YVO’S SHORTIES #27: The Orphan’s Tale & Murder On The Orient Express

Another day and another round of Yvo’s Shorties! Bringing you more shortie reviews of books I read during my hiatus. The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff has been on my list for a long time, and turned out to be just as good as I thought it would be. And I have been meaning to read more of Agatha Christie‘s work for a long time, so accidently watching the Murder On The Orient Express movie turned out to be the perfect excuse to do so.


Title: The Orphan’s Tale
Author: Pam Jenoff

Genre: Historical Fiction, War
First published: February 21st 2017
Publisher: Mira Books
Finished reading: May 18th 2018
Pages: 353

“Sometimes our forever life does not last as long as we think.”


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After a very difficult but extraordinary visit to the Auschwitz camps, I wanted to read another historical fiction story set during WWII to commemorate. I was browsing my kindle and my eyes fell on The Orphan’s Tale, a title I have been meaning to pick up for a long time, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to do so. While not exactly the story set in one of the camps I was looking for, this story shows the struggle and fear of the Jews trying to hide their true identity. The Orphan’s Tale has a wide variety of different characters and this diversity was one of the reasons this story worked. The circus setting with all its descriptions and opportunities for plot twists and new angles definitely was another key element. The writing is solid and makes it really easy to fully emerge yourself and keep reading to find out what will happen to the main characters. There comes the only minor flaw I experienced myself though: I didn’t agree with every decision of the characters and somehow it wasn’t as easy to get a proper feeling of some of them. This feeling of slight uneasiness and frustration made me lower the rating slightly, but overall The Orphan’s Tale is without doubt among the better WWII historical fiction stories I’ve read to this date.


Title: Murder On The Orient Express
(Hercule Poirot #10)
Author: Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Classics
First published: 1926
Publisher: William Morrow
Finished reading: May 21st 2018
Pages: 256

“I know human nature, my friend, and I tell you that, suddenly confronted with the possibility of being tried for murder, the most innocent person will lose their head and do the most absurd things.”


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I’ve been meaning to pick up another Agatha Christie book ever since I finished And Then There Were None back in 2015, but somehow I never did. So I guess accidently watching the Murder On The Orient Express was a blessing in disguise, because since I normally never watch the movie before reading the book, of course I had to immediately remedy that. I had high hopes for the book, and even though I haven’t read the previous Hercule Poirot books yet, I was able to enjoy book number ten anyway. Because Agatha Christie writes in a way that will draw your attention from the start, and she gives just enough background of the main characters to be able to form an idea of their past without the previous books. I still want to read the other nine titles before this one as well of course, and the copies are on my list. But the fact is that Murder On The Orient Express can easily be read as a stand-alone as well and what a good story at that. From the main character to the development of the other characters, the mystery, the way Hercule Poirot conducts his investigation… There is just something about it that will fascinate you completely and any mystery/thriller fan will find themselves flying through it. I personally liked both movie and book equally, although I still wish I would have read the book first, because I had the actors stuck in my head and the descriptions of the characters in the book don’t really match. Thankfully the script itself follows the original plot closely; one of the reasons the adaptation was so successful to me. Murder On The Orient Express has shown me I really need to get copies of more of Agatha Christie‘s books soon, because I have truly been missing out by not reading them.


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ARC REVIEW: The Namarielle – by Julien Jamar

Title: The Namarielle
(Chronicles Of Lashai #1)
Author: Julien Jamar
Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: January 19th 2018
Publisher: BooksGoSocial
Finished reading: May 23rd 2018
Pages: 349

“There is power in love that cannot be attained any other way.”

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

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I admit I kind of requesting this first book of a YA fantasy series on a whim after falling in love with the cover. There is just something about The Namarielle that instantly made me want to read it, and it turns out that my coverlove instinct was solid. Because there is no doubt I very much enjoyed this story! I’ve become a bit wary of YA fantasy series due to the amount of romance and repetitive plots, but I was pleasantly surprised by The Namarielle. The writing is engaging and made it really easy to emerge yourself into this new fantasy world. I enjoyed the worldbuilding and the promise of an interesting past, complicated and dangerous present and the promise of a better future. Would I have liked to see the worldbuilding even more detailed? Maybe. But I’m guessing that we will see even more of Lashai in the sequel. The characters are interesting, although a bit cliche with Cassai with her mysterious past and Elian with his secrets. The connection between them is a nice touch, although a bit cheesy as well… And some of the reactions and actions of the main characters could get annoying. I did like the inclusion of different fantasy characters like werewolves and fae. They add a little extra to the plot and I’m hoping to see more of at least the fae in the sequel. I did have some problems with the frequent POV switches though, because that made it a lot more difficult to connect to the different characters. But in general this was a highly entertaining and enjoyable first book of what looks to be a promising series.

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Cassai grew up on a small farm hidden away from the rest of the world… Until one day she is no longer safe there. It looks like the people closest to her have been hiding things from Cassai, secrets that will change her life forever… If she can make it out alive. Because Lashai isn’t as it used to be under the Namarielle, and not following every order is very dangerous indeed. Especially with a history like she has, even if Cassai can’t really remember who she really is…

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The Namarielle is a very entertaining and interesting first book of a new YA fantasy series. I really liked the worldbuilding and potential of Lashai, although I would have liked to learn even more about the world… But I’m hoping the sequel will give us more details. The characters are interesting enough, even though there are quite a few cliches, and I liked the special connection of Cassai. The constant POV switches did make it harder to connect to the main characters though. But all in all it was still a solid read.


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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 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 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 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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