YVO’S SHORTIES #172 – Eight Perfect Murders & The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two 20 Books Of Summer titles and 2020 releases belonging to completely different genres… And both turned out to be excellent reads. Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson only reconfirmed my love for his writing, while debut The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael put Beth Morrey firmly on my radar.


Title: Eight Perfect Murders
(Malcolm Kershaw #1)
Author: Peter Swanson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 3rd 2020
Publisher: William Morrow
Finished reading: June 22nd 2020
Pages: 288

“Books are time travel. True readers all know this. But books don’t just take you back to the time in which they were written; they can take you back to different versions of yourself.”

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I’m a fan of Peter Swanson‘s writing and I’ve been looking forward to dive into Eight Perfect Murders ever since I first heard about it. I love books with bookish elements and I love my crime thriller stories, so the premise of this newest story sounded absolutely fantastic. While it’s true that I don’t exactly read or know a lot about crime classics (I prefer more modern thrillers myself), I think it’s the clever incorporation of the eight crime classics that really makes this story stand out for me. Why? Peter Swanson doesn’t just name the titles and explain what happens in the corresponding plot, but really incorporates the different stories and elements into its own plot in the most ingenious way. A fair warning though: if you still need/want to read the eight classics mentioned in the blurb, you will find mayor spoilers of those stories incorporated into Eight Perfect Murders that might spoil the fun. I personally didn’t really mind, as I had heard bits about the classics already and I actually quite liked discovering them through this rather unique ‘memoir’. The structure of the plot is brilliant, the writing engaging, the character development fascinating, the many bookish elements including the bookshop and Nero the cat simply divine… I had heaps of fun reading Eight Perfect Murders, and thought the ending was a perfect reference to crime classics (one in particular of course, but I don’t want to spoil the fun by mentioning it). If you are looking for an unique and clever crime thriller and don’t mind a spoiler or two of the eight crime classics mentioned in the blurb, you will most likely have an excellent time with this story too.


Title: The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael
Author: Beth Morrey
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: April 7th 2020
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Finished reading: June 26th 2020
Pages: 352

“If you really want something, you hang on. Don’t give up. Hang on, as if your life depended on it.”

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I admit that I was sold as soon as I saw the comparison to A Man Called Ove and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. I adored both books and its characters, and I just knew I HAD to meet Missy Carmichael to see if she could win me over too. The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael turned out to be both charming and heartbreaking at the same time. While I confess that it took me some time to warm up to Missy, once I did I found myself to be completely under her spell. The same goes for the rest of the characters; a wonderful cast of colorful and easy to like personalities that each added their own little something to the plot. Lighter moments are mixed with more heavy topics; flashbacks to Missy’s past used to get to know her better and help understand the ‘mistakes’ she mentioned as well as why she is the way she is.The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael will have a couple surprises and twists for you in store, an a few heartbreaking moments that will require having a box of tissues and a plate of your favorite comfort food at hand just in case. I loved seeing Missy develop and blossom over time, and if you are craving a heartfelt contemporary with well developed characters and don’t mind shedding a tear or two, this debut is an excellent choice.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Collector – by John Maher #blogtour #InkubatorBooks @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Collector damppebles blog tour! A huge thanks to Emma Welton for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I always love a good detective thriller and knew I just HAD to try The Collector as soon as I saw that new lead character is a forensic linguist. And I definitely liked what I found! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…


Title: The Collector
(Detective Lucy O´Hara #1)

Author: John Maher
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 5th 2020
Publisher: Inkubator Books
Finished reading: June 23rd 2020
Pages: ?

“But that was the problem with asking yourself awkward questions. You never seemed to get a straight answer.”

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

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I always love a good detective thriller and I knew I just HAD to try The Collector as soon as I saw that the new main character is a forensic linguist. Some might already know that I’m a philologist and I’m always interested in anything involving linguistics… I just couldn’t wait to see how this element was developed in the story and the actual criminal case in this first book of a new series sounded like a cracker too. Instincts told me that I was going to enjoy this one, so I jumped on the chance to join the blog tour and help spread the word. My bookish radar definitely didn’t fail here! The Collector is without doubt an excellent start of a new detective series with an international touch.

