YVO’S SHORTIES #180 – Dead Wrong & A Heart So Fierce And Broken

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two sequels, albeit two completely different genres. Dead Wrong turned out to be just the dose of crime thriller I was craving and A Heart So Fierce And Broken made me realize I really need to dive into the high fantasy genre more often again.


Title: Dead Wrong
(DC Maggie Jamieson #2)
Author: Noelle Holten

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 14th 2020
Publisher: One More Chapter
Finished reading: September 27th 2020
Pages: 432

“She was always in awe of the landscape around some prisons and secure units. Beautiful on the outside, but housing evil behind the walls.”


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I really enjoyed my time with the first book Dead Inside last year, and I have been looking forward to continue the series ever since… I’m not sure why it took me this long to actually do so, but I guess that in a way I’m kind of glad I did now because that cliffhanger ending is nuclear!! Oh yes, Dead Wrong has the most shocking ending and I will definitely be diving into book three ASAP to find out what happened there. The ending isn’t the only exciting thing happening in this sequel though. While Dead Wrong has a slightly different feel than the first book due to the focus on the murder investigation this time around, both the psychology angle with criminal psychologist Kate and the probation angle with probation officer Lucy will make its appearance along the way. Both women give this crime thriller series a refreshing touch and I really liked the balance with the rest of the murder investigation team. We get to know main character Maggie a little better this time around too, and she is a great character to follow while you are trying to uncover the truth about it all. Dead Wrong will definitely have some twists and surprises for you in store! The writing reads like a train too, and if you are looking for a well written and suspenseful crime thriller, this series in general is an excellent choice.


Title: A Heart So Fierce And Broken
(Cursebreakers #2)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: January 7th 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Finished reading: September 29th 2020
Pages: 464

“Choices are never easy. There are good and bad options, but the most dangerous is to not make any choice at all.”


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I really enjoyed A Curse So Dark And Lonely when I read it last year, so I have been looking forward to read the sequel ever since… It took me longer than expected to finally do so, but I ended up really enjoying my time with A Heart So Fierce And Broken too despite the slower pace in points. There is a shift in focus on the main characters in this sequel, but I actually liked spending more time with Grey instead of Rhen. While I did miss Harper, most of the other interesting characters of the first book take the spotlight along with Grey and a couple of new characters; some might be disappointed by this, but I personally didn’t mind. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that I love Grey’s character, and I really liked new character Lia Mara and what she added to the plot. A bonus: no clear love triangle and instead a slowburn romance between two interesting and easy to like characters. I call that a win! On top of this, we have more magic, a fascinating creature (scraver) and a whole new complicated situation in Emberfall… And that ending!! I definitely can’t wait for book three now to see how things will develop next.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #179 – Heart Bones & A Boy And His Dog At The End Of The World

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two titles I’ve been looking forward to read… The first, Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover, turned out to be a new favorite, but sadly A Boy And His Dog At The End Of The World by C.A. Fletcher somehow just didn’t work for me.


Title: Heart Bones
Author: Colleen Hoover

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: August 19th 2020
Publisher: Hoover Ink
Finished reading: September 19th 2020
Pages: 338

“Damaged people recognize other damaged people. It’s like a club you don’t want a membership to.”


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Colleen Hoover titles can go both ways for me, but I’ve enjoyed her recent titles without fail so I have been highly anticipating her newest story Heart Bones. Both the blurb and the first reviews sounded fantastic, so I had high hopes it would be a good one for me as well… And the CoHo magic struck again, because I absolutely loved this story. Beyah’s character won me over from the very beginning, and I really liked Samson and the other main characters in play as well. They are realistic, flawed and so easy to warm up to that you cannot help but root for them almost immediately. I wasn’t even that bothered by the sexy scenes as I was too busy wondering how the plot and characters would evolve, and that is a true achievement as I normally hate any form of sexy time in my stories. The writing is engaging, flows easily and is packed with emotions. It’s a story about two broken individuals being drawn to each other and finding a connection that seems impossible to break… Both have their secrets and past, and there were definitely a few reveals I didn’t see coming. Heart Bones will mess with your heart and feelings, but the journey is oh so worth it. A new CoHo favorite to add to the list!


