European Wanderlust

In a way I thought the day would never arrive, but time has also been going way too fast. It’s April 23rd today, which means as of today It’s All About Books will be going on a Europe trip hiatus! But not before I finish this ‘European wanderlust’ inspired bookish/movie post. Oh yes, what better way to prepare for a trip than looking up books and/or movies set in the countries we are going to visit?

So, below you can find my google map of the countries/cities we’ll be going to visit in the next month and also the countries we will be visiting in this post. It will be one intense trip with lots of different countries and cities in a limited amount of time (fact: there are so many amazing sounding places to visit in Europe, and it’s SO hard to limit them down!!), but hopefully this plan won’t be too crazy. *fingers crossed*

In short, we’ll be visiting The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Slovakia, Poland, Czech Republic and Germany. They will be visited in a counterclock-wise movement, starting with The Netherlands, then Belgium etc etc. Why? Let’s just say we started looking up things that way and it kind of worked out. Or maybe I’ve been craving those Belgium waffles and chocolate way too much and wanted to go there first. Who knows? 😉 Either way, that’s the way our bookish/movie travels will go today as well.

Ready to start?!

Before we go to the different countries, I’m going to explain a little my choices below. I’ve decided to only name books I’ve actually read and movies I’ve actually seen. Otherwise it would kind of be cheating right? Also, I was surprised just how hard it was to find titles for some countries! I really thought it would be easier… But one country ended up with less than the three book/movie titles in total I wanted to mention and did’nt have a single book (Belgium, I’m looking at you!). I need to step up my international setting game!! xD

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ARC REVIEW: Sky In The Deep – by Adrienne Young @StMartinsPress

Title: Sky In The Deep
Author: Adrienne Young
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
First published: April 24th 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: April 19th 2018
Pages: 352

“You’ll find your own end before the snow melts because your pride and your anger are more importan to you than your own survival.”

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

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I admit I was sold as soon as I saw the cover and the mention of vikings. And maybe the fact that Sky In The Deep is called one of the most anticipated YA fantasy releases this year, although that also made me a bit afraid it won’t live up to the hype. But thankfully Sky In The Deep is actually worth all the praise it has been receiving. What a wonderful and well written debut! Although this story has no exact time setting and appears to be more fantasy than historical fiction, with the viking culture playing such a central role it is easy to deduct this story was set long ago (probably 800s?). Would I have liked a more detailed worldbuilding with more descriptions and facts? Yes, but I can also understand why the exact details have been kept vague, focusing instead on the characters and clan feud plot. I would have liked to have a glossary for the foreign words and phrases used, although most are easy to interpret from the context. These little things aside, I absolutely loved this story. The main character is the typical strong female lead, but Eelyn really came alive in the descriptions and dialogue and was easy to connect to. The different clans and the old feud between the two had me completely hooked, as well as for the plot twists that changed their future forever. Definitely the best viking-inspired story I’ve read to this date! I admit I could have done without the romance, but at least we were spared the dreaded love triangle. And I’m sure romance fans will love that little twist (although I saw it coming quite early on). In short, while not perfect, this debut still managed to completely blow me away and Eelyn’s story will stay with me for a long time. Vikings to the win!

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Seventeen-year-old Eelyn was raised to be a warrior and fights alongside her Aska clansmen against the Riki clan. The two have been enemies for a long time, fighting each other every five years in a ruthless battle. This year is no different and Eelyn is fighting on the battlefield when something strange happens: she sees her brother Iri, the same brother who she watched die five years ago. Following his ghost, she ends up in a very dangerous situation herself…One that will be both hard to accept and find a way out of.

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Despite a few minor details that made me lower the rating slightly, there is no doubt I absolutely loved this book. I have a weak spot for viking stories and Sky In The Deep has to be the best viking-inspired fantasy story I’ve read to this date. The writing is very engaging and made it really easy to like this story. The plot and clan feud turning into something else was an interesting one and while there were slow parts, you will get plently of viking fighting action as well. A little advice: don’t read the full blurb before you start reading it! This one is more fun going in completely blind. YA fantasy fans who like their stories having a dose of romance, well developed characters and a couple of pretty intense fighting scenes will love Sky In The Deep. A very powerful debut!


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ARC REVIEW: Find You In The Dark – by Nathan Ripley @text_publishing

Title: Find You In The Dark
Author: Nathan Ripley
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 6th 2018
Publisher: Text Publishing
Finished reading: April 21st 2018
Pages: 336

“There’s always sense in it, somewhere, just as there is always sense in the patterns and impulses of the guys whose work I follow.”

