BOOK REVIEW: The Lion Tamer Who Lost – by Louise Beech #Orentober @Orendabooks

Title: The Lion Tamer Who Lost
Author: Louise Beech
Genre: Fiction, Romance
First published: July 15th 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: October 19th 2019
Pages: 350

“He had nothing again. Nothing he knew, understood well, was familiar with.

But nothing is so much harder after you’ve briefly had something.”


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After reading Call Me Star Girl earlier this year, I had no other option but to add Louise Beech to my list of favorite authors immediately. I’ve been looking forward to read more of her work ever since, although I was also a tad worried as I wasn’t sure how anything could live up to expectations after such a brilliant first impression. I shouldn’t have doubted the power of the words of Louise Beech, because The Lion Tamer Who Lost once again blew me away. It’s been over a week since I finished this heartrending story, and I’m still struggling to put my thoughts together into a somewhat coherent review. I guess it seems to start becoming the standard when it comes to Orenda titles! That said, after many days of procrastinating, it’s time to finally force myself to sit down and get those words on paper.

So, The Lion Tamer Who Lost. I’ve thought long and hard about what my next Louise Beech read was going to be and even asked the opinion of fellow Orenda readers… This seemed to be the title that was mentioned most, and while contemporary romance isn’t exactly my favorite genre, I love stepping out of my comfort zone every once in a while and let a story surprise me. And surprise me it did! I can now add Louise Beech to the short list of authors who can actually make me enjoy the contemporary romance genre… Trust me, not a small feat. This is also a thing I love of her books: just how different and unique each story is! There are not many authors out there who can successfully tackle more than one genre; Louise Beech not only succeeds in that but takes your breath away in the process.

There are so many different elements to love in The Lion Tamer Who Lost, and I’m having a hard time figuring out where to start. But I guess that with such a title, an easy option is the fact that part of the story is set in a lion reserve in Zimbabwe. Talk about an original setting! The many detailed descriptions truly made the lion reserve come alive for me and I loved the fact that the lions play such a big role in the story. I have a special love for any member in the cat family, so seeing Lucy and the others being treated almost like extra characters was a wonderful bonus for me. Likewise, I really enjoyed reading about the lion reserve in general and the different volunteers being there at the same time as main character Ben. While the main focus of the story is of course on Ben and Andrew, I loved just how detailed the character development of the other characters involved was. It added even more dept to what was already a fantastic story!

I just mentioned Ben and Andrew, and they are definitely part of the reason this story works so well. I’m not a big romance fan in general, but I can make a wholehearted exception for my boys Ben and Andrew. I was drawn towards both characters from the very beginning, and I loved seeing both their characters and relationship evolve over time. They won over my heart, made me root for them and then pulled out that very same heart and made it shatter into a million little pieces… I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot to avoid spoilers, but while I didn’t actually cry (I almost never do, so that’s no surprise) I ended up with a huge lump in my throat and in need of an emergency baking session to soothe myself. Any story that is able to provoke such strong emotions is without doubt a little masterpiece to me! Especially one that is so beautifully written and simply both heartwarming and heartbreaking at that.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost also includes other intriguing and sometimes difficult elements such as the LGBT element and the struggle to come out and be accepted as you are, family issues and the battle against cancer. All elements are respectfully and realistically developed and successfully incorporated into what is a rich and intricate plot. Different point of views are used to let us learn more about both Andrew, Ben and even his father… Instead of confusing you, these switches only help enriching this story. I also loved that Andrew writes and hopes to become a successful writer, and that we get a glimpse of what this journey is like through his character. I also loved that little snippets of his story are shared at the beginning of the chapters. It really gave The Lion Tamer Who Lost another unique touch while also given the title an extra meaning. And I loved the idea behind Andrew’s wish box as well!

