that I was sold as soon as I read the blurb, with that Victorian London vibe as well as the supernatural feel and the detective angle. And the execution definitely lived up to expectations and more! The wonderful prose only enhances that Victorian London feel of the plot, I loved the hint of the surreal and the Irish folklore and this is definitely magical realism and Gothic mystery at its best. The characters are definitely part of this story works so well, and both Bridie and the other important character form a fascinating cast and take the story to the next level. Their descriptions and development really made them come alive for me and they are without doubt quirky and colorful! The supernatural aspect of the plot with the Irish folklore elements is simply spot on, and gave the story a vibe that is probably best described as a mix between Gothic and magical realism with a hint of (Victorian) urban fantasy. Quite an impressive cocktail, but one that works splendidly! The suspense and plot twists are also well handled, and I liked how the whole detective angle was incorporated into the plot. The different elements in Things In Jars are well balanced in general and together form an absolutely intriguing story that will stay with me for a long time.The unique and diverse cast of characters, the folklore, the plot, the writing, the suspense… There is just so much to love!


Title: The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry
(Harold Fry #1)
Author: Rachel Joyce

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: March 15th 2012
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Finished reading: February 13th 2020
Pages: 297

“But maybe it’s what the world needs. A little less sense, and a little more faith.”


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The truth is that I have been wanting to read The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry for years now. There was just something about the blurb and main character Harold Fry that made me think it would be my kind of book, and I thought his character was giving off seriously A Man Called Ove vibes too… My instincts turned out to be right on both counts, and Harold Fry is without doubt the reason this story worked so well for me. While the pace might be a tad slow, this can be explained by the fact that despite the pilgrimage and constant moving on the main characer this book is mostly a character-driven story. Harold Fry takes the spotlight of course, but the diverse, unique and quirky collection of people he meets along the way really made the story come alive for me. Harold Fry decided to walk across the UK in order to save an old colleague, Queenie, who sent him a goodbye letter stating she has terminal cancer. Harold decided on the spur that a response letter wasn’t enough, and started walking all unprepared without proper shoes or equipment. It was fascinating to follow his journey, learn more about the people he meets along the way and seeing how his pilgrimage changes Harold as well… I did guess the truth about his son really early on, which was a shame, but I liked how the story ended overall. And I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel to read more about Queenie’s story now! The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry is both a heartwarming and heartbreaking journey and a character-driven story with a wide cast of quirky characters… Recommended if you enjoy slower fiction reads!


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ARC REVIEW: The Rules Of Murder – by Rob Sinclair

Title: The Rules Of Murder
(DI Dani Stephens #2)
Author: Rob Sinclair
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: January 9th 2020
Publisher: Canelo Hera
Finished reading: December 20th 2019
Pages: 318

“What did it say about her that she was still fighting away, still determined to prove to everyone that she could be a good copper, even after all that she’d suffered?”

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

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I was part of the blog tour for The Essence Of Evil back in September, and I really enjoyed my first meeting with DI Dani Stephens. I have been curious about what would happen next to her character ever since, so of course when I was invited to read the sequel I had to say yes immediately. I’m definitely not regretting that decision, because there is no doubt that The Rules Of Murder is another solid and pretty brutal serial killer thriller! Oh yes, fans of heart racing and suspenseful thrillers will definitely be in for a treat.

The first thing that stands out in this series is its main character Dani Stephens. While in a way you can see her as the typical damaged detective lead, her character has so much more dept than that. Not only is she a detective with a serial killer twin who actually tried to kill her, but she also suffered brain damage as a result of that attack and is still struggling with the consequences. It is fascinating to follow her on this journey and while the real progress regarding the brain damage matter was developed in book one, it is still a pretty important element in the sequel. The psychological aspect of the story in general plays a big role throughout the story, although the focus is mostly shifted towards the killer in this case.

