ARC REVIEW: Who’s Next – by Chris Merritt

Title: Who’s Next?
(Detectives Lockhart & Green #2)

Author: Chris Merritt
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Detective
First published: September 11th 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: September 13th 2020
Pages: 449

“Lockhart wasn’t a believer in eye-for-an-eye justice. He subscribed to the rule of law, and the judicial process – flawed as it was.”

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

myrambles1reviewqqq

I always have a weak spot for a good detective and serial killer thriller, so I’ve been curious about the Detectives Lockhart & Green series ever since I first saw the reviews of book one Knock Knock back in March. I couldn’t resist getting a copy of the sequel Who’s Next? on Netgalley as a way to make sure I was reading both sooner than later… I guess it worked, as I’ve now read both books and I’m definitely a fan.

My strange obsession with serial killer thrillers is no secret, and Who’s Next? definitely gives us another twisted as well as intriguing take on the genre. While this sequel technically could be read as a stand-alone, you will be missing out on background information as well as the changing dynamics between the main characters in play… So I would personally suggest reading the books in order. Both are more than solid reads in the first place anyway! Who’s Next? once again focuses on both a new police investigation and developments in the personal lives of both Lockhart and Green. This gives us an interesting fluctuation in intensity and suspense, although things will get pretty intense on both sides as things start to escalate along the way.

The story uses a multiple POV structure, where we not only follow main characters Dan Lockhart and Lexi Green, but also other members of Lockhart’s team as well as the killer and more than one victim. Despite the many changes, it was quite easy to keep track of the different angles… Especially since we already know Lockhart and his team as well as Green. I always like being able to get a glimpse inside the head of a serial killer, and Chris Merritt once again as created a very intriguing individual to follow. On top of the murder investigation, Who’s Next? also focuses on a serial sexual assault case once of Lockhart’s team members is helping to solve… Basically a two for one in crime investigations!

I particularly liked how we don’t just have the typical detective angle with Lockhart, but also have a focus on the psychological aspect of the crimes which is analyzed with the help of Lexi Green’s POV. It definitely enhanced the plot; the many different angles in play make for a rich and dynamic plot that is both suspenseful and packs a punch. On top of this, multiple suspects are presented along the way, keeping you in the dark about the real identity and the final reveals definitely came as a surprise. I was totally wrong with my suspicions! This ride will get intense, exhilarating and pretty twisted along the way… It’s perfect if you have a taste for dark and disturbing serial killers hunts like me. I’ll be looking forward to more Lockhart and Green next year!


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. InstagramFacebookBloglovin’.

ARC REVIEW: Deadly Waters – by Dot Hutchison

Title: Deadly Waters
Author: Dot Hutchison
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 1st 2020
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: August 31st 2020
Pages: 302

“What a wasted life if your death is met largely with relief. Sad and, well… horrible.”

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

myrambles1reviewqqq

Oh boy… I certainly didn’t expect to have this reaction to Dot Hutchison‘s newest story at all. I mean, I loved her The Collector series, and I fully expected to have a similar reaction to Deadly Waters too. I confess that I requested this title months ago without even reading the blurb (something I tend to do when I’ve loved multiple books by an author), and I started reading this story without reading the already available reviews first… I kind of wish I would have done that now, because I would have been warned at least that way. Warned, you say? Yes, sadly Deadly Waters wasn’t what I was expecting at all, and not in a good way. I’ll try to explain why this book didn’t work for me below and I’ll try not to turn it into a rant along the way (no promises though).

So… Basically, Deadly Waters is all about an over the top, exaggerated man-hating world where all men are abusing, rapist bastards and the girls on the Florida campus are all in constant danger. You would think I must be exaggerating with that description, but sadly this is an all too accurate summary of what you will find in this first book of a new series… And this is where it all starts going downhill. Don’t get me wrong, I normally applaude authors for bringing attention to abuse/rape victims and the struggles they have to face while trying to find justice, but doing so with such a negative vibe simply has the opposite effect. And then we’re not even talking about the credibility of it all… Oh yes, this was definitely a miss for me.