I can keep rambling about the things I loved in The Lion Tamer Who Lost, but I think it’s pretty obvious by now just how much I enjoyed this story. Whether contemporary romance and drama is your thing or not, you should simply give this story a chance as the words of Louise Beech are like magic and will fully mesmerize you before you finish the first chapter. Alluring, heartrending and simply irresistible… This story will give you all the feels as well as break your heart into a million pieces before you reach that final page!


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ARC REVIEW: Deadly Silence – by OMJ Ryan

Title: Deadly Silence
(Detective Jane Phillips #1)

Author: OMJ Ryan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 26th 2019
Publisher: Inkubator Books
Finished reading: October 26th 2019
Pages: 311

“We all feel like that, Guv. He has a very punch-able face. The trick is not to let it show.”

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

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I think it has become pretty obvious I have a weak spot for a good serial killer thriller… It turns out I was craving another dose without even knowing so, because when I read Meggy’s review of Deadly Silence I immediately caved in and somehow a copy of this new detective series ended up hanging out on my kindle. My current read wasn’t really working for me, so I decided to put that on hold and start reading Deadly Silence instead. Best decision ever! Meggy always makes the best recommendations, and this new series is without doubt fabulous and right up my alley!

There is a lot to love in Deadly Silence, but let’s just start with the fact that this first installment of a new detective series is so damn readable! I found myself hooked from the very first chapter and flying through those pages like there was no tomorrow… The only reason I didn’t finish it in one sitting is that I started it too late in the evening to do so, because this story definitely makes you want to keep reading. Engaging, well written, suspenseful, shocking and even a dash of dark humor here and there… The writing was definitely everything I could have wished for and more. The plot itself was without doubt well developed as well. The case Jane and her team have to investigate is a tricky one, and as key information has been hidden for you, you won’t be able to form a proper idea about the motive behind the killings straight away. Instead, plot twists and secrets are used to misguide you… Quite successfully as well, although I do have to admit I guessed who was behind it quite early on. Somehow I didn’t mind too much though, as the story itself was engaging enough to keep me focused and make me want to discover if I was right all along.

As for the characters… Jane Phillips without doubt makes for a very intriguing main character. Things can be said about her being the typical damaged detective lead, but I personally liked her sass and attitude towards the investigation and life in general. The other members of her team were easy to like as well, with the big exception of Brown of course. He is truly exasperating and will make you want to hit things sooner than later… Also, I don’t get how he could actually function as a DCI, but I guess he does make for the perfect ‘enemy’ to be pitted against our main character Jane. The character development in Deadly Silence in general is solid and I really liked the message behind the motive of the killer and the story. Keeping silent and doing nothing can be just as damaging… Silence can be deadly, especially if the silence lasts for a long time.

As you might have guessed, I really enjoyed my time with Deadly Silence and I will be looking forward to the next book. If you are, like me, a serial killer and detective thriller fan, you should add definitely add this title to your wishlist! Thanks again Meggy for putting Deadly Silence on my radar. ❤


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ARC REVIEW: The Other Daughter – by Shalini Boland @bookouture

Title: The Other Daughter
Author: Shalini Boland
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: November 5th 2019
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: October 15th 2019
Pages: 260

“She’s inside a nightmare. She’s inside hell. And nothing will ever be the same again.”

*** 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’ve been a fan of Shalini Boland‘s psychological thrillers ever since I read The Girl From The Sea back in 2016, and I’ve enjoyed every single story since then. As you might already guess, every time I find out about a new Shalini Boland story, my heart skips a beat and I instantly have a new title on my wishlist. My reaction was no different when I first learned about The Other Daughter, and now I’ve had the chance to read it  I can say that this newest story without doubt lived up to expectations.

There is just something about the writing that draws you right in, and even before starting The Other Daughter I already knew I had to free my schedule, because Shalini Boland‘s psychological thrillers in general are so engaging that you will have a hard time letting go before you reach the end. The only reason I wasn’t able to read it in one sitting was that I started it too late in the evening and had to get some sleep in between or I wouldn’t have been able to function the next day otherwise. Mind you, I did this reluctantly… The Other Daughter is so gripping that you keep turning those pages without noticing the time flying by; both the writing and the plot itself are probably the cause of this.

