ARC REVIEW: Last Breath – by Robert Bryndza

Title: Last Breath
(DCI Erika Foster #4)
Author: Robert Bryndza

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: April 12th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: March 16th 2017
Pages: 281

“ ‘You know, Sparks, you might have been handed your superior rank by brown nosing, but you have to earn authority,’ said Erika, holding his gaze.”

*** 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 became a fan of Robert Bryndza‘s detective series right after I read the first book The Girl In The Ice last year and I have been looking forward to another Erika Foster adventure ever since I finished the third book. Last Breath was on my list of most anticipated releases this year: I literally requested a copy the minute it appeared on Netgalley and put all my other reads on hold. It looks like Erika Foster came back stronger than ever! Last Breath is without doubt my new favorite novel of the series… And not just because of the excellent plot and disturbingly creepy killer. I also really liked the interaction between Erika and the other main characters in this one and it is great to see her character evolve over time. The case had me hooked right from the start and the plot and plot twists had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I literally couldn’t put Last Breath down until the final page! In short, this fourth Erika Foster book is fast-paced, full of twists, well written, has an interesting plot, disturbing killer and just the right amount of creepy; what more to ask? I’m already looking forward to book five and this one hasn’t even been published yet.

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

The body of a young woman is found in a dumpster, and Detective Erika Foster is one of the first on the scene. One problem though: it’s not her case… But after one look at the tortured remains of the woman Erika knows she needs to have this case. She is fighting to be put on the investigation team, and even though she is told not to, she starts investigating the crime. Soon she becomes involved as she finds a link to the unsolved murder of a woman four months earlier. Erika is determined to find the killer before he strikes again, but he seems to be a ghost. Will she be able to stop him on time? The life of another girl might be on the line…

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Like I said before, I have been following this series ever since I finished the first book. I always enjoy a good fast-paced crime thriller and these books simply deliver. Last Breath might just be the best one yet with a chillingly creepy serial killer on the loose and some very shocking plot twists… The prose is just as good as ever and I had a blast reading this fourth book even though my heart almost stopped once or twice. Excellent plot! If you haven’t read the series yet and like the genre, this one should be on your wishlist.


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ARC REVIEW: The Last Gods Of Indochine – by Samuel Ferrer

Title: The Last Gods Of Indochine
Author: Samuel Ferrer

Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: September 20th 2016
Publisher: Signal 8 Press
Finished reading: March 13th 2017
Pages: 422

“I told Jean-Luc I feared entering a world where everyone is a stranger; the truth is, I am escaping from a world where everyone knew me too well.”

*** 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 confess I’m terribly behind with my ARCs and this historical fiction story was long overdue. The Last Gods Of Indochine belongs to one of my favorite genres and both the Cambodian setting, era and reference to local mythology had me intrigued immediately. This novel by Samuel Ferrer surely didn’t disappoint. The Last Gods Of Indochine is mostly set in Cambodia and has two main storylines: one set in the 1920s and one set in the 13th century. I was instantly charmed by the story of Paaku the Lotus-Born all those centuries ago, and the mythology and ideas of his world are intriguing. His chapters are without doubt my favorite part of this novel, and I enjoyed learning more about both his world and his character. I wasn’t instantly convinced by Jacquie on the other hand, and it took me some time to connect to her. It was very interesting to read about her journey to Cambodia though and the circumstances under which both her grandfather before her and Jacquie herself had to travel in those days. I also particularly enjoyed their travels within Cambodia and it was nice to see both storylines slowly connect. In short, The Last Gods Of Indochine is a well written historical fiction story with an intriguing plot and a fascinating read in general for fans of the genre.

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In medieval Cambodia, Paaku the Lotus-Born is an orphan raised by a Vishu priest. One day something incredible happens and the community starts to believe Paaku might be the incarnation of a god… Something that might turn out to be dangerous for him and he is not sure if he wants that title in the first place. Meanwhile, in 1921, Jacquie follows the footsteps of her grandfather and travels to Indochina. Her grandfather was a famous explorer who died during his travels, and Jacquie wants to learn more about the country he explored. Soon she starts learning about the tragedy of Paaku’s history and the storylines slowly intertwine…

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If you enjoy reading well written historical fiction stories with an interesting setting and a touch of (Asian) mythology, The Last Gods Of Indochine is an excellent choice. Two stories set in two completely different centuries slowly start to intertwine… And the ‘modern’ world clashes with the medieval story. I had a great time reading this novel and especially Paaku’s POV stood out from me. Such a fascinating story!