It doesn’t stop with that constant negativity and hate oozing out of the pages though. Oh no, there were a lot of other elements that unfortunately didn’t work for me either. The plot itself feels extremely exaggerated and over the top, using excessive violence and attacks to create an atmosphere were all men are predators and every girl is in constant danger. With exaggeration I’m talking multiple attacks on just about every female character in play and just about every male character popping up acting like a bastard. How on earth is this credible? How on earth is this supposed to help abuse/rape victims finally find their voice? It only makes for uncomfortable and trigger warning worthy reading, all doused with so much hate and negativity that it was hard to swallow. This lack of credibility was omnipresent and continued until the very end… Another nail on the coffin.

To make things worse, even the characters didn’t make up for it. Instead of an interesting and well developed cast of characters, we are dealing with what is basically a group of college student cliches. The good girl, the bad girl, the silent girl, the crush on the older male, the drunk college boys, the bastards… And I can go on and on. Apart from the fact that it lacks originality and doesn’t add dept to the story, the characters themselves didn’t really experience any development either. Instead, they just kept behaving as cliches; the female characters raging at the world and how all men are bastards and they should get what they deserve. Ugh, I’m getting angry all over again just trying to type down my thoughts, and that’s not me angry at what happens in the book, but angry with the book itself. It’s normally a good sign when a book manages to provoke strong emotions, but somehow I don’t think this was the emotion they were looking for.

Let’s pause this negativity and try to add some positive thoughts instead. What I did think had potential was the whole murder part of the plot with the alligators. How ingenious is that?! Especially how it relates to the college itself with its Gator mascott and all… Those chapters set from the killer’s POV where a bit of a relief, even though even those chapters were doused with negativity and man-hate. Talking about the killer: I actually saw that twist coming early on and I basically only kept reading to hopefully discover I was wrong… But I guess I wasn’t that lucky. I can’t deny that the story made the most of its Florida setting though.

Wow, this has really turned into a rant after all… I guess I really did have strong feelings about this book that needed to come out. I’ll stop now as these rambles are becoming way too long already, and leave you with a short summary before I sign off. Basically, with all that anger and hate literally streaming out off the pages, Deadly Waters turns into a very VERY unappetizing read. Combine this with the undeveloped character cliches, the exaggerated plot with excessive violence and attacks and lack of credibility in general, I really wish I would have just opted to DNF Deadly Waters instead. Am I sad to feel this way about a story I had highly anticipated? Yes. But that doesn’t make my reaction any less real, and judging the other reviews I’ve seen so far I’m not the only one who feels this way either. You’ve been warned!


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. InstagramFacebookBloglovin’.

BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Night Swim – by Megan Goldin #blogtour @StMartinsPress

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Night Swim blog tour! A huge thanks to John Karle for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I had a brilliant time with The Escape Room last year, so of course I couldn’t say no to joining the blog tour for Megan Goldin’s newest… And I think this story might just be even better! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: The Night Swim
Author: Megan Goldin
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 4th 2020
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: July 26th 2020
Pages: 352

“To tell you the truth, I don’t get how we can almost unanimously agree that murder is wrong, yet when it comes to rape some people still see shades of gray.”

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

myrambles1reviewqqq

I had a brilliant time with The Escape Room last year, and I have been looking forward to read more of Megan Goldin‘s writing ever since. I couldn’t resist joining the blog tour for The Night Swim, as I had a feeling I was going to enjoy my time with this story… And my instincts turned out to be right, as I had a brilliant time the second time around as well. In fact, I might have enjoyed this one even better, although both stories are very different and it’s probably not fair to compare the two. Dark, harrowing as well as powerful: The Night Swim talks about the very difficult topic of rape and helps show just how hard it is for victims to find justice and peace of mind.

First of all, I have to say that I loved the podcast element in The Night Swim. While the whole podcast element has been done before, I really liked how this element was incorporated into the plot here. Our main character Rachel is the crime podcast host and for her third season she decided to cover a rape trial in a small town live. The plot includes transcripts of those podcast episodes called Guilty or Not Guilty, in which Rachel talks about what happens during the trial and gives background about the participants, always trying to be objective of course. This story includes controversial and strong opinions and is used to talk about rape and show just how much a victim struggles and how they are often judged unfairly. On top of that, this story also shows that as a consequence victims often prefer not going to trial to avoid having to relive their trauma over and over again. Especially since it is very hard to get a conviction in the first place as it is the classic ‘he said/she said’ scenario. Even today, there is a lot of stigma around rape and victim blaming; I thought The Night Swim did a great job showing the different issues in play.

