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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

“Details are important, they can have consequences.”


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


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YVO’S SHORTIES #174 – Dear Martin & Broken Hearts, Fences And Other Things To Mend

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two YA reads… One turned out to be absolutely fantastic (Dear Martin), while the other sadly failed to hit the mark for me (Broken Hearts, Fences And Other Things To Mend).


Title: Dear Martin
(Dear Martin #1)
Author: Nic Stone
Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: October 17th 2017
Publisher: Crown Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: July 4th 2020
Pages: 226

“You can’t change how other people think and act, but you’re in full control of you. When it comes down to it, the only question that matters is this: If nothing in the world ever changes, what type of man are you gonna be?”

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I already knew Dear Martin was probably have an impact on me after all those raving reviews, but I was blown away by just how much it hit the mark and left me reeling. This is such an important, powerful and absolutely heartbreaking debut and helps educate us just how real the American race problematics are even to this date. In the light of recent events, Dear Martin is even more of an eye opener and I cannot thank the author enough for getting Justyce’s story out in the world. I’m not sure where to even start describing this true gem other than with the words that this story shattered my heart into a million pieces, bulldozered right over those pieces and then left me raging at the injustice of it all in its wake. Dear Martin is a short, but immensely powerful and captivating debut and I literally read it in one sitting. The characters, the writing, the tackling of social injustice and race discrimination, the plot, the letters written to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr… It makes for a real firecracker of a story everyone should read. Dear Martin and its characters will stay with me for a long time without a doubt!


Title: Broken Hearts, Fences, And Other Things To Mend
(Broken Hearts & Revenge #1)
Author: Katie Finn
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: February 14th 2014
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Finished reading: July 9th 2020
Pages: 353

“It seems that thinking ‘things can’t get worse’ is an invitation for things to get much, much worse.”

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I confess that I have been meaning to read this one for years, and even my TBR jar ended up thinking it was long overdue. I was in the mood for a cute contemporary, and really thought Broken Hearts, Fences And Other Things To Mend was going to be a perfect fit… But I guess things weren’t ment to be. Things started out well as Katie Finn has a very readable and engaging writing style that makes it easy to fly through the pages. I initially really enjoyed this story, and was looking forward to see what would happen that summer in the Hamptoms… BUT. Things started to get really frustrating, as it was so clear what was really going on and I really just can’t believe Gemma didn’t realize what was happening right under her nose. Being able to see this ‘twist’ from a mile away as a reader was a huge disappointment, and I really didn’t like how the story and characters developed after that. I had problems with the credibility of certain aspects of the plot and the supposed ‘twists’, and that open ending was kind of a letdown too. I know this is part of a trilogy and the story will continue in the sequels, but still I wasn’t impressed when I saw the story was left hanging like that. And as I didn’t enjoy the first book enough, I don’t see myself reading the sequels and I guess I will never find out how things end between them. Oh well… Fans of the YA contemporary romance genre who don’t mind a cliche or two and a predictable plot will probably have a better time with this story though.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #165 – The Queen And The Cure & The Accidental Further Adventures Of The Hundred-Year-Old Man

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two sequels of two completely different genres. One, The Queen And The Cure, turned out to be a more than solid read, while the other, The Accidental Further Adventures Of The Hundred-Year-Old Man, failed to blow me away…


Title: The Queen And The Cure
(The Bird And The Sword Chronicles #2)
Author: Amy Harmon
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: May 9th 2017
Publisher: CreateSpace
Finished reading: May 22nd 2020
Pages: 342

“Most of the time the obvious blinds us to the hidden.”

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After enjoying the first book The Bird And The Sword and falling in love with main characters Tiras and Lark, I decided to read the sequel while memories of this high fantasy world were still fresh. I had been looking forward to spend more time with both characters, so I was a bit disappointed when I discovered The Queen And The Cure is mostly focusing on Tiras’ brother Kjell instead. It’s not that I didn’t like his character in the first book, but I liked both Tiras and Lark more… That said, both Kjell and new character Sasha grew on me quickly and I enjoyed seeing their dynamics as well as the characters themselves develop. The writing is just beautiful, but then again I didn’t expect any less of Amy Harmon of course. I loved the new details about the magical elements and it definitely enriched the plot. The whole love triangle vibe was a bit of a let down for me though, and some of the reveals around Kjell and Sasha were just a tad too farfetched as well as too convenient. BUT. I still very much enjoyed this story despite a few misses, and while I do prefer the first book, The Queen And The Cure is still a solid YA high fantasy read.