There is a lot to love in The Collector. The first thing that stands out for me is the international feel of both the plot and the characters. While the story mainly takes place in Ireland (both Dublin and other places), the plot also takes us abroad. We get a glimpse of both Hamburg (Germany) (which brought back great memories of our Eurotrip in 2018), Alicante (Spain) and flashbacks to Cairo (Egypt) for example… As someone who loves travelling, the different international settings were definitely a bonus.

The same international feel is represented in more than one character as well. First up is of course our new detective lead Lucy O’Hara, who has an interesting personal background with her French mother and Irish dad as well as growing up living in a bunch of different countries due to her father’s job. Lucy speaks multiple languages as a consequence, and I loved the forensic linguist details she helped bringing into the plot (although I kind of wish there would have been even more focus on this element). Lucy is not the only character with an international vibe though. The most obvious ones are the Lithuanian thug Lukas Petraskas as well as his Polish helper, but we also have more than one German character in play for example. On top of the setting and characters, The Collector also offers us little phrases in multiple languages throughout the story to help reinforce this same international vibe.

The plot has a multiple POV structure; the three main POVs are probably the detective and forensic linguist Lucy O’Hara, the Lithuanian Lukas Petraskas and the collector (der Sammler), but the POV of most of the characters in play will make their appearance at least once before you reach that final page. Having so many different POVs and characters to juggle might seem a lot, but their introduction felt natural and I personally didn’t have any issues keeping them apart. The writing is engaging and managed to draw me right in; the use of short phrases in multiple foreign languages added a little something extra and helpt giving the international feel of the story credibility. I liked the development of the plot, the building up of suspense was solid and the plot twists were mostly effective. I did guess part of the truth earlier than expected, but overall I had an excellent time with The Collector.

If you are looking for a new detective series with an original touch, you should definitely consider meeting up with detective Lucy O’Hara. I will definitely be looking forward to read more about her in the future myself!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Maher has published five novels and a collection of short stories. He has won national awards for radio play and short story with RTE in Ireland. His novel, The Luck Penny, was shortlisted for debut novel on BBC Radio 5.

A former teacher and lecturer, he holds a Phd from the School of Oriental and African Studies (London).

He lives in a small Irish village, between the Atlantic and the Irish Sea, from which he steals away, from time to time, to visit the world outside the island.

THE COLLECTOR will be his first novel published with Inkubator Books.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Website

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK // Amazon US


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ARC REVIEW: How To Save A Life – by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

Title: How To Save A Life
Author: Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: July 14th 2020
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Finished reading: June 14th 2020
Pages: 303

“I’m struck by how much I take life for granted. How easily I – or anyone I care about – could be a part of any of these stories that make the papers.”

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

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I knew I wanted to read How To Save A Life as soon as I read the blurb and saw the mention of the Groundhog Day element. It reminded me of one of my all time favorite books The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle and I was immediately curious how this element would be developed into the plot. It’s without doubt also the reason this story will stay with me for quite some time! The Groundhog Day element gives the story a surreal touch as well as raising an interesting question as mentioned in the blurb: how far would you go to save the life of someone you love?

The main reason this story worked for me is that same Groundhog Day element. How To Save A Life starts out as an ordinary romantic contemporary when Dom meets his ex-fiancé Mia again after ten years… While this does sounds like a bit of a cliche, it’s a tolerable cliche and it was interesting to see the two react to their sudden meeting and what some might call fate. The plot thickens after the introduction of the Groundhog Day element, and it gave the story that magical realism vibe as you wonder if the things that are happening are real or if it is all in Dom’s head.

The story is told in a series of repeat Thursdays as Dom wakes up and experiences the same day all over again. This might sound repetitive, but there are enough changes in the events as well as enough growth in Dom’s character to keep you interested. By doing things different each Thursday, we slowly learn more about Dom, Mia and their past as well as the other characters in play. I didn’t particularly like the hint at the love triangle nor the stack of cliches used throughout the story, but overall I was intrigued enough by how it would all end to keep reading.