As with most psychological thrillers, the suspense is build up slowly but surely, keeping you in the dark about certain key information until the plot twist bombs are ready to be dropped on you. Past and present chapters are mixed in a balanced way, enabling you to learn about those dreadful events nine years ago as well as learning more about what it happening in the present. The plot development is well handled, and constructed in such a way to give maximum effect to that humongous plot twist reveal close to the ending. It doesn’t happen often anymore while reading (psychological) thrillers, but The Other Daughter managed to take me completely unawares. I’m talking about flabbergasted and staring at the page with my jaw dropping to the floor here! And I always love when that happens.

The characters in The Other Daughter are without doubt an interesting bunch. While I’m not sure if they are exactly likeable and some actions and personality traits can really get on your nerves, there is no doubt that the characters are thoroughly developed and feel realistic as they all have their flaws and make their mistakes. Who can you trust and how is the past related to the present? What happened to Holly that day? If you are looking for your next psychological thriller, The Other Daughter is without doubt a gripping and brilliant read. There is a reason she is one of my favorite authors of the genre!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #127 – The Bride Test & The Twisted Tree

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two completely different genres, but both books that turned out to be great. I wasn’t sure whether to read The Bride Test after my reaction to the first book, but I ended up enjoying the second book better than The Kiss Quotient… I’m glad I took a chance and decided to read it. And The Twisted Tree turned out to be another perfect Halloween read!


Title: The Bride Test
(The Kiss Quotient #2)
Author: Helen Hoang

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 7th 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: October 5th 2019
Pages: 320

“His heart wasn’t made of stone, after all. It just wasn’t like everyone else’s.”


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I admit I took a chance when I decided to get a copy and read The Bride Test. I’m very much allergic to sexy scenes in contemporary romance reads, and after a less than favorable reaction to The Kiss Quotient I thought it would be better to just stay away. But there is no denying that Helen Hoang can write and I love how she develops her characters, so I just couldn’t resist giving this story a try in the end. I’m so glad I did, because while I found the many many sexy scenes to be cringeworthy, I somehow enjoyed the actual story a lot better than the first book. A lot of this has to do with both Esme and Khai, who are both fascinating characters and the reason this story ended up working for me. The background of Esme, a mixed-race girl growing up in the slumps in Vietnam, adds a lot of dept to the story and it was interesting to see her life being turned upside down after she is offered an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Both her personality, endurance and the big contrast with Khai’s character made for some really interesting reading. The autism rep in Khai feels realistic and thorough, and really adds to the story as well. Sure, the many many steamy scenes definitely weren’t for me (I confess I only skimread them), but overall Esme and Khai’s story was both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. I loved the ending as well!


Title: The Twisted Tree
Author: Rachel Burge

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Horror
First published: September 27th 2018
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Finished reading: October 6th 2019
Pages: 180

“Knowing someone’s secrets doesn’t make you feel closer to them – it pushes you away. There are some thing you don’t want to know, trust me.”


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I actually ment to read The Twisted Tree last October, but I wasn’t able to get to it in time and decided to save it for this year’s Halloween month. I had that feeling that it would be a perfect read for the time of the year, and both my instincts and the reviews I read in the past were absolutely right. If you are looking for a little something to get you in the right mood for Halloween, The Twisted Tree is a fantastic choice. Norse mythology, horror and paranormal elements are mixed together with a YA contemporary story in the most successful way… Both the Norse mythology elements and the actual setting on a small island in the middle of nowhere Norway really took this creepy story to the next level. The references to Odin, his ravens and other Norse mythology elements were thorough and formed an important part of the plot. Martha’s family turns out to have a very interesting history, one you only learn about as the main character starts discovering things herself… The spooky is mixed with a healthy dose of thriller elements as well as a few nailbiting moments that will manage to creep you out. I like how the little hint of romance balances out the creepy part of The Twisted Tree, and I myself had a fantastic time reading this story. More than recommended!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #126 – Coraline & Tunnel Of Bones

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! October is Halloween month and this round of shorties features two Halloween inspired MG reads that are both excellent for getting you in the mood for Halloween. I’ve been meaning to read Coraline by Neil Gaiman for years now, and I’m happy to report it didn’t disappoint. And of course I couldn’t resist reading Victoria Schwab‘s newest title Tunnel Of Bones as it’s perfect for this month… This sequel is another brilliant read, but I didn’t expect any different.


