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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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YVO’S SHORTIES #169 – Kill You Twice & The Poet X #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around my first two 20 Books Of Summer titles belonging to two completely different genres… But both were excellent reads. Kill You Twice by Chelsea Cain is already the fifth book of the series, and while not my favorite of the bunch I still had a great time reading it. And The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo turned out to be just as good as I hoped it would be.


Title: Kill You Twice
(Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell #5)
Author: Chelsea Cain
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: August 7th 2012
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Finished reading: June 10th 2020
Pages: 337

“Life was a series of near misses. Car accidents dodged by quick reflexes. Railings that broke falls. Antibiotics. Seat belts. Helmets. We should all be dead a hundred times over.”

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After finally continuing with this series last month, I decided to work my way through the rest of the books ASAP so I can cross off another series on my unfinished series list. 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. Kill You Twice is book number five and marks the return to the spotlight of Archie’s nemesis Gretchen. After being mostly absent in book four, this sequel benefits from her strong presence once again and it has been interesting to see the dynamics between Archie and Gretchen develop further. The plot introduces us to another killer, but Archie and the rest soon discover there is a lot more going on than they assume initially and they wonder if there is a possible link to Gretchen… Especially as she is determined to make contact with Archie again. Susan makes her appearance as well, and it has been great to see the different characters develop over time. The final reveals are definitely shocking! Kill You Twice is not my favorite of the series though (which might be due to the explicit adult scenes, which are always a turn off for me), and there is definitely a warning in place for more than one disturbing and rather gory description and scene. If you like your serial killer thrillers dark and twisted, this is an excellent series though and the connection between detective Archie Sheridan and serial killer Gretchen Lowell is simply fascinating.


Title: The Poet X
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Poetry
First published: March 6th 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Finished reading: June 12th 2020
Pages: 368

“She knew since she was little,

the world would not sing her triumphs,

but she took all of the stereotypes

and put them in a chokehold

until they breathed out the truth.”

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Wow, what an absolutely breathtaking read! I already fell in love with Elizabeth Acevedo‘s writing last year in With The Fire On High, but The Poet X has completely blown my socks off. Beautifully rendered, raw and simply stunning, The Poet X is simply slam dunk when it comes to poetry and the story itself is completely written in verse. I think the only reason I didn’t give it the full 5 stars is because of the focus on religion, mostly because I have a personal aversion to this element in stories… I know this exploration of religion was mentioned in the blurb, but I confess that I like going in blind and I didn’t investigate before reading this one. That said, the religious element didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would, as I was too busy devouring that glorious writing in verse. I love how the author gives us a glimpse of what it would be like to grow up with strict religious Dominican parents, and I loved the use of Spanish as it added an authentic feel to the story. The poem in Spanish is simply stunning! Xiomara, Xavier and the most of the others are easy to like and connect to, and while I strongly disliked the mother for obvious reasons, it was interesting learning a bit more about where her motivation came from. The Poet X is not an easy read as it covers difficult themes as forcing religious beliefs, parents pressuring their children, lgbt and not being able to come out and sexual harrassment among others. I love how Xiomara tries to find her voice through her poetry, and The Poet X is without doubt a powerful read completely written in verse I simply cannot recommend enough. I can’t wait to read Clap When You Land now as I believe it’s written in verse too!


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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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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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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Creak On The Stairs – by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @Orendabooks @annecater

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Creak On The Stairs Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I have a weak spot for nordic noir and as soon as I read the blurb of The Creak On The Stairs I knew I just had to read it. Especially since two fellow trusted bloggers had already raved about it too… And now I’ve had the chance to read this first book of a new series, I can say that they were absolutely right to do so. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!

Title: The Creak On The Stairs
(Forbidden Iceland #1)
Author: Eva Björg Ægisdóttir
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: April 24th 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: April 25th 2020
Pages: 315
(Originally written in Icelandic: ‘Marrið í stiganum’)

“She had to remind herself that she wasn’t a little girl anymore.

That the real evil wasn’t to be found lurking in dark corners but in the human soul.”

*** 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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It’s no secret that I love my nordic noir and I’m always looking for new authors to discover. I admit that I was sold as soon as I read the blurb of The Creak On The Stairs, and the raving reviews of two fellow trusted bloggers (yes, Eva and Kelly, YOU!) only confirmed to me that I made the right decision to join the blog tour. I have been looking forward to read The Creak On The Stairs ever since I read those reviews and I now completely agree this is a fantastic start of a new nordic noir series.

