YVO’S SHORTIES #172 – Eight Perfect Murders & The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two 20 Books Of Summer titles and 2020 releases belonging to completely different genres… And both turned out to be excellent reads. Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson only reconfirmed my love for his writing, while debut The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael put Beth Morrey firmly on my radar.


Title: Eight Perfect Murders
(Malcolm Kershaw #1)
Author: Peter Swanson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 3rd 2020
Publisher: William Morrow
Finished reading: June 22nd 2020
Pages: 288

“Books are time travel. True readers all know this. But books don’t just take you back to the time in which they were written; they can take you back to different versions of yourself.”

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I’m a fan of Peter Swanson‘s writing and I’ve been looking forward to dive into Eight Perfect Murders ever since I first heard about it. I love books with bookish elements and I love my crime thriller stories, so the premise of this newest story sounded absolutely fantastic. While it’s true that I don’t exactly read or know a lot about crime classics (I prefer more modern thrillers myself), I think it’s the clever incorporation of the eight crime classics that really makes this story stand out for me. Why? Peter Swanson doesn’t just name the titles and explain what happens in the corresponding plot, but really incorporates the different stories and elements into its own plot in the most ingenious way. A fair warning though: if you still need/want to read the eight classics mentioned in the blurb, you will find mayor spoilers of those stories incorporated into Eight Perfect Murders that might spoil the fun. I personally didn’t really mind, as I had heard bits about the classics already and I actually quite liked discovering them through this rather unique ‘memoir’. The structure of the plot is brilliant, the writing engaging, the character development fascinating, the many bookish elements including the bookshop and Nero the cat simply divine… I had heaps of fun reading Eight Perfect Murders, and thought the ending was a perfect reference to crime classics (one in particular of course, but I don’t want to spoil the fun by mentioning it). If you are looking for an unique and clever crime thriller and don’t mind a spoiler or two of the eight crime classics mentioned in the blurb, you will most likely have an excellent time with this story too.


Title: The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael
Author: Beth Morrey
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: April 7th 2020
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Finished reading: June 26th 2020
Pages: 352

“If you really want something, you hang on. Don’t give up. Hang on, as if your life depended on it.”

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I admit that I was sold as soon as I saw the comparison to A Man Called Ove and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. I adored both books and its characters, and I just knew I HAD to meet Missy Carmichael to see if she could win me over too. The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael turned out to be both charming and heartbreaking at the same time. While I confess that it took me some time to warm up to Missy, once I did I found myself to be completely under her spell. The same goes for the rest of the characters; a wonderful cast of colorful and easy to like personalities that each added their own little something to the plot. Lighter moments are mixed with more heavy topics; flashbacks to Missy’s past used to get to know her better and help understand the ‘mistakes’ she mentioned as well as why she is the way she is.The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael will have a couple surprises and twists for you in store, an a few heartbreaking moments that will require having a box of tissues and a plate of your favorite comfort food at hand just in case. I loved seeing Missy develop and blossom over time, and if you are craving a heartfelt contemporary with well developed characters and don’t mind shedding a tear or two, this debut is an excellent choice.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #170 – Nothing Important Happened Today & Let Me Go #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a double dose of thriller sequels… Surprisingly, Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver didn’t work for me as well as I thought it would, especially since I was completely blown away by the first book. My last meeting with Archie and Gretchen in Let Me Go by Chelsea Cain was more successful though, although it’s once again not my favorite of the series.


Title: Nothing Important Happened Today
(Detective Sergeant Pace #2)
Author: Will Carver
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 14th 2019
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: June 15th 2020
Pages: 300

“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would have preferred to talk.”