Title: A Boy And His Dog At The End Of The World
Author: C.A. Fletcher

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Science Fiction
First published: April 23rd 2019
Publisher: Orbit
Finished reading: September 26th 2020
Pages: 384

“If we’re not loyal to the things we love, what’s the point? That’s like not havign a memory. That’s when we stop being human.”


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I have been looking forward to A Boy And His Dog At The End Of The World ever since I read the first reviews last year. I love a good dystopian story every once in a while, and add an animal character in the spotlight and I’m immediately sold. I was fully expecting to find a new favorite, so that’s probably why I felt even more disappointed when I ended up having a completely different reading experience instead. It’s unpopular opinion time again! Don’t get me wrong: I still love the premise of this story and the idea behind this dystopian future as well as its development was interesting. I also like the idea behind Griz’ character and the dogs… But somehow, the actual story just didn’t work for me personally. I wasn’t a fan of the writing style somehow; I wasn’t able to warm up to the tone or the way the story was told in the form of Griz’ memoir written after the events. Somehow I wasn’t really a fan of how the plot developed either… I found the story to be considerably slow, and while I did enjoy the development of the dystopian world, I didn’t exactly have a good time following Griz’ story itself. I can’t put my finger on the why, but the story just wasn’t able to grab or hold my attention and I found myself skimreading more than often just to get to the end. I know I’m in the minority though as most people do seem to love A Boy And His Dog At The End Of The World, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that this story somehow definitely wasn’t for me. I definitely need a different dystopian read now to properly satisfy my dystopian cravings…


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Road Out Of Winter – by Alison Stine #blogtour @HarlequinBooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Road Out Of Winter blog tour! A huge thanks to Lia Ferrone for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I don’t read nearly enough dystopian stories and there was just something about the blurb of Road Out Of Winter that made me want to try it straight away. And it definitely turned out to be an unique and satisfying read! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: Road Out Of Winter
Author: Alison Stine
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: September 1st 2020
Publisher: MIRA
Finished reading: August 29th 2020
Pages: 227

“I never realized, before last year, how dull winter was. How much the same of everything.”

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

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It’s a fact that I don’t read nearly enough dystopian stories, so I jumped on the chance to join the blog tour of Road Out Of Winter for not one, but two reasons. One: it was the perfect excuse for me to pick up the genre again. And two: the blurb itself had me completely under its spell and I loved the sound of the illegal marijuana growing angle. I’ve been looking forward to dive into what sounded like a fascinating story, and now I’ve read it I can confirm that it is without doubt out of this world. Unique, bitterly cold, mesmerizing and even terrifying: Road Out Of Winter gives us an image of an alternative near future with an air of possibility that will chill you to the bone.

There are a lot of interesting elements in this story, but let’s talk about the setting and the dystopian world first. Although there isn’t an exact date mentioned as far as I know, you immediately get a feel that the story is set in an alternative near future that is very close to our current world. This gave the dystopian elements even more impact for me, as it is quite easy to imagine how it could be like if the cold winter months suddenly never left again… And trust me, after more than two months of cold winter weather, that IS a terrifying thought. The main dystopian aspect of Road Out Of Winter is basically that somehow the season meter is stuck on ‘winter’. This might seem like something minor, but when you start thinking about the cycle of nature, growing plants and how many industries rely on weather changes, you will start to realize just how big of an impact this neverending cold will have on life. Road Out Of Winter does an excellent job portraying the effects and consequences as well as how far out of control things will spin.

What I also loved was the illegal marijuana growing element and how the plant growing element is incorporated into the plot in general. I’ve always had a strange interest in stories with a drugs element, and it was interesting to learn more about Wil’s background and home situation before the cold never left. The drugs element is mostly focused on the before, but the plant growing element will be important throughout the story and really shines through in Wil’s character with her having the talent to make things grow even under the most difficult circumstances. The growing element for me represented the hope for a better future, and I liked how it kept popping up along the way.

Road Out Of Winter can in a way been seen as a dystopian road trip story, where unlikely characters spend time together on an improvised and dangerous road trip while trying to reach a better and warmer destination down south. The dystopian vibe will mean a lot of obstacles and challenges, and there is no doubt whatsoever that this road trip will be no picnic. It has been interesting to follow their struggle as the different characters in play meet those challenges; the different plot twists and obstacles showing us more about the dystopian world and the consequences of no longer having no other seasons but winter.