Title: Coraline
Author: Neil Gaiman

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Horror
First published: August 4th 2002
Publisher: William Morrow
Finished reading: October 1st 2019
Pages: 162

“I don’t want whatever I want. Nobody does. Not really. What kind of fun would it be if I just got everything I ever wanted just like that, and it didn’t mean anything? What then?”


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I’ve been a fan of Neil Gaiman‘s work for a while now, but somehow I never actually read Coraline despite having seen the movie… Until now. I thought this little book would be the perfect title to mark the start of the Halloween month with, and is without doubt a story that gives off the exact right creepy vibe. I like how the story makes you go in blind, and only starts revealing details about the alternative fantasy world as you get further into the story. This way, you discover the facts only when the main character Coraline does, and I’m sure middle graders will be able to relate to her easier this way. The writing is of the same high quality I’ve become used to of Neil Gaiman, and while it’s not my favorite story of his, I definitely had a great time discovering the story of Coraline. And with its spooky and eery vibe, it’s a perfect choice if you are looking for a quick and fun Halloween read!


Title: Tunnel Of Bones
(City Of Ghosts #2)
Author: Victoria Schwab

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: September 3rd 2019
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Finished reading: October 3rd 2019
Pages: 304

“Calling the Tuileries a garden is like calling Hogwarts a school. It’s technically correct, but the word really doesn’t do either one justice.”


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I think everyone probably knows by now I’m a huge fan of Victoria Schwab’s books, and I’ve loved every single book I tried so far. This middle grade series is no exception, and even with high expectations Tunnel Of Bones was just as good as I was hoping for. If you are looking like a fun, quick and fabulous Halloween story, you have just found your next read! Both City Of Ghosts and Tunnel Of Bones are perfect reads for this time of the year. In this sequel main character Cass and her parents travel to Paris to find more ghost stories and film another episode of their TV show. I really enjoyed the premise in the first book, and this same recipe is used more than successfully in the sequel. The main descriptions of the French setting are executed perfectly and make it feel as if you are right in the middle of Paris along with the main characters. I like how reality is mixed with fantasy and the paranormal, and how the lines are blurred between the two. The TV show, her parents hunting ghost stories and Cass knowing ghosts actually exists is a very strong base to build a story on! The idea of her near-death-experience and her being able to enter the so-called Veil and interact with ghosts is fascinating, and I loved the new twist in Tunnel Of Bones. Cass has to battle something new in this sequel, and I really enjoyed seeing the plot evolve. You will find paranormal elements, humor, friendship, a dose of forboding and a hint of danger, all sprinkled with that French je ne sais quoi that makes you love every single page of this story. Is it too soon to ask about the next book yet? I’m seriously addicted to this series.


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#WesolowskiWednesdays – Six Stories edition #Orentober @Orendabooks

Today is Wednesday, which means it’s time for a dose of #WesolowskiWednesdays !! During the next three Wednesdays, I’m planning on sharing my reviews for the first three books of the Six Stories series, written by the talented Matt Wesolowski. All in the spirit of celebrating all things Orenda during #Orentober month! I actually finished the first book four months ago and posted my review back then, but I’m sharing it again below to help spread the love for this fantastic series. Ready to dive in?

Title: Six Stories
(Six Stories #1)
Author: Matt Wesolowski
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: December 20th 2016
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: June 3rd 2019
Pages: 225

“There is definitely evil in this world of ours. We carve monuments to our fallen, engrave them with the names of those whose lives were snuffed out when trying to stop evil.