The story uses a dual POV structure in between the different podcast episodes. We switch between podcast host and journalist Rachel and Hannah, who is less present but basically key to the cold case investigation part of the plot. Because The Night Swim isn’t just about the upcoming rape trial which will be covered in the third podcast season, but it’s also about what happened to Hannah’s sister 25 years ago. Back then her death was ruled an accidental drowning, but Hannah claims that her sister was actually murdered and Rachel cannot help but feel intrigued. She is determined to try her best to find out more, especially after Hannah’s unusual way of contacting her. This cold case part of the plot is used both to take a break from the harrowing rape case as well as to add suspense and mystery to the plot. It was intriguing to slowly discover more about the past and the story definitely had some surprises in store along the way.

While the pace is slower in points, it didn’t bother me as much as I liked the balance between the present, the podcast episodes and the investigation into the past. The mystery around Hannah and her not wanting to meet Rachel in person to discuss her sister’s death had me fully intrigued. Why not come forward sooner? Was it a cover up, was it really a drowning, what happened exactly and who was involved? What does Hannah know? There were a lot of questions to keep me busy, and I always like it when a plot keeps me on my toes. The characters weren’t all that likeable, but their development was solid and felt realistic. It’s an interesting cast to shoulder both the past and present storyline, and they fit their different roles very well.

The Night Swim is a well written, dark and harrowing read that divides its attention between an upcoming rape trial and a death that happened 25 years ago. Both storylines are equally fascinating, and I ended up having a brilliant time with this story. The rape element can be hard to stomach, but I thought it was well done and the story definitely helps to shine a light on the issues rape victims still encounter while trying to find justice. Without doubt a powerful read!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MEGAN GOLDIN worked as a correspondent for Reuters and other media outlets where she covered war, peace, international terrorism and financial meltdowns in the Middle East and Asia. She is now based in Melbourne, Australia where she raises three sons and is a foster mum to Labrador puppies learning to be guide dogs. The Escape Room was her debut novel.

SOCIAL LINKS

Author website // Twitter // Facebook // Author Blog // GoodReads

BUY LINKS

Macmillan // Books-A-Million // Barnes & Noble // Amazon


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. Instagram. Facebook. Bloglovin’.

BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Lies Lies Lies – by Adele Parks #blogtour @HarlequinBooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Lies Lies Lies 2020 Summer Reads blog tour! A huge thanks to Justine Sha for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I was intrigued by Lies Lies Lies as soon as I read the blurb, and this story definitely lived up to expectations. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: Lies Lies Lies
Author: Adele Parks
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 4th 2020
Publisher: MIRA
Finished reading: July 22nd 2020
Pages: 384

“The thing about people is that it takes years, and years, and years to know them. Really know them. Because we hide things, all of us, all the time. We’re ashamed, cautious or secretive.”

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

myrambles1reviewqqq

I’ve had Adele Parks on my list of authors to try for a while now, and after being intrigued by the blurb of her newest I just couldn’t resist signing up for the blog tour. I’m glad I did, because my first experience with her writing was most definitely successful. Lies Lies Lies is more domestic drama than thriller, but it packs a mean punch and it will definitely have you in its grip the whole time. Fans of the genre will be delighted!

Like I said, Lies Lies Lies felt mostly like a domestic drama and if you are looking for a superfast and action-packed thriller this book will most likely not be your cup of tea. If on the other hand you enjoy domestic thrillers with a focus on the character development, the psychological aspect as well as a healthy dose of shocking secrets and lies, you will be in for a treat.  Lies Lies Lies will deliver all of this and more! Using a dual POV and storyline, we get to hear the story from both Daisy and Simon’s side. We learn about their past, what happened in 2016 that changed their lives forever and what their life is like in 2019 for both after the life changing event. This dual POV is used to explore both characters as well as to build up the suspense and give the multiple secrets they are hiding more impact. Both the plot and plot twists are more than solid and the two POVs complemented each other very well.