As for the characters… Wil was without doubt an intriguing character, and it is her strength and perseverance that keeps everyone going. That said, I do think that her character lacks proper development, and the same can be said for all the other main characters in play. There is a lot of mystery around both their background and past, and they don’t exactly grow much during the story either… It’s as if they were frozen in time along with the stuck winter season, but somehow weirdly enough it did mostly work for the story. I think it has to do with the fact that they are basically a random bunch of individuals being thrown together on an impromptu road trip; it makes you forgive the fact that you don’t know almost anything about their background, as the characters are mostly living in the present anyway and they have more pressing things to deal with.

That said, I do have to say that I was quite disappointed by the final developments in the story. After everything that happened before, I felt that the ending was both rushed as well as what I consider way too open. The story left lots of questions unanswered and I didn’t feel my journey with the main characters was concluded or even paused in a satisfying way. I’m not sure if I missed the memo that this was actually the first book of a series, or the story simply ends this way, but the fact is that the final part did put a damper on my overall reading experience.

Despite the unsatisfying ending, Road Out Of Winter is still an unique, fascinating and highly readable dystopian story that will make you wonder what would really happen to our world if the cold winter weather suddenly becomes the only weather throughout the year. If you are looking for a little something different and a dystopian road trip in the middle of a cold cold winter sounds like your cup of tea, you will be in for a treat!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ALISON STINE lives in the rural Appalachian foothills. A recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), she was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. She has written for The Atlantic, The Nation, The Guardian, and many others. She is a contributing editor with the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Author Website // Twitter // Instagram // Goodreads

BUY LINKS

Harlequin // Barnes & Noble // Amazon // Books-A-Million // Powell’s


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YVO’S SHORTIES #176 – The Glass Hotel & Dark Pines #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two titles I’ve been looking forward to pick up for a while now. Sadly, The Glass Hotel somehow didn’t work for me at all, but I had a great time with the first Tuva Moodyson book.


Title: The Glass Hotel
Author: Emily St. John Mandel

Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary
First published: March 24th 2020
Publisher: Knopf
Finished reading: July 29th 2020 
Pages: 302

“Memories are always bent retrospectively to fit individual narratives.”


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So… I’m still not sure what happened here, but I guess it is unpopular opinion time again? I loved Station Eleven back when I read it in 2018, and I fully expected to have a repeat experience in The Glass Hotel. It was one of my most anticipated releases this year, and I still can’t wrap my head around my negative reaction to the writing and story itself. It might just be that I’m not in the right mindset for this story right now, but the fact is… I REALLY didn’t enjoy my time with The Glass Hotel. I wasn’t able to connect to the writing at all, the plot and POV switches felt all over the place and I struggled to keep everyone apart as well as to try and keep track of what part of the plot puzzle fitted where. I loved her writing in Station Eleven, so I’m a bit shocked to be honest to feel this way about her newest story, but it is what it is I guess. The fact that I started skimreading about a third into the story and had almost no motivation whatsoever to continue is a huge warning sign on its own… I’m so sad and disappointed I feel this way about such a highly anticipated story; especially since I seem to be the only one with such a negative reaction so far. Definitely don’t give up on this story on my account, as you probably won’t have that pesky unpopular opinion curse sticking to your back like I do… I might give The Glass Hotel a second chance in the future though to see if it just wasn’t the right time for this story at the moment, or if the story simply isn’t for me.


Title: Dark Pines
(Tuva Moodyson Mystery #1)
Author: Will Dean 

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 7th 2017
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Finished reading: August 2nd 2020
Pages: 323

“Details are important, they can have consequences.”


