BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Wolves At The Door – by Gunnar Staalesen #blogtour #RandomThingsTours #WolvesAtTheDoor #VargVeum #NordicNoir @Orendabooks @annecater

Hello and welcome to my little stop of the Wolves At The Door Random Things blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve been meaning to plan a meeting with Varg Veum for a long time now, and when I was invited to the blog tour I saw it as a sign I should no longer pospone it. I’m definitely kicking myself for waiting this long to meet him now! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts on Wolves At The Door.

Title: Wolves At The Door
(Varg Veum #21)
Author: Gunnar Staalesen
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: April 13th 2019
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: June 10th 2019
Pages: 276
(Originally published in Norwegian:’Utenfor er hundene’)

“Someone was lying to me, and one thing was sure: in such cases as this I seldom gave up until I found out who it was. And why.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Anne Cater and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I think one problem all of us book bloggers have to face is the fact that there are so many fantastic sounding series and books out there and hardly enough time to even make a dent into the pile of unread priority titles. Meeting Varg Veum has been on my to-do list for a long long time now, but somehow other books always got in the way… I think the first time this Nordic Noir series appeared on my radar was with the publication of book number eighteen, Where Roses Never Die, back in 2017. While I prefer reading a series in order, with each publication fellow book bloggers kept promising the books can be read quite satisfactory as a standalone as well. So when I was invited for the blog tour for Wolves At The Door, I decided to jump in the deep end and finally meet Varg Veum without further excuses. (And let’s face it, there was no way I would be able to find time to read the first twenty books and catch up in the first place.)

Wolves At The Door is already the twenty first installment of the Varg Veum series, but as I was promised with the previous books, the story works really well as a standalone as well. The only thing that is bound to happen is that you, like myself, will be left wanting to spend more time with a new favorite character and end up reading the previous books anyway as soon as you can find time for them… Because such is the power of Varg Veum. I can understand why this series has been going on for as long as it has, because Varg Veum is a force to reckon with. He is one of those characters that I connected to immediately and profoundly. As soon as you read the first chapter, he feels familiar and it’s as if you have known him for ages already. His description, his way of seeing the world, his attitude, the way he speaks, reacts and deducts information from what he learns along the way, his humor… Meeting Varg Veum was like seeing an old friend again after a long time apart, knowing you won’t let him slip this easily from your life again now he’s back in the picture. I don’t often feel a connection this strong to a character after such a short time, but consider me officially on #TeamVargVeum from now on.

Varg Veum is not the only thing that makes Wolves At The Door into such a success for me. A lot of it had to do with both the writing style itself and the many detailed descriptions making the cold Nordic setting truly come alive. I haven’t had the chance to visit Norway yet, but I feel like I really got to know Bergen and its surroundings while reading Wolves At The Door. The detailed descriptions of not only the setting, but also the characters added a lot of dept to what was already an intriguing plot and gave the story a ominous and sinister atmosphere. The writing itself is excellent; we have the wonderful translation by Don Bartlett to thank for that, because we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy this Nordic Noir gem otherwise. While the pace is slower in especially the first half of the story, it never really slowed me down as I saw it as an opportunity to get to know Varg Veum and other key characters better. The writing style and humor was spot on for me and I’ve become an instant fan of Gunnar Staalesen‘s work. As things are getting more heated for Varg Veum, the pace as well as the suspense pick up… Making you move towards the edge of your seat while you keep your fingers crossed everything will work out in the end.

Wolves At The Door deals with a very difficult topic, one that is trigger warning worthy: child abuse. An emotionally harrowing topic and very hard to write or read about, but I feel that Gunnar Staalesen has tackled the subject in an honorable and realistic way. It doesn’t make it easier to read about both the past case (I imagine has been discussed in the previous book I can’t wait to read now) and the new discoveries our main character Varg Veum makes as he follows his intuition… But it justifies going down that road and explore such a sensitive theme. The story will probably provoke strong emotions though, and you will definitely feel anger towards certain characters and events before you reach the final page. Of course, it’s always a good sign a story is able to make you feel such strong emotions in the first place… And there is no doubt whatsoever that Wolves At The Door is a brilliant piece of Nordic Noir and a harrowing story that will touch even those with the coldest heart.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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WWW Wednesdays #226 – June 12th