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

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It was the blurb that made me add this one straight to my must-read list. Multiple serial killers? A main character digging up murder victims? A comparison to Dexter? Heck yes! I’ve been looking forward to pick up Find You In The Dark and find out just how twisted this story was going to be… And trust me, I wasn’t disappointed. This isn’t your typical serial killer thriller and the main character Martin Reese definitely isn’t a typical guy. I mean, buying stolen police files to find the bodies of missing serial killer victims, digging them up and bragging in anonymous phone calls to the police about his finds doesn’t actually sound squeaky clean or normal to me. Call it weird, call it disturbing, call it illegal, call it a crime, but there is one thing for sure: you will be absolutely and completely hooked by this this character and his actions. Martin Reese is one hell of personality to build your story around and he definitely has a lot to do with the success of this thriller. The writing supports this crazy and twisted ride and will have you on the edge of your seat while you try to figure out just how far things will go. Out of control, or calculated? Plot and plot twists are well developed and will keep you guessing…. And the graphic scenes will chill many seasoned thriller reader to the bone. This multiple serial killer thriller with a twist definitely isn’t for the weakhearted, but oh so good if you are able to stomach the heavy parts. While not perfect, this was an outstanding debut thriller and I can’t wait to find out what Nathan Ripley will have in store for us in the future!

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Rich and retired Martin Reese has a strange hobby: he digs up the missing bodies of serial killer victims. He gets the information he needs to discover the locations by buying stolen police files on serial killers… And he has been able to outsmart the cops for a long time by discovering the bodies and then taunting them in an anonymous call by claiming he is doing the job they failed to do. But his calls have left their mark, and there is one detective in particular who is not so sure the mysterious ‘Finder’ is only doing a good deed for the community. Who says he isn’t the one to leave the bodies in the first place? And who knows, he might escalate soon enough as well? But it seems like the detective isn’t the only one zooming in on Martin’s activities…

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Multiple twisted serial killers, a main character with a murky past and hobby, the whole digging up bodies angle in general… Oh yes, serial killer fans will have a lot to look forward to in this debut Find You In The Dark. From a well developed plot to interesting characters and a lot of disturbing and twisted facts: you will get a triple dose of suspense and terror with this one! The rather original ‘digging up bodies’ angle added a little something extra to the mix… And while not perfect, it is without doubt one of my favorite thrillers I’ve read so far this year for the original angle alone.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #24: The Poison Plot & A Secondhand Lie

Time for a last round of Yvo’s Shorties before our trip! Sadly this time they were not the best of reads… The first, a NG ARC called The Poison Plot by Elaine Forman Crane, turned out to be my second DNF of the year. And the second is a companion novella of a book (A Secondhand Life) I really enjoyed reading earlier this month, but the novella fell flat for me. A Secondhand Lie by Pamela Crane… I recommend sticking with the actual book with this one.


Title: The Poison Plot
Author: Elaine Forman Crane

Genre: Non Fiction, Historical
First published: May 15th 2018
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Finished reading: April 17th 2018
Pages: 264
DNF at 31% (82 pages)

“Then again, there is no hard evidence that Mary actually tried to poison Benedict or that he was in fact poisoned.”

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


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Fact: the blurb of The Poison Plot immediately had me under its spell. I enjoy a good non fiction read every once in a while and the promise of a murder plot and a 18th century setting sounded like a perfect match. So even though I had seen mixed reviews before I started it, I had still high hopes for The Poison Plot. Sadly, I did not have the positive reaction I was hoping to have to the story. In fact, I struggled right from the start and after several tries and careful consideration I had no other option than to make this book my second DNF this year. Am I sad to have to make this difficult decision? Yes. But I will try to explain below why. First of all, the writing style is dry, formal and hard to get into. This made it considerably harder to keep reading. Also, the whole mystery around the case is basically revealed in the prologue, leaving little to look forward to in the rest of the book. And as has been stated various times in the book, there is no hard evidence Mary tried to poison Benedict or that he even was poisoned at all. Doesn’t that mean that the whole ‘poison plot’ this book is based on is actually nonexistent? Especially since this is supposed to be a NON fiction account based on facts. Related to this is the cheer amount of guesswork about Mary’s life in general and what happened with all the if, would, probably, may have... I understand there are not that many details available of that era, but no facts means no accurate account of the supposed ‘poison plot’ and Mary’s life can be given. This guesswork really bothered me and I would have preferred this being converted in a historical fiction read based on available information instead. This would probably make the story a lot more readable as well. Another thing that made me DNF The Poison Plot were the constant and repeatedly mentions of random details and facts of the time period without it having a solid connection to Mary. There is an overdose of unimportant details and information of the era, and honestly I don’t really care about the minute weather details or what someone may or may not could have bought and when. Especially since most of the time there was no direct link to Mary or the other key characters. I tried really hard to keep reading, as I wanted to learn more about the supposed murder plot and what really happened. Unfortunately, between the writing style, guesswork, unimportant detail overdose and lack of connection of most of the content to the main characters, I found myself having no other option than to DNF it.


