AUDIO ARC REVIEW: Bad Parts – by Brandon McNulty #netgalleyaudio

Title: Bad Parts
(Dark Parts #1)

Author: Brandon McNulty
Genre: Thriller, Horror, Fantasy
First published: June 23rd 2020
Publisher: Midnight Point Press
Finished reading: August 4th 2020
Pages: 434

Duration audiobook 10 hours 10 minutes
Narrated by Ellie Gossage

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

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I basically decided to try this audiobook on a whim as I was browsing the ‘Listen Now’ catalog on Netgalley for something to listen to while painting. I know that I don’t often read supernatural thrillers, but I can really enjoy the genre if I know what I signed up for from the beginning (I only dislike the supernatural element when it comes as a surprise)… The blurb of Bad Parts also sounded particularly enticing with the music element and the creek demon. I was hoping for something entertaining to distract me from the daunting painting task, and I can now say that this audiobook definitely delivered just that.

As you might already know, I’m still pretty new with the whole audiobook experience… But I’m quickly becoming a fan. This audiobook is narrated by Ellie Gossage, and I think she did an excellent job giving both main character Ash Hudson and the other characters in play a voice. The fact that she changed her voice slightly whenever other characters are speaking made it a lot easier to keep them apart. The pace and flow of the story seemed solid, and I had no struggles keeping track of the story and plot developments. All in all the audio version makes for an enjoyable way to experience Bad Parts.

As for the story itself… There is no doubt that the premise of Bad Parts is fascinating, and if you like supernatural thrillers you will be in for a treat with the creek demon Snare. I liked how this element was developed into the story, with the ‘bad part’ trading and developments in the plot. The title doesn’t just reference to the trading though, as main character Ash Hudson is in a band with the same name. Music definitely plays a role in this story, and I liked the music references and overall vibe.

I do have to say that I found this story to be a tad too dragged out. I felt that the story could have been told in less pages and as a result the pace did slow down. I had that feeling about halfway down the audiobook that the story was about to finish, and I found myself to be quite surprised there was so much more story left… Overall it was still entertaining, but I think I would have liked less ‘clutter’ and more focus on the plot developments and supernatural vibe. I also wasn’t able to connect all that well to the cast of characters; they are not exactly likeable and I found some of their actions and decisions to be rather unbelievable. I’m not sure what to make of that ending either…

In short, if you are looking for an entertaining supernatural thriller and don’t mind unlikeable characters, a tad overlong plot and certain aspects not being credible, Bad Parts could be a great match.


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AUDIO ARC REVIEW: The Shadows – by Alex North @MacmillanAudio #netgalleyaudio

Title: The Shadows
Author: Alex North
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Horror
First published: July 7th 2020
Publisher: MacMillan Audio
Finished reading: July 16th 2020
Pages: 336

Duration audiobook 9 hours 5 minutes
Narrated by Hannah Arterton & John Heffernan

“And as I listened to the ominous thud of silence in the house behind me, the foreboding I’d had all day moved closer to the dread I remembered feeling twenty-five years ago.

Something awful was going to happen.”

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

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After having an excellent reading experience with The Whisper Man last year, my expectations for his newest story The Shadows were high. The blurb sounded both thrilling and creepy, and I’ve been looking forward to read this story ever since I first heard about it… And I can say that my expectations were more than met. What a delightfully creepy and engaging read! Fans of well written thrillers with that psychological horror vibe will be in for a treat.

While I have to say that I’m an audiobook newbie, I think I picked the right book to give them another chance. This dark and atmospheric story managed to grab me from the start, and that sense of foreboding and danger kept me interested the whole time. The story is narrated by Hannah Arterton and John Heffernan; each tackling one of the two POVs of The Shadows. One of my main issues with audiobooks in the past was that I was never able to connect to the narrator’s voices, but I had no such issue here. I felt that both narrators did an excellent job giving a voice to main characters Amanda and Paul, and they really made the characters come alive for me. I think their voices fitted the characters very well, and I liked the pace and flow of the story throughout. The only bit of the audio that bothered me a bit was the chapter where Amanda was reading about the forum as it didn’t flow as naturally, but that might just have been me…

I do have to say I had some issues with the Netgalley Shelf App; it seemed to skip certain chapters while listening and it didn’t remember the place where I stopped correctly each time I took a break. This of course has nothing to do with the audiobook itself and I didn’t take it in account when rating and reviewing The Shadows, but it could get confusing and sometimes even frustrating trying to hunt down those missing chapters. I’m not sure if it was my phone or the app, but I do hope my next audiobook won’t do the same thing!