Title: The Accidental Further Adventures Of The Hundred-Year-Old Man
(The Hundred-Year-Old Man #2)
Author: Jonas Jonasson
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: August 2018
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Finished reading: May 26th 2020
Pages: 448
(Originally written in Swedish: ‘Hundraettåringen som tänkte att han tänkte för mycket’)

“The hundred-and-one-year-old certainly had his issues, but if there was anything he was good at, it was surviving.”

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The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared is one of my all time favorites, and as soon as I learned that Allan Karlsson would have a second adventure I knew I just HAD to read it. I’m still not sure why it took me this long to finally pick up the sequel, but in a way I’m glad as I would surely have felt even more disappointed if I had read it straight after the release in 2018. Oh yes, I feel that The Accidental Further Adventures Of The Hundred-Year-Old Man by no means lives up to the first book,,. In fact, if it weren’t for the Allan-Julius duo and their dry humor, I don’t think I would have made it to the last page. Why? Well, this sequel is just way too political for me. The story is basically a constant critique on and satire of the recent political situation in the world, including characters such as Trump, Merkel, Kim Jong-Un and Putin… And it was all just too much for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the dry and sarcastic humor and Allan and Julius are once again brilliant, but they were kind of buried under a huge pile of political comments that distracted instead of entertain. I wasn’t too impressed by new character Sabine either… And sadly what was one of my most anticipated releases in 2018 simply fell flat for me.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #163 – Eddie Flynn Edition (Book #1-3)

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a special Eddie Flynn edition as I decided to binge-read the whole series this month in preparation for the release of book number five… Below a shorties review of the first three books of the series: The Defence, The Plea and The Liar. I can say that these books have only reconfirmed my love for this series! I won’t be reviewing Thirteen this time around, as I already read and reviewed it last year here.


Title: The Defence
(Eddie Flynn #1)
Author: Steve Cavanagh
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 12th 2015
Publisher: Orion
Finished reading: May 12th 2020
Pages: 321

“I felt like I’d just dipped my fingers into a black pool, that there was a good deal more about this murder and this whole situation hidden below the surface. What I didn’t realize then was how deep those waters ran.”

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Last year, I somehow ended up with an ARC of Thirteen before I realized it was actually book four of the Eddie Flynn series. Whoops indeed! I absolutely loved my time with the fourth book and Eddie Flynn’s character made a huge impact; I’ve been looking forward to spend more time with him ever since. It took me way longer than expected to finally return to where things started with Eddie, but better late than never right? The Defence has definitely reconfirmed my love for this series. I think this is the most exhilarating legal thriller I’ve read in a long long time! The Defence basically feels like an action movie: think Jack Reacher, think Die Hard, and you will have an idea what vibe this book and series gives off. The Defence is lightning fast, explosive and basically one life-threatening moment after the other… You will feel breathless by the time you reach that final page; running a marathon is nothing compared to reading this story.

Key in the success of this book is not only the sharp writing, the constant threat of danger and the plot development, but also Eddie Flynn himself. I took to him almost instantly, his former con artist status and general kickassness reminding me of what would be a mix of Saul Goodman and John McClane (Die Hard)… A very interesting character cocktail indeed! You will find yourself rooting for him from the start as you wonder how on earth he will get himself out of all this mess. A huge trial, kidnapping, two rival mafia families, bribes, violence, bombs, improbable escapes, gunfire and a bucketload of action… The Defence somehow manages to juggle it all and more. Brace yourself for an explosive and exhilarating ride, as you won’t be given time to breathe until you reach the final page. This was exactly the dose of action thriller I was craving… Eddie Flynn to the win!


Title: The Plea
(Eddie Flynn #2)
Author: Steve Cavanagh
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 19th 2016
Publisher: Orion
Finished reading: May 14th 2020
Pages: 400

“I heard old-timers call it a bullet con because it’s launched so quickly – like pulling the trigger. In reality, the name derives from the fact that if the con fails, the hustler can expect to eat a bullet.”

