ARC REVIEW: Small Spaces – by Katherine Arden

Title: Small Spaces
(Small Spaces #1)

Author: Katherine Arden
Genre: MG, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: September 25th 2018
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: July 16th 2019
Pages: 224

“Even bad things can lead to good.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I’ve been meaning to try Katherine Arden‘s work for a long time now… It’s true that I was planning to read the Winternight trilogy first, but I simply couldn’t resist the sound of this middle grade paranormal horror story when I saw it on Twitter. The grey and cold weather we are facing down here was the perfect backdrop for Small Spaces, a story that it set close to Halloween and gives off that creepy and dark October vibe. Although it shows that Small Spaces written for younger middle graders, it’s probably still a fun read for the older half of the target group as well. The key is in the story giving off the right horror vibe with the help of the descriptions… Although I wish there would have more dept and development in both the worldbuilding and characters, I really liked the idea behind Small Spaces. Ollie is without doubt an interesting character, and it’s understandable why she has the leading role in this first book of the series. It’s true I would have loved to see her character more developed, but she did grow over time and I enjoyed learning more about her relationship with her parents. The writing is engaging and makes you fly through the pages… I did find some of the dialogue to be too childish and not all that natural, but overall Small Spaces was still an interesting read. The story in the book Ollie snatched from the mysterous lady, the mist, the disappearances, the situation Ollie, Coco and Brian find themselves in afterwards… They all give off that paranormal horror and ghost vibe that is both properly creepy while still being appropriate for the target group. Small Spaces is without doubt a story that would be perfect addition for your Halloween month TBR.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #111 – The Broken Ones & The Boy Who Steals Houses

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two different genres and two different reactions to the stories. I picked up The Broken Ones on a whim and while it was a fast read, it failed to blow me away. The Boy Who Steals Houses on the other hand was one of my most anticipated releases this year and an absolutely brilliant read.


Title: The Broken Ones
Author: Sarah A. Denzil

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: May 24th 2016
Finished reading: June 30th 2019
Pages: 199

“Sometimes I wonder who is hunting whom. There are times when I feel like an animal stuck in a trap – and there are other times when I feel like a hunter stalking a dangerous wild animal, treading softly through the forest.”


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I was browsing my kindle the other day and picked up this title on a whim as I was looking for a quick dose of psychological thriller. This is my first experience with Sarah A. Denzil‘s work, although I do have other titles waiting on my TBR. I was looking forward to The Broken Ones, but while I finished it in record time, I have to say I ended up having mixed thoughts about this story. One of the main focuses of the story is on Alzheimer, and while it can be hard for those who have seen the disease destroy memories of someone close to them (like myself), it was also interesting to see its effects on both Sophie’s mother and those close to her. I would have liked a little more development to give it a more realistic representation, but overall it’s not too bad considering the length of the story. Sophie’s mother has a horrible personality though and I despised her even thoughI thought I would feel bad for her for having early onset Alzheimer. The same goes for Sophie herself: she is a rather spineless woman who basically suffered emotional abuse by her mother her whole life, never got to live her own life because of it and still doesn’t stand up for herself even now. Utterly frustrating and it made it hard to connect to characters and story because of that. The plot itself is interesting, although the plot twists are a bit farfetched and I did guess the big surprise quite early on in the story. The Broken Ones isn’t a bad story and without doubt a quick read, but sadly it failed to blow me away.


Title: The Boy Who Steals Houses
Author: C.G. Drews

Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: April 4th 2019
Publisher: Orchard Books
Finished reading: July 3rd 2019
Pages: 347

“A family. A home. I really want a… h-home.”
“But you can’t steal it.”
“I know,” Sam whispers. I know I know I know.
“You have to build it.”