Title: A Secondhand Lie
(Killer Thriller #0.5)
Author: Pamela Crane

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: December 8th 2015
Publisher: Tabella House
Finished reading: April 18th 2018
Pages: 97

“In the pregnant pause between my birth and death, life had become little more than a series of cruel jokes, and I was always the punch line.”


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After reading A Secondhand Life earlier this month and being really impressed with it, I decided to get a copy of the companion novella as well and read it. I normally don’t read a lot of novellas, but I was curious about what really happened to Landon’s dad and I wanted to seein what ways A Secondhand Lie connected to the main story. I’m glad there are no obvious spoilers involved, although I do advice reading A Secondhand Life first just in case. It will also give you a better feel for the main characters. Because on it’s own, I can’t say I was all that impressed by the novella. It’s not a bad read and it adds a few new details to Landon’s life, but overall I don’t think it’s necessary to read it. The whole mystery around his dad’s arrest kind of fell flat for me, especially after the truth was revealed. Way too simple and not all that satisfying! Some scenes of A Secondhand Life were also repeated, but might feel out of context if you haven’t read the actual story. The writing is good and I liked the difference in style when the POV changes. But overall, I would recommend sticking with A Secondhand Life instead or at least not read this novella without having read the actual story first.


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ARC REVIEW: Blood Runs Cold – by Dylan Young @bookouture

Title: Blood Runs Cold
(Detective Anna Gwynne #2)
Author: Dylan Young
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 16th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: April 18th 2018
Pages: 331

“I don’t know if that’s normal, but when you’re caught up in it, trying to understand, you read and research and watch. Sometimes until your blood runs cold.”

*** 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 stumbled upon this new detective series earlier this year and I admit I was sold as soon as I heard the word ‘serial killer’. But Detective Anna Gwynne has proven to deliver so much more than that. With a mix of a cold case and a current investigation, a kickass detective to lead the investigation and some very disturbing and twisted plots and suspects, this series is a treat for every true detective thriller fan. I myself am completely hooked, and found Blood Runs Cold to be even better than the first book. The fact that the lead detective in this series isn’t the typical ‘disastrous past/personal life’ character and instead has a very unique personality that helps get things done is truly refreshing. And the same thing goes for the cold case angle and the fact that the investigation of Anna and her team start with reinvestigating a cold case. But not only that, on top of the refreshing lead character and investigation angle there is also an extra subplot with a very twisted and dangerous captured serial killer in the spotlight… Mix it all together, add another creeper of a suspect and a jumbo-pack of plot twists and you will find yourself a recipe for one hell of a ride. Like in the first book, Blood Runs Cold managed to convince me right from the start and I was unable to funcion normally until I reached the final page and found out the truth. This both has to do with the engaging writing style, pace, plot and plot twists and of course with the fact it’s really easy to like Anna and her team (I’m not talking about the new member though!). In short, I can highly recommend this sequel! Detective Anna Gwynne is worth introducing into your lives.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first book yet. I’ll keep the summary short but it’s almost impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Detective Anna Gwynne is back at work and investigating a cold case involving the kidnapping and murder of the young Rosie Dawson. They reopened the case after new evidence showed up years later, and they are determined to find out who is behind her death this time. The new evidence isn’t a lot; an old photo of Rosie posted on a chat room on the Dark Web… But enough to start looking, and when they find a possible connection to an active kidnapping case, they are desperate to solve the puzzle before it’s too late.