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ARC REVIEW: The Missing Ones – by Patricia Gibney

Title: The Missing Ones
(Detective Lottie Parker #1)
Author: Patricia Gibney

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: March 16th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: March 9th 2017
Pages: 518

“No one had seen anything. Was Ragmullin the town of the deaf, blind and mute? What had happened to the valley of the squinting windows?”

*** 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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❤ Happy publication day to The Missing Ones!! ❤

You can never have enough psychological thrillers, right? I had high hopes for this first book of a new detective series, especially since I’ve heard a lot of great things about it lately. Now I have finally been properly introduced to Lottie Parker in The Missing Ones, I have instantly joined the fan-crew. Psychological thriller plots can tend to start sounding the same if you read a lot of them, but Patricia Gibney had me fully intrigued by this story. Not only is The Missing Ones a very well written story, but it also has an intriguing and complex plot and very interesting characters as well. Sure, detective Lottie Parker is a bit of a cliche with her messed up personal life, but she does grow on you. And the case itself is a mix of twisted, disturbing, dark and intriguing and will have you on the edge of the seat until the very end. 1970s flashbacks are mixed in with the present and will slowly start to reveal more about the past and what really is going on… And boy, you will find some very disturbing details and plot twists along the way! I also loved the little Rome bits, especially since the Santa Maria Maggiore and me have a little history and my heart literally skipped a beat when it was mentioned. In short, The Missing Ones is a rich, intriguing and gripping psychological thriller that is both well written and will manage to surprise you more than once. Disturbingly good!

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When just after Christmas a woman’s body is discovered in a cathedral and hours later a young man is found hanging from a tree outside his home, Detective Lottie Parker is called in to investigate both cases. The deaths seem random, up until it becomes clear both bodies have the same tattoo crudely inscribed on their legs. The two seem to be connected, but how exactly? Lottie Parker has to dig into the past to find out more about both victims, and the evidence leads her to St. Angela’s. Suddenly the case has become personal, as the former children’s home has a connection to her own dark family history… And the current victims might be linked to decade old unsolved murders. Will she be able to discover the truth before the killer strikes again?

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If you like well written psychological thrillers with a complex plot and excellent plot twists, I can definitely recommend The Missing Ones. The story is a bit longer than your average thriller, which only contributes to the richness of the plot without slowing down the pace. The switches between the past and present are well executed and only add to the intrigue as well. There are definitely a lot of disturbing and twisted details and reveals along the way! I will be looking forward to the next book in this series.


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ARC REVIEW: The Wanderers – by Meg Howrey

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Title: The Wanderers
Author: Meg Howrey

Genre: Science Fiction, Contemporary
First published: February 7th 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Finished reading: March 5th 2017
Pages: 384

“We can look and look, but it’s not like looking will give an answer. There isn’t a right or wrong decision to be made, just a decision.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and G.P. Putnam’s Sons in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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As soon as I heard about The Wanderers last year and the blurb mentioned things including its resemblance to The Martian, astraunauts and a mission to Mars, I just knew I had it to my list of most-anticipated releases. I was stoked to be granted an ARC copy and last weekend I had made preparations to be able to fully emerge myself into a wonderful story… But what I found was a completely different experience. First of all, I really feel The Wanderers suffers from false advertisement. Why? It’s being compared to The Martian (which is one of my all time favorite stories), and the two books just couldn’t have been more different.  I think I won’t be the only one to pick up this novel expecting something else, which is a shame because the right target group might enjoy this story a lot better than I did. The Wanderers is more about the psychological effects of the three astronauts who are TRAINING for a mission to Mars (yes, they don’t even go to Mars), and talks mostly about feelings, relationships and what effects such a mission can have on both the astronauts and their family. The story did started to grow on me later on, but I have to be honest to myself and say I don’t think I would have made it to that part if this wouldn’t have been an ARC. The writing is interesting, but a bit dense and combined with the slow pace it was quite a struggle to get through this book. I had also mixed experiences with the main characters. What I liked is that they represented a multi-cultural group and the diversity in characters is a huge bonus. The psychological effects of the long term Mars mission simulation are probably the most intriguing part of The Wanderers, but that doesn’t mean I actually liked every character. All in all not at all what I was expecting.