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Eddie Flynn series binge-read, round two… After an excellent experience with The Defence, I was more than ready for more Eddie Flynn with The Plea. And while I do have to say that I might have enjoyed my second round a tiny bit less, there is also no doubt that The Plea is still a more than excellent read. We are in for another action-packed and thrilling ride, and I’m not joking when I say that this series is hands down one of the most exhilarating legal thriller series I’ve read to this date. Oh yes, this is not your average legal thriller, and while most of the story evolves around a court case and legal proceedings, you won’t find a boring minute in The Plea. This series basically reads like an action movie; think Jack Reacher or Die Hard and you will get an idea of the vibe of these books. Action, guns, murder, a conspiracy plot, billions of dollars and Eddie Flynn once again in a very tight spot: The Plea will leave you breathless all over again while also wondering how on earth Eddie will find a way out of this mess this time around. Especially since the very first chapter reveals that Eddie’s newest case might just be his last… Like I said before, I might have enjoyed this one a tiny bit less than book one and four, but it is still a more than solid mix of action and legal thriller I can recommend to anyone who enjoys a fast, action-packed and thrilling ride.


Title: The Liar
(Eddie Flynn #3)
Author: Steve Cavanagh
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 18th 2017
Publisher: Orion
Finished reading: May 16th 2020
Pages: 336

“The ugliness which lies at the heart of some people is their most closely guarded secret – they don’t like others knowing about the beast that lies inside.”

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Eddie Flynn; round number three… And without doubt another successful and thrilling ride! While I think book number one and four are my absolute favorites of the series so far, The Liar by no means disappoints. Once again I can repeat that The Liar is hands down one of the most exhilarating legal thrillers I’ve read to this date! And it’s all on Eddie Flynn. He is such a powerful character and his charms won me over as soon as I first met him last year. He’s not your average lawyer: as a former con artist he understands both sides of the coin perfectly. While he doesn’t exactly tend to follow the rules, he does have a high moral compass and he’s always willing to fight for those on his side. We have yet again a fascinating and highly dangerous plot in The Liar. What seems like two separate cases will blur as events occur and things are spinning out of control… Danger, kidnapping, conspiracy, murder trial, wrongly accused, explosions, guns: oh yes, this is another action movie worthy plot indeed. The flashbacks to Julie’s past were an interesting touch and helped slowly reveal more of the ultimate truth… Although it is Eddie who has to step in to save teh day and try to solve the puzzle before it’s too late. The Liar (and the whole series for that matter) will appeal to legal and action thriller fans alike.


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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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YVO’S SHORTIES #152 – Blue Night & Beton Rouge by Simone Buchholz

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around the first two books of the Chas Riley series (at least the first that have been translated from German); a series I’ve been meaning to read for a while now and the current blog tour for the third book Mexico Street was a perfect excuse to finally catch up. I admit I was a bit confused in the beginning, but once I warmed up to the writing and got to know who was who, I was fully hooked!


Title: Blue Night
(Chas Riley #6)
Author: Simone Buchholz

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 7th 2016
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: February 27th 2020
Pages: 276
(Originally written in German: ‘Blaue Nacht’)

“We just let ourselves fall into the mist and all the sad things run under their own steam. Loneliness, for example. Or fear. Or being cut off from everything.”


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Blue Night has been on my radar for a while now… Both because I’m a huge sucker for any drugs and/or organized crime angle and because more than one trusted fellow blogger has recommended the series in the past. I’m definitely not disappointed by what I found! While Blue Night is the first Chas Riley title that has been translated into English and is technically called the first book of a new crime series, it is in fact already book number six published in German and it showed in my less than smooth first experience when I started Blue Night. Why? Let’s just say that it felt like I was thrown into the deep end without any helping hand or any helpful background information to make the introduction to Chastity Riley and the others a little smoother. It took me a while to get used to the short and snappy writing style, and I also had a hard time figuring out who was who in the beginning. The flashback chapters were especially confusing at first, as you have no background as to who is who and how they all fit together. I honestly wasn’t sure if this story would be for me… BUT. Somehow, after I decided to take a little break and continue with fresh eyes, I started to warm up to Blue Night. Once I got the hang of both the writing style and the different characters in play, I was hooked. Or more than hooked; I literally devoured the pages, hungry for more. The writing style sure is something else, and combined with the unique and diverse cast of characters and the fascinating plot this was definitely a slowburner turned explosive pageturner for me. Definitely recommended if you enjoy an original, sharp and action-packed crime thriller and don’t mind being kept in the dark for a bit until you get used to the unique writing style and cast of characters.


