Cage by Lilja Sigurdardottir @lilja1972 @OrendaBooks @annecater #Bookreview

I am delighted to welcome you to my thoughts on Cage by Lilja Sigurdardottir. My thanks to Anne at Random Things Blog Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and also to Orenda Books for my e-copy of this book

Cage is the third and final book in this trilogy, and you know what is coming… yes you really should read these books in order.

A masterful conclusion to the award-winning, critically
acclaimed Reykjavík Noir trilogy, as drug-smuggling,
financial crime, political intrigue, love, murder and
betrayal come together.


The prison doors slam shut behind Agla, when her sentence
for financial misconduct ends, but her lover Sonja is not
there to meet her.


As a group of foreign businessmen tries to draw Agla into
an ingenious fraud that stretches from Iceland around the
world, Agla and her former nemesis María find the stakes
being raised at a terrifying speed. Ruthless entrepreneur
Ingimar will stop at nothing to protect his empire, but he
has no idea about the powder keg he is sitting on in his own
home. And at the same time, a deadly threat to Sonja and
her family brings her from London back to Iceland, where
she needs to settle scores with longstanding adversaries if
she wants to stay alive…


The lives of these characters are about to collide in a
shocking crescendo, until the winner takes it all…

Things have finally come to an end in Cage. This book brings everything from Snare and Trap together.

Once again Agla is in the midst of drug smuggling, corruption and is against those who thirst for even more power. This story focuses more on Agla and her decision to look into a different tale of corruption. She is delving into the truth behind the mixed metal and aluminium business.

If you have not read Snare or Trap then you really should. Many of the characters have been previously introduced in those books. Reading the previous books gives a better understanding to their individual characters and what makes them tick, and I think more importantly it gives you an idea of their own inner strengths and weaknesses.

Agla teams up with a journalist, Maria, it is a tentative working relationship as they both discover just how far the corruption in the metal trade actually goes. Along with this story there is also another, that is the new friendship that Agla has and also the story of a young man who thinks he is doing the right thing.

While I admit this is not my favourite of the three books, it is still a cracking read. The author brings together the previous books to quite a shocking finale. She took me down a route I didn’t expect. This story moves away from Sonja but she still has a role to play in this book and I think this is what threw me when I read this book. But it was good to see more of Agla.

The story is told from different perspectives and this helps to weave a sense of mistrust and intrigue throughout the story. It did take me a while to get myself up to speed with the various characters as it had been a while since I had read the previous book. But gradually the characters and their own stories started to come back to me.

This is a reasonably fast paced read as the author yet again weaves a complex and intense story. She pulls the threads together to create a wonderful finale. The author has a wonderful atmosphere as she creates yet another Icelandic read. Agla is in prison and the author shares how the financiers and bankers who were part of Icelands financial crash were treated.

The titles for each of the books are snappy and each are relevant to the story within, Cage is no different and it was as I read the book the significance of it makes itself known.

Once again a fabulous job was done of the translation, without translators I would not have access to read this fabulous trilogy.

This is a book, in fact a trilogy that delves into the world of drugs, control, corruption, power and manipulation. Ideal for readers who love a good crime thriller read.

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes
in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, including Snare and Trap, the first two books in the Reykjavik Noir trilogy, which have hit bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

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Wolves at the Door by Gunnar Staalesen Translated by Don Bartlett #RandomThingsTours #NordicNoir @annecater #Review

I am delighted to be sharing my review of Wolves at the Door by Gunnar Staalesen and the translation by Don Batlett. My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for my copy of the the book.

This is the second book by this author that I have read and I love his writing, atmospheric and addictive immediately spring to mind. Anyway, before I get too carried away let’s have a look and see what the book is about…

The wolves are no longer in the dark … they are at his door. And they want vengeance… The next instalment in the international, bestselling Varg Veum series by one of the fathers of Nordic Noir…

One dark January night a car drives at high speed towards PI Varg Veum, and comes very close to killing him. Veum is certain this is no accident, following so soon after the deaths of two jailed men who were convicted for their participation in a case of child pornography and sexual assault … crimes that Veum himself once stood wrongly accused of committing.

