BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Sister – by Kjell Ola Dahl #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @Orendabooks @annecater

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Sister Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve become a big fan of the nordic noir genre over the years and after a positive first experience with Kjell Ola Dahl‘s work (The Courier) last year I was ready for more. And Sister most definitely didn’t disappoint! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts.

Title: Sister
(Oslo Detectives #9)
Author: Kjell Ola Dahl
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: April 5th 2020
Pages: 276
(Originally written in Norwegian: ‘Søsteren’)

“He knew the only way to find an answer was to walk into the hornet’s nest and see what made it buzz.”

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

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I’ve had the opportunity to rediscover the nordic noir genre in recent years and I’ve been trying to explore more authors and books ever since. After a positive first experience with Kjell Ola Dahl‘s work (The Courier) last year I was ready for more… And Sister sounded like the perfect read for me. I do have to confess that I didn’t realize Sister was actually book number 9 of the Oslo Detectives series when I signed up for the blog tour, but luckily this turned out to be one of those series where the sequels can be read quite easily as a stand-alone as well. Lucky for me, but also for those who don’t have time to catch up with the series first (I mean, eight books is a LOT) and are still curious about the Oslo Detectives books… Although you will probably end up like me wanting to read the previous books anyway after you finish Sister. You’ve been warned!

Before I start my review properly, first a big round of applause for translator Don Bartlett for providing us with another fluid and simply fantastic translation. Us poor English language readers wouldn’t be able to enjoy our dose of nordic noir otherwise! As soon as I started reading Sister, I knew that I was in for a treat. While I didn’t have the proper background information of main character Frølich, it was still really easy to connect to both the story and his character almost straight away. In the case of Sister, it didn’t seem too necessary to possess that background information… It was enough for me to know that Frølich is a former cop and currently working as a private detective. I do have to confess this story made me curious about the previous books and his character development over time, as I’m sure he has been through a lot in eight books. Frølich is your typical and almost cliche private detective character with a complicated past and former job as a police detective, but he has that je ne sais quoi that made me like him almost instantly and I enjoyed following him during his investigations.

The case Frølich is asked to investigate is both fascinating, deeply uncomfortable and potentially very dangerous. What starts out as a seemingly transparent case, the asylum seeker needing to find her sister living in Norway to avoid being deported, soon turns out to be a lot more than meets the eye. The story tackles a number of difficult and sensitive topics including abuse, immigrants, an old disaster case, conspiracy and murder… This may seem like a lot, but I personally enjoyed how everything was incorporated into the story. The main focus may seem to be on the asylum seeker case at first, but as the first body shows up Frølich’s attention shifts as he starts to wonder how everything fits in. Slowly more aspects, secrets and twists of the plot are revealed; those secrets and plot twists adding an extra level of suspense as welll as guiding Frølich to different characters and locations in play. We travel through Norway as the story evolves and the descriptions of the different settings really made that nordic noir feel shine through for me.

Sister doesn’t just follow one case and this diversity and overlap turns the story into a multidimentional thriller that is both suspenseful and addictive. We have Norway travels, we have multiple murders, we have an old disaster case and possible conspiracy, we have a human interest and immigrant angle, and we even have a little romance on the side to lighten up things a little… All combined together into one delicious nordic noir meal. If you are a fan of the genre, Sister is without doubt an excellent choice.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in
1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven
novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum
psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In
2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the
prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has
been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.


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WWW Wednesdays #263 – April 8th

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 still going strong with my Magical Readathon reads! I’m currently reading The Sign Of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle for my Potions exam… I’m also reading my physical copy of The Outsider by Stephen King during the evenings for my Astronomy exam. I’m craving a contemporary though so I will probably read one in between.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (4/5 stars) REVIEW 13/04
I’m trying to read more Agatha Christie books and I’ve been slowly working my way through the Hercule Poirot books… I really like his character and each meeting so far has without doubt been successful. The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd is no exception, and another very satisfying detective read.

2. Where She Went by Gayle Forman (4/5 stars) REVIEW 17/04
After taking years to finally pick up my copy of If I Stay, I decided to read the second book as soon as possible so I won’t forget about the details in the first. And as I was craving a contemporary, Where She Went seemed like the perfect fit for me… I’ve heard people saying that they enjoyed the sequel better than the first book, and I’m definitely joining that group now. While I liked the first book and was especially intrigued by the whole POV from an unconscious character, there was just something about Where She Went that made me enjoy Adam and Mia’s story even more.

3. Living Dead In Dallas by Charlaine Harris (2/5 stars) REVIEW 17/04
Wait, a vampire book on It’s All About Books?!?! Don’t worry, I’m still very much allergic to vampires, and I won’t be reading another one any time soon… I’ve learned from my mistakes. It’s just that somehow I actually really enjoyed the episodes I’ve seen of True Blood years ago and I remembered enjoying the first book back when I read it, so I had high hopes for the sequel as well. I guess I should have known… Sadly, the TV series is in this case so much better than the book!