As for the characters themselves… In this kind of psychological thriller and domestic drama, the character development is key. While neither Daisy nor Simon are all that likeable, their development is more than thorough, flawed and realistic and it was interesting to see them develop and grow over time. The rest of the cast likewise each had their role to play and they complemented the main characters well. There are a lot of secrets and lies involved in this story, and Lies Lies Lies will have more than a couple surprises in store for you. I especially found Simon’s 2019 chapters to be fascinating for obvious reasons, although I won’t be going into details to avoid spoilers.

Lies Lies Lies deals with a lot of difficult topics, including addiction, alcoholism, dementia, dealing with a life changing injury, infertility, abuse, rape and violence. Again, I won’t be going into details to avoid possible spoilers, but especially the addiction and alcoholism element plays a very important role in the plot and I thought this element and its consequences were represented well. Lies Lies Lies definitely is no picnic and if you are looking for an uplifting read this book is probably not a good choice. But if you are looking for a well written, character driven domestic thriller that isn’t afraid to go dark and packs a mean punch, Lies Lies Lies could be the perfect book for you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adele Parks was born in Teesside, North-East England. Her first novel, Playing Away, was published in 2000 and since then she’s had seventeen international bestsellers, translated into twenty-six languages, including I Invited Her In. She’s been an Ambassador for The Reading Agency and a judge for the Costa. She’s lived in Italy, Botswana and London, and is now settled in Guildford, Surrey, with her husband, teenage son and cat.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Author Website // Twitter // Instagram // Facebook // Goodreads

BUY LINKS

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


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. Instagram. Facebook. Bloglovin’.

ARC REVIEW: Somebody’s Daughter – by Carol Wyer

Title: Somebody’s Daughter
(Detective Natalie Ward #7)
Author: Carol Wyer
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 9th 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: June 4th 2020
Pages: 379

“Victims of physical and mental abuse are strangled by their own inability to break free. They believe, for some bizarre reason, they actually deserve the hatred, the beatings and the sexual degradation. They lose their self-worth to the point they firmly believe they are worthless and they deserve to suffer.”

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

myrambles1reviewqqq

I’ve been a fan of Carol Wyer‘s detective thrillers for quite some time now, and I have been following detective Natalie Ward since the very beginning back in 2018. Somebody’s Daughter is already book number seven of this series, and without doubt another thrilling ride! I can always rely on this series to give me a couple of hours of solid entertainment. A little warning: technically you can read this story as a stand-alone, but you will be missing out on quite a lot of background information about the main characters and you will probably not get the full experience if you don’t read the previous books first. Especially since the last two books focus on some very drastic developments in Natalie Ward’s private life as well as the development of some the other recurring characters in play. Plus, if you are a fan of the genre in the first place, you will be missing out on hours of detective entertainment!

I’ll be keeping this review short to avoid spoilers, but those who have had the chance to read the previous books will know what I mean when I say that life has been no picnic for Natalie Ward so far. Both book five and six had absolutely shocking developments that left me reeling, and definitely had a huge impact on Natalie’s private life…  Somebody’s Daughter once again focuses on the developments in Natalie’s private life as well as the new case. As she is now a DCI, and other known character Lucy has taken over her DI position, the balance between the characters in the team has shifted a little and we see more of Lucy than Natalie in the investigation. This gives the story a slightly different vibe, but I personally didn’t mind too much as it gave the story a fresh angle too.

The writing makes it really easy to keep turning those pages, and while the pace might be a tad slower in points, things will get more intense as the investigation gets more complicated. We have multiple POVs, flashbacks and plot twists to provide us with hurdles to overcome, and the story is packed with secrets to unravel. What seems like an easy case with an easy to identify suspect soon becomes a lot more complicated… The bodies start piling up and the question is how they all connect and if the team is really on the right track. While we see less of Natalie now she is a DCI, we still get the rest of her team and she still makes her appearance throughout the case. Certain aspects of the plot made you wonder about the credibility of it all, but overall the entertainment factor won me over. Somebody’s Daugher can get a bit graphic in points and includes difficult themes as grooming, abuse, rape and addiction. This is definitely  not a story for those with a weak stomach!

This detective thriller series has been highly entertaining and suspenseful from the very first book, and Somebody’s Daughter is already book number seven and no exception to the rule. Natalie and her team have another complicated case to solve, and the bodies are starting to pile up very quickly… Dark, twisted and highly entertaining if you enjoy a good detective thriller with a disturbing angle. If you enjoy the genre, you will most likely have a great time with this series!


