YVO’S SHORTIES #186 – We Were The Salt Of The Sea & Anxious People

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! Today is translated fiction day with two translations… The first, We Were The Salt Of The Sea, somehow sadly didn’t work for me at all, but I absolutely loved my time with Anxious People. No surprise here, as I adore everything Fredrik Backman writes in general…


Title: We Were The Salt Of The Sea
(Enquêteur Moralès #1)
Author: Roxanne Bouchard

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: 2014
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: October 25th 2020
Pages: 300
(Originally published in French: ‘Nouse étions le sel de la mer’)

“Sometimes all we want is for time to stop catching up with us.”


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Okay… I’m not sure what happened here, but I guess it’s unpopular opinion time again? I’m still surprised as I’ve never had an Orenda miss before and fellow bloggers seem to love We Were The Salt Of The Sea… But somehow this story just didn’t seem to work at all for me. It might just have been the wrong time for me to pick up this story, but the fact this that I really struggled with both the writing style and plot in general. Somehow, I was never able to connect to the writing, and the catch phrases of some of the characters (‘Heee’ and ‘Christ in a chalice!’) REALLY got on my nerves after a while. Instead of making it easier to recognize the characters, it only made me like both the characters and the story considerably less… Always a complication but even worse in a mostly character-driven story. And as much as I loved the setting and the many descriptions of the sea, the plot was a bit all over the place for me as well. On top of this, We Were The Salt Of The Sea also included one of my mayor pet peeves: cheating. I never react well to this element and although this is a personal reaction, it made me dislike Morales considerably. It didn’t really help improving my reaction to the story in general either… All in all We Were The Salt Of The Sea definitely wasn’t my cup of tea, but most people do seem to enjoy it a lot better so don’t give up on my account.


Title: Anxious People
Author: Fredrik Backman

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: April 25th 2019
Publisher: Atria Books
Finished reading: November 3rd 2020
Pages: 336
(Originally written in Swedish: ‘Folk med ångest’)

“Anyone can nurture a myth about their life if they have enough manure, so if the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, that’s probably because it’s full of shit.”


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This was easily one of my most anticipated releases this year and I simply couldn’t wait to pick it up… I know that I am a bit biased when it comes to Fredrik Backman‘s books, but I absolutely adored every single minute I spent with Anxious People. There is just something about his writing and humor that is a match made in heaven for me and this newest story has once again shown me why he is one of my absolute favorite authors. He is an absolute master in creating flawed and strangely likeable characters, and we have another fantastic cast in Anxious People. True, there are a lot of different characters in play here, but each is so unique that it is really easy to keep them apart… And they all add there little something to the plot too. I liked the structure of the plot, with different POVS mixed with police interviews with the different witnesses. You are kept in the dark along with the police officers about what really went on inside that apartment, and I thought that the different twists and the hidden identity of the bank robber was cleverly done. Humor and heavier elements are blended perfectly, and I found myself snickering more than once along the way. Fredrik Backman‘s characters have once again won over my heart and this is hands down one of my favorite stories I have had the chance to read this year.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #185 – Maria In The Moon & Clap When You Land @Orendabooks

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time a double dose of contemporary with two absolutely outstanding reads: Maria In The Moon by Louise Beech and Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo.


Title: Maria In The Moon
Author: Louise Beech

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: August 15th 2017
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: October 27th 2020
Pages: 280

“But even with four aces, I always chose to lose.”


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I’ve considered Louise Beech to be one of my absolute favorite authors ever since I first tried her work last year, and I’ve been saving her final backlist titles for special occasions… I thought that Orentober month fitted the bill perfectly! Sadly the blogging slump prevented me from writing a lengthy glowing review in time, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Maria In The Moon absolutely deserves one. While I do confess that initially I wasn’t 100% sure about this story, it soon snuck up on me and it managed to bowl me over completely in the end. The Beech effect has struck again! The writing as well as character development is once again of an extraordinary quality, and the plot itself all powerful, raw, shocking as well as heartbreaking. Maria In The Moon is memory loss as you never saw it before, with a plot and characters that will continue to haunt you long after you reach that final page… Not an easy read, but absolutely worth it in the end. If you enjoy heavier/darker fiction with wonderful writing as well as excellently developed characters, Maria In The Moon should definitely be on your radar.


Title: Clap When You Land
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 5th 2020
Publisher: Quill Tree Books
Finished reading: November 1st 2020
Pages: 432

“Fight until you can’t breathe, & if you have to forfeit, you forfeit smiling, make them think you let them win.”


