BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Breakers – by Dough Johnstone #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @annecater @Orendabooks

Hello and welcome to my little stop of the Breakers Random Things blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. As soon as I read the blurb of this story, I knew I HAD to read it… And the story most definitely blew me away. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts on Breakers! Also, make sure to check out my blog tour buddy Eva’s fab review here while you’re at it. ❤

Title: Breakers
Author: Doug Johnstone
Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 16th 2019
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: May 18th 2019
Pages: 300

“Everything with her was a performance, layered in irony, wrapped up in too much self-awareness. It was sweet but fucked up, tiring to go along with, like he was supposed to dig around for the real her.”

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

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I knew I had to read Breakers as soon as I first read the blurb. The Edinburgh setting, the devastating home situation of the main character, the mention of a crime lord involved… Oh yes, there were a lot of signs this was going to be an explosive and emotionally harrowing read. My instincts were right, because it turned out to be an absolute scorcher! In fact, the second thriller in a row to make me forget about everything else and finish the whole book in one sitting.

There is a lot to love in Breakers. The first thing that stands out is the writing style: the story is well written, engaging and the descriptions are done exceptionally well. The real power behind Breakers are the main characters though. Both flawed and realistic, Tyler, Flick and little Bean will win over your heart and you will ache for them as things are spinning out of control. Tyler has a very difficult life at home with his drug-addict mother and his violent older brother, but somehow he still manages to grow up pretty decent and protect his little sister Bean. His story is heartbreaking and Tyler’s relationship with his little sister earned a lot of brownie points! It’s obvious he doesn’t have an easy life, and it’s interesting to see his situation being contrasted to Flick’s life. It shows that having money doesn’t necessarily mean a happy life, but it does make things easier… It also shows that in the end they are not as different as Tyler thinks. Barry is a real pain and very easy to dislike, but his character is ment this way and helps show a contrast with his younger brother and that a difficult home situation doesn’t mean all kids turn out the same.

Another thing I could really appreciate was the crime lord element; it definitely spiced up the plot! At first we get a dose of minor crime as Barry, Kelly and Tyler rob houses, but then things take a turn for the worse as Barry knifes the wife of local crime lord Deke Holt. Things spin out of control quickly then and it shows in Barry’s character as well as he becomes even more unstable and violent. The situation of Tyler’s mother is tragic and shows us the effects of drug and alcohol addiction; children left fending for themselves as parents are no longer able to take care of them. Little Bean brings something sweet and innocent to the plot though. Her relationship with Tyler and innocent look on life are used as another contrast between ‘good and bad’.

Both character description and development are simply sublime in Breakers. It was fascinating to see how the different characters reacted to the situations that arised! This story was brutal and emotionally draining, but highly satisfying as a whole. Trigger warnings are in place for violence, abuse, alcoholism and drug addiction… Each of these elements is well incorporated into the plot and used to realistically display how tragic the home situation of Tyler and his little sister basically is. It is all a vicious circle almost impossible to escape… As you might have guessed already, Breakers is an absolutely fantastic and brutal story that fans of the genre will most likely devour in one sitting. I know I did!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Doug Johnstone is an author, journalist and musician based in Edinburgh. He’s had nine novels published, most recently Fault Lines. His previous novel, The Jump, was a finalist for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his other novels have been award winners and bestsellers, and he’s had short stories published in numerous anthologies and literary magazines. His work has been praised by the likes of Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Irvine Welsh. Several of his novels have been optioned for film and television. Doug is also a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow. He’s worked as an RLF Fellow at Queen Margaret University, taught creative writing at Strathclyde University and William Purves Funeral Directors. He mentors and assesses manuscripts for The Literary Consultancy and regularly tutors at Moniack Mhor writing retreat. Doug has released seven albums in various bands, and is drummer, vocalist and occasional guitarist for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He also reviews books for The Big Issue magazine, is player-manager for Scotland Writers Football Club and has a PhD in nuclear physics.


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WWW Wednesdays #223 – May 22nd

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m finally reading Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech! I’ve heard so many fantastic things about it and I’m so excited to be finally getting to know her work… I have my tissues ready just in case. 😉 I’m also starting another blog tour read which is due early next month: The Disappeared by Amy Lord. I’m really curious about this title as the blurb sounds intriguing.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Wisdom Of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan (3/5 stars) REVIEW 
The Wisdom Of Sally Red Shoes is by no means a bad read (quite the contrary in fact) and the three star rating reflects my personal experience with the story rather than the quality itself. Every book has its target group and while the story sadly wasn’t a right fit for me, I could also really appreciate it for what it was. The power behind this read is Ruth Hogan‘s ability to create quirky, flawed and unique characters that will most likely stay with you for quite some time. A lot of time is invested in the description and development of the different characters. While I could really appreciate that and I do love my quirky and unique characters, for me personally it slowed down the pace too much and I struggled to connect and stay invested in the story.