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. Instagram. Facebook. Bloglovin’.

ARC REVIEW: The Electric Heir – by Victoria Lee

Title: The Electric Heir
(Feverwake #2)

Author: Victoria Lee
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: March 17th 2020
Publisher: Skyscape
Finished reading: January 10th 2020
Pages: 479

“Just because something is a stereotype doesn’t make it true.”

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

myrambles1reviewqqq

After enjoying the first book of this duology last year, I was excited to meet up with the main characters again in The Electric Heir. But before we continue with my rambles, can we just take a second to admire this absolutely gorgeous cover? Both Feverwake covers are simply stunning and most definitely fit this story as well, as it can be seen as a direct reference to the magical powers so fundamental to this story. Cover love aside, there are quite a few other elements that made this duology work for me.

The first thing that stands out in the Feverwake books is the dystopian setting and worldbuilding in general. While not entirely original, the dystopian world where a magical virus ravages the world, killing most and leaving the survivors with supernatural powers, is without doubt intriguing. While roughly based on actual US states and cities by name, the story has an obvious dystopian feel both because the country and government as we know it is long gone and the story is actually set in the future (2123 to be exact). The worldbuilding itself isn’t all that extensive, but solid enough to give the story the right backdrop.

One of the things I liked most about both books was the magic and the fact that there was a wide range of different supernatural powers as well as level of strength after surviving the virus. It was interesting to see the different characters develop their power over time as well as seeing the power change them… And as the blurb already states, the sudden absence of that power too. Magic is without doubt essential to the plot and definitely spiced up this story! As for the plot itself… It was interesting to see the new direction this story took. Lehrer is clearly the supervillian of this story and the main goal is to defeat him before things really spin out of control. I do admit that some parts of the plot were quite cliche and the pace can be considerably slow in points. Especially the second made the story drag in certain parts, but overall curiosity won out as I wanted to know how it would all end.

There are a lot of trigger warnings involved when it comes to The Electric Heir, including genocide, abuse, rape, mental health, suicide and addiction (full list available on the author’s website). There are a lot of deeper meanings to be uncovered while reading this duology and some parts even give off a political vibe, but I personally thought this only gave the story a little something extra. There are quite a lot of heavy elements included in The Electric Heir and if you are looking for a balanced and happy story this would definitely be the wrong place to look for it. But life isn’t all about happy endings and it made this story feel a lot more realistic because of it. I personally found the ending itself of The Electric Heir a bit abrupt, but I guess it does give you closure and all in all it’s a well rounded duology that wrapped things up nicely. If you are looking for an entertaining YA dystopia that isn’t afraid to go dark, love a good LGBT romance and don’t mind a dose of teen angst and a slower pace, this Feverwake duology is definitely for you.


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. InstagramFacebookBloglovin’.

YVO’S SHORTIES #148 – Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet & What We Saw

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two backlist titles I’ve been wanting to read for a while, and both turned out to be excellent reads. Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet by Jamie Ford was both hardbreaking and heartwarming at the same time, and while What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler is without doubt a darker read, the heavy elements including rape and victim shaming are excellently and realistically portrayed.


Title: Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet
Author: Jamie Ford

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
First published: January 27th 2009
Publisher: Allison & Busby
Finished reading: February 3rd 2020
Pages: 396

“The hardest choices in life aren’t between what’s right and what’s wrong but between what’s right and what’s best.”


myrambles1reviewqqq

I confess I have been meaning to read Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet for years now, and last year I thought getting a physical copy would help making me finally read it. It still took me way longer than expected, but I finally did! I think it’s probably known by now that I have a weak spot for WWII historical fiction and this story is able to give us an original angle. Set in Seattle during the war, the focus is on the Chinese and Japanese community and the threats the Japanese community receives as a direct consequence of Japan’s role in WWII. Main characters Henry and Keiko are able to describe this inner conflict, the racism and the consequences for the Japanese community perfectly. Switching between 1942-1945 and 1986 and between young and old Henry, we slowly learn more about the events that started and blossomed the friendship between Henry and Keiko as well as the more serious events involving the Japanese community as a whole. On top of that we have a wonderful extra element in the form of jazz music and Sheldon, who was such a lovely character and he definitely added a little something extra to the story as well as both him and his music providing a red thread to weave the past and present together. Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet is a beautifully written, poignant and sometimes heartbreaking read, but not without a note of hope… And it is able to describe the race problematics and injustice for all those innocent Japanese families perfectly. I’m positive any historical fiction fan will have an excellent time reading this wonderful story about Henry and Keiko!


