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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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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WWW Wednesdays #171 – April 11th

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 A Secondhand Life by Pamela Crane, and I’m absolutely hooked so far. I was in desperate need of a fast thriller after my last read, and this book is giving me exactly what I needed! Also, I’ve decided to put Het Laatste Offer (the final offer) by Simone Van Der Vlugt on hold for now, both because I have quite a few ARCs I need to get to first, I’m not really convinced by the story so far and I simply feel too lazy to read in Dutch right now. 😉

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Scared To Death by Rachel Amphlett (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 13/04
Every once in a while you come across a series and/or a main character that manages to convince you from the very first chapter. Scared To Death and Kay Hunter are a perfect example of this feeling. I knew I was going to love this detective thriller almost right away, and not just because I knew fellow bloggers with a similar taste did. There is just something about the writing style and perfect use of suspense that will manage to hook you straight away. And I’m so glad I finally got to meet Kay Hunter! She is hands down one of my new favorite female detectives and the fact that she is both a strong female lead and doesn’t have a completely destroyed personal life was truly refreshing. The case itself was intense, slightly disturbing and had just the right amount of twists to keep things exciting. Without doubt a worthy crime thriller!

2. The Letter For The King by Tonke Dragt (3/5 stars) REVIEW 15/04
This was my very first MG read of the year and a translation of an older (1962) Dutch publication. I thought I had read it before when I was a kid, but apparently I was wrong, because I didn’t recognize the story. That said, I think I probably would have enjoyed it a lot better back then. I can’t put my finger on it, but I just couldn’t get used to the writing style and tone and it took me ages to finish this one. I felt it was rather slow and dragged at points… This story is over 500 pages long and I think it would have worked better with a faster pace and 200 pages less. The story itself is interesting as well as the quest the main character is on; I liked the worldbuilding. But overall it was just too slow for me. The right age-group will enjoy this story a lot better though, as long as they don’t have a short attention span.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I really need to finish some ARCs before I go on my trip, because the deadline falls during my planned hiatus time… There are now five in total (probably not going to happen…), but here are the three I’ll be trying to read next. First up is Find You In The Dark by Nathan Ripley, because I’m in the mood for thrillers in the first place. The Air Raid Killer by Frank Goldammer is another translation and set during WWII, so fingers crossed it will be a good one. And I also need to read The Poison Plot by Elaine Forman Crane, although I have heard mixed things about it and I’m not sure if it will be the right time for me to try and read it (even though I miss the deadline otherwise) My latest TBR jar pick is still Summer Of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider, which I’ve decided to read during my trip on one of the many train/bus rides in between places.


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