While the guilty men were apparently killed accidentally, Varg suspects that there is something more sinister at play … and that he’s on the death list of someone still at large.

Fearing for his life, Veum begins to investigate the old case, interviewing the victims of abuse and delving deeper into the brutal crimes, with shocking results. The wolves are no longer in the dark … they are at his door. And they want vengeance.

First off I am going to say that I am so glad there are translators, they give me a chance to read books that I would not otherwise be able to enjoy. Don Barlett doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to reading his translation of Wolves at the Door into English.

This is the latest instalment of the Varg Veum series. Varg is a Private Investigator and is looking into two old cases. The cases are based around those found guilty of child abuse. Now I will say straight off that while the author does not go into excessive detail, it does make the reading a little uncomfortable at times.

As Varg starts to gather the information he needs, he meets various characters and the job of trying to work out the who’s and the why’s begins. The problem with these other characters is that they all seem to have something to hide, or they are holding something back. This increases the tension as I was never sure who I could rely on for being truthful. Given that there are a few characters to follow, I found them easy to remember and to recognise. Varg has the same problem as I did when it came to working out who to trust. I was eagerly waiting for him to work through their stories and remarks so I could better understand the reasons and also the culprit behind the killings and also the attempt on Varg’s life.

The author is fabulous with his descriptions and it added to the slower style of the story adding suspense and a tense atmosphere. While the style of the story is slower the pace of it is not, I hope that makes sense!

I did take longer to read this book than I normally would. Rather than devouring it in one or two sittings, I read over several days. This is because my concentration levels at the time were not brilliant too many other things whizzing around my head. The bonus in doing this was that I was able to think about the story in between reading. I was able to mull over who I thought was behind it all, I had 3 people on my “Suspect list” and yes the actual guilty party was one of them. So I did not actually work it all out completely and I was not able to single out a definite character.

This is yet ano0ther fabulous Nordic Noir from an author who definitely keeps me on my toes. The story is like the cover, dark and atmospheric it is also full of suspense, surprise and with some wonderful descriptions. A book that crime and thriller readers will love.

It gets a “Highly Recommended” from Me!

One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of twenty-two with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over twenty-three titles, which have been published in twenty-six countries and sold over five million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim, and a further series is currently being filmed. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour) and the Petrona Award, and been shortlisted for the CWA Dagger, lives in Bergen with his wife.

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The Lingering by SJI Holliday @SJIHolliday @OrendaBooks @annecater #BookReview

The Lingering front FINAL

I am delighted to be sharing my review today for The Lingering by SJI Holliday as part of the Blog Tour with Anne at Random Things Tours and also Orenda Books. A huge thank you to Anne for the invite and to Orenda for my copy.

Synopsis:

Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history

When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…

At once an unnerving locked-room mystery, a chilling thriller and a dark and superbly wrought ghost story, The Lingering is an exceptionally plotted, terrifying and tantalisingly twisted novel by one of the most exciting authors in the genre.

Purchase your own copy from Amazon UK

My thoughts:

Ali and Jack arrive at Rosalind House, a former psychiatric facility and now a commune for those wanting a fresh, slower paced, quiet and calmer lifestyle. Things at Rosalind is idyllic sounding until the arrival of the newcomers. In an atmospheric setting with an unsettling past history, this is a story with a good deal of psychological suspense.

I have seen some wonderful reviews for this book and, as you can imagine, I was eager to read this book. Things seem okay as I joined Ali and Jack, there is a sense of their apprehension at leaving their old lives behind. I felt that their hope for their new fresh start was tinged with scepticism as they meet the other residents. I did wonder why two professionals would choose such an isolated and complete change to their lifestyle. By the end of the book, I could completely understand why and my wonderings were definitely laid to rest.