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Both The Poet X and With The Fire On High simply blew me away, so I have been eagerly anticipating her newest story Clap When You Land… And I can now say that my expectations were more than met; what an absolutely stunning read! The fact that the story is told through free verse, the glorious writing, the two sisters, the Dominican Republic setting and culture references, the plot itself… There is so much to love in Clap When You Land and it is definitely a story that will stay with me for a long time. I love that the story switches between Camino and Yahaira’s point of view to help us get to know both sisters. It was interesting to see both girls react to the news of the accident as well as see how different their lives are… Especially the chapters set in the Dominican Republic had glorious descriptions that really made the setting come alive for me, but I loved the fact that the culture really shines through throughout the story. I also loved the little Spanish phrases and words thrown in, as they gave the story that extra authenticity without making it too hard for non-Spanish speakers to at least get the gist of what is being said. Clap When You Land is a story of family, loss, love as well as hope, and I personally devoured every single page of that delicious free verse writing. Stunning, unique, powerful and emotional, and absolutely worth the read!


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Nesting – by C.J. Cooke #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @RandomTTours

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Nesting Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I admit it was cover love at first sight when I first heard about this book, but it was the promise of a gothic thriller set in Norway that sealed the deal for me. And it definitely turned out to be a winner for me! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: The Nesting
Author: C.J. Cooke
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: September 29th 2020
Publisher: HarperCollins
Finished reading: October 6th 2020
Pages: 416

“What they don’t realize is that nature has been around much longer than humans. We don’t understand it, not really.”

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

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!! Happy publication day !!

I admit that it was cover love at first sight when I first spotted The Nesting, but the blurb itself had me fully intrigued as well. The promise of a gothic thriller set in Norway was simply irresistible… And I’m happy to say that the story most definitely ended up living up to that gorgeous cover for me. Eerie, atmospheric with a hint of the paranormal and a healthy dose of Nordic folklore… There is simply a lot to love in this modern gothic thriller.

The Norwegian setting is beautifully described as well as incorporated into the plot, and it made for the perfect backdrop for this story. You will find that eerie, dark and ominous vibe around the Nordic setting and the house itself, which sets the tone for the rest of the story and really complemented the plot. You will find yourself instantly on edge as soon as you arrive in Norway along with the main character, wondering what happened in the past and how this might relate to the present. I especially loved the incorporation of the Nordic folklore and how this element was used to add that eerie vibe as well as the hint at the supernatural. Likewise, I loved how big of a role nature itself played in it all.

The Nesting uses a multiple POV structure, which includes flashbacks with Aurelia’s POV, the past and present with Tom and the present with Lexi. While I do confess that the initial chapters with Lexi didn’t impress me too much, as soon as the story takes you to Norway I found myself to be hooked and the unique vibe of the story started to shine through. While I never did warm up to Lexi or Tom, they did make for fascinating characters to follow and the same goes for the rest of the cast. The mystery around Aurelia’s death and the flashbacks to the past were perfect to inject that supernatural vibe and it definitely gave the story that gothic and creepy feel. It was interesting to see especially Lexi develop over time and I also enjoyed seeing those secrets and lies slowly being revealed as the story evolves.

The Nesting is part supernatural with Nordic folklore elements as well as a ghost story, part domestic drama and part thriller, all dipped in a delicious horror sauce with ecological sprinkles. It’s without doubt a rich and captivating story with lots of different elements that add dept and intrigue to the story. I did have some minor issues with the plot and lack of connection to the characters, but the beautiful writing mostly makes up for that and the eerie atmosphere so present in most nordic noir stories is brilliantly developed as well. If you enjoy gothic thrillers and don’t mind dealing with unlikeable characters or stepping into the supernatural, The Nesting is an excellent addition for your wishlist.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

C.J. Cooke is an acclaimed, award-winning poet, novelist and academic with numerous other publications under the name of Carolyn Jess-Cooke. Born in Belfast, she has a PhD in Literature from Queen’s University, Belfast, and is currently Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, where she researches creative writing interventions for mental health. She also founded the Stay-At-Home Festival.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Fifty Fifty – by Steve Cavanagh #blogtour @orionbooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Fifty Fifty blog tour! A huge thanks to Alex Layt for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I know I already shared my thoughts back in June as I could not resist shouting my love for Eddie Flynn from the rooftops… But when you love a series, you cannot help but wanting to share that love all over again. And again. So this is me resharing my original review to celebrate the paperback publication day!! Want to know why I loved Fifty Fifty that much? Please join me while I share my thoughts…


Title: Fifty Fifty
(Eddie Flynn #5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve Cavanagh was born and raised in Belfast before leaving for Dublin at the age of eighteen to study Law. He currently practices civil rights law and has been involved in several high profile cases. Selected for the Amazon Rising Stars programme 2015. ACES award winner 2015 from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. The Defence is his debut novel.