Title: Beton Rouge
(Chas Riley #7)
Author: Simone Buchholz

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: August 7th 2017
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: February 28th 2020
Pages: 276
(Originally written in German: ‘Beton Rouge’)

“Breathing this haze, which seems to soak up the big-city smog like a sponge, is a bit like smoking. I also light a cigarette – double poisoning is more reliable.”


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While it took me some time to get used to the writing style and characters in Blue Night, I had no such problem with Beton Rouge. I was fully hooked as soon as I read the first chapter, and the same short and snappy chapters kept me turning those pages like there was no tomorrow. I definitely managed to race through my second Chas Riley book in no time at all! Beton Rouge is a lot more ‘readable’ and easier to follow for those who, like me, don’t know a lot about the background of the main characters. This makes it quite easy to read Beton Rouge as a stand-alone as well, although the characters are worth sticking around and reading the other books for. Chas is an absolutely brilliant character and I just love her sass and sarcasm… The cast of characters in general is diverse, well developed and they truly feel unique and quirky; they all add that little je ne sais quoi to the story and really take this series to the next level. The case Chase finds herself involved in this time around is without doubt intriguing as well, and I had a great time following her as she was trying to solve the puzzle involving the tortured men showing up unconscious in cages. The plot and plot twists work perfectly together with the short and snappy chapters, making it impossible to stop reading as you simply keep devouring those pages. There are no diet restrictions possible here! Chas and the rest of her crew will have you under their spell, and you won’t be let go until after you read the final shocking new developments. Trust me, you will be dying to read the next book as soon as you finish Beton Rouge! This series is quickly turning into a new favorite of mine.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #150 – Lori Anderson Edition (Book 1-3) #TeamLori @Orendabooks

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a very special series edition featuring the first three books of the Lori Anderson series written by Steph Broadribb: Deep Down DeadDeep Blue Trouble and Deep Dirty Truth. I actually first read and loved the second book two years ago, and I have been looking forward to meet up with main character Lori again… I’m not sure why it took me this long to do so, but I definitely had a blast spending more time with my favorite bounty hunter! #TeamLori


Title: Deep Down Dead
(Lori Anderson #1)
Author: Steph Broadribb

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 15th 2016
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: February 15th 2020
Pages: 350

“I didn’t want to think about promises. A promise is just a disappointment bought on credit.”


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Ever since I first met Lori Anderson back in 2018, I have been wanting to go back to the beginning and find out how it all started. And damn, I sure wish I would have done so sooner! Deep Down Dead is thrilling, exhilarating and simply explosive from the very beginning until that final page. It was fascinating to learn more about where Lori came from and how she turned out to be the kickass bounty hunter she is today… What a powerful and shocking transformation! Your heart will beat miles a minute as you keep turning those pages, both learning more about the past as well trying to keep up with the action-packed and highly flammable present. It will feel as if you are running a marathon with a bunch of blood-crazy and armed gangsters right behind you! There is a constant note of danger, a lighting-fast pace to keep you running as you try to keep up with past and present events… Lori, Dakota and JT will win over your heart from the very beginning and you will find yourself biting your nails as you keep rooting for them and keep fingers and toes crossed hoping that everything will turn out to be ok for them in the end. The character development is done realistically and both Lori and JT are definitely one of the reasons this story works so well. The whole bounty hunter angle, the plot twists and secrets of the past, everything that happens after Lori is sent to catch her old mentor and lover JT after he skipped bail… There is so much going on in the plot, but everything works brilliantly together and the result is some serious dynamite, ready for an atomic bomb level explosion. If you like your thrillers fast, explosive, action-packed and love a story that has both an unique twist and will get your heart racing, you should not pospone your meeting with Lori Anderson any longer. Trust me, you won’t regret it!


Title: Deep Blue Trouble
(Lori Anderson #2)
Author: Steph Broadribb

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: November 5th 2017
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: February 16th 2020 (reread)
Pages: 320

“All of us have the potential to kill. We just don’t know if we’ll do it until we find ourselves in that situation.”