As for the characters… I’m still not sure if I actually like them, but they were all well developed and felt mostly realistic. I had a great time getting to know Dom and Mia better over time… It was also interesting to see the dynamics between the different characters, and I actually quite liked the ending too. How To Save A Life proved to be a very interesting read; a mostly character driven story about Dom trying to save the love of his life while also learning more about himself. It’s definitely not your ordinary lost love story!


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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: The Heatwave – by Katerina Diamond

Title: The Heatwave
Author: Katerina Diamond
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 25th 2020
Publisher: Avon
Finished reading: June 20th 2020
Pages: 400

“There are places I haven’t been yet because I am afraid. It’s not the places I fear though, it’s the memories that come with them.”

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

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I admit that I was curious about The Heatwave as soon as I first read the blurb, and after reading the first positive reviews I couldn’t resist requesting a copy. I still think that both the blurb and the premise of this story are rock solid, and The Heatwave is by no means a bad read… But somehow, even though I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, the story didn’t manage to convince me completely in the end. I’ll try to explain below why.

First of all I have to stress that a 3 star rating by no means turns this psychological thriller into a bad read, but rather represents my personal reaction to The Heatwave. It might just be that it’s time for me to take a little break from this kind of psychological thrillers, as I’m still not sure why I didn’t enjoy the story as much as I thought I would. The elements are definitely there, with an interesting premise, lots of secrets, plenty of lies and a missing girl cold case from 16 years ago. The story uses a dual storyline structure, where it switches between the present and flashbacks to 16 years ago to slowly discover more about what happened that summer. The past and present are linked both through the main characters and the two different missing girl cases… And it was interesting to see the two storylines collide and develop over time.

That said, I did found part of the plot to be quite cliche or at least nothing new, and especially the flashback chapters were slowgoing and could get pretty frustrating. Likewise, I didn’t like the present POV all that much either, as the main character was simply too frantic and mysterious about why she HAD to go back after 16 years away. I know the lack of explanation is used to try and add more suspense as well as increase the effects of the plot twists, but I failed to connect to the main character as a result and it made me enjoy the story less. I also thought that the final reveals were a bit over the top and they didn’t really match the pace and intensity of the rest of the story. Sure, they were shocking and mostly unexpected, but I didn’t really think it was a credible outcome to be honest…

I mentioned the main character and my lack of connection to her before, and this is basically what happened with every single character in play. I wasn’t sure about their development either, mostly because with more than one there were cliches involved and I wondered about the credibility of their actions and reactions to events. The whole seducing/grooming a minor in the flashback chapters left me with a bad taste in my mouth and overall the characters didn’t exactly make it easier to stay invested and properly enjoy The Heatwave.

In short, while I confess that still struggle to properly point out all of my issues, somehow I sadly wasn’t all that impressed by The Heatwave despite the promising premise. It might just be me having read too many similar psychological thrillers and needing a break from the genre, but it is what it is I guess.


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ARC REVIEW: Left For Dead – by Caroline Mitchell

Title: Left For Dead
(DI Amy Winter #3)
Author: Caroline Mitchell
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 8th 2020
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: June 6th 2020
Pages: 336

“She was blind to the danger of her situation; in denial about the trouble she might be in. Her mind was focused on only one thing: apprehending the Love Heart Killer, before he struck again.”

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

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I’ve been turning to Caroline Mitchell’s thrillers for years now whenever I’m in the mood for a thrilling ride. I first met DI Amy Winter back in 2018 and I was instantly intrigued by the background of this character. I think that it’s no secret that I have a weird obsession with serial killer stories… Having a main character that is first adopted by a cop and now a DI herself, but on the other hand having her biological parents being a twisted serial killer duo? Talk about a background that had me hooked immediately! We learned more about Amy’s past in the first two books, and her personal storyline continues to develop in this third installment. This is one of the reasons why I would recommend reading the first books before tackling Left For Dead, as it would be a lot more difficult to get a proper grip on the dynamics between and development of the various characters in play. Plus, if you like intense detective thrillers with a dark twists, you will be in for a treat with all three in the first place.