From the start, this book developed into a story with a mystery. This mystery gradually grew and evolved as the suspense and that gnawing, haunting feeling grew. What I didn’t expect was the many “bloody ‘ell” and ” Oh! That’s good” that left my mouth along the way. This is a story that turned my initial perceptions of some of the characters on its head, I love this when an author keeps me on my toes like this.

The story is told from the perspective of mainly Ali and Angela. Angela is a fellow resident along with another chapter contributor Smeaton. Scattered through the book are diary entries, these I absolutely loved as they gave an insight into the House when it was still in use as a psychiatric facility. It gave a chilling glimpse into the treatments and problems from days gone past.

These quick chapters gave me a chance to really get to know the characters, their motives… yes there are motives, there are also disasters and chilling turns of event that made for wonderful and addictive reading.

A story that had such an idyllic and simplistic sounding lifestyle change that turns into something very sinister. A disturbing, haunting, psychological, suspense-filled mystery,

A brilliant read and one I would highly recommend.

About the Author:

Susi author photo.jpg

S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday is a pharmaceutical statistician by day and a crime and horror fan by night. Her short stories have been published in many places and she was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham prize with her story ‘Home from Home’, which was published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in spring 2017. She is the bestselling author of the creepy and claustrophobic Banktoun trilogy (Black Wood, Willow Walk and The Damselfly) featuring the much-loved Sergeant Davie Gray, and has dabbled in festive crime with the critically acclaimed The Deaths of December. Her latest psychological thriller is modern gothic with more than a hint of the supernatural, which she loved writing due to her fascination and fear of ghosts. She is proud to be one of The Slice Girls has been described by David Mark as ‘Dark as a smoker’s lung.’ She divides her time between Edinburgh and London and you will find her at crime-fiction events in the UK and abroad.

Follow Susi on Twitter or her Website

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Good Samaritans by Will Carver @will_carver @annecater @OrendaBooks #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my review of Good Samaritans by Will Carver today as part of the Blog Tour with Orenda Books. Huge thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invite and to Orenda and Will for my copy of this fabulous book.

Synopsis:

One crossed wire, three dead bodies and six bottles of bleach

Seth Beauman can’t sleep. He stays up late, calling strangers from his
phonebook, hoping to make a connection, while his wife, Maeve, sleeps
upstairs. A crossed wire finds a suicidal Hadley Serf on the phone to
Seth, thinking she is talking to The Samaritans.
But a seemingly harmless, late-night hobby turns into something more
for Seth and for Hadley, and soon their late-night talks are turning into
day-time meet-ups. And then this dysfunctional love story turns into
something altogether darker, when Seth brings Hadley home…
And someone is watching…
Dark, sexy, dangerous and wildly readable, Good Samaritans marks the
scorching return of one of crime fiction’s most exceptional voices.

My Thoughts:

The Samaritans are a group available to people in need. What happens if a phone call goes beyond a phone call. This story takes a dark look into a sinister world that kept me avidly turning the pages.

This is the first book I have read by this author and good god is it creepy, sinister dark and delicious. Full of twists and turns that left me just a bit shocked. Definitely not what I was expecting, and this is meant in a good way. The synopsis did a great job of getting me hooked, the pages of the story had me addicted.

I am not elaborating on the plot at all because I don’t want to give spoilers. I will say it is clever and has a real sense of suspense, there were times I was wondering where this story was going and how it was going to link up. By the end, I was feeling a little stunned as this disturbing story was revealed, Oh and in a really good way.

The way the book is laid out worked really well, in daily chapters and then broken down into quick sub-chapters. These gave a snappiness to the story as it moved along at a good pace. I would suggest that it would be ideal for picking up reading a couple of sections and then carrying on about your day, but this will not happen as once you pick it up you will not want to put it down.

If there were a limit to words I could use to describe this book they would be: twisted, dangerous, disturbing and sick and that is just some of the characters. You will soon work out who to like and then there are the ones that you want to be nowhere near, not in the same postcode, county or for that matter the same country.