2. Dead Inside by Noelle Holten (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 24/05
I literally cancelled all plans, settled down in my favorite reading chair and flew through Dead Inside in one sitting. It was simply brilliant! Dead Inside shines a light on domestic abuse from the point of view of both victims and (in a less direct way) abusers. At the same time, we also have an active murder investigation going on with ‘victims’ who don’t exactly arise sympathy. This story is lightning fast and isn’t afraid to go dark and messy. There are various twists and turns involved in Dead Inside, and while I did see part of it coming, I definitely didn’t guess the final reveal. And what a way to end the story! Crime thriller fans, you have found a new title for your wishlist! Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on this outstanding crime thriller debut.

3. The Sleep Tight Motel by Lisa Unger (4/5 stars) REVIEW 27/05
I know I don’t read a lot of short stories, but I’ve enjoyed Lisa Unger‘s writing in the past and The Sleep Tight Motel fitted a couple of challenge prompts… Making it easy to make an exception and give it a go. Between the cover and blurb I knew I was in for a creepy read, and I can say this short story would have been a perfect fit for the Halloween month. What starts out as a simple crime thriller with the main character on the run and hiding from someone, turns out to be so much more by the time you reach the final page…

4. Breakers by Doug Johnstone (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 23/05
Look out for my thoughts on Breakers during my blog tour stop tomorrow!

5. Your Life Is Mine by Nathan Ripley (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 28/05
I think there is a lot to love in Your Life Is Mine, but in the end the story failed to convince me completely. A big part of this feeling had to do with the very slow pace during most of the story. The slow pace came as a surprise especially considering just how twisted things get at points… Especially in the second half you will find a lot of action as things are spinning out of control, but somehow the overall plot still feels slow? It sounds contradicting, but sadly it was how I felt about the story as a whole. Your Life Is Mine is by no means a bad read and it has some very interesting and twisted elements, but sadly it failed to stand out above other recent thrillers I’ve read.

6. The Last Of August by Brittany Cavallaro (2/5 stars) REVIEW 27/05
I wasn’t expecting to be having this reaction, especially as I really enjoyed the first book of the series, but The Last Of August turned out to be a mayor disappointment. About 90% of the story is filled with a frustrating love triangle,  a whole lot of ‘does he/she love me?’ and ‘I don’t know what to do with my feelings’ and basically an overdose of teen angst in general. The whole Sherlock Holmes investigation was mostly pushed into the background and the only thing that stopped me from DNFing was the promise of Berlin and Prague descriptions (and even those were not as present as I hoped). I’m definitely giving up on this series for now.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m going to try and squeeze in more of my own books before continuing with my ARCs… Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool and The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield are up next. Then it’s ARCs again and I’m probably going to pick up The Paper Wasp by Lauren Acampora if I’m in the mood for it. My latest TBR jar pick is still The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout.


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WWW Wednesdays #222 – May 15th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m trying to work through my ARCs so I can take the month of June off and read mostly my own books… I’ve been trying to resist new ARCs and so far things are looking up if I can only get through the current ones (about 8 left with these included; whoops?). I’m currently reading The Wisdom Of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan even though it’s a June ARC, mostly because I’ve been wanting a break from the mystery genre… It’s still early days so we’ll see how things go. I’m also starting with Breakers by Doug Johnstone, which I should try to finish quickly since my blog tour post is due next week. I’m really excited to be reading it though!

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Circe by Madeline Miller (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 16/05
I loved this story just as much as the gorgeous and shiny cover! If you enjoy (Greek) mythology retellings, Circe definitely is a must-read. Madeline Miller uses Circe’s immortal character to weave in a variety of different myths and stories about Gods and famous mortals alike. This is done exceptionally well and in a way that makes the story flow naturally. It’s true that time passes slower or more quickly at times and sometimes decades or centuries pass in a blink of the eye. But for me it only demonstrated the immortality of Circe and the way passes differently for her. I can see why Circe wouldn’t be for everyone, but if you enjoy Greek mythology retellings and don’t mind a slower pace at times, you will most likely enjoy it as much as I did.

2. Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small (3/5 stars) REVIEW 17/05
Look out for my thoughts on Bright Burning Stars during my blog tour stop on Friday!

3. The Vanishing Season by Dot Hutchison (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 
The Vanishing Season has definitely succeeded in making this series go out with a bang. Things are going to get very personal and cold cases are going to get mixed with a current kidnapping case in a way you won’t be able to guess easily. There are twists and turns involved to mislead you and while you may get some details right, it will be impossible to imagine the full truth about the who, how and why until the very end. And you won’t be able to keep it dry by the time you reach the final page either… I found myself flying through the pages as I was dying to discover how it all ended; I literally couldn’t put down my kindle until I got there. I liked how everything wrapped up nicely and I was more than satisfied with this final book of the series. The Vanishing Season and The Summer Children are now tied for series favorite!