Title: What We Saw
Author: Aaron Hartzler

Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: September 22nd 2015
Publisher: Harper Teen
Finished reading: February 4th 2020
Pages: 336

“I wonder which is worse: the fear of the unknown? Or knowing for sure that something terrible is true?”


myrambles1reviewqqq

I’ve been wanting to read What We Saw for a while now, and I’m definitely glad my TBR jar thought it was time to finally pick it up. I already knew this wasn’t going to be an easy read with the rape and victim blaming topic, and it is without doubt trigger warning worthy… That said, I thought the author did an excellent job portraying the whole situation as well as shining an all important light on the topic. Sadly the events as described What We Saw are all too real and sadly rape victims like Stacey become victims all over again when nobody believes their story and people simply say ‘she had it coming’ or ‘she asked for it with the way she dressed and by being wasted’ without knowing the facts… It was interesting to see the whole story from Kate’s POV as she wasn’t directly involved or too close to the victim. Instead, we see the whole situation as an ‘outsider’ wanting to uncover the truth and not accept what everybody wants or finds it easy to believe as the truth… And showing in the process how hard it can be to go against the popular kids and just how far victim blaming can go. What We Saw is definitely a darker read, but the heavy elements including rape and victime blaming/shaming are excellently and realistically portrayed. If you can stomach it, it makes for a very interesting read!


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. InstagramFacebookBloglovin’.

ARC REVIEW: Keep You Close – by Karen Cleveland

Title: Keep You Close
Author: Karen Cleveland
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 28th 2019
Publisher: Random House UK
Finished reading: January 28th 2020
Pages: 352

“It was the idea of the law that I loved. Rules that everyone followed. Consequences for breaking them. The law was black-and-white. It was fair.”

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

myrambles1reviewqqq

I have heard so many wonderful things about Karen Cleveland‘s debut Need To Know and I have been curious to try out her books. As soon as I read the blurb of Keep You Close, I was immediately intrigued and just couldn’t resist trying this story first. I thought I was going to be in for an intense and action-packed ride, and I have been looking forward to read a proper action thriller with possible espionage/conspiracy plot elements again as it has been a while. I kind of wish I sticked with just trying her debut now instead, because I have to be honest here and say that I was seriously underwhelmed by Keep You Close. I’ll try to explain below why…

I’m still not sure if it was just me, or actually the book, but the fact is that Keep You Close and me definitely didn’t get along. I normally like action-packed stories and I’m a sucker for a good conspiracy plot, so this story should have been right up my alley… Instead, I was left with feelings of frustration and lack of interest for the duration of this book. It’s hard putting my finger exactly on why I had such an averse reaction to this story, but there were definitely a few elements I had issues with. Because it wasn’t just a lack of connection to and interest for the story… There were quite a few elements that just didn’t work for me.

The first thing I can mention is the plot and general structure of the plot. I felt that both the plot, structure and also the flashbacks were simply all over the place. POV switches and flashbacks are kind of dropped on you as you are trying to follow what FBI agent Stephanie Maddox is up to; this is highly distracting, makes the plot feel chaotic and slowed down the pace. Instead of adding the tension and suspense I guess was the intention of using those techniques, especially those POV switches only distracted from the plot itself. Talking about the plot, I also didn’t think both the plot and the plot twists were credible at all and mostly way over the top. I get the whole conspiracy plot and the complicated situation Steph finds herself in, but this mostly seemed like a cliche and caricature way of describing it all, with over the top Hollywood spy movie scenes and twists. The ending left way too many questions unanswered and wasn’t satisfying at all either… I’m not sure if this book just wasn’t for me despite my love for conspiracy plots, but either way Keep You Close was definitely a miss for me.