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I’m still kicking myself for not reading A Thousand Perfect Notes sooner, and I knew I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice. I’ve been dying to read The Boy Who Steals Houses ever since my preorder arrived in April, and I’m so glad I finally had time to do so! This title was one of my most anticipated releases this year and I can say it has without doubt lived up to expectations. What an absolutely wonderful and heartbreaking read! You will want to clear your schedule for this little gem, because once you meet the main characters Sam, Moxie and Avery you will find yourself unable to say goodbye to them and stop reading. The writing style is engaging and wonderful; the characters and their descriptions are likewise excellently done. There is just something about Sam, Moxie and Avery that made them win over my heart almost immediately, and my heart ached for them as their story slowly revealed itself. Their development is realistic and the incorporation of the anxiety and autism elements are both authentic and brilliantly handled. Wonderful prose, characters that will win over your heart, anxiety and autism rep, tragedy and lots of food references… What more could you wish for? Trigger warnings are in place for elements such as violence, abuse and bullying, but each element is well incorporated into the plot. The Boy Who Steals Houses is a heartbreaking read and you will want to have a box of tissues at hand just to be safe, because I myself couldn’t keep it dry… And trust me, that doesn’t happen often. Sam, Moxie and Avery won over my heart, crushed it into a million pieces and left me a complete puddle of mess by the time I reach the final page. Go read this absolutely wonderful story if you haven’t already! You won’t regret it.


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ARC REVIEW: Trance – by Adam Southward

Title: Trance
Author: Adam Southward
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 1st 2019
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: July 4th 2019
Pages: 332

“We understand so much, yet so little. Delving into people’s minds is an immature science, even for those of us who have studied it for years.”

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

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I admit it was hook, line and sinker when I saw the cover of Trance and read the blurb. The promise of a dangerous character with the ability to control minds sounded absolutely fantastic, and there was no way I was going to be able to resist reading it. It might have been that I had set my expectations too high, because unfortunately I can’t say I was convinced by the story itself and I ended up having mixed thoughts. I still think the premise of this story is absolutely engrossing and probably the strongest aspect of this book. The suspect of this story, Victor Lazar, is a fascinatingly disturbing character; his mental ability makes this story step on the border of science fiction and paranormal activity and without doubt gives Trance a unique touch. As a result, it is hard to place Trance into a single genre and box, and instead we have an interesting mix of elements and storylines. It was especially fascinating to read more about Victor’s past and everything that happened in Romania. It might not be all that credible, but if you keep your mind open and don’t mind a sci-fi feel, you will find it to be an intriguing angle.

Now we arrive at one of the problems I had with Trance: the main character Alex Madison. On its own, I could really appreciate the psychology angle of this story. Instead of focusing on the crime and detective elements, Trance is more about trying to understand Victor Lazam and using psychology to analyze what goes on in his mind. The thing is… Alex basically is a spineless and despicable person; a pathetic whiner who is addicted to Xanax and an adulterer at that. I found the characters in general to be unlikeable, but my aversion to Alex made it very hard to keep invested in the story or care about what happened to them. Victor, disturbing as he was, at least made for an interesting character… Alex not so much. I also found part of the plot and character development to be rather unbelievable and this lack of credibility kind of put a damper on things. Things were too conveniently connected and the transition between different scenes and chapters wasn’t always all that fluid. I also struggled with the abrupt ending, and found the final scenes to be rather lacking. I still think the premise of Trance is simply captivating and the genre fluidity gave the story an unique touch, but sadly I ended up having mixed thoughts about the execution.


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ARC REVIEW: The Victim – by Max Manning

Title: The Victim
Author: Max Manning
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: August 6th 2019
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Finished reading: June 29th 2019
Pages: 336

“Life is a game of lies, and death is the only truth. Time to play.”

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

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There was just something about the cover and its contrast that caught my eye when I first saw it, and as soon as I read the blurb I was sold. There is no doubt that the premise of The Victim is simply fascinating; a story where we follow two alternative storylines based on the decision of the main character Gem to fight or surrender during an attack in the first chapters. This is without doubt an unique concept and one that will also make you wonder what you would do yourself in a similar situation… And you will soon realize that there is a reason you won’t find solid advice on the matter, as there seems to be no clear correct answer as to what you should do as every perp and situation is unique. It was very interesting to see the consequences of both choices for Gem, not only the direct consequences but also how her life was changed afterwards.