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This was actually a reread as I first read Deep Blue Trouble back in January 2018… You can find my full review I wrote back then here, as I still stand by everything I said then. It was just as thrilling the second time around! A little snippet of my 2018 review:

“If you like refreshing, fast-paced, suspenseful and action-packed thrillers with a strong female lead, you are in for a real treat with Deep Blue Trouble. Bounty hunter Lori Anderson seriously kicks ass and isn’t afraid to step on a few toes to get the results she is after. The writing is strong, filled with plot twists and will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page… Trust me, you will want to know what happens to Lori and you will enjoy every single step along the way. Thriller fans will love this one!”


Title: Deep Dirty Truth
(Lori Anderson #3)
Author: Steph Broadribb

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: November 5th 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: February 18th 2020
Pages: 320

“He smiles at me, and in that moment I know for sure that I’m a dead woman walking.”

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Oh boy, binge-reading the first three Lori Anderson books has sure left me breathless! My heart is still beating like a maniac and I definitely need a dose of sugar to come to my senses again… What an explosive, action-packed and absolutely thrilling ride! Deep Dirty Truth is already the third book of this series and of the same high quality and entertainment level as the first two books. While technically you could read this one as a stand-alone, you will miss out on background information and previous events referred to in this third book… And as the first two books are absolutely brilliant too, you would definitely be missing out by not reading these beauties in order. That said, Deep Dirty Truth picks up where the second book has left off as the same threat has been there for a while. I love how the characters have evolved over time and it definitely makes me happy to see Lori, JT and Dakota being together… In Deep Dirty Truth we have another bounty hunter angle with a twist, another mob angle, a whole lot of danger, a pace that is way over the speed limit and a plot that won’t stand still even to take a little breather. It is action thriller at its finest, with a solid cast of characters, danger around every corner and impossible situations Lori and the others involved will somehow have to find themselves a way out of… It’s simply unputdownable and you will find your heart racing and yourself gasping for air as you turn another page and discover yet another obstacle to overcome. Without doubt a new favorite! #TeamLori


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YVO’S SHORTIES #146 – The Last House Guest & My Sister, The Serial Killer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two thrillers I’ve been really excited to read… The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda sadly turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, especially since I have some of her other titles on my all time favorites list. My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite turned out to be very darkly entertaining though.


Title: The Last House Guest
Author: Megan Miranda

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 18th 2019
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Finished reading: January 23rd 2020
Pages: 352

“But that was the trick of the place – it lured you in under false pretenses, and then it took everything from you.”


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Both All The Missing Girls and The Perfect Stranger are on my list of all time favorites, so to say that The Last House Guest was on my list of most anticipated 2019 releases is an understatement. I’m not sure why it took me this long to pick it up; it might have been the hype, it might have been the mixed reviews, but I’m actually kind of glad I waited until the hype died down a bit now. Why? Well, let’s just say that somehow I was quite underwhelmed by what I found in The Last House Guest. It’s not necessarily a bad read, but I don’t think it lives up to the quality of especially All The Missing Girls either… I found the plot to be rather dull, slow-paced and predictable most of the time, and the tension took a loooooong time building up. So long, that I found myself losing interest along the way, and this definitely wasn’t the unputdownable pageturner I thought it would be. Likewise, the final reveals were a bit abrupt to me and I felt the ending was almost rushed… After so long of nothing going on, I don’t think the suspense and plot twist reveals were well distributed in the story. I wasn’t a fan of the characters either… In fact, I don’t think I liked any of them and that is kind of a problem when a story is mostly focused on the characters. That aside, I did think the Littleport setting and the contrast between the locals and the visitors were interesting enough. Avery is used to give us an insight in both worlds, although I did feel that something was lacking in the development of both characters and plot even though I can’t put my finger exactly on what was missing. I think as a whole The Last House Guest sadly failed to hit the mark for me, and I’m hoping her next psychological thriller will help me fall in love with her stories again… Fingers crossed!


Title: My Sister, The Serial Killer
Author: Oyinkan Braithwaite

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 17th 2017
Publisher: Doubleday
Finished reading: January 27th 2020
Pages: 228

“I lean on the door frame and watch her, trying and failing to understand how her mind works. She remains as impenetrable to me as the elaborate ‘artwork’ daubed across the walls.”