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In four years Prime Space will send the first humans to Mars, and the three selected astronauts will have to prove they are up for the job. Helen Kane, Yoshi Tanaka and Sergei Kutznetsov will have to spend the next seventeen months in the most realistic simulation ever created; a perfect simulation of the same mission they will start in four years if they succeed. For Helen, the MarsNOW mission is the last chance to return to space; the only place she’s ever truly felt at home. Yoshi sees it as an opportunity to prove himself worthy of his wife… And Sergei is willing to do what it takes if it gets him to Mars and set an example for his sons as well. Will they be able to show Prime Space that they are the best crew for the mission?

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I was really looking forward to this story, and I think part of reason I ended up being disappointed by it is the incorrect comparison to The Martian. Yes, both have astronauts and talk about a Mars mission, but that’s about it… The Wanderers is just a Mars mission SIMULATION, the story itself focuses mainly on the psychological effects of such a dangerous and long term mission and there isn’t a lot of excitement involved in general. On top of that, a slow pace and sometimes dense prose made it a lot harder to properly enjoy this story… And although the pace picks up a bit later on and the story started to grow on me, I don’t think this makes up for the initial disappointment. Such a shame!


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BOOK REVIEW: The Invisible Library – by Genevieve Cogman

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Title: The Invisible Library
(The Invisible Library #1)
Author: Genevieve Cogman

Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Mystery
First published: January 15th 2015
Publisher: Tor UK
Finished reading: March 4th 2017
Pages: 337

“She was a Librarian, and the deepest, most fundamental part of her life involved a love of books. Right now, she wanted nothing more than to shut the rest of the world out and have nothing to worry about except the next page of whatever she was reading,”

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I actually picked up this title on a whim since I needed a break from my ARCs and didn’t realize this was actually the first book of a series. Oops?! The title spoke to me when I was browsing my kindle, and I guess I was in the mood for a book about books. What I didn’t realize either is that The Invisible Library is actually a full blown science fiction/fantasy read stuffed with magic and mythical creatures like vampires, fae, werewolves and dragons. Definitely a surprise! The worldbuilding is without doubt interesting and I loved the idea behind the Librarians and Language, but in general the inclusion of so many different elements ended up feeling a bit chaotic. I also felt the many science fiction/steampunk and fantasy elements actually distracted from the originial Library idea and in a way it’s a shame… Because those descriptions are basically every booklover’s dream. The pace in The Invisible Library is also quite slow, making it harder to properly enjoy the story. I’m not saying this book actually is a bad read, but I did feel it didn’t reach its full potential and I wish the Library elements would have played a bigger role. I wasn’t completely sure about all the characters either; while I liked Kai and Vale, Irene didn’t manage to convince me. I will most likely still read the sequel at some point though to see if the Library itself gets more attention in that one.

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Irene is a Librarian and works for the mysterious Library, which harvests books from different realities. It’s her job to find rare copies of those books no matter what, and she is about to start a new mission. But she won’t be going alone this time… Her supervisor sends her to an alternative London along with Kai so he can get some field experience. This normally means easy missions, so Irene is surprised when she finds out that their book is actually potentially dangerous. And even worse: when they arrive, it’s already been stolen… And it won’t be easy to get it back, especially since this particular alternative London is also chaos-infested. An impossible mission or simply a challenge?

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I can’t deny The Invisible Library has a lot of potential and I loved the Library/Language elements, but I felt there were just too many different elements stuffed into one story to make sense. The Library and its magic, mythical creatures, science fiction/steampunk, detective, secret societies, an evil villain… All those elements sound great separately, but when they are all thrown together they start to distract from what is essentially the most original part of the plot. All in all not a bad read, but not as good as I was hoping for.


