BOOK REVIEW: Snare – by Lilja Sigurðardóttir @Orendabooks #NordicNoir

Title: Snare
(Reykjavik Noir Trilogy #1)

Author: Lilja Sigurdardottir
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 15th 2015
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: September 18th 2019
Pages: 276
(Originally written in Icelandic: ‘Gildran’)

“There was no way out. She was still caught in the snare, and the vicious beast had her in its bloody jaws, ready to rip away the most important part of her.”


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Why o why didn’t I pick up this trilogy sooner?!?! I have always loved a foreign (to me) setting in my stories and 2019 is definitely the year I have rediscovered my love for the Nordic noir genre. There is just something about the combination of a darker and mysterious story and the cold and harsh weather often present in Nordic countries that really makes my heart beat faster and the setting often gives the perfect backdrop for a blood chilling read.

The first book of the Reykjavik Noir Trilogy is mostly set, as you might have guessed already from the title, in Iceland and was originally published in that language. A round of applause for the translator Quentin Bates for giving us the opportunity to meet Sonja, Bragi and the rest of the characters with the help of his translation! The description of the setting is detailed and also incorporates two events in recent Icelandic history most people will remember into the plot: the 2008-2009 banking crisis and the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruptions that caused chaos in Europe with so many canceled flights and stranded travellers (including myself, as I was just about to go on a trip to the day it started). Snare is set in 2010-2011 and makes references to both events, although the criminal investigation involving Agla and the other important bankers plays a far bigger role in the plot. I personally loved these flashes of real historical references mixed in with the fiction, as it made the story feel even more authentic.

But that is not what I loved most of Snare. That prize goes to main character Sonja, Bragi and the whole drugs smuggling and airport customs angle. I admit I went in blind and it was the most fantastic surprise to find such an original plot! Snare wins a lot of brownie points for the drugs smuggling angle alone, but the interesting, well developed and diverse characters also have a lot to do with the success behind this first book of a trilogy I already know will be a new favorite. Every single main character is thoroughly developed and evolves as the story continues… Each character has its flaws and that makes them feel so much more realistic: especially Sonja and Bragi won me over quickly and I can’t wait to see more of them in the sequel.

Snare is not just about drugs smuggling and the corruption investigation; it has so much more to offer… We have the broken family element, the heartbreaking Alzheimer situation with Bragi’s wife, a LGBT angle and a character struggling to come to terms with who she is… We have the danger of the drugs smuggling, the feeling of being trapped in a snare and being in a hopeless and dangerous situation impossible to escape from… On top of that, we have a box filled with plot twists ready to be dropped on you any time, and those twists are well crafted and most definitely will be able to surprise you. The plot is well developed as well and the ending definitely makes me even more excited to pick up the next book soon. The writing is simply a pleasure to the eye! Snare is without doubt an excellent start of a Nordic noir trilogy with a original, exciting and well crafted plot fans of the genre will love. Recommended!


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ARC REVIEW: Here To Stay – by Mark Edwards @amazonpub

Title: Here To Stay
Author: Mark Edwards
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: September 1st 2019
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: September 17th 2019
Pages: 370

“Maybe I couldn’t trust anyone.”

*** 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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Basically it was Meggy’s review that made me realize I just HAD to read Here To Stay. I’m so glad she first pointed me towards this book, as I have been meaning to try Mark Edwards‘ books for a while now and there is no doubt that this book was everything I hoped for and more. I basically felt uncomfortable and threatened during the whole book, feeling what the main character feels while also just wanting to shake him and tell him to ‘man up’ and do something about his situation. It’s hands down one of the most frustrating stories I’ve had the chance to read this year, but strangly enough this feeling only made me appreciate this story even more.