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Right… I’m still not sure what happened here, but somehow I didn’t actually enjoy this one? Trust me, I’m still flabbergasted myself, because I recently read the first book and it blew me away completely… And I fully expected to have a repeat experience with the sequel. I still don’t understand how, but somehow the writing style this time around just didn’t do it for me. While I can’t deny Nothing Important Happened Today should be applauded for its sheer originality, and the plot itself is ingenious with its mix of third person, collective first person, the introduction manual and detective Pace’s POV, I sadly wasn’t able to connect to the writing style at all this time around. The short sentences, the constant switches in POV, the you, you, you, you… While I have to stress once again just how unique this book is, sadly unique this time around just wasn’t my cup of tea. Was it simply the wrong time for me to pick up this sequel? Maybe. But I’m having a feeling that at least part of the writing style wouldn’t have worked for me at any moment in time. And no, my less than positive reaction wasn’t due to the sheer twistedness of Nothing Important Happened Today, the mass suicide element nor the fact that this is basically partly a manual on how to start your own cult and kill as many people as possible. No, those elements my twisted mind actually did appreciate and a lot at that. It wasn’t the late and not as noticeable appearance of detective Pace either, as the main story itself will keep you more than busy and deserves the spotlight. I really do believe that the only reason this story didn’t work is simply that the writing style and me clashed horribly, which in a way I still don’t understand after my love for Good Samaritans. Fingers crossed this was a blip though and book three will manage to blow me away again!


Title: Let Me Go
(Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell #6)
Author: Chelsea Cain
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: August 13th 2020
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Finished reading: June 17th 2020
Pages: 368

“This was one of the things that Gretchen had taught him – his instincts, always so reliable when it came to crime, could fail him when it came to people.”

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This is already my final journey with Archie and Sheridan… After neglecting the series for years, I’ve finally stepped up my game and read the final four books in record time. I know that technically the author promised more books were yet to come, but as it’s been seven years since book six was published I don’t think that will happen any time soon. That said, while Let Me Go is not my favorite of the series and not as strong as the first books, it was without doubt still a thrilling read. I’ve grown close to the characters and it’s been great meeting up with them in what is without doubt another dangerous and shocking ride. What initially seems more like a mafia vibe kind of read, soon gives us another dose of that serial killer element and of course Gretchen will make her appearance once again. These books are engaging and if you don’t mind things getting dark, gory and sexual in points and love a good serial killer thriller with a twist, Let Me Go is without doubt another hit. I would definitely recommend reading these books in order though, because you will be missing out on the dynamics and history between the characters otherwise.


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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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ARC REVIEW: Fifty Fifty – by Steve Cavanagh @orionbooks

Title: Fifty Fifty
(Eddie Flynn #5)

Author: Steve Cavanagh
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 9th 2020
Publisher: Orion
Finished reading: May 20th 2020 
Pages: 368

“No one is infallible. Everyone can be conned. Even me.”

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

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I first met Eddie Flynn last year reading Thirteen, which made me an instant fan of the former con artist and clever lawyer. I decided to do a series binge-read of the first four books of the series in May, and I just couldn’t help myself reading the ARC of Fifty Fifty straight after even though it’s not due for quite some time… Because one thing is true: these books are seriously addicting. You’ve been warned!

Fifty Fifty is no different than the previous books, and reads almost like an action movie. Book number five gives us another mindblowing case to lose ourselves in… Although this book does have a different feel than the previous books. Instead of focusing on Eddie Flynn as the main POV, Fifty Fifty opts for a multiple POV structure where both Eddie, new character and lawyer Kate and the murderer (named ‘She’) share the spotlight. On top of that, we have other POVs popping up as needed, both to add suspense and give us clues of what is going to happen next… But the main focus is always on both Eddie, Kate and the killer. This new POV structure by no means made me enjoy the story less though, and it made for a very interesting change in tone of this series.

I liked that the Fifty Fifty title made reference to more than one aspect of the plot. How? Well, not only do we have two sisters and a 50% probability of guessing right which sister is guilty, but we also have Eddie now having to share the attention fifty fifty with new character and lawyer Kate. While in a way I was a bit sad to see less of Eddie, I did like the introduction of Kate and her friend and investigator Bloch. Both are strong female characters that added their little something to the plot, and I hope to see more of them in the future!