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ARC REVIEW: I Found You – by Lisa Jewell

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Title: I Found You
Author: Lisa Jewell

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: June 30th 2016
Publisher: Arrow
Finished reading: March 2nd 2017
Pages: 448

“The world is full of stories. But the one story he really needs to know is buried somewhere so deep inside him he’s scared he’ll never get to it.”

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

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Basically this book has been on my radar ever since I first found out about it, and I couldn’t believe my eyes when my Netgalley request was actually approved. Let’s face it, the whole amnesia angle has been used a lot lately in psychological thrillers and this element on its own isn’t all that original anymore. However, something about the blurb of I Found You instantly caught my attention and had me wonder about the story behind the main characters. And my instincts were right, because this psychological thriller by Lisa Jewell has literally blown me away. Such fascinating main characters and character development! The writing style and the plot managed to draw me in right from the start and the different storylines only help adding to the initial suspense. The plot twists are executed brilliantly and kept you guessing about the true identities and what really happened right until the end. Twisted, suspenseful, well written, intriguing plot… I Found You definitely has it all. The fact that one of the main characters (‘Frank’) has amnesia might not be original, but the plot itself is without doubt fascinating. If you like the genre, you will definitely enjoy this little gem. This version is due to be published in two days!

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In East Yorkshire, single mum Alice Lake finds a man on the beach outside her house. The man doesn’t seem to remember anything and doesn’t have anything on him to identify him either… And when his memory doesn’t come back, Alice decides to invite him into her home against better judgement. He could be anyone after all… But Alice is determined to help the stranger, now called ‘Frank’ by the family just so he has a name. Memories are slowly coming back to him, but it is hard for Frank to make sense of them… And what about the husband of Lily Monrose, who disapeared one evening and left her all alone in a foreign country? Are the two cases related? Or simply a coincidence?

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If you enjoy reading suspenseful psychological thrillers with interesting characters and surprising plot twists, you will probably enjoy I Found You as much as I did. I was hooked right from the start and had a great time finding out more about the main characters, what really happened in the past and what happened to Lily’s husband as well. The writing style is a really treat and I can definitely recommend this book.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Song Of Achilles – by Madeline Miller

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Title: The Song Of Achilles
Author: Madeline Miller

Genre: Fantasy, Mythology, Fiction
First published: September 20th 2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Finished reading: February 28th 2017
Pages: 352
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“He is a weapon, a killer. Do not forget it. You can use a spear as a walking stick, but that will not change its nature.”

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To take a little break from my ARC mountain, I decided to pick up one of my Beat The Backlist titles. Basically, I have been wanting to read The Song Of Achilles for YEARS. I still don’t know why I haven’t picked up this modern mythology adaptation of the Achilles and Troyan War story written by Madeline Miller before… Especially since so many fellow booklovers seemed to have enjoyed it and I also I read (part of) Homer‘s Iliad during my Ancient Greek classes back in high school and wanted to revisit the story. The Song Of Achilles surely didn’t disappoint; I can understand the love for this book now! Not only is this a very well written story and a lot more pleasant to read than the Iliad translations I’ve seen around, but the character development is very well done as well and I especially loved Patroclus’ character. The pace is quite slow at points, but I personally didn’t mind and I practically devoured this book. If you like mythology, good stories and want to refresh your memory on the Achilles and Troyan War facts, The Song Of Achilles is an excellent choice!

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Patroclus isn’t exactly the perfect young prince and his awkwardness makes his father very frustrated with him. When he accidently kills another boy, his father exiles him to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Against odds the two princes become friends and as they grow up together their bond grows stronger and stronger, despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother and sea goddess Thetis. One day word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, and Achilles must go to war and fulfull his destiny. Patroclus isn’t exactly a skilled fighter, but he would follow Achilles everywhere including to the distant Troy. What will happen to the two during their journey?

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I think most people are at least vaguely familiar with the details around the Troyan War and Achilles. It’s quite a popular Greek mythology story and popular movies have helped to promote it, but it is important to realize those movies have been (heavily) adapted to please the masses. If you want to have a better idea of the ‘real’ story, this mythology adaptation by Madeline Miller is an excellent choice. It reads a lot easier than the Homer translations without changing too much of the plot, and while the pace is a bit slow I had a great time reading this story.


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