As for The Shadows itself: I absolutely loved the idea behind the premise as well as the execution and the building up of suspense. The hint at the supernatural, the psychological horror vibe, the idea behind the dream diaries… The mystery around what happened 25 years ago as well as what happens in the present really gave the story that edge. The story is told with the help of a dual POV, where we switch between detective Amanda Beck and Paul. On top of this, Paul’s POV divided between flashbacks to 25 years ago and the present… The flashbacks both helping to clear up questions about the past as well as adding suspense and that sense of foreboding in the present. I enjoyed each storyline equally, as they all completemented each other and slowly merged into one. There were some well executed plot twists along the way as well, and I definitely liked the direction the story took.

The characters in play are without doubt intriguing; they are well developed, flawed and very interesting to read about. Sure, they might not all be exactly likeable, but their background and stories will keep you invested and I personally couldn’t wait to discover the truth about it all. The psychological horror element is very well done, and I loved how everything was explained in the end. I had a brilliant time listening to The Shadows and I’m really tempted to revisit the story on my kindle in the future.


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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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YVO’S SHORTIES #173 – Good Girl Bad Girl & The Sun Down Motel #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a double thriller dose with Good Girl Bad Girl by Michael Robotham and The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James. Both turned out to be excellent reads!


Title: Good Girl Bad Girl
(Cyrus Haven #1)
Author: Michael Robotham
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 23rd 2019
Publisher: Sphere
Finished reading: June 28th 2020
Pages: 416

“Evil is not a state, it is a ‘property’, and when a person is in possession of enough ‘property’, it sometimes begins to define them.”

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I’ve been meaning to try this author for quite some time now, and being approved for an ARC of the Cyrus Haven sequel was the perfect excuse to finally do so. Good Girl Bad Girl is without doubt an engaging as well as twisted start of this series. The story uses a dual POV, where we switch between new lead character and psychologist Cyrus Haven and Evie (a.k.a. Angel Face). Both have a disturbing background and it was fascinating to see the two matched and develop over time. The main focus of the story is on the new case Cyrus is called in to assist (Jodie’s murder), but both Evie’s past and her present situation play a big role too. The two different storylines mix as well as collide, and it was intriguing to see the different plot twists change the course of the story. I have to say that I was able to guess most of the twists early on, but one or two did hit the mark… The ending was quite open though and I definitely can’t wait to read the sequel to discover how things will continue. Recommended if you like a good crime thriller with a psychology angle and don’t mind things getting pretty dark and twisted in points.


Title: The Sun Down Motel
Author: Simone St. James
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Horror
First published: February 18th 2020
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: June 30th 2020
Pages: 336

“The person who could be truly alone, in the company of no one but oneself and one’s thoughts – that person was stronger than anyone else. More ready. More prepared.”

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I’ve heard nothing but great things about this title, and now I’ve had the chance to read The Sun Down Motel myself I can definitely understand the love for this story. This book is most definitely worth the hype, and it turned out to be just as good as I hoped it would be! It’s the perfect mix of paranormal mystery and crime thriller that had me literally racing through the pages. The Sun Down Motel uses a dual POV structure, where we switch back and forth between Vivian in 1982 and Vivian’s niece Carly in 2017. Both the POV switches and plot twists are brilliantly placed; they will keep you in the dark and only slowly reveal what Viv discovered in the past as well as what Carly unravels in the present. I loved both storylines equally, as both characters were easy to connect to and their stories managed to draw me right in. The paranormal aspect is again brilliantly handled; giving the story that creepy vibe as well as an ominous feel. On top of this, the story has the possible serial killer angle and the whole mystery around Viv’s disappearance in 1982… This story has more layers than an onion and you will love peeling away each one to discover the full picture. The Sun Down Motel turned out to be a fantastic reading experience and I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who loves a little dose of paranormal with their crime thriller. Creepy, ominous and oh so engaging!


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

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


Title: Pet Sematary
Author: Stephen King

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

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


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


Title: Reconstructing Amelia
Author: Kimberly McCreight

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

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


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


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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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ARC REVIEW: Broken Branches – by M. Jonathan Lee

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

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

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

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

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

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


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ARC REVIEW: Ruthless Gods – by Emily A. Duncan

Title: Ruthless Gods
(Something Dark And Holy #2)
Author: Emily A. Duncan
Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: April 7th 2020
Publisher: Macmillan
Finished reading: April 7th 2020
Pages: 432

“It was the time when knives were unsheathed, when plans were created and seen into fruition. It was a time for monsters.”