Talking about the characters… Apart from being introduced to new characters, old favorites like Harry, Eddie and Harper make their appearance again too. Every time I start a new Eddie Flynn book it feels like meeting up with old friends, and these characters are definitely part of the reason this series is one of my favorites. The characters are realistically developed and feel rounded, especially since they have flaws as well as strength. Fifty Fifty does have a twist involving one on the characters that completely shocked me and left me feeling sad even after I finished the story… I don’t want to give away too much to avoid spoilers, but those who have already read Fifty Fifty will know what I’m talking about.

The writing itself draws you right in and the different POVs allow different angles to be brought to attention while also making you doubt what is true and which sister is guilty. Fifty Fifty is no ordinary legal thriller, and while part of the focus is on the court case, you will also get plenty of action, violence, a serial killer and a conspiracy plot to frame their sister. Basically, the story has a lot going on at once, will keep you on your toes and the danger grows as it becomes clear that those who know too much about the case tend to lose their lives… The building up of the suspense is simply spot on and that vibe of foreboding and danger is omnipresent.

There is a lot to love in Fifty Fifty and while I do think Thirteen is my absolute favorite of the series so far, Fifty Fifty comes a close second. This is without doubt one of the most exhilarating legal thriller series I’ve read to this date and I definitely can’t wait to find out what Steve Cavanagh has in store for Eddie Flynn next.


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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YVO’S SHORTIES #167 – The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time & Finding Dorothy

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a modern classic and a more recent release I’ve been meaning to read ever since it was released… My time with The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time sadly didn’t up being successful, but Finding Dorothy did hit the mark for me.


Title: The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time
Author: Mark Haddon
Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: July 31st 2003
Publisher: Vintage Digital
Finished reading: May 30th 2020 
Pages: 292

“I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them”


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I know I’m probably the last person on the planet to read this book… I’m not sure why I never did, but at least I now know what all the references to this story are about. Sadly, it turned out to be yet another unpopular opinion review though. Oh yes, unfortunately The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time and me weren’t ment to be… First of all, I have to say that I do applaude the originality of the writing style as well as the author enabling us to get a glimpse inside the head of a fifteen-year-old teenager on the autism spectrum. It shows that the author really investigated the matter thoroughly and it’s without doubt the strongest point of this book. The thing is… I somehow got tired of that unique writing style real fast, and the tone sounded really young to be considered YA to be honest. I know Christopher is on the autism spectrum and not like other teenagers, but still… I also hated the fact that animal cruelty appeared in the story, and especially in this banal way. And I wasn’t a fan of the whole cheating/lying about Mother angle either to be honest. All in all I found myself to be unable to connect to this story and I confess that I skimread most of the second half. I still love the idea behind this story and the fact that is shines a spotlight on autism, but sadly the execution just didn’t work for me. Oh well, at least I know this one wasn’t for me now.


Title: Finding Dorothy
Author: Elizabeth Letts
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: February 12th 2019
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Finished reading: June 3rd 2020
Pages: 352

“Magic isn’t things materializing out of nowhere. Magic is when a lot of people all believe in the same thing at the same time, and somehow we all escape ourselves a little bit and we meet up somewhere, and just for a moment, we taste the sublime.”


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I’ve been wanting to read this story ever since I first heard about Finding Dorothy last year and glowing reviews started popping up. The idea of learning the story behind the famous The Wizard Of Oz book and movie based on real historical facts sounded absolutely fascinating, and I think it’s one of the reasons this book worked so well for me. Basically, Finding Dorothy gives us two for one: not only do we get to follow the making of the The Wizard Of Oz movie with Judy Garland in 1939, but we also go back in time as we get to know both the author Frank L. Baum and his wife Maud. The story switches back between past and present, using the main character Maud as a red thread to weave the two different storylines together… Both storylines complimented each other; the more glamorous 1939 setting giving contrast to the sometimes more harsh and even dire circumstances Maud and Frank found themselves in over the years. While I did find the pace to be a tad slow in parts, the story as a whole did not disappoint and I had a wonderful time learning more about Maud and her family as well as the making of the original movie. Especially little references to the future book that started popping up and being able to read more about Frank’s (probable) inspiration was a wonderful touch. This is fiction mixed with historical facts at its best, and both historical fiction and The Wizard Of Oz fans will be delighted.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Stranger In The Lake – by Kimberly Belle #blogtour @parkrowbooks @HarlequinBooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Stranger In The Lake 2020 Summer Reads blog tour! A huge thanks to Justine Sha for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I knew I wanted to read Stranger In The Lake as soon as I read the blurb, and there is no doubt that my instincts were right about this story. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: Stranger In The Lake
Author: Kimberly Belle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 9th 2020
Publisher: Park Row
Finished reading: May 24th 2020
Pages: 352