Dani’s murdering twin brother Ben once again plays a role in The Rules Of Murder. He is a truly fascinating character and definitely provides for a very interesting angle in this sequel. What does he know about this killer? Or is he simply lying about having any knowledge? It definitely added a whole different layer of mystery and intrigue to the plot. And talking about the plot: if you are looking for a fast, shocking and disturbing plot with brutal murders that simply chill you to the bone, you will be more than satisfied with The Rules Of Murder. The murder scenes are definitely not for those with a weak stomach! The plot itself is quite complex and definitely has quite a few twists and turns, although I do have to say that I saw some of the plot twists coming pretty early on… The action and suspense mostly made up for that though.

The story is told through two different POVs: Dani and the killer. We mostly stick with our detective lead, with intermittent chapters that give us a glimpse inside the disturbed mind of our serial killer. And boy, those chapters are pretty twisted! The writing reflects the state of mind of the killer brilliantly and I felt these chapters added a little something extra to the story as well. The story ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, leaving you wanting to know more and how certain plot developments will continue in the future… The Rules Of Murder is by no means a meek story and it will have plenty of action, suspense and properly twisted and graphic scenes for you in store. If you like your detective/serial killer thrillers fast and dangerous, you should definitely try this series!


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ARC REVIEW: The Blossom Twins – by Carol Wyer

Title: The Blossom Twins
(Detective Natalie Ward #5)
Author: Carol Wyer
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 12th 2019
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: December 10th 2019 
Pages: 399

“Natalie had worked some tough cases in her time, but none had left their mark as much as the Blossom Twins.”

*** 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 said it before that it seems like you can’t go wrong when it comes to Carol Wyer‘s detective thrillers, and the announcement of every new title always make me feel giddy with delight. I’ve been following Detective Natalie Ward since the beginning, so of course I was very excited when I heard Natalie was ready to give us her fifth adventure… After how things ended in her personal storyline in book four, I was definitely most curious to see how things would continue. And as I’ve been enjoying my time with Natalie Ward so far, the decision whether to read book number five was simply a no-brainer. I’m not sure why it took me longer than expected to actually get to it, but there is no doubt that The Blossom Twins is another solid sequel with and ending that left me completely shellshocked, flabbergasted and simply destroyed.

So, The Blossom Twins. First of all I have to say that you can technically read this story as a stand-alone, although you will be missing certain key background information about the main characters and you might not get certain clues and character dynamics. You will be able to follow the case itself easily though. I felt that the balance in The Blossom Twins was slightly different than in the previous books, with a little more focus on Natalie’s personal situation at home. We definitely get a good glimpse at their current situation as well as quite a few changes… I don’t want to reveal too much to avoid spoilers, but let’s just say that things won’t be static in book five. That said, I did have an issue with how the current situation was described and portrayed by the characters involved. There was quite a lot of complaining and nagging going on in The Blossom Twins, both by Natalie and those around her and both on a personal and professional level. I can understand a bit of bickering and frustration, but it soon became a little too much for me and it started to affect my reading experience negatively.

I still can’t put my finger on the why, but The Blossom Twins wasn’t my favorite of the series so far. Part of this had to do with the bickering and probably also the current team and work situation at the station. The whole ‘enemy’ and ‘sneaky’ colleague element came over as a bit of a cliche for me and I found myself soon very annoyed with the whole situation… Also, I thought it distracted from the case itself, which on its own is without doubt both shocking and spine-chilling. A serial killer hunting teenagers and seemingly leaving no trace behind… Without doubt the worst nightmare of any parent! Things were a bit slow to start developing, but once the ball started rolling it was on a collision course and ready to bowl you over without warning. I wasn’t kidding when I said before that the ending left me shell shocked, flabbergasted and unable to render a word! Oh yes, the ending will most likely destroy you and it left me personally especially desperate to find out what will happen next in Natalie’s life.