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I’ve rediscovered my love for the Nordic noir genre in recent years, and I’ve been meaning to meet up with Tuva Moodyson for quite some time now. I had a feeling that I was going to enjoy my time with this series, and my instincts hit the nail on the head. Dark Pines turned out to be an excellent start of a series I will be continuing very soon! I’ve followed the author on Twitter for a while now, and I love how he uses his experience living in Sweden to give us a thorough and realistic description of the Swedish setting. It really made the small town of Gavrik come alive for me, and set the right atmosphere for this Nordic noir gem. The writing drew me right in, and Tuva makes for a fascinating main character. The fact that she is deaf (although she can hear with hearing aids) is something you don’t see every day, and I really liked the journalism angle of the story. Dark Pines is part cold case and part active murder investigation set in the middle of the Swedish forrest. Through Tuva, we get to know the different characters and possible suspects in play, and it is without doubt an interesting cast. The plot has its twists and turns, and while there was some repetition and I saw some twists coming, overall Dark Pines was a solid start of a series I can’t wait to continue.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #175 – Fruit Of The Drunken Tree & The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two books I’ve had really high expectations for… Sadly, Fruit Of The Drunken Tree didn’t live up to those expectations at all, but The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill turned out to be a delightful read.


Title: Fruit Of The Drunken Tree
Author: Ingrid Rojas Contreras
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: July 31st 2018
Publisher: Doubleday
Finished reading: July 21st 2020
Pages: 304

“War always seemed distant from Bogotá, like niebla descending on the hills and forest of the countryside and jungles. The way it approached us was like fog as well, without us realizing, until it sat embroiling everything around us.”

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Okay… I’m still not sure what happened here, as I really expected to find a new favorite in this story instead. I’ve always had a special interest in stories set in Latin America, and even more so if they are related to the drugs world and/or war on drugs… I thought this story with its 1990s Colombian setting would be a perfect fit for me, and the blurb of Fruit Of The Drunken Tree sounded fantastic as well, but somehow in the end it wasn’t ment to be. Even though I still believe the premise is both powerful, shocking and heartbreaking, the story itself failed to blow me away. I think the main reason I had such a strong negative reaction to Fruit Of The Drunken Tree despite my fascination for the topic had probably to do with the fact that I felt a strong aversion towards the writing style. I didn’t feel it flowed properly and I never connected to the writing, making it very hard to convince myself to keep reading as a result. I have to confess that I skimread at least half of the story; wanting to DNF, but not being able to let the story go completely until I knew what happened. This mostly had to do with the plot and the historical details rather than the main characters themselves, who in turn I never managed to warm up to either. I think this might have been due to the way they were described as well as the way they acted, or maybe even due to the fact that the writing style itself rubbed me the wrong way to such extreme. Either way, sadly Fruit Of The Drunken Tree ended up mosty definitely not being my cup of tea.


Title: The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill
Author: Abbi Waxman
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: July 9th 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: July 23rd 2020
Pages: 351

“She enjoyed people – she really did – she just needed to take them in homeopathic doses; a little of the poison was the cure.”

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I have been craving a good contemporary, and I admit that I have been eyeing The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill for a while now. I love bookish elements in my stories, and this book sounded like a perfect fit… And I definitely ended up having a brilliant time with this story. As I already expected, Nina was easy to like and relate to, and I loved getting to know her better. The characters in general are easy to connect to and I enjoyed spending time with them. Of course I love just how big of a role both books and pop culture play in Nina’s life and the story itself; with references to multiple books, the Harry Potter fandom, Game Of Thrones, The Simpsons, Friends… And we have the bookstore itself in the spotlight too of course. The plot might be a bit cheesy and predictable in points, but personally I was having too much fun to be bothered by it. The romance is quite cheesy as well, but as I liked both characters I really didn’t mind all that much either. I loved seeing Nina connect to the newly found family, and the trivia element was brilliant. The writing itself is super engaging and I literally flew through this story. Fans of the genre will most likely enjoy The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill as much as I did!


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Someone’s Listening – by Seraphina Nova Glass #blogtour @HarlequinBooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Someone’s Listening 2020 Summer Reads blog tour! A huge thanks to Justine Sha for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I was intrigued by Someone’s Listening as soon as I read the blurb, and this story definitely lived up to expectations. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: Someone’s Listening
Author: Seraphina Nova Glass
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 28th 2020
Publisher: Graydon House
Finished reading: June 14th 2020
Pages: 352

“The thing is, how can I blame the world for believing him? We need to believe victims.”