I would say this is definitely a book aimed at adults with shall I say a slightly more open mind, there are a few erm… sexy, dirty bits and you know what it actually worked well and was appropriate.

So if you are after a book that has shocks, thrills, creepiness, and suspense then this is a must read. If you like an edginess that has a realistic feel to it then it is a must read and believe me when I say that you will never look at a bottle of bleach in the same way again…

A book that readers of psychological thrillers, domestic noir, crime, suspense and one I would highly recommend.
Purchase link: Amazon UK

About the Author:

Will Carver.jpg

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January
David series (Arrow). He spent his early years in Germany, but
returned to the UK at age 11, when his sporting career took off. He
turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and
television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful
theatre company.
He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, while
working on his next thriller. He lives in Reading with his two children.

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#Trap by Lilja Sigurdardottir @lilja1972 trs Quentin Bates #BlogTour #RandomThingsTours @OrendaBook #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on Trap by Lilja Sigurdardottir today as part of the Blog Tour with Orenda Books and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours. My huge thanks to Anne for the invite and for arranging my e-copy of this book. When I saw the email for this book I jumped at the chance to be part of the tour. I had already bought Snare, the first book in this trilogy and just hadn’t got around to reading it, so the Blog Tour was the perfect chance to make up for that. You can see my review of Snare here.

Buying link for SNARE – AMAZON UK and TRAP at AMAZON UK

Synopsis:

A breathtakingly original thriller by international bestselling Icelandic author Lilja Sigurdardóttir Book 2 in the acclaimed Reykjavik Noir series Film rights sold to Palomar Pictures

Happily settled in Florida, Sonja believes she’s finally escaped the trap set by unscrupulous drug lords. But when her son Tomas is taken, she’s back to square one … and Iceland.

Her lover, Agla, is awaiting sentencing for financial misconduct after the banking crash, and Sonja refuses to see her. And that’s not all … Agla owes money to some extremely powerful men, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it back.

With her former nemesis, customs officer Bragi on her side, Sonja puts her own plan into motion, to bring down the drug barons and her scheming ex-husband, and get Tomas back safely. But things aren’t as straightforward as they seem, and Sonja finds herself caught in the centre of a trap that will put all of their lives at risk…

Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Trap is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

My Thoughts:

Things for Sonia seem to go from bad to worse. When she thinks she has finally managed to escape the clutches of those who control her life, she and her son Tomas are taken back to Iceland. The journey into this trilogy contiues with this fabulous follow up to Snare.

I would like to say straight away that if you haven’t read Snare, then you really should. It lays the blocks for a story that Trap continues. It is a seamless progression through Sonia and other characters journey. I for one am so glad I read in order.

I am still a little shocked that one of my favourite characters in this book is a drug smuggler… But the author has created a character and a scenario that is so believable that I cannot help being invested in the dilemma Sonia finds herself caught up in. It places this character in between “the devil and the deep blue sea”. To maintain contact with her son she must continue to do what is required of her. But now she has the help of customs official Bragi to aid her. His story is one that again I can see the reasons behind.

Each time that it looks like there could be a light at the end of the tunnel for her, life takes a twist that is brutally heartbreaking for her. The reasons for her actions are justifiably believable and totally convincing.

Around Sonia’s story, the author continues the threads of the financial crash in Iceland and also Agla’s role in it. Again this is another character I am rooting for, even though her role in the crash falls into a grey area.

True colours are starting to come to light for other characters with many surprises along the way. I am being my usual vague self with this review as anyone who is reading this but hasn’t read the first book doesn’t get any spoilers from me. If you haven’t read Snare or Trap then you really should buy them.

The author does a brilliant job of showing how the conflict of interests and a mothers love hold no bounds and how this love can shape their decisions. She successfully combines several elements that at first glance made me wonder at their connections to each other but as the stories have unfolded I was completely drawn in, and continue to be drawn in deeper. Once again the translator Quentin Bates shows his skill with an amazingly brilliant and seamless translation.