In short, while The Blossom Twins wasn’t my favorite Natalie Ward installment so far, there is no doubt that it is still a solid serial killer thriller that ends with a bang the size of an atomic bomb. Fans of the genre and series will enjoy spending more time with Natalie Ward!


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ARC REVIEW: Down The Darkest Road – by Kylie Brant

Title: Down The Darkest Road
(Cady Maddix Mystery #2)

Author: Kylie Brant
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Detective
First published: December 10th 2019
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: December 2nd 2019
Pages: 396

“All of a sudden, the best night of his life seemed like a distant memory.”

*** 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 really enjoyed my first meeting with Cady Maddix last year, so of course I couldn’t resist adding the sequel to my list as soon as I saw it was available on Netgalley. I’ve been looking forward to meeting up with her again, and I can now say that Down The Darkest Road is definitely a solid sequel and a very entertaining and thrilling ride. While I do think I enjoyed the first book a tiny bit more, there is no doubt that this sequel is a superfast thriller with a lot of action and suspense to keep you on edge.

Technically you could read Down The Darkest Road as a standalone, but as you would be missing background information on the main characters I wouldn’t recommend doing so. Without this information, you won’t be able to appreciate the complexity of Cady Maddix’s character fully… Because she is definitely one of the reasons why this thriller is so successful. With a traumatizing past that has marked her and haunts her to this date, her loyal dog Hero and her determination and fierceness while doing her job, Cady Maddix makes for a very intriguing deputy US marshal to follow. The main characters in general are easy to connect to despite their flaws, making them only feel more realistic in the process.

The plot itself is complex and filled to the brim with action scenes, suspense and a bulk load of plot twists and secrets. It has a very high entertainment level while also having quite a few shocking surprises for you in store… I do have to say that I’m not sure about the credibility of certain aspects of the plot and certain details did become a bit to fantastical, but there is no denying that Down The Darkest Road is a lighting fast and thrilling ride. The new case Cady Maddix becomes involved in definitely ticks a lot of killer thriller boxes. Bruce Forrester is the perfect villian for this story and it was fascinating to learn more about his character, his crimes and how he is able to escape justice for so long along the way. Dylan’s story was interesting as well; the witness turned victim as he has been moving around hiding and running from Bruce during the last five years… It shows just how little authorities can do to protect witnesses and what it is like to live in fear for so long. This aspect of the story was without doubt well developed.

In short, while I had some minor issues with the credibility of certain aspects of the plot, there is no doubt that I had a great time reading this sequel and I’m definitely looking forward to see how Cady Maddix’s character will develop in the future. If you like your thrillers suspenseful, dark and lightning fast, this series is an excellent choice!


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ARC REVIEW: Deadly Silence – by OMJ Ryan

Title: Deadly Silence
(Detective Jane Phillips #1)

Author: OMJ Ryan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 26th 2019
Publisher: Inkubator Books
Finished reading: October 26th 2019
Pages: 311

“We all feel like that, Guv. He has a very punch-able face. The trick is not to let it show.”

*** 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 think it has become pretty obvious I have a weak spot for a good serial killer thriller… It turns out I was craving another dose without even knowing so, because when I read Meggy’s review of Deadly Silence I immediately caved in and somehow a copy of this new detective series ended up hanging out on my kindle. My current read wasn’t really working for me, so I decided to put that on hold and start reading Deadly Silence instead. Best decision ever! Meggy always makes the best recommendations, and this new series is without doubt fabulous and right up my alley!

There is a lot to love in Deadly Silence, but let’s just start with the fact that this first installment of a new detective series is so damn readable! I found myself hooked from the very first chapter and flying through those pages like there was no tomorrow… The only reason I didn’t finish it in one sitting is that I started it too late in the evening to do so, because this story definitely makes you want to keep reading. Engaging, well written, suspenseful, shocking and even a dash of dark humor here and there… The writing was definitely everything I could have wished for and more. The plot itself was without doubt well developed as well. The case Jane and her team have to investigate is a tricky one, and as key information has been hidden for you, you won’t be able to form a proper idea about the motive behind the killings straight away. Instead, plot twists and secrets are used to misguide you… Quite successfully as well, although I do have to admit I guessed who was behind it quite early on. Somehow I didn’t mind too much though, as the story itself was engaging enough to keep me focused and make me want to discover if I was right all along.

