ARC REVIEW: Cold Dark Places – by Kylie Brant @amazonpub

Title: Cold Dark Places
(Cady Maddix Mystery #1)
Author: Kylie Brant
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 4th 2018
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: November 18th 2018
Pages: 350

“People didn’t always act the way they should. Not even grown-ups. Sometimes the people who were supposed to protect you from monsters were monsters themselves.”

*** 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 admit I was sold as soon as I saw the cover and read the blurb. A stunning cover AND the promise of meeting a new twisted serial killer? Yes please! I have been looking forward to start Cold Dark Places and there is no doubt that the story delivered. This complex, action-packed and heart stoppingly good thriller was everything I hoped for and more… The perfect start of a new series. What I liked is that Cold Dark Places isn’t just another detective thriller and instead treats us to a multiple POV story where we get to follow four different characters including the killer, two different law inforcement angles and a young woman with mental health issues. And that is not all: we also get a dose of flashbacks helping to reveal more about the past. This seems like a lot to stuff into just one thriller, but somehow Kylie Brant makes it work. A lot of this has to do with the excellent writing and a fast pace that will sweep you away until you have somehow reached the final page. The plot development and use of suspense and plot twists is also spot on: being able to create a constant atmosphere of urgency, danger and suspense. There is a lot of action involved as the hunt for the escaped killer is on, but this is not the only angle of the story. It is also about Eryn, her past and her mental issues, and we get indirect hints about Cady’s past as well. It was interesting to see how the different storylines slowly connected, and Cold Dark Places definitely has some shocking surprises in store for you. If you like your thrillers fast, action-packed, disturbing and suspenseful, this new series definitely is for you. Trigger warnings are in place for sexual and child abuse, violence and graphic scenes in general.

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When child killer Samuel Aldeen breaks out of a well guarded facility for the criminally insane, it is all hands on deck and everyone is called in to aid during the hunt. The authorities believe he had accomplices both on the inside and out, and it’s a race against the clock to find out their identities. Cady Maddix is one of the persons called in to track all of them down. When an unexpected lead brings her to Eryn Pullman, a young woman recently released from a closeby psychiatric facility, it not only brings back flashbacks of her own past but also more questions about the killer’s true motive behind his escape…

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I had a good feeling about Cold Dark Places and it turns out my instincts were right. I do love my detective thrillers, but I also love when a story is able to bring something original to the mix. Being able to get a glimpse inside of the head of both the serial killer Samuel and Eryn as well was simply fascinating. Another bonus was that both other POV characters Cady and Ryder were easy to like… The writing is spot on, the pace is superfast, the plot twists are brutal. Oh yes, this was one hell of a ride and an excellently constructed and complex one at that. I’ll be looking forward to see more of Cady Maddix in the future!


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ARC REVIEW: Tell Nobody – by Patricia Gibney

Title: Tell Nobody
(Detective Lottie Parker #5)
Author: Patricia Gibney
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 3rd 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: October 3rd 2018
Pages: 458

“Now she was on the road with no idea whether she had successfully escaped the veil of evil that had shrouded her life, or if she was being catapulted head-first into a new horror show.”

*** 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 have been closely following detective Lottie Parker and her team ever since the first book came out, and each new book that comes out gives me that feeling of Christmas having come early. The series has been constantly excellent so far, delivering another complex, shocking and well developed story to feed our hungry detective thriller minds. This is why it comes as a total surprise to me I wasn’t able to enjoy Tell Nobody as much as the previous four books. Don’t get me wrong, book number five is still a solid detective thriller, with the same complexity and well crafted plot I have become used to, but for me some of the spark was missing this time. I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but I think part of it has to do with the fact that the behavior of the main characters really annoyed me this time with the constant negative attitudes, swearing and other unpleasant traits. This made me feel not as connected to the story, as I was distracted by my feelings of frustrations towards them. As for the investigations in Tell Nobody: trigger warnings are in place for abuse and child abuse, violence and possible graphic scenes. As always, there are a lot of different characters in play and a lot of twists and turns to distract you from the truth. I guessed part of the final reveals, but there were also a few things I definitely didn’t see coming. Disturbing, twisted and unsettling… Make sure you brace yourself before you start this one. The ending will be a shocker!

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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 super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

One evening eleven-year-old Mikey disappears after scoring the winning goal for his soccer team and celebrating together in McDonalds. Two days later his lifeless body is found and Lottie Parker and her team are called in to investigate. They are having their hands full, as they are also investigating another case where the body of a newborn was found by no other than Lottie Parker’s own son Sean and his friend. Things are becoming personal, and quickly spin out of control… Will they be able to solve the cases in time?

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While Tell Nobody without doubt still is a solid detective thriller, I don’t think it hit the mark completely for me this time. A lot had to do with the fact that somehow the main characters and their negative attitude started to frustrate me, and maybe also with the fact that I saw part of the final reveal coming quite early on. That said, the writing was as solid as always as well as the construction of the plot and plot twists. There are some difficult themes involved including child abuse and this story definitely isn’t for the weak hearted.


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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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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 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?