Like I said, this concept of having two alternative storylines, one where Gem surrendered and one where Gem decided to fight, definitely makes for an unique read. I do have to say that things can get quite confusing as we not only have to keep apart two different versions of Gem’s story, but also what happens to other characters after her decision to fight or surrender. While at all times it is specified which storyline you are currently reading, it is kind of hard to keep track of which event belongs to what storyline and all that information might be a little too much to juggle at one time. I myself definitely wish I would have thought to take notes when I started reading, because it would have been easier to keep both versions apart that way. As you can imagine, this confusion and difficulty to separate and follow both alternative storylines did take away some of the reading pleasure for me. I can’t say I wasn’t a fan of the main characters either, and Gem started to frustrate me after a while… I did think that the suspect was an interesting character and I enjoyed finding out more about his past and motive. Did I think certain aspects of the plot and especially the ending were not all that credible? Yes. Did I end up having mixed thoughts about The Victim? Also yes. But I can’t deny it’s a very original concept and fans of the thriller genre will most likely find themselves intrigued.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #110 – Jar Of Hearts & The Problem With Forever

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two books written by a Jennifer and both with trigger warning worthy topics, although they do belong to two completely different genres. The first is a brutal thriller and a title I’ve been wanting to read ever since it came out a year ago: Jar Of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier. The second was a TBR jar pick and my first experience with Jennifer L. Armentrout‘s work… Although I can’t say it was a positive experience. Unpopular opinion review ahead!


Title: Jar Of Hearts
Author: Jennifer Hillier 

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: June 12th 2018
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Finished reading: June 27th 2019
Pages: 320

“In every story, there’s a hero and villain. Sometimes one person can be both.”


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Jar Of Hearts has been on my radar ever since I first heard about it last year, and all those raving reviews I’ve been seeing have only made me want to read it even more. Why did I wait this long to finally pick it up then? Good question, and to be honest I have no idea why exactly. The fact is that I’m now kicking myself for waiting this long to read Jar Of Hearts and I definitely understand the love for this story now. What a twisted and fascinating ride! While it’s true that there were a few minor things that prevented me from handing out the full five stars, there is no denying that both the premise and plot itself are absolutely brilliant. There is nothing ordinary about Jar Of Hearts and you will have to brace yourself for a very intense ride. Trigger warnings for abuse, rape, graphic scenes and violence are in place and if you have weak stomach it’s probably best to avoid this story… But if you enjoy a good complex and twisted thriller, you will be in for a treat with Jar Of Hearts. Why complex? Well, you will get a variety of different elements and storylines in one giant package with this story. You have the storyline set in the past where the main characters were still teenagers and Angela disappears. That part almost read like a teen angst story with a violent twist and wasn’t my favorite part of the story to be honest. Then we have the part set during the trial and then Geo’s time in prison, which is probably my favorite part of the story and I love how this storyline was developed. Then we have the present, where Geo is out of prison and things are escalating. Without doubt interesting as well, although I’m not sure about the credibility of some aspects of the plot in general and I wasn’t sure I actually liked the ending as it felt a bit too ‘neat’. I can’t deny this was still a fascinating and pretty brutal story that I will stay with me for quite some time.


Title: The Problem With Forever
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 17th 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Finished reading: June 28th 2019
Pages: 480

“Words were never the problem. I had them, always had them, but it was plucking the words out and putting a voice to them that had always been tricky.”


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WARNING: unpopular opinion review ahead.