As for the characters… Jane Phillips without doubt makes for a very intriguing main character. Things can be said about her being the typical damaged detective lead, but I personally liked her sass and attitude towards the investigation and life in general. The other members of her team were easy to like as well, with the big exception of Brown of course. He is truly exasperating and will make you want to hit things sooner than later… Also, I don’t get how he could actually function as a DCI, but I guess he does make for the perfect ‘enemy’ to be pitted against our main character Jane. The character development in Deadly Silence in general is solid and I really liked the message behind the motive of the killer and the story. Keeping silent and doing nothing can be just as damaging… Silence can be deadly, especially if the silence lasts for a long time.

As you might have guessed, I really enjoyed my time with Deadly Silence and I will be looking forward to the next book. If you are, like me, a serial killer and detective thriller fan, you should add definitely add this title to your wishlist! Thanks again Meggy for putting Deadly Silence on my radar. ❤


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ARC REVIEW: Cradle To Grave – by Rachel Amplett #KayHunter @RachelAmphlett

Title: Cradle To Grave
(Detective Kay Hunter #8)

Author: Rachel Amphlett
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 6th 2019
Publisher: Saxon Publishing
Finished reading: September 24th 2019
Pages: 370

“Muted sunlight shone through the curtains at the windows, creating a gloom that hung in the air, malevolent and foreboding.”

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


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I’m starting to feel lost for words when it comes to reviewing this series… Why? Detective Kay Hunter has quickly grown into one of my favorite detective series and characters, and it’s getting hard expressing that love without sounding repetitive. This is one of those series that just keeps delivering, and every single book so far has been well written with intriguing plots, interesting and easy to like characters and just the right amount of suspense and plot twists. Kay Hunter is hands down one of my favorite detective characters and spending time catching up with her feels like wearing your favorite sweater or meeting up with an old friend. Cradle To Grave is already book number eight and by no means an exception to this rule. If you are a detective thriller fan and haven’t tried this series yet, you are most definitely missing out!

Crade To Grave is one of those books you will want to clear your schedule for, because you will most likely end up wanting to read it in one sitting. I was hooked as soon as I started reading, cancelled all plans and just kept reading until I reached that final page… Loving every single minute of the ride. While this story might work as a stand-alone quite easily as well, I personally suggest reading them in order so you can properly meet and get to know Kay and the rest. I really enjoy seeing them develop over time… Also, the little animal visitors Adam brings home always manage to make me laugh and bring some lightness to balance the darker themes. In Cradle To Grave we have a new case that, while initially seemingly simple, soon turns out to be another challenge for Kay and her team. A murder, a missing child and a whole web of secrets and lies just waiting to be uncovered… On top of that, a possible connection in a whole different country, oh la la! The plot in book number eight will definitely keep you on your toes and it will be really hard to guess the final reveals before they happen.

Twists and turns are used to keep the level of suspense steady as well as slowly building that tension towards the grand final… Combine this with excellent writing and main characters you will find yourself once again rooting for, and you won’t realize hours have passed until you read those final words. Cradle To Grave is of that same high quality I’ve become used to when it comes to this series, and I loved spending more time with my favorite team. If you are looking for a detective thriller series that keeps delivering, a plot that will keep you guessing until the very end or simply a very engaging and absorbing read, you will find all those things are covered in every single Detective Kay Hunter book. So go meet her if you haven’t already! Trust me, you won’t regret it…


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Essence Of Evil – by Rob Sinclair #blogtour #TheEssenceOfEvil @HeraBooks @canelo_co @Tr4cyF3nt0n

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Essence Of Evil blog tour! A huge thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. There was just something about this story that caught my eye immediately (serial killer twin!!) and I couldn’t wait to read this title.  And it was without doubt a thrilling ride… Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!