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I confess My Sister, The Serial Killer had me at the title. I have a weird obsession with serial killer thrillers and the promise of having a serial killer right there and center and a sister to the main character at that was all I needed to add this title to my must-read pile. I’m not sure why it took me this long to actually pick it up, but I’m definitely happy with what I found! This is a dark dark but also weirdly funny read. Sounds contradicting right? But My Sister, The Serial Killer almost reads like a satire and murder definitely isn’t taken too seriously in the story… Nor are the characters in general for that matter. It’s a superfast read and extremely entertaining, although I did struggle considerably with the characters. Ayoola is basically a sociopath and I just can’t believe she can act so reckless and basically stupid and nobody has never even suspected her… Korede on the other hand I just wanted to slap for being so stupid and also for her to keep covering for her sister even though she knows her dark side VERY well. I mean, who would not only cover for someone you know is a serial killer and will kill again, but also actively help cover up their crimes? I’m sorry, but my love for someone would never actually be that strong to do that. It was interesting to see the family dynamics though, and even though I hated the whole love triangle vibe, I can’t denied I was still very much entertained by this darkly funny read. This story might not be for everyone, but if you don’t mind dark humor and dark elements in your thrillers, you will most likely find yourself entertained as well.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #140 – Palm Beach Finland & Black Summer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two titles I’ve been really excited to read; both for the Magical Readathon Winter 2019 challenge. The first is Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen, which not only has a gorgeous cover but also is a fascinating mix of dark humor and nordic noir. Then we have sequel Black Summer by M.W. Craven, which has proven to me Tilly and Poe deserve their spot as one of my favorite character duos. What a read!


Title: Palm Beach Finland
Author: Antti Tuomainen

Genre: Nordic Noir, Humor
First published: September 2017
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: December 23rd 2019
Pages: 300
(Originally written in Finnish with the same title)

“The older you are when you wake up to your dreams, she thought, the more vigorous you pursue them. The more desperately. Because with every passing day there’s simply less to lose.”


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I admit that when I bought my copy of Palm Beach Finland I was both lured in by that stunning cover and the promise of a combination of black comedy and a page-turning thriller. I was planning to make this story my first encounter with this Finnish mastermind of black humor and Nordic noir, but fate had other plans in store and I ended up reading Little Siberia first a while back. This first encounter was without doubt a success and I have been looking forward to pick up my pink and fabulous copy of Palm Beach Finland ever since. Now I’ve had the chance to read it, I can confirm it’s another excellent read. It’s the combination of the dark humor and the Nordic noir elements that makes this story so unique… While it might not be for everyone, if you are able connect to the humor and writing you will find yourself to be very entertained by what is going on in the coldest beach resort on earth! Palm Beach Finland has an colorful cast of characters to say the least, each flawed and adding its own problems, views and intentions to the plot. Multiple POVs are used to give us a multidimentional view of what is going on in the small beach town, black humor spicing up the plot in between the other elements. If you are looking for a little something different and don’t mind the plot heating up as well as having unconventional characters, Palm Beach Finland will without doubt peak your interest! A round of applause to the translator David Hackston for enabling us to enjoy this unique and quirky mix of genres. Blacker than black humor and Nordic noir without doubt make for a tasty thriller cocktail!


Title: Black Summer
(Washington Poe #2)
Author: M.W. Craven

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: June 20th 2019
Publisher: Constable
Finished reading: December 25th 2019
Pages: 352

“Poe, we have a problem.”


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I finally had the chance to meet Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw a few months back when I picked up my copy of The Puppet Show, and they are hands down one of my new favorite character duos. I’ve been waiting impatiently to meet up with them again in Black Summer after the first book completely blew me away… And I ended up turning it into a little Christmas gift to myself by freeing my schedule to spend all day with Tilly and Poe. Best decision ever! The gloomy Christmas Day weather seemed to set the perfect atmosphere for this sequel set in Cumbria, and I was of course hooked from the very first chapter. While I do think I loved the first book a tiny bit more (please don’t hit me!), Black Summer was without doubt a brilliant sequel and as soon as Tilly made her entrance there was no way on earth I was putting down my copy. Thankfully I was able to spend most of Christmas Day in the company of my kindle, lots of tea, a sleeping cat closeby and a pile of leftover chocolate, so my wish came true and I was able to reach that final page almost in one sitting. And what a read! The plot, the characters, the twists, the writing, the setting… There is just so much to love in Black Summer and I’m more than addicted to Tilly and Poe’s adventures. This sequel only made me love their characters even more and they definitely deserve their spot on my favorites list. I literally can’t wait to find out what The Curator has in store next, and I can highly recommend this series to any thriller fan. Trust me, you are missing out if you haven’t met Tilly and Poe yet!!