I’ve had my thoughts marinating for a few days now, and I still can’t wrap my head around just how brilliant the premise and its execution are. The main topic of Here To Stay involves what you can call everybody’s worst fear: meeting/marrying someone you love, only to discover in-laws from hell come with the package. I lucked out with mine, but I can’t even imagine what it would be like opening your door and seeing the Robinsons on your doorstep and having them invade your safe haven… The main character Elliot is an easy character to connect to and the perfect good guy, which only serves as a bigger contrast with the Robinsons. Dear oh dear, what can I say about them without giving too much away? Let’s just say that I wouldn’t want to have them living in the same town, let alone have them in my own home… They will have you pulling your hair and shouting out of sheer frustration sooner than later, and that uncomfortable feeling will never be far away. This negative feeling should have put me off reading Here To Stay, but somehow in this story it had the opposite effect and I couldn’t resist picking up my kindle again and again to discover how far the Robinsons would go. I have to say that making you hate characters so profoundly, and despite generating those feelings of intense frustration still being able to deliver us a story that is essentially irresistible, is without doubt a truly remarkable achievement.

The plot itself is complex and well constructed, slowly building up that suspense and tension until things are spinning out of control. Plot twists, secrets and the escalating situation are all working together to keep you on your toes and will make it very hard to stop reading before you discover how it will all end. This is despite the fact that this story will make you feel very uncomfortable and frustated, because there is no doubt that Here To Stay has that je ne sais quoi that turns this story into something special. The development of the characters is well handled and feels quite realistic despite the fact that things can be said about some aspects being a bit cliche. I also loved the history of the Robinsons and those chapters set abroad and set in the past… And the crime aspect of Here To Stay was such a surprising angle as well! I don’t want to give to much away, but there are so many elements incorporated into this story and somehow it all combines to create the perfect thriller cocktail. There is no doubt that Mark Edwards has a new fan!


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Stacking The Shelves #97 – September 28th

Stacking The Shelves is hosted at Tynga’s Reviews and is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

I was really trying not to request any new titles, but how could I resist the new Diane Chamberlain being a Read Now on Netgalley?? You guessed right, I didn’t. I’ve been meaning to try her work for ages now and this blurb sounds fascinating! Afterwards, my Netgalley wish for Ruthless Gods was actually granted… I never guessed this would happen and I’m SO excited to read this sequel!!! ❤ And I’m also excited to add another 2020 release to my shelf… The blurb of The Silent House sounds absolutely fantastic!

I also saw the new Caroline Mitchell and of course I couldn’t resist clicking that Read It! button… I always enjoy her books, and I’m looking forward to it. I’m also curious to see what the cover will be! Afterwards, I made a promise to myself to stop requesting further titles, but I made the mistake of reading the blurb of Kerry Wilkinson’s newest and there was no way on earth I was going to be able to resist that story. What a premise! 

# NETGALLEY #

Click on the summaries below to go to the Goodreads page…

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January-August 2019: The Numbers

Call me a nerd, but I do love my graphics posts! I first started properly keeping track of my reads in Excel back in 2016, making it possible to finally put together some graphics. I’ve done a bunch of ‘The Numbers’ posts over time, including my 20162017 and 2018 posts, and it has been revealing interesting things about my reading habits. So why stop? 😉 This post will be all about the first eight months of 2019 (I did a post about the first four months back in May). Let’s talk nerdy and see what my numbers were like, shall we?

First of all some quick facts. In the first eight months of 2019 I have read no less than 181 books with a total page count of 60.650 pages; an average of about 335 pages per book. This is way more than I expected and and if I keep it up I will actually break my 2018 record… The average rating is 3,62 stars, which is slightly higher than in 2018 so I guess not too bad. No less than 50 books had a 4,5 or 5 star rating and 55 books received a rating 3 stars or below… Which means I enjoyed reading about 69,6% of the books during the year. Not that bad at all! Another fun fact: 68 of the 181 books I’ve read so far were actually ARCs; about 37,6% of the total. This means I’m keeping my promise to get the ARC ratio below 40%, so I’m definitely happy with that!

And now some graphics for those who like them as much as I do. 😉

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YVO’S SHORTIES #124 – The Passengers & The Unbound

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a new release and a backlist title, both my favorite authors. The Passengers by John Marrs turned out to be an absolutely brilliant read and one of my 2019 favorites… And while I was surprised that I didn’t enjoy The Unbound as much as the first book, it was without doubt still a solid read.


Title: The Passengers
Author: John Marrs

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: April 1st 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: August 31st 2019
Pages: 416

“Nothing disappears any more,’ shrugged Cadman. ‘Everything is somewhere. All that’s private becomes public in the end.”