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

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There was just something about Someone’s Listening that attracted me straight away, and as soon as I read the blurb I knew I wanted to read this story. I think I was intrigued both by the description of the main character Faith and how her life suddenly fell apart… It sounded like a story filled with secrets, twists and that ominous feel and I thought the story and me would be a perfect fit. I’m definitely glad I decided to read Someone’s Listening now, because it turned out to be a more than solid read.

The plot itself is really well done. Both the mystery around the disappearance of Faith’s husband Liam, the mystery around her past, the things that happened in the previous months as well as her present situation will keep you on your toes the whole time. There are lots of different sub storylines to keep track of, and lots of suspects and possible truths too… I always like it when a psychological thriller is not transparent and instead leaves us with a puzzle and that hint of foreboding and urgency to solve the mystery before the story finally reveals its secrets. The multiple suspects, flashbacks and subplots give the story that multi-faceted feel and while I had a hunch about the truth early on, I never stopped doubting that hunch and therefore I didn’t mind too much that I ended up being right.

The writing draws you straight in and I literally finished Someone’s Listening in less than a day. The story incorporates difficult themes such as child and domestic abuse, drug addiction and alcoholism, but it was interesting to see these elements developed in the plot. The story will definitely have some twisted surprises for you in store as well! It was interesting to learn more about Faith’s past as well as seeing the present storyline developed as plot twists and secrets are being revealed and that ominous feel is slowly transformed into real danger. The final reveals are also brilliantly handled!

As for the characters… I think this was probably my main issue with the book. Why? While I do think Faith is a fascinating character with her background and past, I really didn’t like her. Sure, her alcohol and drugs problem can be related to recent events and grief, but I didn’t like the constant focus on it and the whole counting to four (to calm herself) mentioned multiple times got old fast too. I didn’t like the way she treated others and constantly complained about her life either… Sure, there is no denying that she had a difficult past and the things happening to her in the present are without doubt twisted, but I just couldn’t find myself feeling sympathy for her and wasn’t able to connect to her for the same reason. The other characters were not that easy to connect to either, but as the main focus is on Faith that didn’t bother me particularly. That said, this was probably my only issue with an otherwise excellent story though.

Someone’s Listening is an engaging, twisted and compelling psychological thriller that will keep you on your toes until the very last page. Recommended if you enjoy the genre and don’t mind reading about an unlikeable but intriguing main character.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Seraphina Nova Glass is a professor and Playwright-in-Residence at the University of Texas-Arlington, where she teaches Film Studies and Playwriting. She holds an MFA in playwriting from Smith College, and has optioned multiple screenplays to Hallmark and Lifetime. Someone’s Listening is her first novel.

SOCIAL MEDIA

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

BUY LINKS

Harlequin // Barnes & Noble // Amazon // Books-A-Million // Powell’s


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ARC REVIEW: Opium And Absinthe – by Lydia Kang

Title: Opium And Absinthe
Author: Lydia Kang
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Fantasy
First published: July 1st 2020
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Finished reading: July 3rd 2020
Pages: 379

“A vampire was shackled, it seemed, to the lusts and needs of his body. Tillie, too, felt her world as a closed casket, always around her, always constricting her.”

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

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I admit that it was cover love at first sight when I saw Opium And Absinthe, but I was completely sold as soon as I read the blurb. I’ve enjoyed Lydia Kang‘s books, including The Impossible Girl, in the past, and another historical setting with a medical twist sounded simply fantastic. On top of that, Opium And Absinthe promises to present us with a fantasy/horror retelling element involving Bram Stoker‘s Dracula, which had me even more excited. I know I’m basically allergic to vampire stories, but I did actually enjoy the original Dracula classic and I have to say that I really liked how Lydia Kang decided to incorporate this element into her story. It definitely ended up being one of the things that stood out for me!

That said, despite having high expectations for this story, somehow it didn’t work as well as I thought it would for me. I’m struggling to point out exactly why, but I’ll try to explain below. Part of the reason probably has to do with the slow pace as well as a bit of a repetitive plot with surprisingly dull moments. The slower pace made it harder to stay focused, and the lack of surprises and dull moments didn’t help either of course. I know that the book is set in 1899 and things were different back then (I actually enjoyed those historical descriptions), but the plot was just too repetitive and dull for me and it didn’t manage to engage me as I thought it would.