We don’t forget.”


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I’ve been meaning to read Six Stories for a long time now, basically ever since I kept seeing those fantastic reviews when it was first published… I’ve known it was a pretty safe bet I was going to enjoy Six Stories, and that definitely turned out to be the truth. I’ve been letting my thoughts marinate for the last couple of days and even now I’m still struggling to find the words that do this little masterpiece justice. Let’s see how far I get, shall we? First of all, the cover alone pretty ominous. One body. Six Stories. Which one is true? This is the premise and promise of what sounds to be a very intriguing ride. It is also a reference to the key element of what makes this gem unique: the format. Because there is no doubt that the podcast format is what makes this story truly stand out from the rest. The story is told in six different podcast episodes where each episode features a different key character and their memories of what happened twenty years ago. I bet Six Stories would be fantastic as an audiobook as well! Especially as the format basically reads like a real podcast series, with only the short chapters told from Harry Saint Clement-Ramsay’s POV breaking up that structure.

The writing drew me straight in and made it easy to fully focus on the mystery around Tom’s disappearance and death. I was hooked as soon as I started the first podcast episode, wanting to know more about what happened in 1996. Was it really a misadventure that ended Tom’s life? Or is someone hiding something? Oh yes, I was fully under the podcast’s spell from the start. I do admit I liked Harry’s chapters less than the actual podcast episodes, but they did add a little extra intrigue and weight to the final reveals. The suspense in Six Stories is subtle rather than constant, fed with a little folklore here and a monster story there, only to punch you in the gut just before you start thinking things are being wrapped up rather blandly. And trust me, I definitely didn’t see that suckerpunch of a final podcast episode coming! Even after days, I’m still recovering, so definitely be ready to brace yourself when you decide to pick up your copy of Six Stories.

The characters in Six Stories are what you call flawed and are realistically described and developed. Although each podcast has its own star character, it is through their memories and stories about what happened that we get to form a better idea of what each character was like in our minds. Ideas and opinions about the different characters will change as you learn more about them, showing that not everything is as it seems and there is always more to the eye if you look at the details closely. Like I said before, the suspense is build up subtly, instead focusing on slowly letting you get to know the characters better and thus revealing their true selves and what they were up to in 1996. I understand this might be a turn off for those who don’t like slower paces in their thrillers, but trust me, Six Stories is by no means uneventful and the slower pace only enhances the effect of the plot twist bomb that will be dropped on you before you reach the final page. I had a fantastic time reading Six Stories and I will already be looking forward to read the other books in the series.


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ARC REVIEW: All Cats Are Introverts – by Francesco Marciuliano @AndrewsMcMeel

Title: All Cats Are Introverts
Author: Francesco Marciuliano
Genre: Poetry, Humor, Cats
First published: October 15th 2019
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Finished reading: September 13th 2019
Pages: 112

“I can lose myself

In a novel

I can be absorbed

In a short story

I can be immersed whole

In adventure

In history

In romance

And mystery

I can see now

That I’m stuck behind your bookcase”

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

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!! Happy publication day !!

I really enjoyed reading Claw The System last year, so I knew I had to read All Cats Are Introverts as soon as I first saw it. I know I don’t read a lot of poetry, but give me cat photos, give me humor and give me a relatable topic and I’m sold. As a true introvert and a cat owner, it was extremely easy to relate to the poems included in this bundle. I literally laughed out loud multiple times, my own cat Delilah Bard frowning at me as apparently I was making too much noise to her liking. The dry, sometimes slightly sarcastic humor is right up my alley and some poems definitely have a mean pun. The cat photos in this bundle are of a high quality and it shows that they have been chosen carefully as they suit each poem extremely well. The poems themselves are simple, but with an original twist as they are all written from the point of view of a cat. Cat owners, cat lovers and introverts alike will be able to relate to the contents of All Cats Are Introverts and this poetry bundle will make an excellent gift.


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