Left For Dead continues where book two ended and once again we hear quite a lot of Amy’s biological mother Lillian Grimes and her appeal. The main focus is on the new case and the new dynamics in Amy’s team with the appearance of Donovan as the new DCI of course, but you will feel that Lillian’s presence is never far away and always lurking in the background. I like how the balance shifted a little and we see more of Donovan, although I hope these new dynamics won’t slow Amy down in the future… In book three Amy is still as fierce as ever though and I like how she uses her background and intimate knowledge of the twisted minds of her parents to get inside the heads of other serial killers. She definitely has an instinct for hunting and isn’t afraid to go off the books to get results… Even if it brings danger in the picture.

Left For Dead has a multiple POV structure, helping us follow both sides of the law as well as allowing the story to hide certain facts until the plot is ready to reveal the truth. The plot itself is interesting, and while the identity of the killer is revealed very early on, it was still very much a thrilling ride as Amy and her team try to catch him. The story has lots of twists and turns and while there are no major surprises to speak of, it was still a very satisfying detective thriller read as a whole. The ending was a shocker too, and I definitely can’t wait to discover how things will continue now.

The DI Amy Winter series has provided one solid and dark detective thriller after the other so far, and Left For Dead is no exception. In this third book, we have another twisted case on our hands as well as developments relating to Amy’s mother and her appeal… Recommended if you enjoy the genre.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Before I Die – by Jackie Morrissey #blogtour #damppebblesblogtour @damppebbles

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Before I Die blog tour! A huge thanks to Emma Welton for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I was intrigued by this story as soon as I read the blurb; a carer like Dolores would be anyone’s worst nightmare without a doubt! Want to know what my reaction was to this story? Please join me while I share my thoughts…


Title: Before I Die
Author: Jackie Morrissey
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 21st 2020
Publisher: Inkubator Books
Finished reading: June 9th 2020
Pages: ?

“A sense of unease ran through her, born of some instinctive recognition of threat.”

*** 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 confess that Before I Die won me over as soon as I read the blurb. Dolores sounded absolutely fascinating as a character with that possible angel of death angle (nurse or carer turned serial killer). You all know how I can’t resist a good serial killer story, and it has been a while since I last read one with this angle. While the whole angel of death plot has been done before, I liked the direction the premise of Before I Die took and it’s without one of the strongest aspects of this story. It definitely helped adding a healthy dose of suspense as well as a hint of forboding! And this story is thoroughly creepy both for anyone depending on a carer as well as for those who have loved ones under care. Imagine having to deal with your own personal Dolores! Before I Die is a solid psychological thriller with a dark angle, and while it was slightly predictable in parts and not too credible in other areas, I still found it to be an entertaining read.

As for the characters… I mostly ended up having mixed thoughts about them. I did like how the story had multiple older characters as well as Dolores and the younger son of a friend with a heroin addiction, as it added a level of dept to the story. Their development in general is quite thorough and the colorful and diverse cast of characters made the story feel more complex, but they weren’t exactly likeable and not every action or reaction could be considered credible. I’m sorry, but I just can’t believe Maureen never stood up for herself; especially in the beginning when Dolores still doesn’t have a big influence on her. I can believe Dolores having the power to manipulate others so successfully, but Maureen letting her walk all over her straight away without putting up a fight just didn’t feel credible at all to me. I also wondered if the Spanish Dolores didn’t come over as too much of a stereotype. The story makes it seem like she left Spain long ago (or at least that is how I interpreted it after finishing this story and knowing all the facts), and somehow she still seems to speak all halted… I liked the added Spanish words in the text, but the sentence structure used to describe her dialogues felt a bit too much like building a foreigner stereotype cliche. This might just be a personal reaction to her character though.