I also struggled with the constant repetition of the opium, morphine and even heroin use as well as the focus on just how dependent the main character Tilly becomes on it as it starts taking over her life and actions. While in a way realistically portrayed, I felt like it was turned into too much of a cliche and I didn’t feel like I was able to get to know the character too well due to this focus on Tillie’s spiralling addiction and the other characters both reacting to and fomenting said addiction. The characters themselves are not likeable at all (with the exception of Ian maybe) and as a result I struggled to connect to them. The main focus is on Tillie, and I found her to be too frustrating to really care for her and once again I found the focus on her substance abuse to be too much of a cliche and it took away the focus from more interesting elements such as the investigation into Lucy’s death, the medical details and the vampire element.

I confess that I saw most of the plot twists coming from a mile away, although I did manage to stumble upon one or two surprises. This wasn’t enough to make up for the things that didn’t work for me though. I liked the historical setting, the Dracula element and the investigation into Lucy’s death as well as the medical details… But the slow pace, the repetitive and sometimes dull plot and constant focus on the substance abuse instead of a proper focus on character and plot development ended up being mostly a letdown for me.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Before I Die – by Jackie Morrissey #blogtour #damppebblesblogtour @damppebbles

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Before I Die blog tour! A huge thanks to Emma Welton for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I was intrigued by this story as soon as I read the blurb; a carer like Dolores would be anyone’s worst nightmare without a doubt! Want to know what my reaction was to this story? Please join me while I share my thoughts…


Title: Before I Die
Author: Jackie Morrissey
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 21st 2020
Publisher: Inkubator Books
Finished reading: June 9th 2020
Pages: ?

“A sense of unease ran through her, born of some instinctive recognition of threat.”

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

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I confess that Before I Die won me over as soon as I read the blurb. Dolores sounded absolutely fascinating as a character with that possible angel of death angle (nurse or carer turned serial killer). You all know how I can’t resist a good serial killer story, and it has been a while since I last read one with this angle. While the whole angel of death plot has been done before, I liked the direction the premise of Before I Die took and it’s without one of the strongest aspects of this story. It definitely helped adding a healthy dose of suspense as well as a hint of forboding! And this story is thoroughly creepy both for anyone depending on a carer as well as for those who have loved ones under care. Imagine having to deal with your own personal Dolores! Before I Die is a solid psychological thriller with a dark angle, and while it was slightly predictable in parts and not too credible in other areas, I still found it to be an entertaining read.

As for the characters… I mostly ended up having mixed thoughts about them. I did like how the story had multiple older characters as well as Dolores and the younger son of a friend with a heroin addiction, as it added a level of dept to the story. Their development in general is quite thorough and the colorful and diverse cast of characters made the story feel more complex, but they weren’t exactly likeable and not every action or reaction could be considered credible. I’m sorry, but I just can’t believe Maureen never stood up for herself; especially in the beginning when Dolores still doesn’t have a big influence on her. I can believe Dolores having the power to manipulate others so successfully, but Maureen letting her walk all over her straight away without putting up a fight just didn’t feel credible at all to me. I also wondered if the Spanish Dolores didn’t come over as too much of a stereotype. The story makes it seem like she left Spain long ago (or at least that is how I interpreted it after finishing this story and knowing all the facts), and somehow she still seems to speak all halted… I liked the added Spanish words in the text, but the sentence structure used to describe her dialogues felt a bit too much like building a foreigner stereotype cliche. This might just be a personal reaction to her character though.

The writing is easy on the eye and I managed to finish reading Before I Die in no time at all. The plot itself has a multiple POV structure which makes it easier to get to know the different characters in play… The same structure is of course also used to hide certain facts and secrets until they are ready to be revealed. The story will have a couple of surprises for you in store even though it’s a bit of a shame you can basically guess the truth about Dolores straight away. I had my doubts about the credibility in certain parts, and the ending felt a bit too over the top and intense after a slower psychological thriller vibe during most of the story… Still, it was intriguing to see the whole situation develop and find out how both Maureen and Dolores react to the things that happen. The story definitely turned out to be a lot darker than I thought it would be! I don’t think that is a bad thing though. If you like a good twisted psychological thriller with an angel of death angle, Before I Die is a solid choice.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jackie Morrissey lives in County Dublin and worked for many years in adult education. Her job took her into colleges and prisons all around Ireland, and introduced her to a range of interesting people. She loved the buzz of teaching, but came to hate the tyranny of correcting assignments. She has written throughout her adult life and has had many short stories published, one of which won the Molly Keane Short Story award. She has also been a regular contributor of short pieces for the Irish radio program Sunday Miscellany. About four years ago, she took the decision to write full time. The psychological thriller Before I Die is her first published novel.