Follow on twitter @SSCav


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Memories We Bury – by H.A. Leuschel #blogtour #damppebblesblogtours @HALeuschel @damppebbles

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Memories We Bury blog tour! A huge thanks to Emma Welton for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve enjoyed Helene Leuschel’s writing in the past, so I have been looking forward to try her newest story… And it turned out to be yet another excellent example of a well written psychological thriller. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!


Title: The Memories We Bury
Author: H.A. Leuschel
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: April 17th 2020
Publisher: EKT Selection Ltd
Finished reading: August 27th 2020
Pages: 314

“Trust is a fragile bird perched on a branch that is so dry it will break at the first unexpected breeze.”

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

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I was positively impressed by Helene Leuschel‘s short story collection Manipulated Lives as well as her stand-alone novella My Sweet Friend a few years back, so of course I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to join the blog tour for her first ‘full novel’ psychological thriller. She has a way of describing the psychological aspects and effects of manipulation that is both realistic and extremely thorough, and after reading the blurb of The Memories We Bury I could just feel it in my bones that I was in for another absolute treat. And that is exactly what this story turned out to be! If you enjoy a well written, realistic and utterly addicting psychological thriller, this title should definitely be on your wishlist.

Let’s look at the basics first. The Memories We Bury is told with the help of a dual POV structure, alternating between pregnant and later on new mother Lizzie and her lonely widow neighbor Morag. On top of this dual POV structure, the story also incorporates time jumps; The Memories We Bury starts out in 2016 after the main events have occured, only to jump back to 2013 and later 2014 to see the actual story slowly unfold. These first chapters set 2016 will tickle your curiosity and make you wonder what happened in the past for the two women to be the way they are right now… And they are a great teaser of what is yet to come. This structure is used to its best advantage and definitely helped keeping me invested during what might be a slightly slower beginning, as the promise of some sort of escalation was always there.

The Memories We Bury is a mostly character-driven psychological thriller, and the focus of especially the first half of this story is mainly on the development of the two main characters Lizzie and Morag. We slowly learn more about their past and their motivations, and it was fascinating to see both develop over time as the events took place. Once again we see the element of manipulation as well as obsession mastered perfectly, and especially the blurred line between victim and manipulator added a healthy level of suspense to the story. Who is manipulating who? What is really going on and who is the real victim? Although I did make a right guess quite early on, there were so many little details and twists that did surprise me along the way that I wasn’t too bothered by it in the end.

As for the characters… First of all, I have to say that I love the Scottish setting and I was stoked to see that the characters really complement that setting. Especially Morag stood out with the inclusion of Scottish dialect in her dialogue and this really made the setting feel a lot more authentic. Her background and development are realistic and thorough too, and it was interesting to slowly uncover her secrets and quirks. Lizzie made for a very interesting character as well, although her behavior and actions could get pretty frustrating in points. That said, it was a very realistic portrayal and she fitted her role in the story perfectly, so the fact that she wasn’t completely likeable could be forgiven. Her husband Markus did deserve a punch or two and he will most definitely get under your skin… But sadly I can’t deny it’s realistic portrayal of the typical absent husband and father, and he fitted his role well.

In short, The Memories We Bury is a well written, painstakingly realistic and compelling psychological thriller where the lines between manipulator and victim will blur. I can highly recommend this title if you enjoy the genre!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Helene Andrea Leuschel gained a Master in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She later acquired a Master in Philosophy, specializing in the study of the mind. Helene has a particular interest in emotional, psychological and social well-being and this led her to write her first novel, Manipulated Lives, a fictional collection of five novellas, each highlighting the dangers of interacting with narcissists. She lives with her husband and two children in Portugal.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Twitter // Facebook // Website // Instagram  

BUY LINKS

Amazon UK // Amazon US 


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ARC REVIEW: Entre Senderos De Lavanda – by Mariela Gimenez

Title: Entre Senderos De Lavanda
Author: Mariela Gimenez
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
First published: November 1st 2019
Publisher: V&R Editoras
Finished reading: July 6th 2020
Pages: 464

“There was no greater loneliness than feeling adrift like a kite loose in the wind.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Babelio and V&R Editoras as part of the Masa Crítica Argentina program in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I admit that I was intrigued as soon as I saw that gorgeous cover and read the summary. Entre Senderos De Lavanda sounded like the perfect story to read in between my thrillers: a wonderful piece of contemporary romance as well as a story of self discovery. I was curious to see how the title would fit in the story, and I have been looking forward to spend time with this book ever since. I ended up having a wonderful time with Entre Senderos De Lavanda; completely swept away to the French lavender fields and into the lives of Anna and the Duvall family.