There is a reason I’ve been posponing my first meeting with Jennifer L. Armentrout‘s books, and it has a lot to do with the fact that a combination contemporary romance AND a hyped book is normally a sign of trouble for me. I should have listened to my instinct instead of to my TBR jar, because sadly The Problem With Forever weren’t ment to be. Before I start explaining why, let us all take a moment to appreciate that absolutely gorgeous cover… Ok, ready? First of all I want to state that I’m happy so many people seem to love this story, but sadly there were a lot of reasons why The Problem With Forever didn’t work for me personally. I’ll try to keep my rambles short so it won’t turn into a fullblown rant…

Let’s start with the basics. I personally found The Problem With Forever to be overlong and as a consequence the story dragged in various parts… I even found myself skimreading at times and that is never a good sign. The skimreading also had a lot to do with the romance though. Not only is there a love triangle, I also found the romance in general to be rather cringe-worthy and unbelievable, especially in the case of Mallory’s character. As you can guess, this was a mayor turn off for me… Likewise, I had serious issues with the main characters in general. While Mallory’s PSTD condition and her issues with speaking are interesting, I feel like she is mostly turned into a cliche; her whole personality is basically build on her speaking issues and she lacked development as a whole. A lot of cliches are involved when it comes to the characters in general… Seriously, why do they all have to be gorgeous?! And the whole ‘poor Latin character’ reference and everything related to Hector and his family is basically an insult. And what about the Spanish? Seriously, saying that they know something is ‘Puerto Rican’ based on a few words is absolutely ridiculous and people don’t talk like that at all… Ugh. There are other issues to address as well, but I will leave it at this as my rambles are already turning into a rant as it is. Let’s just say that The Problem With Forever has an overdose of high school cliches and didn’t feel realistic at all; on top of that we have to deal with a love triangle and what is basically an overlong story… And I’m not even talking about the constant drama everywhere. Oh yes, this story and me definitely didn’t get along… I did warn you this was going to be another unpopular opinion review though. 😉


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YVO’S SHORTIES #109 – The Woman In Cabin 10 & Us Against You

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two highly popular books… One which was good, but not mindblowingly good and I ended up having a few issues with it: The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. The other initially started out as another slowburner but was able to get hold of my heart, rip it out and tear it in a million pieces. Fredrik Backman has worked his magic once again with this heartwrenching Beartown sequel Us Against You.


Title: The Woman In Cabin 10
Author: Ruth Ware

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 30th 2016
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Finished reading: June 22nd 2019
Pages: 384

“Time is very elastic – that’s the first thing you realize in a situation without light, without a clock, without any way of measuring the length of one second over the length of another.”


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One of my goals this year is start making a dent in my mountain of backlist titles, and The Woman In Cabin 10 has been on my TBR for a long long time. This story was the last Ruth Ware title I had pending before her new story will be published later this year… And The Woman In Cabin 10 is probably her most famous story at that. I’m definitely glad I finally got the chance to read it. While it’s not my favorite Ruth Ware (that prize goes to The Death Of Mrs. Westaway), there is no doubt that I enjoyed my time with this story and I was able to finish it in no time at all. The writing probably had a lot to do with that, because the pace wasn’t always that fast… Although the speed picked up considerably after the mayor reveal. I think what made me enjoy The Woman In Cabin 10 was the Agatha Christie like feel of the plot and the whole premise of having a small group of people ‘trapped’ in a small environment and the possibility of something dodgy going on… I have a serious weak spot for those kind of stories. I do have to say that the main character is beyond annoying. Lo Blacklock is one of those spineless and whiny women without a real personality and I didn’t appreciate how her anxiety was used as an excuse for her actions. She didn’t come over as a credible character and her actions were mostly seriously frustrating. Things can be said about the credibility of the plot in general, and I also found the ending to be too abrupt and it left too many questions unanswered. I don’t mind open endings when done right, but in this case I feel it had a negative effect on my thoughts on the story as a whole. I can’t deny I still mostly enjoyed reading The Woman In Cabin 10 though, both due to the writing, the Agatha Christie feel and the travel/Norway element. In short: while it’s true that I had a few issues with certain aspects of the story, overall I still found it to be an entertaining read. Not the best I’ve read, but if you enjoy the genre and don’t set your expectations too high, you will probably enjoy what you find.


Title: Us Against You
(Beartown #2)
Author: Fredrick Backman

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: August 21st 2017
Publisher: Atria Books
Finished reading: June 25th 2019
Pages: 434

“It’s so easy to think that what we post online is like raising your voice in a living room when it’s actually more like shouting from the rooftops. Our fantasy worlds always have consequences for other people’s realities.”