“Sacrifice.

Penance.

Atonement.

Justice.

In the end, we all reap what we sow.”

*** 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’ve heard nothing but great things about Kimberly Belle‘s books and they have been on my radar for a while now. This makes it easy to explain why I just HAD to jump at the chance to read her newest story Stranger In The Lake early, especially after reading the blurb… And you can definitely consider me a fan now. I literally read this story in less than a day and I can recommend it to anyone who loves psychological thrillers involving dark secrets.

There is lots to love in Stranger In The Lake, and that includes the writing style. There is just something about the writing that managed to draw me straight in and I was literally hooked from the first chapter. The story is mainly told from the POV of Charlotte (Charlie), who gives us a very interesting view on everything in Lake Crosby considering her personal background. To further enrich the plot, we also have flashbacks to 1999 with multiple POVs, designed to slowly let you in on past events that might or might not have influenced the present situation. This made the plot feel a lot more complex and definitely enhanced the reading experience for me!

I really liked the plot as a whole, as it felt multi-dimentional and was filled with secrets, lies and suspense. As a first layer we have Charlotte and her personal situation as a poor girl who married a rich widower and who is now shunned by most people in town. Then we have the layer involving the death of the first wife Katherine and the mysterious circumstances around her death. While it’s true that her husband Paul was cleared, you can’t stop wondering if he escaped justice or if he was really innocent… Another layer is next with the discovery of the body and the investigation into her death, which leads to yet another layer relating to the victim herself and the whole reason she was in town in the first place. And on top of that we have a flashback layer that will slowly unravel past secrets of what happened back in 1999 and how these events might have influenced the present. That’s basically more layers than an onion and a perfect ingredient to prepare that delicious psychological thriller meal with.

As for the characters… Charlotte is the star of the show of course, and she is quite easy to connect to thanks to an excellent and realistic character development. She can be seen as both an outsider and right in the middle of the action at once; she isn’t originally from the rich part of town, but now lives there and suddenly finds a body almost in the same spot the body of her husband’s first wife was found. Talk about an explosive situation! It’s easy to understand why it’s so difficult for her, especially with her husband behaving so strangely. I really liked her strength, development and growth over time and she is one of the reasons this story works well in the end. The three friends Paul, Jax and Micah are likewise well developed, but somehow less easy to like as you keep wondering what they are hiding… They all played their role in the story perfectly though, as well as the other characters in play.

Both the secrets, lies and plot twists play a key role in Stranger In The Lake. You are being mislead along with Charlotte, and together with the main character you will find yourself on a quest to discover the truth. Why is Paul so furtive? What is he hiding? What about Jax? And why did he become the way he is? What about the victim? Who is behind her death and what was she doing in town in the first place? What does the past have to do with it all? There are a lot of questions you can’t wait finding answers for as you start reading this story, adding a healthy dose of suspense as well as making sure you keep turning those pages. The plot twists are expertly placed for maximum effect and while I saw some coming, other surprised me completely. The secrets and lies definitely took this story to the next level!

In short, Stranger In The Lake is a well written, multi-layered and suspenseful psychological thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat the whole time. Secrets, lies and plot twists are designed to keep you on the wrong track, and fans of darker stories will have an excellent time with Kimberly Belle‘s newest offer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kimberly Belle is the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of six novels, including the forthcoming Stranger in the Lake (June 2020). Her third novel, The Marriage Lie, was a semifinalist in the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Mystery & Thriller, and a #1 e-book bestseller in the UK and Italy. She’s sold rights to her books in a dozen languages as well as film and television options. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Belle divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam.

