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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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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ARC REVIEW: A Secondhand Life – by Pamela Crane

Title: A Secondhand Life
(Killer Thriller #1)
Author: Pamela Crane
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: April 28th 2015
Publisher: Tabella House
Finished reading: April 11th 2018
Pages: 314

“How could anyone determine one person”s value over another based on where they lived and how much money they had?”

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

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I like the way Pamela Crane writes, and I admit I was sold as soon as I hit that blurb. A serial killer AND the promise of ‘organ memory’ as one of the key elements in solving the case? How can I say no to that?! I had high hopes for A Secondhand Life and I found myself hooked as soon as I started reading. Honestly, I would have finished this killer thriller in one sitting if I would have had more time… It is without doubt a suspenseful and intriguing pageturner. The plot itself is an interesting one and both past and present play a role in putting together the story. I’m not sure I actually liked the main character Mia, but her development is interestingly done. And then I’m not even talking about the ‘organ memory’… I loved how this element was incorporated into the story and it was also interesting to find out how the author first came across this topic. This phenomenon of changes in personality and having memories of the donors after an organ transplant is simply fascinating. These memories and dreams are key in the plot of A Secondhand Life and definitely give this thriller an unique touch. The crime/investigation part is mix of cold case with new murders and has some graphic details, but nothing too gory. There are quite a few twists and turns as well, although I did had a hunch quite early on that turned out to be right. I didn’t guess the full truth though and the final reveals were definitely a surprise. I had a great time reading this one and I will be looking forward to read the companion novella A Secondhand Lie soon.

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When she was twelve, Mia Germaine lost her father and almost her own life as well in a car accident. She survived, but only after a heart transplant from a young murder victim… Or so she found out after twenty years, when suddenly Mia started having horrifying nightmares about an unsolved murder, triggered by the recent death of a teenager. She discovers that the dreams she is having are actually memories… Due to a scientific phenomenon called ‘organ memory’, she somehow has the memories of the girl that was killed on the night of Mia’s accident, the girl that saved her life by donating her heart. Mia is determined to find out the identity of both the girl and her murderer… But by doing that she might be putting herself on the radar of the serial killer that is currently on the loose.

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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.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #23: Salt To The Sea & Ready Player One

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two titles I’ve been meaning to read for ages and that both turned out to be excellent reads. Salt To The Sea by Ruta Sepetys and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline… Popular hyped books that actually lived up to the hype and without doubt worth reading!


Title: Salt To The Sea
Author: Ruta Sepetys

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
First published: February 2nd 2016
Publisher: Philomel Books
Finished reading: March 27th 2018
Pages: 393

“War had bled color from everything, leaving nothing but a storm of gray.”


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I’ve been wanting to read this novel for a long time now, probably ever since I first heard about it. I’ve become a fan of Ruta Sepetys‘ writing after reading Between Shades Of Gray and Out Of The Easy; both because of the fantastic writing and well researched and detailed historical settings and descriptions. Salt To The Sea without doubt fits all these points above. I have a weak spot for WWII historical fiction in general and I hadn’t heard about the Wilhelm Gustloff incident before, so that was a double bonus for me. It truly shows in the little details just how well researched this novel is and the descriptions made it feel as if you were there yourself along with the characters. The plot is an interesting one and shows just how difficult it was to find your way to safety close to the end of the war. I admit it took me a while to get used to the multiple POVs and remembering who is who, which slowed down the pace inicially, but each different character and POV does show a different view on the situation and add something to the story. I was a bit annoyed by Alfred, who I didn’t like at all and I wasn’t sure about the particular style of his chapters. But the rest of the characters were interesting and I liked how the different styles used in each POV showed their different personalities. There is even some sort of interaction between the POVs and sometimes different characters tell their personal experience of the same event… Adding power to what was happening to them. Salt To The Sea is without doubt a very strong historical fiction read that shines the light on an event that is not all that well known. It’s not my favorite Ruta Sepetys novel, but without doubt worth reading.


Title: Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline

Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: August 16th 2011
Publisher: Broadway Books
Finished reading: March 31st 2018
Pages: 386

“I felt like a kid standing in the world’s greatest video arcade without any quarters, unable to do anything but walk around and watch the other kids play.”


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I have been meaning to read this one for years (and that is without exaggerating). Somehow, the enormous hype around Ready Player One made me a bit afraid to actually pick it up, especially considering my complicated relationship with hyped books in the first place. I finally read Armada first last year, and I can’t say I was that impressed by it… But since people kept telling me that Ready Player One was so much better, I was determined to give it a go one day. And I’m glad I finally did do so, because I loved it so much better than I thought I would! Science fiction can go both ways for me, but as a (former) gamer myself I just loved the general worldbuilding and many many game references… The 80s references didn’t hit home, but that is mostly because I was too young to actually remember that time in the first place. And from what I could see, everything was well researched. Ready Player One is set in the future, and a dystopian future at that. A very interesting backdrop for this story and very well developed! The worldbuilding wasn’t the only thing that worked well for me. I also really enjoyed the writing style itself and of course the plot, which both made me want to keep on reading to find out what would happen next. The characters are well developed and easy to like, and I could also appreciate the fact we get to see both the online side and the ‘real’ side of the main characters involved. All in all a superentertaining and well written sci-fi and gaming adventure I can recommend to fans of the genre.