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I think that most of you will know by now I’m a huge Fredrik Backman fan… I’ve been saving Us Against You as it was the final fiction book I had pending and with no new project on the horizon (that I know of) I wasn’t ready for it to be over. I couldn’t resist any longer though, and I’m glad I finally picked it up. While, like with Beartown, I initially thought it was going to be slowburner for me, things soon improved and this story quickly won over my heart. Then it took hold firmly of that same heart, ripped it out and teared it into a million tiny pieces… I don’t cry often while reading, but this story definitely made my eyes water. Trigger warnings are in place for abuse, rape, alcoholism, LGBT discrimination and violence… Difficult topics, but the author is able to incorporate them realistically and respectfully into the story. As with Beartown, this story has a big cast of characters (mostly the same as in the first book), and it may take a little time to remember where each one stands. Us Against You has multiple POVs and uses them both to give more dept to the story and properly develop the different elements at play. This isn’t just another sports inspired story, and Beartown isn’t just a little town with a big love for the hockey sport. Hockey means so much more for both the Beartown and Hed team, and the sport and rivalry have huge consequences for various characters before you reach the final page. And as you are caring deeply for most characters by the time you reach those plot twists, make sure to have some tissues at hand just to be safe. There is no doubt that Fredrik Backman has done it again! It’s not my absolute favorite story of his, but without doubt an excellent albeit heartbreaking read.


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ARC REVIEW: Thirteen – by Steve Cavanagh @Flatironbooks

Title: Thirteen
(Eddie Flynn #4)

Author: Steve Cavanagh
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: January 25th 2018
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Finished reading: June 21st 2019
Pages: 336

“In a criminal trial, forensic evidence is God. But I’m a defense attorney. I’ve got the devil on my side. And he doesn’t play fair.”

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


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I’ve had Steve Cavanagh‘s books on my radar for quite some time now, so I was stoked when I discovered that my request for an ARC of Thirteen was approved a while back. I’ve heard a lot of great things about the Eddie Flynn series in general, and even though this is already book four in the series, it has been promised to me and I can now confirm that the story works really well as a stand-alone as well. Although I can garantuee you that you will want to add the other three books to your wishlist straight away, as there is just something about the main character that makes you want to have more and more and more. Oh yes, this book was without doubt highly addictive, delightfully twisted and one hell of a ride!

This story had me at the cover. I mean, the whole the serial killer isn’t on trial, he’s on the jury alone instantly makes the heart of any thriller fan skip a beat, or am I wrong? Reading that kind of phrase on the cover gives you a lot of expectations, and those expectations were without doubt met in Thirteen. What a ride! This fourth book can be seen as a mix of a legal and serial killer thriller where we get the best of both worlds and a LOT of action and disturbing twists at that. It’s clear from the beginning that the main character Eddie Flynn isn’t exactly the type of guy to follow the rules, his past as a con artist confirming that, and he is without doubt a much more interesting character because of this. The story is told with a dual POV, switching between Eddie Flynn and Joshua Kane, and giving us an insight in both sides of the law. Joshua Kane is without doubt one of the most fascinating and disturbing serial killers I’ve read about in a while, and even though the cover gives away part of the twist, his undercover identity won’t be revealed until later and trust me, it will be hard to see that twist coming.

The plot is complex, cleverly constructed and hides the right key elements and information to keep you on your toes as you try to figure out if Bobby is really innocent and if so, how on earth the real killer was able to set him up so thoroughly. And what about the significance of the dollar bill? And the “accidents” that keep happening around those involved in the case? I loved seeing this story slowly unravel and show its secrets, and I bow to Steve Cavanagh for creating such a fascinating serial killer as well as giving us a healthy dose of legal thriller, plain old investigation work and action. There are lots of different elements involved, all mixed together to create the perfect and addictive thriller cocktail you will be wanting to drink in one sitting. Thirteen is a fast, disturbing an shocking legal thriller with a serial killer twist… Oh yes, I’m definitely a Steve Cavanagh fan now.


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