This is another superb read that readers of Noir will really love. The characters, descriptions, and storylines are brilliantly woven to create an amazing story of manipulation, smuggling, money and at its core, a mothers love for her son. An absolute must read for readers of crime, thriller, mystery, Icelandic Noir. This book gets a massive highly recommended from me and I cannot wait for the next book.

About the Author:

Lilja author photo.jpg

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

Follow Lilja on Twitter or her Website

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#Snare by Lilja Sigurdardottir Trans by Quentin Blake #OrendaBooks #BookReview

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Today I have a review of Snare by Lilja Sigurdardottir. I have had this book on my TBR since 17th December last year… I wanted to start this first book in the Reykjavik Noir Trilogy as I am taking part in the Blog Tour for Trap tomorrow and really wanted to read in order. I am so glad I did as this is a brilliant book that sets the basic and paves the way for what is to follow.

Buying link: AMAZON UK

Synopsis:

First in the Reykjavik Noir Trilogy

After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonia is struggling to provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world. As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies. Things become even more complicated when Sonia embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath of the Icelandic financial crash.
Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

My Thoughts:

Sonia is offered help why she is going through a messy divorce and custody battle of her son. A simple errand is all that is required but little did she know that this simple errand would take her into a world of drug trafficking. Once she is in, she is in and she is now finding how difficult it is for her to escape this drug, money, and greed filled world. Sonia is in a relationship with Agla, Agla has her own problems and is under investigation for her role in Iceland’s economic crash.

If I tell you that I spent the afternoon reading this book from start to finish, then it will give you some idea of how addictive it was. There are so many stories that have been brilliantly threaded in and around each other. The cat and mouse game of drug smuggling, an economic crash and ensuing investigation, a broken family, a man looking after his ill wife are just some of the themes.

This author gave me a story that had me rooting for a character that was smuggling drugs!!! This is not something I would do, but the way the author made me believe Sonia’s plight and how I could sympathise with her dilemma show how well the author has written. Another thing about Sonia that goes against the grain for me is her ability to lie. In theory, I should really not like this character at all… but the author has given her a story that has so much to it, that I cannot help rooting for her.

There are various characters in this book and while some have an obvious reason for being there, others seem to have a small part and move on, it is only as I read the second book that their role really comes into play and their motives are being realised. I was never completely sure as to who I could trust, they all have their own motives and what they think is their own priority.

I mentioned cat and mouse earlier, and this is the way Sonia has to use her wits to get through customs while carrying her haul of drugs, the various ways she hides the drugs and also the way she manages to dodge officials was clever. You know what I could go on about this book so much, but I think I would end up giving away spoilers, so I’m leaving it there.

This is a book with a story that is so addictive, believable and really gets under your skin, the descriptions and the slower pace of the book are perfect for this Icelandic noir. At the beginning of the book, there is a very useful guide for the pronunciation of the various names. Yes I did read them and attempt to pronounce them and I think I am still way off saying them right especially Eyjafjallajökull and some others, but a very useful addition all the same. I have to mention Quentin Bates, the translator. He is seamless in his translation and this means I get to read a book that I would never have been able to read.

This is a story that is addictive, the characters are convincing and believable, the writing is wonderful, the translation is brilliant. I loved everything about this book and I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy. This is a book I highly recommend.

About the Author:

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain, and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja has a background in education and has worked in evaluation and quality control for preschools in recent years. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.
Follow Lilja on Twitter and on her Website

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Don’t forget to stop by tomorrow and see what I think of the second book; Trap xx

After He Died by Michael J Malone @MichaelJMalone @OrendaBooks @annecater #BookReview

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I am absolutely delighted to be sharing my thoughts on After He Died by Michael J Malone as part of the blog tour for Orenda Books. I would like to thank Anne Cater for my invite onto the tour for this fabulous book and also Orenda for my copy. You can get your own copy from AMAZON UK

Synopsis:

You need to know who your husband really was…

When Paula Gadd’s husband of almost thirty years dies, just days away from the seventh anniversary of their son, Christopher’s death, her world falls apart. Grieving and bereft, she is stunned when a young woman approaches her at the funeral service, and slips something into her pocket. A note suggesting that Paula’s husband was not all that he seemed…
When the two women eventually meet, a series of revelations challenges everything Paula thought they knew, and it becomes immediately clear that both women’s lives are in very real danger.
Both a dark, twisty slice of domestic noir and taut, explosive psychological thriller, After He Died is also a chilling reminder that the people we trust the most can harbour the deadliest secrets…

My Thoughts:

Paula Gadd lost her son almost seven years ago, her husband has just died. But a stranger asking Paula how well she knew her husband leaves her questioning all she thought she knew.

Straight away I want to mention the cover, how simple, effective and amazing it is. The story itself is far from simple, but it is effective and it really is amazing. I got to meet Paula at the funeral of her husband Tommy, she is still stunned, shocked and in a daze when this random stranger just walks up and asks Paula how well she knew her husband…

By this point I am already hooked, what follows left me on the edge of my seat as the story unfolded. Paula is rocked and as she discovers there are things that her husband has done that she had no idea about. I also got to meet some of Tommy’s family and also the stranger and how she fits into the story. Yes this is vague for a reason, no spoilers from me..

This is a book that is fast paced but one where I forced myself to slow my reading of so I didn’t miss any little detail. The author does the most amazing job of building up tension and suspense and at the same time sows so many seeds of doubt along the way. The plot is deliciously deceptive and twisted, but never once did I feel confused, the writing simply flowed as the story was revealed.

The characters in the story are such a random lot, and yes some I did like, those that I couldn’t make my mind up about and some that completely hoodwinked me. I love the concept of how well you know someone and how the author has used that and then completely turned it on it backside to reveal a world of doubt, mistrust, conflict and finding the truth about the person you thought you knew.

This is the first book I have read by this author, I have now bought a myself a couple more as this was so amazing. If you are a fan of crime, mystery, thriller, and suspense with a good helping of domestic noir then you will absolutely want to read this one. An absolutely fantastic read that I would highly recommend.

About the Author:

thumbnail_Michael Malone

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The Bad Samaritan and Dog Fight. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines soon followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

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The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks @annecater #BookReview

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I am so delighted to be bringing you The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech. This is a beautiful story, and after watching a Twitter video of Louise opening her parcel of finalised copies, I can also say she may be a little excited about the cover being embossed. Yes Louise Beech is embossed! You really need to watch this, its brilliant 🙂

My huge thanks to the fabulous Orenda Books for my copy and also to Anne Cater for my invite to take part in this blog tour. I may have been a little excited in my email back to Anne about joining this tour to help share the book love, this was already a book that was generating fantastic early reviews, there was no way I was going to miss the opportunity to take part.

Synopsis:

Be careful what you wish for…

Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he wishes it hadn’t…

Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…

Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems to be guided by fate. Or is it? What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?

My Thoughts:

Wishes and dreams are part of life, but what happens when the things you wish and dream for are not as you imagined they would be. Dreams are great, but if you follow your dream for an alternative motive then in reality it isn’t what the dream was meant to be. Andrew the wish-maker and Ben with the dream are meant to be together, but why…

This is a story that I just found myself being captivated with from the very start as I met Ben in Zimbabwe at a lion sanctuary. This is his dream and also a fulfilling of a promise , but I realised that instead of being ecstatic and excited about helping lion cubs, Ben was subdued, there but not quite there. Here was a man with something on his mind, and as the story flitted between Zimbabwe and Hull I discovered a story that just blew me away.

In Hull I got to meet Andrew, a chance meeting allows Andrew to meet and get to know Ben. The story tells of their friendship and then their relationship,also of their feelings for what others may think. Family, relationships, misunderstandings and expectations really do come into play and the author deals with this in such a natural and wonderful way.