4. The Dead Girls Of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 21/05
I’ve enjoyed Katie Alender‘s books in the past so I was excited when my TBR jar thought it was time to pick up this title. I admit I was expecting something a little more creepy than what I found. There are elements of suspense and there are some creepy moments and secrets hidden in Hysteria Hall, but overall I found most of them to be cliche. I also didn’t find the main character Delia strong enough to carry the story; for example Maria came over as a considerably more interesting character to follow. There are a lot of cliche involved in general, related to both ghosts, family drama and even a love triangle… On the other hand it was still quite a fun and fast read; just don’t expect to be scared away, as for a haunted house story it’s surprisingly light on the horror.

5. Trouble Makes A Comeback by Stephanie Tromly (3/5 stars) REVIEW 21/05
I think I had the same issues with this sequel as with the first book… I should have checked that review better before deciding to read Trouble Makes A Comeback. I ended up having mixed thoughts about this story. It’s true the story reads superfast and there are entertaining parts. BUT. I had huge doubts about the credibility of it all and the fact that you are constantly reminded of THE love triangle is beyond annoying. In fact, it’s more than a triangle; a square maybe? Anyhow, this story is packed with high school and romance cliches and between those and the lack of credibility of the plot I had a lot of eyebrow raising going on.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

As I said before, I’m trying to get through my May and June ARCs ASAP so I can start reading my own titles for a while… I’m really excited to read Dead Inside by fellow blogger Noelle Holten though! And I enjoyed Nathan Ripley’s other story Find You In The Dark last year, so I’m having high hopes for Your Life Is Mine. The only reason I didn’t read Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech yet is that I’ve been reading ARCs and was in the mood for something lighter in between… I’m picking it up soon though. And I have a new TBR jar pick! The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout… Isn’t that cover gorgeous?! I’m not sure if the story itself will be for me, but I’m looking forward to find out either way.


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WWW Wednesdays #221 – May 8th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading Circe by Madeline Miller, a book I’ve been meaning to pick up for a while and I’m really excited about. I’m also starting Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small as my blog tour stop is getting pretty close.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 12/05
Sweetheart has definitely reconfirmed my love for this series. What a delightfully disturbing and twisted read! I always love it when we get to see a serial killer up close and Gretchen Lowell is without doubt one to reckon with. This story has twists, turns and a healthy dose of action and suspense as well as an insight in the psychological aspects. You’ll be having a hard time putting this one down before you find out what happens, and the cliffhanger will most definitely leave you wanting for more.

2. Middlegame by Seanan McGuire (DNF at 41%; 0 stars) REVIEW 
First of all I have to stress that I feel really bad about the decision to DNF, especially since I almost never have to resort to such a drastic decision and Middlegame is such a highly anticipated title. Trust me, I haven’t taken this decision lightly,and I have really tried to overcome my initial feelings and warm up to the story. But after a second, third and fourth chance, I had to throw in the towel at 41%. More about why I took the decision to DNF in my review.

3. Alice In Zombieland by Gene Showalter (1,5/5 stars) REVIEW 12/05
Unlike what you might guess from the pun in Alice In Zombieland, this first book of a series actually has very little to do with the original story. Wait, this isn’t a retelling? Nope, I would never consider calling it that. Why? Well, apart from the main character being called Alice and a white rabbit cloud appearing repeatedly, there are no references to or similarities between the classic and this concoction. Instead, we have a story about zombies where we encounter a different kind of unread this time around; they are basically spirits and a lot more difficult to fight than your regular brain eaters. This could have been a premise for a very bloody and disturbing read, but sadly the fighting scenes and horror have been taken over almost completely by an overdose of cheesy and sappy romance scenes, a very frustrating love triangle and a whole lot of high school drama.

4. The East End by Jason Allen (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 09/05
Look out for my thoughts on The East End during my blog tour stop tomorrow!

5. The Death Of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW  16/05
Finally a story that managed to convince me again! I’ve been meaning to read more Ruth Ware for a while now and I’m definitely glad I picked up my copy of The Death Of Mrs. Westaway. What a creepy and suspenseful read! The house in Cornwall is such an excellent setting for this story filled with secrets and lies… I admit I saw part of it coming, but I never guess the full truth.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I have a final May blog tour book I need to get to, which is also a title I’m really excited about: Breakers by Doug Johnstone. I also need to pick up my ARC of The Vanishing Season by Dot Hutchison,  which is another highly anticipated title. And my copy of Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech finally arrived! I can’t wait to read this story, so I’m probably going to ignore my May TBR and pick up this one ASAP. My latest TBR jar pick is still The Dead Girls Of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender.


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