There is a lot to love in The Creak On The Stairs… The first thing that stands out is the Icelandic setting. I love foreign settings as it makes me feel like I’m travelling from the comfort of my own reading chair… And the atmospheric and extensive descriptions did just that and really made Iceland come alive for me. Thanks to the thorough descriptions, it is very easy to visualize the different Icelandic settings and it makes it feel as if you were right next to the main characters seeing the world through their eyes. The Icelandic setting was the perfect backdrop for this story and gave the plot that cold and daunting feel any nordic noir fan will be delighted with.

I also loved both the plot and the writing. And that means the writing in general, and not just the previously mentioned descriptions… The writing is enticing, well paced and very successful at drawing you in from the very first chapter. The plot itself is intriguing and I really liked the structure of the story in general. You are thrown in without knowing much of the main characters and have different POVs and flashbacks to juggle, but it only added to the suspense and intrigue instead of slowing you down. The complex structure of the plot allows the story to hide things from you, with the result that you have more than one secret to unravel. The woman showing up dead, who is behind it, the secrets of her past, the secrets of our new lead character Elma… There are a lot of puzzles to solve and isn’t that the best thing while reading a detective thriller?

As for the characters… It looks like we have another lead character detective with a complicated past on our hands, although we are not exactly told what happened in her past and this definitely added to the intrigue around Elma. We actually don’t get to know her all that much in the first Forbidden Iceland book, but the bites we get offered were more than promising and leave you wanting for more. I liked the dynamics of the detective team in Akranes in general too. The other characters in play were all well developed and felt realistic, and even though most were not all that easy to like, I wasn’t too bothered by that as they all played their roles flawlessly. Especially Beta turned out to be an absolutely fascinating character study.

The Creak On The Stairs also isn’t afraid to go dark and this includes difficult topics such as (child) abuse and alcoholism. Especially the first plays quite a big role and might be a turn off for some… But the element was developed realistically and played an important role in both the plot and the character development. The plot twists and reveals of the different secrets are well balanced out in the plot, and the ending definitely left me wanting for the next book of the series. Because while the case in the first book was solved, I’m more than ready to see more of Elma and her team!

Dark, ominous and atmospheric, this first book of the Forbidden Iceland series shows us an image of Iceland any nordic noir fan would love to discover. It’s an excellent start of a new series that is more than worth being on your radar if you enjoy the genre!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Born in Akranes in 1988, Eva moved to Trondheim, Norway to study my MSc in Globalisation when she was 25. After moving back home having completed her MSc, she knew it was time to start working on her novel. Eva has wanted to write books since she was 15 years old, having won a short story contest in Iceland.

Eva worked as a stewardess to make ends meet while she wrote her first novel. The book went on to win the Blackbird Award and became an Icelandic bestseller. Eva now lives with her husband and three children in Reykjavík, staying at home with her youngest until she begins Kindergarten.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #160 – Woven In Moonlight & From Twinkle With Love

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a YA edition… Woven In Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez turned out to be just as wonderful as the cover, but sadly From Twinkle With Love by Sandhya Menon failed to hit the mark for me.


Title: Woven In Moonlight
(Woven In Moonlight #1)

Author: Isabel Ibañez
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: January 7th 2020
Publisher: Page Street Books
Finished reading: April 20th 2020
Pages: 384

“Catalina says that people are like books. Some you want to read and enjoy; some you hate before you’ve even read a word.”


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I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t want to read Woven In Moonlight as soon as I saw that gorgeous cover, but the cover wasn’t the only thing that won me over. Oh no, it was also the blurb and the promise of a YA fantasy infused with Bolivian culture and folkore… I love books which incorporate foreign cultures and as someone who has had the pleasure to get a glimpse of Bolivia during one of my travels, I was looking forward to see its customs and culture incorporated into a story. And boy, did the author do a splendid job! I know the story might not be for everyone as it’s filled with Spanish words as well as Bolivian food and culture references that might become tedious if you don’t understand Spanish (there’s a glossary at the end though!). BUT. I personally loved this fusion of both languages and the simple Spanish phrases, references to Bolivian food and culture impregnated every single page and chapter of Woven In Moonlight; making the Bolivian vibe fully come alive and taking this fantasy story to the next level. Another bonus? There is hardly any romance involved (although we do have the ‘enemy to lover’ cliche), and the story itself focuses on the development of the fantasy world and characters instead while also incorporating references to real world conflicts including the coca industry. I really liked the magical elements in Woven In Moonlight too, and most characters were easy to like. I can definitely recommend this book if you enjoy YA high fantasy with a worldbuilding that mixes parts of the real world with fantastical elements, if don’t mind the use of a considerable amount of Spanish words and phrases in the writing and love a story that is fantasy first, and romance last.