As for the writing: I can’t say that I was a fan. While I can’t deny that it was a fast read despite the pace slowing down in places (especially during those flashbacks and sudden POV switches), I can’t say I was enjoying myself while reading it. This is probably a personal reaction to her writing style though, as most people seem to love her writing (or at least those reviews I read about her debut). I guess it’s unpopular opinion review time again? Anyway, that was not all. The characters likewise ended up letting me down. I felt that they were underdeveloped and described mostly using cliches; flat and one-dimentional characters I had a hard time connecting to. Steph is the typical ‘strong female main character’ with a messed up past but fierce at her work. She really isn’t being developed all that beyond that, and that is truly a shame. Likewise, the other characters in play are not really developed beyond basic information and cliches either, which makes it hard to connect to them. The focus is instead on the over the top and not credible at all plot, which I clearly wasn’t a fan of either.

I guess my instincts are not always right… I really thought I was going to love this story, especially since I love my conspiracy plots and action-packed thrillers, but Keep You Close was most definitely not my cup of tea. Unpopular opinion or not, I guess we can’t like them all, can we?


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. InstagramFacebookBloglovin’.

YVO’S SHORTIES #143 – Like This For Ever & Things You Save In A Fire

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two completely different genres, but both books I really enjoyed. The third Lacey Flint book Like This For Ever was slightly different than the previous books as Lacey is not that present, but it is without doubt one that ends with a bang. And I loved my time with Things You Save In A Fire by Katherine Center! She’s definitely on my short list of authors that can make me actually enjoy romance.


Title: Like This For Ever
(Lacey Flint #3)
Author: Sharon Bolton

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: April 11th 2013
Publisher: Bantam Press
Finished reading: January 7th 2020
Pages: 400

“The mask that was Lacey Flint, the mask that her true self hid behind, the mask that could never be allowed to slip again. “


myrambles1reviewqqq

It took me longer than expected, but I finally came around reading my latest TBR jar pick… It has been interesting to meet up with Lacey Flint again and to see how past events affected her. The story is told through multiple POVs, including Lacey, Dana and Barney. Lacey isn’t as active in this book as she is not currently on duty after everything that happened previously, but somehow she ends up being involved anyway… And Barney’s POV is particularly interesting as we not often have a kid as one of the leading characters. Dana represents the detective team that includes well known Mark Joesbury, currently working on the case where young boys go missing only to turn up dead days later with their throats slashed. Who is behind these killings and why are the murders so atypical? I fully thought I had the whole plot figured out, and I was even starting to feel disappointed, only for the plot twist granades to be thrown at me from an angle I definitely didn’t see coming… Those final developments left me mostly flabbergasted and with a fully reinstated positive opinion about this book. I love it when a story manages to mislead me! This is also one of those books you will finish in record time, and I literally finished it in less than a day. Lacey comes over as more than a bit unhinged in this sequel, but it has definitely made me curious about what will happen with her in the final book. I’m hoping to read it soon! Trigger warnings are in place for self harm and suicide among other things.


Title: Things You Save In A Fire
Author: Katherine Center

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
First published: August 13th 2019
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: January 8th 2020
Pages: 320

“That’s how life is. Things happen. Lives get broken. Some people never can put themselves back together.”


myrambles1reviewqqq

I really enjoyed How To Walk Away last year and I have been meaning to read this one ever since…I’m definitely kicking myself for not doing so sooner, because I loved Things You Save In A Fire even more. I know I’m not really one of the biggest romance fans around, but I do love a change of genre every once in a while and there are a select few romance authors that can make me actually enjoy the genre. I have now confirmed Katherine Center is one of them. Heartwarming, poignant, honest, brutal and sometimes even shocking: Things You Save In A Fire will take you on a rollercoaster ride filled with emotions. Heavy topics including rape, cancer, death, gender discrimination and addiction are balanced with lighter moments and just the right dose of banter and romance. You will find yourself rooting for both Cassie and Owen (aka Rookie) before you know it, and I loved that this story gave us more insight of what is really going on inside a fire station. Firefighters are the heart and soul of this story and I really appreciated how the author not only described the inner workings of everything involving firefighters but also made it fundamental to the plot. The deeper meaning of the need for forgiveness ran throughout the whole story and will apply on multiple levels… It was fascinating to see the different characters evolve and grow over time, and I can see why this book has received so much love. I’m definitely part of this group now! Fans of the genre should consider Things You Save In A Fire a powerful and heartwarming as well as heartbreaking must-read.


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. InstagramFacebookBloglovin’.

BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Home – by Sarah Stovell #RandomThingsTours #blogtour @Orendabooks @annecater

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Home Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I was blown away by Sarah Stovell‘s first book Exquisite last year and I have been looking forward to a new story ever since… And there is no doubt that The Home has only reconfirmed my love for her writing. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!

Title: The Home
Author: Sarah Stovell
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: November 28th 2019
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: January 14th 2020
Pages: 276

“We were fragile, too. But we weren’t fragile like flowers. We were fragile like bombs.”

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

myrambles1reviewqqq

Exquisite was simply exquisite last year, so I’ve been looking forward to her newest story ever since. It’s easy to say that my expectations were extremely high, and I was honestly a bit afraid it wouldn’t actually live up to expectations… But I shouldn’t have worried. My mind was left reeling and my heart was smashed into a million pieces and left in a broken heap of mess on the floor… Heartrending, raw, emotional and dark: this is a story that will get under your skin and will make your soul ache for those two poor girls! Oh yes, make sure to prepare yourself for a few hours of very intense reading. So, why did the story work so well for me?

As you might have gathered from my first thoughts, this story did excellent job provoking some very strong emotions; key in this were both the characters, plot development and the writing of course. Let’s take a further look at the plot and its structure first… The story is divided into five parts and uses multiple POVs to tell us the tragic story of two troubled young girls: Hope and Annie. We learn about their terrible and shocking past, the residence where they first met and lived together as well as the events that happened after that dreadful night that ended the life of one of the girls… Not in chronological order, but rather a mix of past and present which slowly gives us more insight in the lives of girls. The full picture is being slowly build up brick by brick, until the full horrifying dimension and consequences of their difficult lives are ultimately revealed.

There are a lot of dark and shocking elements included in The Home, and this story is definitely not for the weak hearted. Oh no, this is not a happy story and reading about the details of the lives of both girls has been horrific to say the least. I don’t want to reveal too much to avoid spoilers, but heavy topics such as (child) abuse, child prostitution, teen pregnancy, addiction, rape, murder and mental illness play an all important role in the plot… Once again, it is simply dreadful to think just how tough of a start on life these girls had, and it truly shows their resilience that they even got this far. The darker elements also mean trigger warnings are in place, but each element is developed expertly and respectfully and helps shine light on just how hard and essentially hopeless it can be for kids to fight the terrible hand in life they have been given.

Let’s talk about the characters… The main focus in The Home is on Annie and Hope of course, and to say both girls who have had a very rough life so far is an understatement. It’s hard to discuss the characters in detail without giving away spoilers, but let’s just say that their past and secrets will have some very shocking surprises in store and even though they might not be exactly likeable, your heart will ache for them anyway as you see just how much they suffered and still suffer. Other characters, including Lara, Helen and Ace are less present, but each plays its own role and it has been interesting to discover where each character fits in the story. Especially Ace and both mothers made my blood boil, but a story like this needs its villians for it to be realistic… And that was most definitely achieved here.

The writing is once again simply exquisite. The different POVs, the layout of the plot, the thoughts of what is basically a ‘ghost’, a separate ‘story’ about Annie’s past… Different techniques are used to put together a complex and uniquely crafted story that will mostly definitely blow your socks off. Along with an emotional rollercoaster, and with lighter moments (including the relationship between the two girls) balancing all the dark and disturbing elements of this story, you will also find yourself on a journey looking for the truth behind the death of a young girl. Twists and turns will set you on the wrong track, and feelings of doubt, rage and deep deep sympathy for the girls will make it feel as if there were an emotional tornado inside your heart. Only in the best possible way of course!

There is so much to love in The Home and it is a story that will stay with me for a long time. It’s not an easy read, but it’s beautifully rendered and simply absolutely spot on when it comes to execution. If you are looking for an unique thriller that isn’t afraid to go dark and ugly, you have just found yourself a new read!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Stovell was born in 1977 and spent most of her life in the Home
Counties before a season working in a remote North Yorkshire youth
hostel made her realise she was a northerner at heart. She now lives in
Northumberland with her partner and two children and is a lecturer in
Creative Writing at Lincoln University. Her debut psychological thriller,
Exquisite, was called ‘the book of the summer’ by Sunday Times.


signature

You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. Instagram. Facebook. Bloglovin’.