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

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As soon as I first heard about this series last year I found myself to be in love with both cover and blurb. I was lucky to be able to join the blog tour for Wicked Saints and had a fantastic time reading what was a dark, gothic and simply glorious read. YA fantasy sadly tends to be on the sappy side, but Wicked Saints most definitely had none of that! I’ve been looking forward to the sequel ever since, and I was stoked to discover my Netgalley wish was actually granted a few months ago. I was fully expecting to fall in love with the sequel too, but somehow that didn’t happen… It might have been my own fault as I didn’t reread the first book to refresh memories or it might have been the fact that my mind simply wasn’t able to cope with high fantasy right now… But the sad fact is that I was seriously underwhelmed by this sequel. I’ll try explain briefly why. First of all I have to state that the beautiful writing is still there, and Ruthless Gods still has that dark and gothic feel. BUT. I felt the spark of the first book was missing, and I struggled to stay focused and interested in the story. There were a few elements that probably contributed…

We have the plot, or rather lack of a proper plot. I felt that there was no solid plot to follow in the sequel and the story felt more like a filler between book one and what is still to come. This made it harder to stay focused… The multiple POV structure and setting changes had the same effect, and distracted instead of enriching the plot and structure of the story. Not only do we have to juggle multiple POVs, but all those strange foreign names and chapter introductions with more foreign names and saints can become confusing and it’s a real chore trying to keep up with them all… On top of that, I wasn’t able to connect to the characters in the same way as I did in Wicked Saints. I struggled considerably with this sequel and even started skimreading at some point as the constant bickering, overdose of strange names and lack of plot really got to me. And no, even the beautiful writing couldn’t rescue that. This might have been the wrong story for me in these strange times, but the fact is that this series has lost its enchantment for me… Don’t give up on this series yet if you enjoyed the first book though, because I’m having a feeling that my reaction to this story resulted into one of those unpopular opinion reviews all over again.


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ARC REVIEW: She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be – by J.D. Barker

Title: She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be
Author: J.D. Barker
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Horror
First published: March 31st 2020
Publisher: Hampton Creek Press
Finished reading: March 21st 2020
Pages: 774

“I can’t imagine living in anything but a fairy tale. The real world can be an abhorrent place.”

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

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I’ve been a huge fan of J.D. Barker’s writing ever since I first started reading the 4MK Thriller books… I’ve been looking forward to read more of his work ever since I finished the trilogy, and as soon as I first read about She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be I was completely under its spell. The title, the cover, the blurb, the promise of another masterfully written story… I don’t tend to read a lot of books over 600 pages as they can be a painful investment of time if you don’t end up connecting to the story, but I made an exception for J.D. Barker as I already knew his writing would most likely be right up my alley. And boy, did I make the right decision!

Some stories just need more pages, and manage to keep you fully invested along the way. She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be is one of those stories. Somehow, even though this newest J.D. Barker book has almost 800 pages, I never felt bored and I never felt like the story dragged or could have been told in less words. No, Jack and Stella’s story needed to be this elaborate, as their history spans decades and it is necessary to go slow and thorough to go deep and fully understand their characters. I’m aware that She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be might not be for everyone, but don’t let the daunting page count dissuade you if you love an intricate and well developed thriller with a supernatural/horror twist! Trust me, you won’t regret spending time with this story.

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot to avoid ruining surprises and plot twists, so I will keep my rambles short this time around. What I can say is that I loved the structure of this story. It’s not easy to take on this big of a project and tell a story that not only spans decades, but also has a big cast of primary and secondary characters… Especially without the result being a very hard book to keep up with, let alone enjoy. But J.D. Barker seems to have found the right formula. She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be is divided into multiple parts, focusing on the life of main character Jack Thatch as we see him growing up over the years. His POV is used to introduce the many characters important to the plot, and he helps put them into perspective. Of course he is not the only POV, as we also have the mysterious subject ‘D’ to deal with for example… I personally liked the little observation chapters featuring this character, as the mystery around both his identity, his supernatural abilities and his role in the plot added that extra level of suspense.

As you might have expected from a book this big, the character development is both extremely detailed and very well handled. The characters are both flawed and realistic, and I personally loved the dynamics between Jack and Stella as well as the other more important characters in this book. Whether you like the characters or not, you will find yourself to be invested in what happens to them either way… And the mystery around the supernatural and the secrets of the past only enhance these feelings. She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be is not a full-blown urban fantasy read, but instead mostly a mix of an action and detective thriller, a dark contemporary and a story with a horror and supernatural feel. It’s a hard book to put inside a box, and I personally love a story that manages to defy genre boundaries and provide us with a new and unique story cocktail. This story has so many different elements to treasure and enjoy, and it felt like a true treasure hunt to keep turning those pages and keep reading those chapters. You never knew what direction the story would take next, and I personally love a story that keeps me on my toes.