Title: From Twinkle, With Love
Author: Sandhya Menon
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 22nd 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Finished reading: April 23rd 2020
Pages: 337

“Sometimes I worry I don’t know who I really am. Sometimes I’m afraid nothing I do will ever be enough to set me apart.”


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Well hello, unpopular opinion review, I guess we meet again… I probably should have known! I really enjoyed When Dimple Met Rishi back when I read it, and I’ve been wanting to try more of Sandhya Menon‘s books ever since. I was craving a cute contemporary, so I decided to pick up From Twinkle, With Love on a whim as I thought it would be exactly the story I needed at the time. I guess I was wrong! Sure, there is no doubt that this story is the typical cutesy contemporary romance read I was looking for… There were a few elements I loved, including a little insight in Indian culture, diverse characters and the whole film industry elements. BUT. There were also quite a few things that not only turned me off, but started to infuriate me. First of all, the love triangle (square?). Seriously, why o why do we have to deal with that?! It’s like an overdose of cringeworthy romance cliches, and the whole secret admirer thing was so obvious that it made me feel even more annoyed that Twinkle never suspected anything. Talking about Twinkle, I absolutely hated her attitude and behavior towards others. The whole, ‘I like him, but he isn’t popular so I can’t be with him because I need to be with someone who is’ just disgusted me and I seriously feel bad for Sahil for having to put up with her at all. Talk about warped life priorities and not respecting others! And sure, the format was interesting with the diary entries and added texts, emails and such, but there were so many things that bothered me that I just couldn’t properly appreciate it. In short, between the high school cliches, love square, despicable behavior of Twinkle and the writing sounding too forced, I really struggled reaching that final page… Oh yes, From Twinkle, With Love definitely didn’t have that spark for me.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #158 – VOX & One Summer In Paris

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two completely different genres I ended up having a similar reaction to… But not in a good way. Both VOX by Christina Dalcher and One Summer In Paris by Sarah Morgan had elements that made me really angry, and sadly enough influenced my reading experiences negatively.


Title: VOX
Author: Christina Dalcher
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: August 21st 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: April 13th 2020
Pages: 336

“Monsters aren’t born, ever. They’re made, piece by piece and limb by limb, artificial creations of madmen who, like the misguided Frankenstein, always think they know better.”

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I’ve been meaning to read VOX for a long time now, and I was honestly really curious to see how I would react to this story after seeing so many mixed reviews. I went in blind and as I started reading I thought I was going to love this story… The writing seemed spot on for and I actually studied Wernicke’s aphasia as part of my Spanish philology degree, which made the topic all the more intriguing for me. The dystopian alternate present is both utterly terrifying and fascinating; it’s the perfect foundation stone to build the rest of the story on. While VOX definitely has that feminism feel, it wasn’t too much for me and I liked how this aspect was incorporated into the story. BUT. Sadly there were also quite a few things that ended up infuriating me. I will keep things short to avoid a full rant, but let’s just say that I wasn’t happy at all with certain characters and how they behaved, the appearance of a love triangle, animal tests, the ending… The character behavior part can partly be explained as something belonging to this dystopian world, but that doesn’t mean my averse reaction was less real because of it. And the ending was kind of an anti-climax for me and didn’t really do the rest of the story justice. It wasn’t a bad read and I agree it would make for a very interesting blog club read and discussion, but I sadly didn’t enjoy VOX as much as I thought I would.


Title: One Summer In Paris
Author: Sarah Morgan
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 4th 2019
Publisher: HQ
Finished reading: April 15th 2020
Pages: 464

“Being yourself is the one thing every person should excel at.”

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I know this is not my typical genre, but I’ve been craving a lot of contemporaries lately and I love a travel/foreign setting theme, so I thought this story set (mostly) in Paris would be a good fit. Things started out great (and also a lot darker than expected) and there were a lot of things I did love in One Summer In Paris, including the Paris setting and the dynamics and growing relationship between Grace and Audrey as well as the bookshop, French language learning, explaining of dyslexia and alcoholic parents past and even Audrey romance with Etienne. BUT. I absolutely hate it when the cheating/affair element plays a big role in a story. Especially the reaction of Grace and more importantly Mr. Bastard aka David himself were simply infuriating. Oh yes, this part of the story made me so SO angry!! And not only behavior of David and decisions of Grace, but also how lightly the topic is treated and how Grace and Sophie’s months of suffering and their lives being ripped apart were brushed away like that. Ugh. The ending definitely wasn’t what I was hoping for either and not even Audrey’s POV and bookshop related reveal (which was too predictable as I guessed it straight away) could save the story for me. I guess it’s unpopular opinion time again?