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 The Weight Of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore, a title I’ve heard lots of wonderful things about and I’m definitely curious how I’ll react to the magical realism this time around. I’m also starting My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing; there’s been a lot of hype around this one so fingers crossed I won’t get an unpopular opinion review for it. 😉 Aaaand… I’m finally reading my Dutch read of the year! (Yes, don’t expect a second title as I’m struggling to finish one as it is haha.) I’ve picked the Dutch version of Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman, which is a short story collection and makes it so much easier to read in small bites… I do plan on finishing it in the next two weeks or so.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Confectioner’s Guild by Claire Luana (3/5 stars) REVIEW
The fantasy world, the many many baking references, the mystery around Kasper’s death and Wren’s past, the existence of the Gifted… Oh yes, there were a lot of interesting ingredients in play. The Confectioner’s Guild reads quite fast at first and part of this has to do with the writing, which starts out engaging and interactive. It’s true though that things start slowing down a bit after a while and the initial flame peeters out mostly… I think a lot of it has to do with the introduction of sappy romance in the plot, which distracts from the murder conspiracy and delicious baking elements. I ended up having mixed thoughts about The Confectioner’s Guild, because while I loved certain elements, there were others that failed to convince me including the ending.

2. The Woman In Our House by Andrew Hart (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW
While I can’t deny that this story is what you call a slowburner and it took me some time to warm up to both the characters and the plot itself, things speed up as we get closer to the final reveals and the ending is without doubt intense. I did feel the story tried to incorporate too many different elements into the plot, with Oaklynn’s secrets and past, Josh’s secrets, Anna’s job and novel fragments and the home life of the Klein family among other elements fighting for the spotlight. Having to juggle all those different elements slowed down the pace and made it harder to keep track of everything, although all secrets and connections will be revealed before you reach the final page.

3. The Marriage Betrayal by Shalini Boland (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 13/06
It’s true I’m a bit biased when it comes to Shalini Boland‘s work, as I’ve been a fan ever since I had the chance to read The Girl From The Sea back in 2016. Every time I pick up a Shalini Boland story, I know I have to clear out my schedule beforehand and make sure nothing will disturb me while I read… Because it’s a garantuee I won’t be wanting to stop reading before I reach the final page if it can be helped. The Marriage Betrayal turned out to be another one of those reads. The building up is a bit slow and fans of faster psychological thrillers might struggle a bit with the first part of The Marriage Betrayal as there is more focus on the characters and mundane daily activities. I can promise you things WILL escalate and this story has quite a few shocking surprises for you lined up. And trust me, the ending will be a total shocker.

4. Queens Of Geek by Jen Wilde (4/5 stars) REVIEW 17/06
Queen Of Geek is an absolutely adorkable read. So cute! So fluffy! I love my geeky characters and you will get a whole lot of them as basically every single one of the main characters fits the description. The story is set at the Supacon convention after all, so this doesn’t come as a surprise… The setting plays a key role during the whole story and is without doubt one of the reasons this story is such a success. The characters are supereasy to like and it won’t be long before they steal your heart and run away with it. It’s true that there are quite a few cliches involved, both romantic and otherwise, but somehow the characters and story itself were able to get away with it. I did feel there were almost too many inspirational messages included (don’t get me wrong, I loved those messages and applaude positivity, but it started to come over as a bit preachy after a while). Still, I had a wonderful time reading Queens Of Geek and its characters will definitely stay with me for quite some time.

5. Wolves At The Door by Gunnar Staalesen (4,5/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 16/06
Look out for my thoughts during my stop of the blog tour this Sunday June 16th!!

6. The Friend Who Lied by Rachel Amphlett (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 20/06
I think most will know by now I’m a huge fan of the Kay Hunter series… So saying that I’ve been excited to see if my love for her new psychological thriller would be just as great would be an understatement. Guess what? It is! Be ready for another raving review, because The Friend Who Lied simply blew me away.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m finally up to date with the most urgent ARCs so that means I finally get to read my own books for a while! First up is a title for a challenge: Cut And Run by Mary Burton. Then I’m finally picking up my copy of The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G. Drews, which I’m super excited about. I also want to read Us Against You by Fredrik Backman… It’s time I dive into another story by one of my favorite authors. And I’m hoping to finally get around reading my TBR jar pick The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout as well.