There is so much that I absolutely loved about this book, as well as the story line itself one thing that really stood out for me was the attention to detail. As a reader I like settings to be described in as much detail as possible but not in great long passages, this author has the ability to describe in detail in a short and vivid way. Not only did I get an image of the sights and sounds but also of taste and smell, from the mud coffee to the aromas the lions. For me it is the additional little details that are just as important.

Now the story line, it flits back and forward in time and also between Hull and Zimbabwe. The main characters are Ben and Andrew and I really did get to them well, there are other characters that also have major parts to play in the story, but Ben and Andrew are the key characters. The story is about many things, but love and relationships are the main ones. The author deals with Ben and Andrews relationship in such a beautiful way, and also on the flip side the way that a person may think that some may not like same-sex relationships.

The story moved along at a nice pace, building up and filling in details and history of the characters and their families and then suddenly took a route that not only caught me unawares, but also had me with my heart in my mouth. It moved into such an emotionally charged story as the author had me on the edge of tears. I tried my hardest to keep them in check for such a long time and just as I started to breathe normally again I came across three words that had me in a total sobbing mess. There are several parts of the story that had me balancing on the emotional see saw, and I think that many others will be the same.

This is a beautiful, emotional, passionate, wonderful story that had me absolutely glued from the first page to the very last.

An absolute must read for readers who want to experience an author who knows how to take a reader on a fantastic literary journey.

About the Author:

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Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The sequel, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Her third book, Maria in the Moon, was widely reviewed and critically acclaimed. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

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Big Sister by Gunnar Staalesen transl by Don Batlett : @OrendaBooks @annecater #BigSister #VargVeum #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts today for “Big Sister” by Gunnar Staalsen as part of the Blog Tour by Orenda Books. My thanks go to Anne Cater, Orenda and also the author for my spot on the tour and also my copy of Big Sister. This book is available in eBook and also paperback format and you can buy your copy from Amazon UK

 

Synopsis:

PI Varg Veum receives a surprise visit in his office from a woman who introduces herself as his half-sister, and she has a job for him. Her god-daughter, a nineteen-year-old trainee nurse from Haugesund, moved from her bedsit in Bergen two weeks ago. Since then no one has heard anything from her. She didn’t leave an address. She doesn’t answer her phone. And the police refuse to take her case seriously. Veum’s investigation uncovers a series of carefully covered-up crimes and pent-up hatreds, and the trail leads to a gang of extreme bikers and to a shadowy group, whose dark actions are hidden by the anonymity of the Internet. And then things get personal… Chilling, shocking and exceptionally gripping, Big Sister reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost thriller writers.

My Thoughts:

Private Investigator Varg Veum has more than the usual interest when taking on his new case. The woman who asks is his sister whom he has never met, so not only a chance to get to know her but also the possibility of finding out more about his family. His sister is concerned about the disappearance of her god-daughter.

This is yet another new to me author as I join in the Varg Veum series. Sometimes I think this is a good thing especially when the book works as a standalone, as this one does. It means I have no prior expectations. This is set Bergen Norway and one of the first things that struck me was the wonderful descriptions of the area the author describes, i was able to build a good picture of the area and also the climate brrr. It was a great stand alone book to read as I learnt some details about Varg at the same time he did from his sister. There are things in his past that I still want to know more about and reading the previous books will obviously fill in the stories.

This is a serious case for Varg as the disappearance of a young woman is not taken seriously by the police. The more he delves into he case the darker it gets, the more the plot twists and I was taken into a scenario I really didn’t expect.

This is a slower paced book and I thought it really did suit the story quite well, it gave me a chance to get to grips with the names of other characters and also place names. These I really did struggle with initially, taking me a few sentences to recognise which character was which. This is not anything to do with the author here and is no criticism with his writing, it is purely my lack of knowledge regarding Norway and not knowing any names. But it didn’t really distract from the story and this is where the slower pace really helped as I needed to pay extra attention.