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YVO’S SHORTIES #155 – And So It Begins & The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two detective stories; one modern and one a classic and both excellent reads. And So It Begins by Rachel Abbott was my first experience with her work and I’m definitely looking forward to more. The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie was already my fifth meeting with Hercule Poirot and another very satisfying read.


Title: And So It Begins
(Stephanie King #1)
Author: Rachel Abbott

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: October 11th 2018
Publisher: Black Dot Publishing
Finished reading: March 29th 2020
Pages: 302

“The truth is, Cleo, that however close we are to someone, we never truly know what’s in their heart.”


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I’ve been meaning to try one of her books for ages now, and the blog tour for the Stephanie King sequel this month was a perfect excuse to finally do so. There is no doubt that I enjoyed my first experience with Rachel Abbott‘s writing, and And So It Begins was a more than satisfying thriller read. While I do confess I was surprised to find a story that was more dark psychological thriller than detective thriller (then again, I went in blind and didn’t check the blurb first), it was a most pleasant surprise and I wasn’t disappointed at all. And So It Begins is the first time we meet main character Stephanie King, and although we don’t get to learn all that much about her background in the first book, references are made that will make you more than curious to find out more in the sequel. Like I said before, And So It Begins can mostly be classified as a dark psychological thriller, and the focus is mainly on the victim and those close to him rather than Stephanie herself. Both Chloe, Evie and Mark are in the spotlight, and it is our task to slowly unravel the truth about both past and present as all three seem to have more than one secret to hide… The story is well written and the use of suspense and plot twists simply spot on. It’s a highly entertaining as well as suspenseful read, and I’ll definitely be looking forward to the sequel now.


Title: The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd
(Hercule Poirot #4)
Author: Agatha Christie
 
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 1926
Publisher: William Morrow
Finished reading: April 1st 2020
Pages: 286

“Hercule Poirot does not run the risk of disarranging his costume without being sure of attaining his object. To do so would be ridiculous and absurd. I am never ridiculous.”


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I’m trying to read more Agatha Christie books and I’ve been slowly working my way through the Hercule Poirot books… I really like his character and each meeting so far has without doubt been successful. The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd is no exception, and another very satisfying detective read. Although this story is mostly told by a new character, neighbor Dr. Sheppard, as soon as Hercule Poirot makes his appearance you will feel the story is on the right track. His way of talking and observing the world is simply unique, and as soon as he utters his first sentence you know you have encountered an old friend again… It was interesting to see him investigate the case of Roger Ackroyd’s murder, and I definitely didn’t see the ending coming. Both the plot twists and the writing are excellently developed and The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd is definitely one of my favorite Hercule Poirot stories so far. I’ll be looking forward to the next one!


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Sister – by Kjell Ola Dahl #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @Orendabooks @annecater

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Sister Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve become a big fan of the nordic noir genre over the years and after a positive first experience with Kjell Ola Dahl‘s work (The Courier) last year I was ready for more. And Sister most definitely didn’t disappoint! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts.

Title: Sister
(Oslo Detectives #9)
Author: Kjell Ola Dahl
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: April 5th 2020
Pages: 276
(Originally written in Norwegian: ‘Søsteren’)

“He knew the only way to find an answer was to walk into the hornet’s nest and see what made it buzz.”

*** 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 had the opportunity to rediscover the nordic noir genre in recent years and I’ve been trying to explore more authors and books ever since. After a positive first experience with Kjell Ola Dahl‘s work (The Courier) last year I was ready for more… And Sister sounded like the perfect read for me. I do have to confess that I didn’t realize Sister was actually book number 9 of the Oslo Detectives series when I signed up for the blog tour, but luckily this turned out to be one of those series where the sequels can be read quite easily as a stand-alone as well. Lucky for me, but also for those who don’t have time to catch up with the series first (I mean, eight books is a LOT) and are still curious about the Oslo Detectives books… Although you will probably end up like me wanting to read the previous books anyway after you finish Sister. You’ve been warned!