The first thing that stood out for me was the setting in France. First in Marseilles, but mostly in the small town of Gordes in the middle of lavander filled Provence, this setting makes the perfect backdrop for this story. I loved how the lavender fields were incorporated into the plot and had a hiddden meaning to more than one character. The wonderful descriptions really made the setting come alive for me, and I could almost smell the lavender fields as I imagined travelling there myself and walking alongside the main characters.

The story is told with the help of a multiple point of view structure, and while the two main point of views are probably Anna and Pascal, we will visit most of the main characters along the way and I quite liked being able to get a glimpse inside the different perspectives. As far as the characters go, I was able to connect to them quite easily and I found myself to be rooting for them the whole time. While I wasn’t a fan of the love triangle element, I did love the character development in general. This development was thorough, felt realistic and really made the different characters come alive for me. They each have their flaws, making it only easier to relate to them and appreciate their development and growth even more. While the main focus is on Anna, most other characters will have some form of growth and each and every single one adds something extra to the plot.

The plot itself was more than solid. I really liked that this isn’t just another contemporary romance story about falling in love, but instead we also see Anna trying to find herself as well as reconnecting with what is left of her family. Not only that, we also find Anna grieving her mother and trying to make peace with both the past and present… And we have the whole Duvall family as well as Anna’s grandfather to consider too; each with their own little background and substories in the plot. It’s an interesting cast of characters that I loved seeing interact and grow over time; the plot and plot twists were handled brilliantly and I found myself to be glued to the pages as a result.

I really enjoyed the writing too, which flowed naturally and made it really easy to keep reading. The story is divided into different parts, and each chapter begins with a little quote by multiple authors that fits the current situation in the plot. I really loved this attention to detail; the same goes for the beautiful illustrations throughout my copy of Entre Senderos De Lavanda as well as the cover itself. I had a fantastic time reading this story, and I can highly recommend it to anyone who is in the mood for a beautifully written, emotional and engaging contemporary romance story.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Hinton Hollow Death Trip – by Will Carver #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @RandomTTours @Orendabooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Hinton Hollow Death Trip Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I finally read Good Samaritans earlier this year and it left me completely flabbergasted… And I’ve been looking for a repeat experience with Detective Sergeant Pace ever since. Want to know what my reaction was to yet another mindblowingly unique story? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: Hinton Hollow Death Trip
(Detective Sergeant Pace #3)
Author: Will Carver
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: June 12th 2020
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: June 25th 2020
Pages: 276

“Everyone is now two people. The physical person. And the online persona. The trouble is that nobody is fully their physical self nor their online alter ego.”

*** 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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Okay… Where do I even start when describing my reading experience with Hinton Hollow Death Trip?!?! I already knew I was in for reviewing trouble after a mindblowing experience with Good Samaritans earlier this year, but even days after finishing Detective Sergeant Pace number three I’m still lost for words. Please bear with me while I try to make sense of the mess this story left my brain in… Because I can guarantee you one thing: this book will hit you with a sledgehammer.

Shocking. Mindboggling. Mental. Extremely unique. Provoking. Infuriating. This book doesn’t follow the rules and isn’t afraid to step on more than one toe along the way. Hinton Hollow Death Trip is under no circumstance your regular thriller, and instead delivers us a completely unique story and perspective that will blow your mind regardless of the fact if you actually enjoy reading the story itself. Sure, this book might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and I confess that I didn’t enjoy it as much as others myself this time around, but you cannot help but feeling intrigued and applaud its sheer originality. Told by Evil itself in person, Hinton Hollow Death Trip is a story about how a whole town is affected by its touch and how multiple lives change forever in a very short time. Talk about an unique perspective and premise!

A little note: the first book of this series, Good Samaritans, still stands out above the rest for me. It might have been because I preferred the serial killer POV and tone in that one (although the next two books were plently deadly too), it might be that I’m just not in the right mindset for his writing right now… I still can’t put my finger exactly on the reason behind this feeling, although I do have to say that I still mostly enjoyed my time with Hinton Hollow Death Trip. I’m taking a guess here and say that my main issue with this story probably involved the fact that a few elements rubbed me the wrong way. The innecessary animal cruelty, the cheating, the sexy scenes, the tone in certain parts… I know this story is ment to provoke and anger, but I guess I just wasn’t in the right mindset for this kind of read.