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I really enjoyed my first meeting with Detective Anna Gwynne back in January, and this sequel has only reaffirmed my love for this series. From the engaging writing style to the characters, plot and plot twists… Blood Runs Cold is action-packed, suspenseful and will chill you to the bone. You will not have dealt with one, but TWO serial killers by the end of this book! And on top of that, the whole cold case angle is fascinating as well as the cybercrime element. There is a lot to love in Blood Runs Cold and while I couldn’t stand a certain new member of the team, this is all forgotten with everything else that is going on. Anna Gwynne to the win! I will definitely be waiting impatiently for the next one.


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Stacking The Shelves #42 – April 21st

Stacking The Shelves is hosted at Tynga’s Reviews and is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

OK, honestly I wasn’t expecting to be getting new titles this close to my trip and hiatus… But since I already finished both no real damage is done right? The first, My Sweet Friend, I actually already read last month and is a very recommendable novella that is currently available in the Read Now section of NG. You can read my full 4,5 star review here. The second, Sky In The Deep, I never ever believed I would actually get approved for, so I might have squeeled a little when I saw that I was. Wonder Woman slash Vikings; how can I say no to that?!

# NETGALLEY ARC #

Click on the summaries below to go to the Goodreads page… 

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ARC REVIEW: The Chosen Ones – by Carol Wyer @bookouture @carolewyer

Title: The Chosen Ones
(DI Robyn Carter #5)
Author: Carol Wyer
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 24th 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: April 16th 2018
Pages: 393

“That was the trouble with people; they often weren’t what they seemed.”

*** 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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There is no better feeling than being able to revisit an old favorite and that is what it feels like every time I get to meet DI Robyn Carter for another adventure. I’ve been looking forward to book five ever since I finished the previous book and was left wanting for more. Because trust me, this series is worth following from the start as there will be a very intriguing personal twist around the main character’s life! And The Chosen Ones will bring more of this intrigue. And while the main focus, like always, is on the main case they are investigating, little snippets of the mystery around Robyn Carter’s past are revealed that will make you burn with curiosity and a desire to learn more. And that ending! The Chosen Ones is not even published yet and I’m already craving for the next book. But enough of this element, because I don’t want to spoil things… Let’s talk about the rest of the book. The first thing that stands out is the writing style and pace, which are of the same high quality as always, engaging and make it a true pleasure to follow DI Robyn Carter and her team around as they investigate. The main character herself is easy to like and like I said before, meeting up with her again in a new story is like meeting up with an old friend. I also really like the PI angle with Ross, although he doesn’t play that big of a role in the fifth book. As for the plot: WOW, Carol Wyer was able to create another creeper of a killer in this one! And quite shocking murder scenes as well… Including lots of twists that will manage to mislead you. I couldn’t put The Chosen Ones down and I think this might just be the best DI Robyn Carter book yet. I can highly recommend this series to any detective thriller fan!

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first four books yet. I’ll keep the summary short but it’s almost impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

When two farmers stumble upon the body of a man in a cornfield, detective Robyn Carter and her team are called in to investigate. They are shocked by the brutality of the murder, and wonder who would do such a thing… Especially since the victim doesn’t seem to have clear enemies. But just as Robyn starts to investigate, more bodies start showing up and she is struggling to find a link between the victims. The killer seems to have a message though, and it’s a race against the clock to unravel it before the killer strikes again…

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DI Robyn Carter is one of my favorite detective thriller series and I always find myself looking forward to a new installment. Not only have the books a consistently strong writing, plot and plot twist development and interesting cases to lose yourself in, but there is also the mystery around Robyn Carter’s past that won’t let you go. The Chosen Ones has another shocking case and the final reveals will leave you wanting for more… And I think this fifth book might just be my new favorite. Recommended!


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ARC REVIEW: The Summer Children – by Dot Hutchison @DotHutchison @amazonpub

Title: The Summer Children
(The Collector #3)
Author: Dot Hutchison
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 22nd 2018
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: April 14th 2018
Pages: 302

“Scars mean we survived something, even when the wounds still hurt.”