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I’ve been excited to read The Passengers ever since I first read that first raving review a while back… I couldn’t wait for my pre-order to arrive, but somehow I didn’t pick it up straight away when it did… I’m kicking myself now, because the reviews were absolutely right: this is an absolutely brilliant read. I’ve read his work in the past and I already knew I was going to like it, but The Passengers simply blew me away. What a read! The writing, the plot, the near-future setting, the twists, the characters… I loved it all, found myself to be glued to my seat and couldn’t stop reading until I discovered how it would all end. Some scenes are pretty brutal, but only show just how dire the situation the characters find themselves in is. The development of the near future is excellently done and I feel they give us a (terrifying) glimpse of what the future could be. I’m personally not sure if I would want driverless cars or having my whole life available online; and especially not after finishing The Passengers… Both plot and character development are well executed and there are so many secrets and twists involved that you will never guess what is going on or who is behind it all… I liked how this story was divided into three different parts, and the ending was satisfying. The Passengers is an absolutely brilliant book and hands down one of my favorites of 2019… If you haven’t read this one, you definitely should give it a go!


Title: The Unbound
(The Archived #2)
Author: Victoria Schwab

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: January 28th 2014
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Finished reading: September 1st 2019
Pages: 368

“Doubt is not a crime, Agatha. It is only a tool to test our faith. It can break us, but it can also make us stronger.”


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I decided to pick up the sequel of this series while memories of the first book were still fresh for a change… I loved The Archived and have been looking forward to dive into the world again. And while I have to say I didn’t enjoy The Unbound as much as the first book, I can’t deny it was still a solid book. The worldbuilding is still strong, the urban fantasy feeling with a paranormal touch right there and center, and I really like the idea of the Narrows, the Archived and the Keepers and Crew using doors to move around and do their job. The writing is of the same high quality I’ve become used to with Schwab‘s books, and it was really easy to keep turning those pages. My main issue is with the new direction of this story and the focus shifting towards the ‘real’ world, including a lot of private school scenes, cliches and even a love triangle. I get that Mac is a mess after what happened to her in the first book, but I wasn’t a fan of how her character behaved in the sequel. I also guessed the big plot twist really early on, which kind of put a damper on things… This is by no means a happy read and I did have some minor issues with this sequel, but overall it is still a very solid read. I’m definitely looking forward to see if she will write a third The Archived book!


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WWW Wednesdays #239 – September 25th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading one of my last pending ARCs this month and a title I’ve been really excited to pick up: The Huntress by Kate Quinn. It’s quite a long read so we’ll see how things go! I also wanted to change genres for a bit and then realized I hadn’t read Julie Buxbaum‘s newest yet, so Hope And Other Punchlines it is!

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Snap by Lilja Sigurdardottir (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 28/09
I admit I went in blind and it was the most fantastic surprise to find such an original plot! Snare wins a lot of brownie points for the drugs smuggling angle alone, but the interesting, well developed and diverse characters also have a lot to do with the success behind this first book of a trilogy I already know will be a new favorite. Snare is without doubt an excellent start of a Nordic noir trilogy with a original, exciting and well crafted plot fans of the genre will love. Recommended!

2. Finding Henry Applebee by Celia Reynolds (4/5 stars) REVIEW 02/10
The three different POVs and flashbacks are woven together into a coherent and moving story and the connection between the different storylines makes it really easy to just keep turning those pages. The main mystery is of course around Henry’s past and what happened to Francine, but we also have the question of the package Ariel was sent to deliver by her deceased mother. More heavy themes as the post-war era, regret, cancer and grief are contrasted with moments of lightness and even humor, turning Finding Henry Applebee into a well balanced read.

3. I Will Make You Pay by Teresa Driscoll (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 10/10
I Will Make You Pay starts out as most regular psychological thrillers, but your attention is soon captured when the main character Alice receives the threatening phone call at the newspaper where she works as a journalist. This phone call marks the start of the so-called stalker plot and definitely takes the story to the next level. I did ended up having some minor issues with it, but overall it was without doubt a solid psychological thriller read.