That said, both the premise and perspective of Hinton Hollow Death Trip really made this story stand out far above the average thriller. You all might remember a certain popular YA story narrated by Death, but this story is narrated by Evil instead, and boy do you notice the difference. This book is dark, this book is disturbing, this book is twisted… It really shows what evil things humans are capable of with just a little nudge in the ‘right’ direction. Hinton Hollow Death Trip is narrated by Evil, but we get to know a wide variety of inhabitants of the little town along the way as Evil focuses on them. This change in focus and POV helps enrich the plot further and will have you occupied juggling the different storylines and characters while you wonder just how far out of control things will spin.

The plot itself is brilliantly constructed, and designed to escalate, shock as well as send you on the wrong track. Evil things are happening in Hinton Hollow, and you won’t understand the full scope and connections between the different events until it’s too late… And those final reveals will most likely make your jaw drop right to the floor. Oh yes, Hinton Hollow Death Trip will leave you absolutely flabbergasted and staring at that final page wondering if you really understood what just happened… Is it true? Is it another trick? I’m still not sure myself, but what I’m sure of is that Will Carver sure knows how to handle that sledgehammer. What a read!

Hinton Hollow Death Trip is an extremely unique, mindboggling as well as infuriating read that will manage to blow you away regardless of the fact if it’s really your cup of tea or not. While there were a few elements that just didn’t do it for me, I simply applaud the sheer originality and wow factor of this story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series.
He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #173 – Good Girl Bad Girl & The Sun Down Motel #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a double thriller dose with Good Girl Bad Girl by Michael Robotham and The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James. Both turned out to be excellent reads!


Title: Good Girl Bad Girl
(Cyrus Haven #1)
Author: Michael Robotham
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 23rd 2019
Publisher: Sphere
Finished reading: June 28th 2020
Pages: 416

“Evil is not a state, it is a ‘property’, and when a person is in possession of enough ‘property’, it sometimes begins to define them.”

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I’ve been meaning to try this author for quite some time now, and being approved for an ARC of the Cyrus Haven sequel was the perfect excuse to finally do so. Good Girl Bad Girl is without doubt an engaging as well as twisted start of this series. The story uses a dual POV, where we switch between new lead character and psychologist Cyrus Haven and Evie (a.k.a. Angel Face). Both have a disturbing background and it was fascinating to see the two matched and develop over time. The main focus of the story is on the new case Cyrus is called in to assist (Jodie’s murder), but both Evie’s past and her present situation play a big role too. The two different storylines mix as well as collide, and it was intriguing to see the different plot twists change the course of the story. I have to say that I was able to guess most of the twists early on, but one or two did hit the mark… The ending was quite open though and I definitely can’t wait to read the sequel to discover how things will continue. Recommended if you like a good crime thriller with a psychology angle and don’t mind things getting pretty dark and twisted in points.


Title: The Sun Down Motel
Author: Simone St. James
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Horror
First published: February 18th 2020
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: June 30th 2020
Pages: 336

“The person who could be truly alone, in the company of no one but oneself and one’s thoughts – that person was stronger than anyone else. More ready. More prepared.”

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I’ve heard nothing but great things about this title, and now I’ve had the chance to read The Sun Down Motel myself I can definitely understand the love for this story. This book is most definitely worth the hype, and it turned out to be just as good as I hoped it would be! It’s the perfect mix of paranormal mystery and crime thriller that had me literally racing through the pages. The Sun Down Motel uses a dual POV structure, where we switch back and forth between Vivian in 1982 and Vivian’s niece Carly in 2017. Both the POV switches and plot twists are brilliantly placed; they will keep you in the dark and only slowly reveal what Viv discovered in the past as well as what Carly unravels in the present. I loved both storylines equally, as both characters were easy to connect to and their stories managed to draw me right in. The paranormal aspect is again brilliantly handled; giving the story that creepy vibe as well as an ominous feel. On top of this, the story has the possible serial killer angle and the whole mystery around Viv’s disappearance in 1982… This story has more layers than an onion and you will love peeling away each one to discover the full picture. The Sun Down Motel turned out to be a fantastic reading experience and I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who loves a little dose of paranormal with their crime thriller. Creepy, ominous and oh so engaging!


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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ARC REVIEW: Fifty Fifty – by Steve Cavanagh @orionbooks

Title: Fifty Fifty
(Eddie Flynn #5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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