*** 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 have been following this series ever since I read the first book back in 2016. The Butterfly Garden blew me away with one of the most disturbing and twisted serial killer cases I’ve encountered to this date. And somehow, I think The Summer Children is my new favorite of the series. Because while I remember having some doubts about the pace in the middle of the first book, it was literally hook, line and sinker with The Summer Children. I practically devoured this third book of The Collector series and couldn’t let go until the final page. Dot Hutchison has created another intense, disturbing and painful case, and this time things are getting really personal for Mercedes Ramirez. The Summer Children is intense until the very last page and despite the heavy subject I loved every single minute of the ride. Why? First of all, the writing style is just as strong as ever, engaging, gritty and with a perfect mix of suspense, shocking moments and a healthy dose of bantering and a dash of humor. I also loved the mix of normal chapters with the thoughts in cursive! The characters are both well developed and very easy to like and I just love the dynamics between Mercedes and the rest of her team. And no, I’m not just biased by the fact she consistantly uses Spanish phrases and words in her dialogue (don’t worry, non-Spanish speakers will still be able to understand the dialogue perfectly!) The characters in general feel very realistic and all have their flaws and history, making them that much more human and very easy to warm up to. The serial killer in this case has an underlying message that will make you think… A trigger warning is in place for graphic scenes and child abuse for those who can’t stomach these elements in stories. But not without a note that these elements are very well incorporated into the story and not abused in any way. There are also lots of twists and turns included as they try to figure out who is behind it all. The Summer Children was strong from start to finish and this is the main reason this third book is now my new favorite of the series. And I just can’t wait to find out what the next book has in store for us next year.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first two books yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

FBI agent Mercedes Ramirez has no idea what she has just gotten into when she finds an abused little boy on her porch, both covered in blood and clutching a teddy bear. He tells her an angel killed his parents and then brought him to Mercedes’ house so she can keep him safe. But it wasn’t just murder, it was a complete bloodbath; and the poor boy was forced to watch as the crime was committed. They have never seen something like this before… And things become even worse when more children start arriving on her doorstep.

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I thought it was going to be hard to outshine The Butterfly Garden, since it’s one of the best/most disturbed serial killer characterizations I’ve come across. But somehow, I think The Summer Children is the best book yet. From a consistant and superfast pace to likeable and realistic characters, a well developed plot and another intriguing and disturbing case… This third book just ticked all the boxes for me. Add the joy of revisiting old favorite characters and their bantering, and you have a new favorite The Collector book. Can you guess already I can recommend this one if you can stomach the graphic scenes and child abuse triggers?


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WWW Wednesdays #172 – April 18th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading Blood Runs Cold by Dylan Young and literally flying through it. It’s proving to be a worthy sequel so far. I’m about to start A Secondhand Lie by Pamela Crane (kindle freebie!) afterwards, which is a companion novella to A Secondhand Life I read last week  and I want to read it before I forget all the details about the story.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. A Secondhand Life by Pamela Crane (4/5 stars) REVIEW
If you like your thrillers fast, well written, suspenseful and with an unique touch, A Secondhand Life is the one for you. I personally loved the incorporation of ‘organ memory’ in the plot and how this element played such an important role in the investigation. I admit I didn’t really warm up to the main character, but her development is well done and my feelings for her didn’t influence my general feelings for the story. I was just too intrigued by the plot and twists to pay attention to minor details and possible flaws. A highly entertaining and addictive serial killer thriller with a twist, and without doubt worth reading.

2. The Air Raid Killer by Frank Goldammer (4/5 stars) REVIEW
Historical fiction is mixed with a classic detective thriller, as a serial killer and air raid bombs fight for the title of ‘most feared’ by the inhabitants of the city of Dresden. The writing style and initial plot make it really easy to get a proper feel for the story, and the first half of the story is without doubt the strongest part of the book. I would have preferred a continued focus on the detective thriller side of the story, which felt a bit rushed in the second half. But I also understand the switch and need for a focus on what happened in Dresden during those final days and after. While not perfect, The Air Raid Killer is without doubt a great read for anyone who wants to read a WWII story with a slightly different focus and angle.

3. The Summer Children by Dot Hutchison (4,5 stars) REVIEW 19/04
I thought it was going to be hard to outshine The Butterfly Garden, since it’s one of the best/most disturbed serial killer characterizations I’ve come across. But somehow, I think The Summer Children is the best book yet. From a consistant and superfast pace to likeable and realistic characters, a well developed plot and another intriguing and disturbing case… This third book just ticked all the boxed for me. Add the joy of revisiting old favorite characters and their bantering, and you have a new favorite The Collector book. Can you guess already I can recommend this one if you can stomach the graphic scenes and child abuse triggers?