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WWW Wednesdays #225 – June 5th

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 June ARCs The Woman In Our House by Andrew Hart. It’s still early days, but it seems like a fast read and I’m hoping ot finish it later today. I’ve also started The Confectioner’s Guild by Claire Luana for a challenge… I’m looking forward to the change of genre. I’m also about to start The Marriage Betrayal by Shalini Boland, a title I have been looking forward to as she is one of my favorite psychological thriller authors.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool (2/5 stars) REVIEW
The mix between historical fiction and adventure sounded absolutely fascinating and right up my alley, and with so many high ratings I was confident I was going to enjoy the story as well. Somehow, I turned out to be wrong in the end. Warning: unpopular opinion rambles ahead! So… Why wasn’t Navigating Early for me? I can’t pinpoint the exact reason, but there is one thing for sure and that is that I couldn’t connect with this story at all. I know I’m in the minority here since most people seem to love it, but despite the historical setting, WWII references, maths references and the promise of an adventure, basically I couldn’t care less what was happening to the main characters. Both Jack and Early were unable to win me over at all, which is strange especially in the case of Early as I normally love my quirky and complicated characters. I’ve tried really hard connecting to both these characters and this story in general, but I feel I should have just given in and DNFed it instead.

2. And The Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness (4/5 stars) REVIEW 07/06
Now I’ve had the chance to read And The Ocean Was Our Sky, I still believe the illustrations are the true power behind the story. They really take the writing to the next level and turn this story into something special; it wouldn’t have been the same without them. As for the story itself: I admit things can get a bit confusing and sometimes it felt more magical realism than a fantasy retelling, but overall I really liked how Patrick Ness turned the original Moby Dick story into something completely new and original. The idea of the whales and men both roaming the seas and hunting each other is fascinating.

3. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (4/5 stars) REVIEW 07/06
I’ve been meaning to pick up The Thirteenth Tale for years now, but it was simply one of those titles that kept slipping between the cracks of my enormous TBR mountain… I’m glad I was finally able to dig it out and read it though. It was my first experience with Diane Setterfield‘s work and I already know it won’t be my last. What a wonderful and atmospheric way of describing the setting and characters! It’s true that the pace can be considerably slow at points and there are parts where nothing much is happening, but the power of The Thirteenth Tale is in the different characters, their development and their role in the story of famous author Vida Winter.

4. Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 11/06
I’ve been meaning to read Six Stories for a long time now, ever since I kept seeing those fantastic reviews when it was first published. I knew it was a pretty safe bet I was going to enjoy the story, and I definitely won that round. What makes this story stand out from the rest is the format; the way the story is told in six different stories and podcast episodes. I bet Six Stories would be fantastic as an audiobook! The writing drew me right in and made it easy to fully focus on the mystery around Tom’s disappearance and death. The suspense is subtle rather than constant, fed with a little folklore and a monster story, only to punch you in the gut just before you think things are being wrapped up rather blandly. I definitely didn’t see that suckerpunch coming!

5. We Are Never Meeting In Real Life by Samantha Irby (DNF at 42%; 0 stars) REVIEW 13/06
Give me a cat on a cover and I’m immediately intrigued, and a promise of a potentially funny memoir and consider me signed up for the challenge. I’ve been looking forward to pick up We Are Never Meeting In Real Life despite the mixed reviews and despite the fact I hadn’t heard of the author before. Maybe I should have checked out her blog to see if her writing style would be for me, because there is one thing for sure: her writing and me definitely didn’t get along. The humor was definitely not my cup of tea and felt forced… The writing itself too self-important and sex-centered to add anything interesting to the mix. Without doubt not the reading experience I was hoping for.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I have a blog tour stop coming up so I will probably pick up Wolves At The Door by Gunnar Staalesen next. I also can’t wait to finally read my ARC of The Friend Who Lied by Rachel Amphlett!! That will by my last ARC for a little while as well as I’m going to try and only read my own books for the rest of June… I’m ready for a little break. I’m probably reading Queens Of Geek by Jen Wilde soon for Pride month and my TBR jar pick is still The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout.


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