Before I start my review properly, first a big round of applause for translator Don Bartlett for providing us with another fluid and simply fantastic translation. Us poor English language readers wouldn’t be able to enjoy our dose of nordic noir otherwise! As soon as I started reading Sister, I knew that I was in for a treat. While I didn’t have the proper background information of main character Frølich, it was still really easy to connect to both the story and his character almost straight away. In the case of Sister, it didn’t seem too necessary to possess that background information… It was enough for me to know that Frølich is a former cop and currently working as a private detective. I do have to confess this story made me curious about the previous books and his character development over time, as I’m sure he has been through a lot in eight books. Frølich is your typical and almost cliche private detective character with a complicated past and former job as a police detective, but he has that je ne sais quoi that made me like him almost instantly and I enjoyed following him during his investigations.

The case Frølich is asked to investigate is both fascinating, deeply uncomfortable and potentially very dangerous. What starts out as a seemingly transparent case, the asylum seeker needing to find her sister living in Norway to avoid being deported, soon turns out to be a lot more than meets the eye. The story tackles a number of difficult and sensitive topics including abuse, immigrants, an old disaster case, conspiracy and murder… This may seem like a lot, but I personally enjoyed how everything was incorporated into the story. The main focus may seem to be on the asylum seeker case at first, but as the first body shows up Frølich’s attention shifts as he starts to wonder how everything fits in. Slowly more aspects, secrets and twists of the plot are revealed; those secrets and plot twists adding an extra level of suspense as welll as guiding Frølich to different characters and locations in play. We travel through Norway as the story evolves and the descriptions of the different settings really made that nordic noir feel shine through for me.

Sister doesn’t just follow one case and this diversity and overlap turns the story into a multidimentional thriller that is both suspenseful and addictive. We have Norway travels, we have multiple murders, we have an old disaster case and possible conspiracy, we have a human interest and immigrant angle, and we even have a little romance on the side to lighten up things a little… All combined together into one delicious nordic noir meal. If you are a fan of the genre, Sister is without doubt an excellent choice.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in
1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven
novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum
psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In
2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the
prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has
been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #154 – Love And Other Words & The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two contemporary reads I’ve been meaning to read for a while… And both Love And Other Words and The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry turned out to be excellent reads.


Title: Love And Other Words
Author: Christina Lauren

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 10th 2018
Publisher: Gallery Books
Finished reading: March 16th 2020
Pages: 433

“It never occurred to me that love could be anything other than all-consuming. Even as a child, I knew I never wanted anything less.”


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I think most of you will probably know by now that contemporary romance and me don’t really tend to get along, but there are a select few authors that can make me enjoy the genre. I guess I can now add the Christina Lauren duo to that list too! My first experience with their work back in January, The Unhoneymooners, was a success and I had the exact same result with Love And Other Words. Despite the sexy scenes definitely not being for me, I fell in love with the characters and their story… The writing style made it really easy to keep turning those pages, and I like how the story switches back and forward between then and now, slowly letting you get to know the current and past Macey and Elliot. The question of what happened between them to cause such a rupture all those years ago added a level of intrigue to the story, and while the final reveal was a bit of an anticlimax for me mostly, I think the development of the plot and characters in general was well handled. I loved both characters as well as the bookish elements in the story… Sexy scenes and love triangle aside, I think this might be a new favorite Christina Lauren, and that is 100% thanks to both the characters and the writing in general. Fans of the genre will without doubt adore this book!


Title: The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry
Author: Gabrielle Zevin

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: April 1st 2014
Publisher:  Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Finished reading: March 23rd 2020
Pages: 320

“We read to know we’re not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone.”


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I’ve had The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry on my radar for a long time now, and I even bought a physical copy last year in the hope I would actually pick it up sooner. I guess that didn’t happen, and I’m definitely kicking myself now because I have found myself a new favorite nowI love bookish books and this story is without doubt filled to the brim with most wonderful bookish references. And that is not the only bookish thing about this book: most of the story takes place in a bookstore and we have a bookstore owner and publisher sales rep in the spotlight as two of the important characters. Talk about heaven if you love bookish books! The writing is wonderful and I really liked the plot and plot development as well. The main focus is on bookstore owner A.J. Fikry of course, and it is his quirky and grumpy personality as well as his personal development that really make this story special for me. The characters in general are so easy to like and my heart ached for them as the story continued… Sad moments are combined with more happy ones, and The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry will most definitely play with your emotions. It’s a story that will stay with me for quite some time, and I already know I will want to reread it in the future!


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