4. Trap by Lilja Sigurdardottir (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 03/10
I already loved the first book of this trilogy, and the second book is just as good. There are so many different elements involved in this series, and together they make for one hell of a read. The international setting, the drugs smuggling element, crime, family, LGBT, the banking crisis, the characters, the plot… There is so much to love in Trap and I definitely can’t wait to pick up the third and final book.

5. Cradle To Grave by Rachel Amphlett (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 14/10
This is easily one of my favorite detective series and I’ve been waiting impatiently for this newest installment ever since I finished the last book… Kay Hunter is a force to be reckoned with, and Cradle To Grave is without doubt another great addition to the series. I literally read it in one sitting!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

Next up is my second #Orentober read as my blog tour stop is getting close: Cage by Lilja Sigurdardottir. I’m loving the series so far, so I have no doubt it will be another good one! I also need to read this month’s Criminally Good book club read The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup ASAP. I’m not sure if I have time for another read before the month is over, but if I do I will probably either pick up Next Year In Havana by Chanel Cleeton or my latest TBR jar pick The Museum Of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #123 – The Madness Underneath & The Hiding Place

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two reads that both turned out to be entertaining, but still not as good as I hoped they would be. The sequel The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson and The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor


Title: The Madness Underneath
(Shades Of London #2)
Author: Maureen Johnson

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: February 1st 2013
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Finished reading: August 28th 2019
Pages: 304

“They knew I would do a better job of berating myself for being an idiot than they ever could and that waiting for the punishment was much worse than the actual punishment.

 

The tick tick tick is much worse than the boom.”


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Fun fact: the first book of this series was a TBR jar pick as well, and while I really enjoyed it, it still took me three years and another nudge from my TBR jar to finally pick up the sequel. This ment I didn’t remember all the details about the events in the first book, but it was quite easy to get the gist after the first couple of chapters. I really like the idea behind the Shades Of London series. It’s YA paranormal fantasy and horror with a twist, the snarky humor giving you a break from the darker scenes. I do believe this sequel is not as strong as the first book though… This feeling has to do both with the plot itself, the characters and the romance involved. The plot, while interesting enough, did miss that spark of the first book. It might have been the simple fact that it’s hard to live up to the previous Jack The Ripper inspired plot, but I found certain parts of the plot quite slow and sometimes not all that credible. I also had issues with certain actions and the behavior of certain characters… Part of this feeling has to do with the fact that we have to deal with a considerable amount of romance and teen angst in this sequel; something I didn’t expect at all and definitely wasn’t my cup of tea. I still liked the writing though and the humor used was mostly spot on for me. The paranormal elements were likewise interesting and I liked the development of Rory’s special skills. And that mayor cliffhanger ending definitely makes me want to pick up the third book soon despite my reservations.


Title: The Hiding Place
Author: C.J. Tudor

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Horror
First published: February 5th 2019
Publisher: Crown
Finished reading: August 30th 2019
Pages: 288

“People say time is a great healer. They’re wrong. Time is simply a great eraser. It rolls on and on regardless, eroding our memories, chipping away at those great big boulders of misery until there’s nothing left but sharp little fragments, still painful but small enough to bear.”


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I really enjoyed The Chalk Man last year, and I’ve been looking forward to try C.J. Tudor‘s second book The Hiding Place ever since. It might have been that I set my expectations too high, but I ended up having mixed thoughts about this book. The first thing that stands out is that I underestimated just how dark this story was going to be… I personally didn’t mind, but I do believe The Hiding Place would be classified more accurately with a (paranormal) horror label rather than just a ‘regular’ thriller. Especially the paranormal aspect took me by surprise, as I have to be in the mood for those kind of stories and don’t always react to them positively. It really shows the author uses the work of Stephen King as her inspiration though; The Hiding Place definitely has that King feel with the horror elements, the bugs and the paranormal. Completely original or not, there is one thing for sure: C.J. Tudor sure knows how to write. I found myself flying through the pages, both shocked and entertained by what was happening. I liked the humor used, and while the characters are not exactly likeable, it somehow works for this story. And while I can’t deny I preferred The Chalk ManThe Hiding Place is without doubt still a very entertaining albeit darker than expected read.


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