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK // Amazon US


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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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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Kilo – by Toby Muse #damppebblesblogtours @tobymuse @EburyPublishing @EmmaFinnigan @damppebbles

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Kilo damppebbles blog tour! A huge thanks to Emma Welton for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve always had a strange interest in anything related to drugs crime and the war on drugs, so there was just no way I could resist this non fiction account on the drugs world in Colombia. It turned out to be an absolutely fascinating read! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts.

Title: Kilo
Author: Toby Muse
Genre: Non Fiction, True Crime
First published: March 24th 2020
Publisher: Ebury Publishing
Finished reading: March 27th 2020
Pages: 320

“The drug war doesn’t move backward or forward; it simply turns in circles.”

*** 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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Some of you might already know about my strange interest in anything related to the drugs world and the war on drugs. I was actually already about to read a different drugs-related non fiction book when Emma’s email arrived with the question if I could join the blog tour for Kilo on a really short notice… I normally wouldn’t have been able to, but I decided to make an effort for Kilo as the blurb sounded right up my alley. A non fiction account focusing on different areas in the Colombian drugs world? Bring it on! I knew from the start I was going to be in for a treat and put my other reads on hold to be able to dive straight in.

And guess what? I definitely made the right decision! Anyone who is interested in the Colombian drugs world should add this newly published non fiction account to their wishlist, as it turned out to be an absolutely fascinating read. Definitely one of the best drugs-related non fiction reads I’ve had the pleasure to read so far! So, why did this book work so well for me? There are many aspects that contributed, but one of the main reasons is probably the format. Instead of a dry and maybe dull account of only part of the drugs world, Kilo offers you a diverse and complete picture of the different stages as well as areas in play in this world. This might seem a bit chaotic, but the different parts are cleverly combined by following the ‘journey’ of a one kilo brick of cocaine; from the beginning when the coca plants are harvested to its transport to the final destination, Kilo will show you each step along the way and gives abundant information about each ‘sub-world’.

Kilo travels all over Colombia as it shows us both sides of the cocaine business, giving this non fiction account a multidimentional feel. From the coca leave harvesters to the rebels, the combo leaders, sicarios, drugs smugglers and anti-drugs units, Kilo will help giving you insight in every single cog in the big cocaine business wheel… As a result, you will find a colorful and complete picture of how the cocaine production and distribution affects many lives both inside Colombia and in the rest of the world. Toby Muse uses a wide cast of different characters to introduce us to the various stages of the cocaine business, some characters returning later on while others only have a temporary spotlight on them. Each character serves its purpose, and shows us how brutal, dire and sometimes hopeless the whole situation is… There is no escaping the violence associated with cocaine, and the consequences for most are life-threatening to say the least.

The writing style is simply spot on, feels fluid and really made both the characters and different settings come alive for me. There is nothing dull and dry about this non fiction account! Instead, Kilo gives us a colorful and abundant image of the Colombian drugs world as a whole, showing us both sides instead of just focusing on either the cocaine business or the war on drugs. This fact alone already took this book to the next level for me, as it felt like as a reader you were getting two for the price of one! A real bargain for anyone who is interested in or wants to learn more about the Colombian drugs world. Highly recommended!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Toby Muse is a British-American writer, television reporter, documentary filmmaker and foreign correspondent. He has reported from the front lines of the conflicts in Colombia, Iraq and Syria. He has embedded with soldiers, rebels and drug cartels, producing exclusive reports from cocaine laboratories and guerrilla jungle camps. He lived in Bogota, Colombia for more than fifteen years, reporting across South America and the endless drug war.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Twitter // Facebook // Website

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK // Waterstones // Foyles // Book Depository // Hive.co.uk


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