SOCIAL LINKS

Author website // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Goodreads

BUY LINKS

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Bookshop // IndieBound // Books-A-Million // Kobo // AppleBooks // Google Play


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YVO’S SHORTIES #166 – You Are Not Alone & The Child

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! Today a thriller round: new release You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen, which sadly failed to blow me away, and a German crime thriller The Child by Sebastian Fitzek, which definitely turned out to be a dark, disturbing but very much entertaining read.


Title: You Are Not Alone
Author: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: March 3rd 2020
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: May 27th 2020
Pages: 344

“Some people contend there are two primal fears. The first and most basic is the end of our existence. The second is isolation; we all have a deep need to belong to something greater than ourselves.”


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I know, I know, I should have known to stay away from yet another hyped book… Especially since my first experience with this author duo, The Wife Between Us, failed to hit the mark back when I read it in 2018. But I just couldn’t resist taking a peek anyway, and I think I have just confirmed to myself the writing of Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen might just not be for me. I’m not saying that You Are Not Alone is a bad read; I think the writing itself is solid and I’m impressed by the fact how well the story flows with two different authors wielding the pen. That said, I can’t say I was blown away by this story either. On it’s own it’s quite an interesting plot with lots of plot twists and secrets waiting to be unraveled. There is suspense, there is tension, and I can’t deny there were even a few minor surprises. BUT. Overall I was a bit disappointed by how predictable the story felt as a whole, and I saw the whole situation coming from a mile away… Which is always a shame. I did like the structure of the plot in different parts and with multiple POVs and flashbacks (although the two main POVs would be Shay and Cassandra & Jane). The characters each have their development, although some fell a bit flat for me and most were not that easy to like. Shay is probably the most approachable, although you will find yourself feeling frustrated more and more by her actions as you keep reading… Overall, I felt like You Are Not Alone was trying to hard, and turned out to be a tad to slow and predictable for me. That said, it looks like the unpopular opinion curse has struck once again, so don’t give up on this book on my account.


Title: The Child
Author: Sebastian Fitzek

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: 2007
Publisher: Sphere
Finished reading: May 29th 2020
Pages: 384
(Originally written in German: ‘Das Kind’)

“But he wasn’t afraid of burglars, only of observers: of people who might see through his carefully constructed façade of expensive suits, shiny cars and smart offices with a view of the Brandenburg Gate. If they did, they would discern the empty husk that was Robert Stern’s soul.”


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I bought a copy of this book on a whim last year, as I was fully hooked after reading the first line of the blurb. I mean, having a ten-year-old main character who claims to be a serial killer… How could I say no to that?! I’m definitely glad I got a copy of The Child now, because it turned out to be a shocking, very much disturbing but also intriguing ride. This story is definitely not for those with a weak stomach, and not even for the murder elements, but mostly because of the focus on child abuse. The Child focuses mainly on two characters: lawyer Robert Stern and the ten-year-old Simon with a severe illness. The reason the two characters meet is simply fascinating and I admit that I was hooked as soon as I started reading. The serial killer element, the regression and strange memories of Simon, the blackmailing, the danger, the mystery around the death of Robert’s son, the trafficking angle… There is a lot going on in The Child, and you definitely have to prepare yourself for a very intense, dangerous and action-packed ride. While I’m not sure some scenes are exactly credible, I somehow didn’t really mind as I was too busy racing through those pages. The Child is definitely a great read for those who enjoy dark and disturbing crime thrillers with a twist.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: This Is How I Lied – by Heather Gudenkauf @parkrowbooks #blogtour

Hello and welcome to my stop of the This Is How I Lied blog tour! A huge thanks to Lia Ferrone for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve been meaning to try Heather Gudenkauf‘s books for a while now and just couldn’t resist the blurb of This Is How I Lied… And it turned out to be an excellent first impression of her writing! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: This Is How I Lied
Author: Heather Gudenkauf
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 12th 2020
Publisher: Park Row Books
Finished reading: May 11th 2020
Pages: 352

“Dark places made it so much easier to be cruel, to exact revenge.”