So for a first time reader of this author I found the story addictive, interesting and as if I was being drawn down a tunnel that got darker the further I went. It had a good amount of suspense and kept me engrossed, I would have happily rad it in one sitting if I didn’t have to go to work. It has also left me wanting to know more about PI Varg Veum so I will be looking for other books by Gunnar Staalesen. I must also say that  the translator Don Bartlett has done a fantastic job, the translation is seamless.

If you are after a gripping, slower paced Nordic Noir that is dark and full of suspense then this book really is worth reading. It works really well as a stand alone and I would definitely recommend it.

About the Author:

Gunnar.jpegGunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of 22 with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over 20 titles, which have been published in 24 countries and sold over five million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim, and a further series is being filmed now. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour) and the Petrona Award, and been shortlisted for the CWA Dagger, lives in Bergen with his wife.

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#BlogTour : The Old You by Louise Voss @LouiseVoss1 : @OrendaBooks @annecater : #BookReview #TheOldYou

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I am delighted to be finally sharing my thoughts on “The Old You” by Louise Voss as part of the tour by Anne Cater at Random Things Tours with Orenda Books and my biggest thanks go to them for my spot and copy of the book. The Old You is available from Amazon UK in eBook and Paperback formats.

Synopsis:

Nail-bitingly modern domestic noir
A tense, Hitchcockian psychological thriller
Louise Voss returns with her darkest, most chilling, novel yet…

Lynn Naismith gave up the job she loved when she married Ed, the love of her life, but it was worth it for the happy years they enjoyed together. Now, ten years on, Ed has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and things start to happen; things more sinister than missing keys and lost words. As some memories are forgotten, others, long buried, begin to surface … and Lynn’s perfect world begins to crumble.
But is it Ed’s mind playing tricks, or hers…?

My Thoughts:

How would you deal with your husband gradually loosing himself to early onset dementia? Personally it is something I hope never to have to experience though I know people who have had to deal with it. The author takes dementia and how it impacts not only the sufferer but those around them. Then she takes it on a route that I never saw coming as she took me on a suspense filled and breathtaking journey.

The start of this book really sets up the life of Lynn and Ed as I followed then through the diagnosis and how Lynn can see how their lives will change. My heart went out to both of these characters initially, please note the word “initially” as this believe you me when I say that my thoughts definitely made a massive u-turn!

The story does have a slight time slip element as I got to learn about Lynn in her life before she met Ed and how she met him. I almost dropped my book at this point, and from that point on the sinister and frighteningly realistic story really starts to make itself felt.

I want to say that I had a little hint of a something in the story, but as I reflect back I didn’t work anything out, the author just played games as she let teasing little pieces of information out. By the end of the book I was a little stunned, i should add in a good way, and it took me quite a while to write my review on paper as I was trying to work out what I had read. The twists and jaw dropping realisation that the author has managed to work into this story is brilliant. The plot is devious and manipulative as I learnt, experienced and saw through Lynn’s eyes what was happening around her.

This is a book that caught my attention from the get go and subtlety drew me into a world that was addictive and a real eye opener. By the end of the story my thoughts on the characters had changed so much. If you want a story with a definitely sinister, dark, manipulative and psychologically twisted route then this is the book for you. Billed as having a feel of Hitchcock and a domestic noir, and yes I completely agree with this. It is an addictive and brilliant read, one I would Highly Recommend it is an absolute cracker.

About the Author:

Louise VossOver her eighteen-year writing career, Louise Voss has had books out via pretty much every publishing model there is, from deals with major traditional publishing houses (Transworld and Harper Collins), to digital-only (the Amazon-owned Thomas & Mercer) and self-publishing – she and co-author Mark Edwards were the first UK indie-published authors to hit the No. 1 spot on Amazon back in 2011. She has had eleven novels published in total, five solo and six co-written, a combination of psychological thrillers, police procedurals and contemporary fiction. Louise has an MA(Dist) in Creative Writing and also works as a literary consultant and mentor for writers at http://www.thewritingcoach.co.uk. She lives in South-West London and is a proud member of two female crime-writing collectives, The Slice Girls and Killer Women.

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