4. The Chosen Ones by Carol Wyer (4,5 stars) REVIEW 20/04
DI Robyn Carter is one of my favorite detective thriller series and I always find myself looking forward to a new installment. Not only have the books a consistently strong writing, plot and plot twist development and interesting cases to lose yourself in, but there is also the mystery around Robyn Carter’s past that won’t let you go. The Chosen Ones has another shocking case and the final reveals will leave you wanting for more… And I think this fifth book might just be my new favorite. Recommended!

5. The Poison Plot by Elaine Forman Crane (DNF 31%; 0 stars) REVIEW 22/04
I really wanted to like this one because the promise of a murder plot, an 18th century setting and the blurb in general sounded fantastic. Sadly I had to end up DNFing it. Why? More in my review, but it had to do with both the writing style, general guesswork in a supposedly NON fiction read, overload of unrelevant and unimportant details unrelated to the key characters and the fact there is no proof whatsoever Mary ever poisoned her husband or that he was poisoned at all. Kind of destroys the purpose of this book, doesn’t it?

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I have one pending May NG ARC left: Find You In The Dark by Nathan Ripley, and I’m hoping to get to it before I leave next week. Fingers crossed! I’ve decided to only read non ARCs during our trip, and will be doing shorties reviews when I’m back. Yay for getting to read backlist titles! I’m probably picking up The Book Of Lost Things by John Connolly first depending on the mood I’m in. I want to finally start with The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater; maybe bingereading the final three books depending on how I like book two. And I’m finally going to pick up my latest TBR jar pick Summer Of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider as well.


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ARC REVIEW: The Air Raid Killer – by Frank Goldammer

Title: The Air Raid Killer
(Max Heller, Dresden Detective #1)
Author: Frank Goldammer
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
First published: September 23rd 2016
Publisher: AmazonCrossing
Finished reading: April 12th 2018
Pages: 292
(Originally written in German: ‘Der Angstmann’)

“How does anyone really know what someone’s capable of?”

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

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I stumbled upon this title during my hunt for more international authors/translations and I was immediately intrigued both by the cover and the blurb. I admit I had forgotten about the exact content of the story when I started reading it and went in blind thinking it was going to be a historical fiction read. And while there is no doubt that The Air Raid Killer is a proper historical fiction read set in Dresden, Germany during the final part of WWII, I was pleasantly surprised to find out especially the first part reads more like a historical detective thriller. Two of my favorite genres combined? Definitely a bonus! The Air Raid Killer starts out strong and will be able to draw you in straight away. Historical descriptions are mixed with a most brutal murder scene that will definitely chill you to the bone. The main character of this German detective series Max Heller has the almost impossible task to try and find out what happened when nobody seems to care about one more body in a war with so many casualties. But detective Max Heller is determined to find out even when he meets resistance everywhere. Both the actual murders and the general situation in Dresden are not suited for the weak-hearted; combined they form a very explosive and sometimes shocking plot. The serial killer on the loose is without doubt brutal, and combined with the air raid attacks and the chaos during the end of the war you have a recipe for a very disturbing read. While the first part focuses on the thriller aspect of the plot, the second half of the story is more historical fiction focused. I think I would have preferred to have it just one way or the other and not both, although I do understand why the author made the choice to swap and include more historical details in the second half. The final reveals of the murder case do feel a bit rushed though, and I’m also wondering up to what point the methods of investigation used were actually available in that time period. Still, The Air Raid Killer was without doubt a very good historical thriller set during the end of WWII, and both detective thriller and historical fiction fans will be able to enjoy this one.

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In the final months of WWII, the inhabitants of the city of Dresden not only have to fear the air raid bombs that might destroy the city at any time. There are also rumors about the Fright Man, a twisted killer who uses the nighttime air raid siren to hunt the streets unseen and kill… Only to disappear into thin air afterwards. Detective Max Heller begins to investigate, but is is harder to ever to start a proper investigation. And soon after the Fright Man kills again… Will Max Heller be able to find any clues with his resources non-existent and a new boss who doesn’t want him to investigate further?

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Historical fiction is mixed with a classic detective thriller, as a serial killer and air raid bombs fight for the title of ‘most feared’ by the inhabitants of the city of Dresden. The writing style and initial plot make it really easy to get a proper feel for the story, and the first half of the story is without doubt the strongest part of the book. I would have preferred a continued focus on the detective thriller side of the story, which felt a bit rushed in the second half. But I also understand the switch and need for a focus on what happened in Dresden during those final days and after. While not perfect, The Air Raid Killer is without doubt a great read for anyone who wants to read a WWII story with a slightly different focus and angle.


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