She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be is as unique as its long title, and the right person will treasure this story as much as I did. I had a fantastic time reading every single chapter, and I never felt like the story was overlong or should have gone in a different direction. Big is in this case most definitely better! And this book has only reconfirmed to me J.D. Barker belongs on my list of favorite authors.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Beast – by Matt Wesolowski #RandomThingsTours #blogtour @Orendabooks @annecater

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Beast Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. The first three Six Stories books simply blew me away last year and it’s easy to say Beast was right at the top of most-anticipated releases. And even with sky high expectations, book number four still turned out to be everything I could have hoped for and more! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts.

Title: Beast
(Six Stories #4)
Author: Matt Wesolowski
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 20th 2019
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: January 21st 2020
Pages: 320

“All anyone has to say is that they wonder why they did it, those three. That’s how it is these days. The killers become the story. The criminals are more exciting than the victims.”

*** 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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Holy bat in hell, what a read! I’ve been a Six Stories fan ever since I read the first book last year and all three books simply blew me away. In fact, both sequels ended up on my list of absolute top favorites of 2019! I’ve been waiting impatiently and eagerly for book four, and I literally dropped everything as soon as a copy of Beast arrived in my inbox. Such is the power of this series and Matt Wesolowski‘s writing! And of course once again I had a book hangover, and once again I found myself lost for words as I was trying to describe my experience with Beast afterwards. I don’t know how he keeps coming up with this stories and I honestly don’t care as long as they will keep appearing! Oh yes, this whole series has most definitely a worthy spot on my all time favorites list.

So, what makes Beast (and this series in general for that matter) so special? There are so many elements I loved in this story, but I think the first thing that stands out is the format. The whole series has an unique podcast format with a narrator, Scott King, who tries to be removed from the case he investigates. Scott King doesn’t judge, doesn’t solve the (cold) cases he talks about, but instead just puts six podcast episodes out there that might help those who follow his podcast uncover the truth. It is this unique and absolutely brilliant format that really takes the story to the next level, and it is also one of the few stories that actually makes me want to give audiobooks another chance, as I can imagine it would make for a fantastic listen.

Talking about Beast in particular, I thought the plot itself was spot on. It is a more recent case this time around, which means memories of those involved might be fresher and evidence might be easier to find. This is not just another murder case though and the small town of Ergarth has a lot to hide… Three men were convicted for the brutal murder of twenty-four-year-old vlogger Elizabeth, and while there was talk about cult related activities, a real motive for the crime has never been confirmed. Instead, there has been talk about a vampire legend which is part of Ergarth’s history. Is there really something supernatural going on? And what about the Dead In Six Days challenge? And the victim? Oh yes, there is definitely a lot more going on that you can see on the surface…

There are a lot of elements in play in Beast, all contributing to a plot that is both rich, complex and utterly fulfilling. We have the horror element with the vampire legend, which definitely adds the right dose of suspense and creepiness to the story. We have the social media angle, which is absolutely fascinating and definitely on point. In Elizabeth we see just how far the need for likes, comments and statistics can go and both her character and those surrounding her help show how social media really can take over and potentially destroy lives… We also have the bullying, abuse and manipulation, which is of course partially related to the whole social media element in the first place. And this story also talks about other elements including animal cruelty, mental illness and piromancy. This seems like a lot to juggle in just one story, but each element is incorporated flawlessly into what is an absolutely brilliant read.

What more to say about Beast? The writing is sublime of course. And both the plot development and building up of suspense and tension is simply spot on. Instead of a constant intensity, the suspense is build up slowly but surely, and this story will most definitely creep you out before you reach that final page. You will find yourself unable to stop reading as you start picking at those threads to find the truth… And as always, the sixth and final episode brings a plot twist bomb and it is without doubt a shocker. And that ending! Most definitely a perfect way to reenforce the point made with the whole social media angle.

I bow to the podcast thriller master and I will  be counting the days until we find out what case Scott King will decide to investigate next… In the mean time, I will just fill my time pestering everyone who hasn’t read this series yet. And yes, that includes YOU if you haven’t! Because the sheer brilliance of each experience with this series is something that nobody should miss out on.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care.

Wesolowski started his writing career in horror and was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at ‘Bloody Scotland’; Crime Writing Festival 2015. His subsequent debut crime novel ‘Six Stories’ was published by Orenda Books in the spring of 2016 with follow-up ‘Hydra’ published in the winter of 2017 and ‘Changeling’ in 2018.

‘Six Stories’ has been optioned by a major Hollywood studio and the third book in the series, ‘Changeling’ was longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, 2019 Amazon Publishing Readers’ Award for Best Thriller and Best Independent Voice.


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