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ARC REVIEW: What Blooms From Dust – by James Markert @tnzfiction

Title: What Blooms From Dust
Author: James Markert
Genre: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism
First published: June 26th 2018
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Finished reading: February 16th 2018
Pages: 352

“The land was just too strong and mean and too determined to break them. Just as they had broken it.”

*** I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. ***

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I admit I was sold the minute I saw that beautiful cover and read the blurb. What Blooms From Dust promised magic and mystery in a historical setting, and what more can I wish for? This story is set in the United States of the 1930s, a time I’ve always been interested in but haven’t read all that much about. Both the setting in Nowhere, Oklahoma and the timeframe are interesting, although the emphasis of this story isn’t on the year (1935) everything took place in Nowhere. You get that feel of the past, but the focus of What Blooms From Dust is more on the town Nowhere itself and the main character Jeremiah. I must confess that I was feeling mighty confused in the beginning, and I wasn’t sure what to make of this story. It was definitely a slowburner for me, but once the dust that had blown in had settled down a bit, I suddenly found myself hooked. This initial feeling of being lost probably has to do with the magical realism of the story, which I always need some time with before I’m used to it, but in the case of What Blooms From Dust these magical realism elements really worked. From the coin-flipping to Jeremiah himself and the aftermath of the Black Sunday… All less than credible elements on its own, but together they create that magical and mythical atmosphere that simply makes this story work. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but please don’t let the mention of magical realism dissuade you! The writing, like the magical elements, may take some time to get used to, but once you do it is fantastic. It sets just the right tone and atmosphere for this story, and definitely helped make this story into what it is. The plot is quite interesting, but what truly stands out is the deeper message of What Blooms From Dust, a message of finding hope in the darkness and the power of kindness. Without doubt a wonderful story!

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Jeremiah is about to meet his fate in the electric chair, but a tornado tears down the prison walls and he escapes. Using his famous flip of a coin, he returns to his home town of Nowhere, Oklahoma, where he has unfinished business with his twin brother Josiah. But a lot has changed since he went away three years ago. Nowhere has been overtaken by the Dust Bowl, and the gift he once relied on to guide him no longer seems to work properly. What will happen to Jeremiah and his home town?

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Like I said before, What Blooms From Dust was a slowburner for me, but once the dust had settled down I found myself completely and utterly hooked. This is an example of a story where magical realism simply works, and only enhances the reading experience instead of complicating it. Magical, mystical and a healthy dose of mystery around Nowhere and its inhabitants… You will want to keep reading until you reach the final page and find out all about Nowhere and its mysteries. Recommended!


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ARC REVIEW: Hollo – by Devon Michael

Title: Hollo
(The Magic Of Thedes #1)
Author: Devon Michael
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: January 1st 2016
Publisher: Snowfair Books
Finished reading: February 10th 2018
Pages: 204

“There is never enough time to live, no matter how many years you have in the world.”

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

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This little magical story first appeared on my radar after a review and I was instantly charmed by the premise. It took me a lot longer than expected to finally get to it, but I’m glad I finally did so. Hollo and her world have completely won over my heart! Both the writing style and detailed descriptions of the magic of Thedes stand out right from the beginning. They are able to give the story a magical and whimsical feel and help you feel yourself right at home. I especially liked the descriptions of the magic itself and how it varies depending on the person and what element they use. Element, do you say? Yes, you’ll have your share of wooden, bronze and clockwork characters and a ‘wizard’ or two as well, although they are called differently in Hollo’s world. These characters all have their own story and help flesh out the world while also adding more dept to the plot. I really liked the relationship and dialogue between Hollo and her father! Both the development of Hollo in general and the plot itself are interesting and will definitely keep you interested until the very end. The story is a good balance of characters and actions and the magical battles are well described. Some parts of the story were simply adorable! Definitely recommended for the younger YA fantasy fans… Another bonus: there is no romance involved, since Hollo is only twelve!

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Hollo has always been different, but she doesn’t realize just how different from the rest of the world she really is… And now she’s twelve, she is about to find out. As a birthday gift, her father takes her outside for the very first time in her life, exploring the city like she has always wanted. But what she doesn’t realize is that the magic that comes so natural to her will actually endanger her outside. And soon she will see magic for what it really is.

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If you are looking for an endearing, whimsical and magical read, Hollo is a great choice. From the writing style to the worldbuilding, characters and descriptions; you will be enchanted by Hollo and her magical world of Thedes and enjoy her journey. Hollo is perfectly suited for the younger YA fantasy fans despite the magical battles and some details, and it has another bonus in the form of a romance-free story! I can definitely recommend this one.


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