The writing is easy on the eye and I managed to finish reading Before I Die in no time at all. The plot itself has a multiple POV structure which makes it easier to get to know the different characters in play… The same structure is of course also used to hide certain facts and secrets until they are ready to be revealed. The story will have a couple of surprises for you in store even though it’s a bit of a shame you can basically guess the truth about Dolores straight away. I had my doubts about the credibility in certain parts, and the ending felt a bit too over the top and intense after a slower psychological thriller vibe during most of the story… Still, it was intriguing to see the whole situation develop and find out how both Maureen and Dolores react to the things that happen. The story definitely turned out to be a lot darker than I thought it would be! I don’t think that is a bad thing though. If you like a good twisted psychological thriller with an angel of death angle, Before I Die is a solid choice.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jackie Morrissey lives in County Dublin and worked for many years in adult education. Her job took her into colleges and prisons all around Ireland, and introduced her to a range of interesting people. She loved the buzz of teaching, but came to hate the tyranny of correcting assignments. She has written throughout her adult life and has had many short stories published, one of which won the Molly Keane Short Story award. She has also been a regular contributor of short pieces for the Irish radio program Sunday Miscellany. About four years ago, she took the decision to write full time. The psychological thriller Before I Die is her first published novel.

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK // Amazon US


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ARC REVIEW: What I Know – by Miranda Smith

Title: What I Know
Author: Miranda Smith
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 24th 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: June 3rd 2020
Pages: 285

“It’s wildly unfortunate we live in a society that waits for bad things to happen before doing anything.”

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

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I always love a good psychological thriller and I was intrigued by the blurb of What I Know, so I decided to request a copy on a whim. “My brother was thirteen the first time he tried to kill me.”: talk about one heck of an opening line! I’ve been looking forward to read this story ever since and had quite high expectations for this one, but somehow the actual story ended up falling a bit flat for me. I still can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but I will try to explain below what worked and didn’t work for me.

First of all, I have to say that I still love the premise of the story and the blurb is without doubt a corker. I also liked the dual storyline structure, where we get to see main character Della in the present with Zoey and follow her back to the past with her brother Brian. This structure is used to draw parallels between both characters as well as adding a healthy dose of suspense… And definitely took the story to the next level. You are initially kept in the dark about the true extent of Brian’s darkness, although it is quite easy to guess how far it would go after reading the blurb and catching the first few hints. That’s probably why the final reveals around his character in the past were a bit of an anticlimax to be honest… The present storyline focusing on Della and Zoe was a lot more successful at keeping you on your toes though.

While the writing flows and makes it really easy to keep reading, I wasn’t always sure about the pace. Certain plot twists were really easy to guess, and drawing out the reveal of those twists slowed the story down instead of adding suspense… Or at least that was the effect it had on me. I always like it when a story is able to mislead me and keep me guessing, and that was not what happened here as I somehow had the characters figured out really early on. The lack of surprises was a bit of a letdown for me, and I honestly felt that it was a bit too convenient that nobody but Della saw the truth behind certain characters. It didn’t feel credible and the same goes for certain parts of the plot as well as the ending.

As for the characters… I found them to be very hard to like, which made it more difficult to connect to the story in turn. Some were ment to be unlikeable of course, but I was never able to connect to Della either both due to her attitude and actions. Initially I thought both Della and Danny would be a perfect match for me, as you don’t see too many stories about childless couples who made the decision not to have any children… It’s something I can relate to personally as with my hubby we stand by the same decision (have been for years as we just don’t see ourselves with children, or at least not in the forseeable future). I was a bit miffed to be honest to have Della suddently being saddled with an unplanned pregnancy; both because of Danny’s reaction and people judging how she feels about it. I know this is a personal reaction, but still… It made me enjoy the story and characters considerably less.

In short, What I Know is a psychological thriller with a dark edge: using a dual storyline, it switches back between past and present and introduces us to two twisted minds… What I Know has without doubt a lot of potential, and while the story sadly fell flat for me, others do seem to enjoy it a lot better.


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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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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! ***

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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!


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