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

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I’ve been meaning to try Heather Gudenkauf‘s books for a while now and just couldn’t resist the blurb of This Is How I Lied when I received the blog tour invitation… I’ve been looking forward to read this story ever since, and I wasn’t disappointed by what I found. It turned out to be an excellent first impression of her writing, and I will definitely be wanting to read more of her work in the future! This Is How I Lied is a suspenseful and addicting story that will speak to detective and psychological thriller fans alike.

So, what made This Is How I Lied so successful for me? The first thing that stood out for me was the writing, which is both engaging, flows naturally and manages to draw you right in. While I do feel that this is a slower read than expected and mostly focuses on the characters, the story did have a healthy dose of suspense and action in store for you as well. I guess this dual approach has something to do with the fact that This Is How I Lied can be seen as a mix of a cold case detective thriller and a dark psychological thriller, and you basically get the best of both worlds offered as you read.

This Is How I Lied is not afraid to go dark and has more than one difficult topic incorporated into the plot, including abuse, grooming, mental illness, hoarding, dementia, violence and what some may consider a form of animal cruelty. This might seem as a lot, but each topic is woven into the plot with care and contributes to the background of certain characters… Together they turn this story into a considerably complex and multi-faceted read.

This complexity also has to do with the structure of the plot: the story is told with the help of multiple POVs as well as flashbacks to 1995-1996 (when Eve was killed and the original investigation took place). The story switches between Maggie and Nola in the present and adds Eve’s POV in the past… This structure is used to hold back certain details while slowly revealing other facts as well as secrets, and it definitely added to the whole building up of suspense. Eve’s murder has in fact multiple viable suspects and more than one is quite unlikeable too… The interesting part is that the twist is revealed quite early on to help build tension between certain characters, which was both kind of a letdown as well as an intriguing technique at the same time. Why? Well, you didn’t get the full truth either and you were kept wondering how the character would deal with having the secret threatened to come out after so long… It’s definitely a different take on the typical ‘whodunnit‘ stories.

I have to be honest here and say that the ending did end up being a letdown for me. Especially when the story shows you a certain truth at first and sticks with it, but you are also kept uncertain about who really killed her (there are at least four viable suspects at all times), only to have the DNA bomb dropped at the last possible moment to confirm who actually did it. This honestly felt like a huge anti-climax after such an intense read and especially after the scenes before the final reveal… And I can’t say I found it a satisfying ending after all that happened. That said, I do think this was my only main issue with this book.

A quick note about the characters… While they are not exactly likeable, I did find them to be well developed and with their flaws and issues they felt realistic. It was easy to worry about both Maggie and Eve (although you already know it will end badly for Eve), which made it easy to stay invested in the story itself. Furthermore, we have a long string of suspects and basically unlikeable characters, including Nick, Cam Harper and Nola herself. Abuse, grooming, maiming and dissecting animals, violence, mental health issues… Oh yes, those characters are no picnic indeed. Maggie’s father and former chief is another interesting character with his dementia, as you wonder why he never sold Eve’s murder case and if he knew more back then… Especially now those memories are seemingly lost forever.

In short, This Is How I Lied is a multi-dementional and suspenseful mix of a cold case detective thriller and a dark psychological thriller that isn’t afraid to drop some heavy topics on you as you try to discover what happened in Grotto all those years ago. Recommended for fans of the genre!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heather Gudenkauf is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of many books, including The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden. Heather graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages. She lives in Iowa with her husband, three children, and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Lolo. In her free time, Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, hiking, and running.

BUY LINKS

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

SOCIAL LINKS

Author Website // Twitter: @hgudenkauf // Instagram: @heathergudenkauf // Facebook: @HeatherGudenkaufAuthor // Goodreads


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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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