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ARC REVIEW: The Silent Kookaburra – by Liza Perrat

Title: The Silent Kookaburra
Author: Liza Perrat
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
First published: November 29th 2016
Finished reading: March 19th 2018
Pages: 309

“It wasn’t true what Dad said: that time heals wounds and grief. Time was not healing mine. The grief pain wasn’t fading; it was getting worse, and in a colder, uglier way.”

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

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I was excited to be given the chance to read The Silent Kookaburra, especially since fellow bloggers enjoyed it. And while it took me considerably longer than expected to finally get to it, that excitement was just as strong when I finally did pick it up. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up having the reading experience I was expecting to have. A big part of the problem here is me though, and not the book itself… I’ll try to explain why. The writing is wonderful and I just loved the incorporation of many Australian elements that made the story feel authentic. From the slang to the beautiful descriptions of the plants and animals… It really helped setting the right atmosphere. This is more of a family drama rather than the psychological thriller I was expecting, but that was not the problem here. The Silent Kookaburra has an element I just couldn’t stomach and it made it really hard for me to keep reading. What element? One of the characters is a pedophile, and there are quite a few scenes where a trigger warning should have been in place and reading about what he was doing seriously made me feel sick. I’m not saying it is badly described and if you are not bothered by reading about a pedophile at work, you will probably find this story fascinating. But I was mostly disgusted by it all and I don’t think I would have read it if I would have realized beforehand a pedophile character had such a big role in this story. (I realize there were hints in the blurb, but the importance of this element in the story really made me too uncomfortable.) But like I said, this feeling is highly personal and has nothing to do with the quality of the story or the writing itself. And it doesn’t take away the fact I loved the Australian vibe of the story with its many descriptions and use of ‘slang’. The final reveal was an interesting twist as well, although I do have to say I kind of saw it coming. But overall, if you think the pedophile scenes won’t bother you that much, The Silent Kookaburra will make for a very interesting and atmospheric domestic drama.

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Tanya Randall would love to have a normal and happy family, but things haven’t been the same for a long time. But then their luck seems to change as her mom is finally pregnant again, this time managing to give birth to a healthy little girl. Shelley is a true miracle baby and seems to be able to fuse the family back together… Until she gets sick and the peace is disturbed once again. Right in the middle of all of this, Tanya meets an uncle she didn’t even know she had, because her family refuses to talk about him. And then disaster strikes one summer day…

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Both the writing, descriptions and general setting of this story are very well done and I loved the use of so many local expressions and descriptions of the Australian plants and animals. I am glad I read it on my kindle though to help me with the meaning of some of the words! The Silent Kookaburra is more of a domestic/family drama with a dash of mystery around what happened that summer… With an interesting final twist. The whole pedophile element did make me very uncomfortable and make me feel sick. Call me weird, but while I can manage horror, gruesome murder and violence, don’t touch my animals and don’t mention child abuse in detail. This reaction is highly personal though and if you don’t mind this element in a story, don’t let my review stop you from reading The Silent Kookaburra.


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BOOK REVIEW: Don’t Tell Mummy – by Toni Maguire

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Title: Don’t Tell Mummy
Author: Toni Maguire
Genre: Memoir, True Crime
First published: 2006
Finished reading: May 13th 2015
Pages: 352
Rating 4

“The smile on his lips was always the smile of the nice father, but in his eyes I could see the nasty one, the one invisible to everyone else, the one that lived inside his head.”

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This memoir is not for the weak-hearted and will probably leave you with tears in your eyes. Toni Maguire didn’t have an easy childhood. Or more precisely said: a childhood from hell. Growing up with an abusive father, a mother who prefers to look the other way and family and friends who don’t see what’s happening behind closed doors… A recipe for every young child’s worst nightmare. The author was very brave to let her skeletons out of the closet and admit all those horrible facts actually happened to her all those years ago. Don’t Tell Mummy is a truly heartbreaking story that will definitely move you… It’s not a happy story, but one that has to be told as there are so many cases of child abuse still out there. Without doubt a memoir I would recommend; it’s very well written and not only tells us the facts of the abuse, but also the way people judge her when the truth comes out.

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The first few years of Toni Maguire’s life were almost perfect, but things change when they decide to move back to Ireland where her father is born. Their new idyllic life is marked by a terrible secret… When Toni is six years old, her father made his first improper move on his daughter and he doesn’t stop there. He warns her not to tell anyone, because they would end up blaming her for allowing him to do those things… And in the end even her mother prefers to look away. When Toni finally gathers the courage to tell her father’s little ‘secret’,  her mother simply says to never talk about it again. Soon Toni is alone and isolated from friends and family, with nobody to turn to. The abuse goes on for years, and even ends up in a pregnancy; the abortion almost killing Toni. And when people find out, they end up doing what her father warned her they would do: the end up judging and rejecting her for what he has done…

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This memoir tells a truly shocking story that will leave you without words and reaching for a box of tissues. Toni Maguire has had a horrible childhood and she is very brave to write down her story. The acts of her father nearly destroyed both her and her childhood, and it’s shocking that nobody noticed something in all those years before her pregnancy. Don’t Tell Mummy is a true eye opener and a very well written story that I would definitely recommend to those who enjoy reading memoirs and true crime stories. Beware: this is not a happy story and it won’t be for everyone…