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#WesolowskiWednesdays – Hydra edition #Orentober #bookreview @Orendabooks

Today is Wednesday, which means it’s time for another dose of #WesolowskiWednesdays !! This time around it’s time for the second book of the Six Stories series, written by the talented Matt Wesolowski, to take the spotlight. All in the spirit of celebrating all things Orenda during #Orentober month! I admit I have been struggling a LOT to write reviews for this series. YES, the books are just THAT good! You can find my attempt at writing a somewhat coherent review about Hydra below…

Title: Hydra
(Six Stories #2)
Author: Matt Wesolowski
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: December 24th 2017
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: October 12th 2019
Pages: 320

“It’s like a hydra, Scott; every head you cut off, two more grow in their places. And we’re everywhere – hiding, waiting. You’ll never ever stop us.”


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Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Orenda Books titles, but they make me feel so SO incompetent as a blogger… Why? Let’s just say that each time I finish an Orenda title, I’m left a blubbering mess and completely lost for words. These feelings were no different when I finished Hydra, a story that blew my mind and left me lacking the skills to find those words to properly describe my thoughts. How on earth am I supposed to be able to review such a cracker of a book?! Should I just throw in the ‘just read the damn book‘ one liner and leave it at that? Or link to the glowing reviews of more competent fellow bloggers and let them convince you this series in general is an absolute must-read? Trust me, I’ve been seriously tempted to do both, but in the end I’ve decided to just throw in my two cents about what I already know will be a 2019 favorite.

So, Hydra. It’s been over a week since I finished this title and my mind is still blown and unable to string those sentences together. I already had a brilliant experience reading Six Stories earlier this year, but somehow Hydra did the unthinkable and managed to outshine that first experience. Lost for words and utterly flabbergasted… Oh yes, this book made a big impact. The podcast format, the premise, the characters, the paranormal and horror elements, the writing, the suspense and plot twists… I don’t even know where to start my review as everything was just pure magic. So please bear with me as I try to explain why you should read this series ASAP.

First of all, can we just admire that gorgeous cover for a moment? So dark, ominous and simply glorious and it definitely sets the right mood for the story. Because Hydra isn’t just a crime story where Scott King investigates an infamous murder case. Instead, it also flirts with the horror genre with the introduction of paranormal elements that will definitely give you goosebumps and chill you to the bone. The so-called black-eyed children are oh so creepy and definitely give Hydra an unique touch! The lines between facts and fiction are blurred and give this story almost a surreal sensation… If you are easily frightened, you should brace yourself before you start reading this story!

Another key element that makes this masterpiece unique is without doubt the format, which really makes the series stand out. Scott King is a very interesting character, because as the investigative journalist hosting the podcast he is both omnipresent while also mostly detached from the actual story. Like he says himself: the podcasts are not about him, but about the case he investigates. This provides for a very unique point of view! Hydra is once again told in six different podcast episodes with each episode featuring a different key character who might shed some light on what really happened during that brutal night known as the ‘Macleod Massacre’. We also get snippets of multiple audio files from Arla Macleod, recorded while she is a patient of Elmtree Manor Hosiptal, which give a little more insight as to what is going on in her head. I bet Hydra would make a fantastic audiobook as well, as both the podcast format and the audio files would really come alive that way.

The writing is flawless and I completely lost track of time while reading Hydra. The Macleod Massacre is an absolutely brutal case and I was hooked as soon as Scott King started dropping the first facts about that night in 2014. Arla’s motive might seem simple at first glance, but as the hints of the paranormal start popping up things are starting to get dark and tantalizing. Are the black-eyed children just the imagination of a mentally disturbed young woman? Or is something more sinister at play? This ominous feel will raise the hairs on the back of your neck and gives Hydra that spine-chilling vibe. The suspense is again build up slowly, but I do feel that this sequel is a lot more sinister than the first book. The paranormal elements definitely play a big role in this, which are expertly incorporated into what is already an excellent plot. Hydra will also have some excellent plot twists for you in store, and once again the final episode will punch you right in the gut and leave you dumbfounded. The cast of characters definitely made for a interesting bunch as well, and especially Arla was a fascinating character to learn more about. If you like your thrillers dark, unique and glorious, Hydra will be a perfect match!


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