Title: The Essence Of Evil
Author: Rob Sinclair
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 12th 2019
Publisher: Canelo Hera
Finished reading: September 3rd 2019
Pages: 396

“All humans are the same. We’re all made of the same stuff, and deep down every single one of us is a potential killer.”

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

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I admit that I was sold as soon as I read the blurb. I mean, a crime thriller with a detective lead that has a serial killer twin? How can I say no to that?! You guessed right, I simply couldn’t. If you, like myself, have that weird obsession with serial killer thrillers, you will be in for a treat with this first installment of a new detective series. This story will keep you on your toes and will have you biting your nails as you keep turning those pages to discover what is really going on… Both the murder case and the main lead’s personal background are simply fascinating.

So what makes The Essence Of Evil such a successful start of a new series? I already gave you a few hints, but I think our new lead DI Dani Stephens deserves to be named first. Why? While it’s true that she at first glance might seem to be like the typical damaged detective lead, there is a whole lot more to her character. Likeable or not, there is no doubt that she is a fascinating character and one of the reasons The Essence Of Evil worked so well for me. Because Dani isn’t just a detective with a serial killer twin. Oh no, that same twin actually tried to kill her and she only just survived… Spending the next two years of her life trying to recover from the brain injury that almost killed her. Chapters set in the present are mixed with diary style entries taking place during those two years. They show us just how hard it is to recover from serious brain injuries, not only for the victims but also for those around them. I could personally really appreciate this psychological aspect of the story, as it’s not something you read about every day.

Likewise, it was intriguing to read about Dani’s return to work and how she reacts to both her co-workers and the murder case that is thrown at her the very first day she returns. Dani is desperate to go back to work and prove herself, but is she truly ready? It was interesting to see this aspect of the plot evolve as well as how the case affects Dani’s personal life. Because this isn’t just another murder investigation. Dani’s personal life plays a considerable role throughout the plot, and not just in the flashbacks and her twin brother. We also see it in her road to recovery, the things that happen to her during the investigation and the dynamics with the other members of the team. I personally enjoyed this different focus as it gave another refreshing touch to The Essence Of Evil.

Next up is the plot. With flashbacks and an active present murder investigation, there is a lot going on and you can say that The Essence Of Evil has quite a complex plot. We have Dani’s brain injury recovery, we have the murder investigation and all its complications and subplots… All woven together with a healthy dose of suspense, plot twists and plain old action. The slower flashbacks are nicely balanced with superfast action scenes, thus appealing to a wider reading audience. The writing is easy on the eye and really makes you fly through those pages… With so many twists and unanswered questions, The Essence Of Evil is one of those books you will have a hard time putting down before you know all the answers.

Did you guess already that I really enjoyed this book? Between a fascinating new lead, the serial killer element, the brain injury recovery, interesting flashbacks and an intriguing murder mystery, there is no doubt that The Essence Of Evil is a promising start of a new series and one I can recommend to fans of the genre.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rob Sinclair is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling Enemy series and James Ryker series of espionage thrillers. His books have sold over half a million copies to date with many reviewers and readers having likened Rob’s work to authors at the very top of the genre, including Lee Child and Vince Flynn.

Rob began writing in 2009 following a promise to his wife, an avid reader, that he could pen a ‘can’t put down’ thriller. He worked for nearly 13 years for a global accounting firm after graduating from The University of Nottingham in 2002, specialising in forensic fraud investigations at both national and international levels. Rob now writes full time.

Originally from the North East of England, Rob has lived and worked in a number of fast paced cities, including New York, and is now settled in the West Midlands with his wife and young sons.

http://www.robsinclairauthor.com 


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