4. Sister by Kjell Ola Dahl (4/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 11/04
Look out for my review during my stop of the blog tour!

5. Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan (3/5 stars) REVIEW 10/04
I’m still not sure what to think to be honest… The first book was gothic, dark and glorious and I fully expected to love the sequel as well. I might have been better off with a reread of book one first, but the fact remains the foreign names can become rather confusing and I felt the plot was rather lacking here. Ruthless Gods definitely didn’t have that same spark as the first book sadly…

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

As I said before, I’m craving a contemporary so I’ll probably take a break from my Magical Readathon reads and pick up The Curious Charms Of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick as soon as I finish the Sherlock Holmes sequel. I’m also planning on reading Vox by Christina Dalcher soon as it’s the final book I need to complete exams needed for my career in the Magical Readathon... And I want to read my giveaway win The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith soon as well as it sounds like the perfect read for these strange times. I also need to read The Apartment by K.L. Slater as the NG deadline is coming up.


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WWW Wednesdays #262 – April 1st

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?

It’s Magical Readathon month again! I’m currently reading The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie for my Herbology exam… I’ve been looking forward to meet up with Hercule Poirot again. I’m also starting Where She Went by Gayle Forman for my Arithmancy exam.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Find Her Alive by Lisa Regan (4,5/5 stars)  REVIEW 07/04
I know that I’m repeating myself, but that doesn’t mean it is less true: the Detective Josie Quinn series is one of my favorite detective series and every time I find out that a new installment is coming out it kind of feels like an early birthday present. It’s been a long and intense ride for Josie Quinn so far, and it seems like trouble keeps finding her in the small town where she works. I’m not complaining of course, as new trouble means a new Josie Quinn book and another rollercoaster thriller ride to look forward to. Find Her Alive is no exception, and is yet another excellent addition to the series. Book number eight is another firecracker!

2. Kilo by Toby Muse (4,5/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 
Anyone who is interested in the Colombian drugs world should add this newly published non fiction account to their wishlist, as it turned out to be an absolutely fascinating read. Definitely one of the best drugs-related non fiction reads I’ve had the pleasure to read so far! Read more about my experience in my blog tour review posted earlier today.

3. And So It Begins by Rachel Abbott (4/5 stars) REVIEW 13/04
I’ve been meaning to try one of her books for ages now, and the blog tour of the Stephanie King sequel this month was a perfect excuse to finally do so. I definitely enjoyed my first experience with Rachel Abbott‘s writing, and And So It Begins was a more than satisfying read. More dark psychological thriller than detective thriller (something I didn’t expect), but well written and I’ll definitely be looking forward to read the sequel now.

4. The Lost Orphan (The Foundling) by Stacey Halls (4/5 stars) REVIEW 05/04
I confess I wasn’t that big of a fan of The Familiars last year, but I definitely had a lot more positive experience with her second book The Lost Orphan (also called The Foundling). I’m a fan of historical fiction and the both 18th century setting in London and the plot it self were excellently developed.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

Next up are four more titles for the Magical Readathon… First up is Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan as the publish date is coming close and I’ve been in the mood for fantasy. Next is Sister by Kjell Ola Dahl as the blog tour stop is coming closer… Afterwards, it’s guilty pleasure read with Living Dead In Dallas by Charlaine Harris. I’m not a fan of vampire reads at all, but somehow I love the True Blood TV series anyway and I had a great time with the first book of the series too. I also want to read the second Sherlock Holmes book The Sign Of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Courier – by Kjell Ola Dahl @Orendabooks #NordicNoir

Hello and welcome to my little stop of the The Courier blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I always love discovering international authors and I just couldn’t resist this chance to read more Nordic Noir. So please join me while I share my thoughts on The Courier!

Title: The Courier
Author: Kjell Ola Dahl
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
First published: 2015
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: March 9th 2019
Pages: 276
(Originally written in Norwegian: ‘Kureren’)

“You can hide, you can move to an island, build a hut and wander on a beach for years, lonely. But when the past comes calling you are the same person.”

*** 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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Those who know me are probably already aware of the fact I have a special interest in WWII historical fiction and I always enjoy a good mystery. Add an international setting you don’t see every day and the fact that it’s Nordic Noir in the first place and you’ll find me jumping up and down out of sheer excitement. Oh yes, I couldn’t wait to dive into my copy of The Courier and it turned out to be just as good as the reviews I saw popping up kept promising me. Want to know why?

The first thing that stands out in The Courier is that this story is actually set in three different time periods which are connected by the main characters. The story mainly switches between 1942 and 1967, both having its own storyline and different angle to contribute to the plot. This mostly dual timeline was one of the strongest elements of this story for me and highly enhanced my reading experience. The fact that we are left in the dark about what happened in 1942 and what consequences it has on the characters in 1967 adds a healthy dose of suspense to the plot and the author is able to build this feeling of suspense and intrigue in both storylines. Both are equally strong for different reasons, a balance that is easy to achieve while using a dual timeline.

The writing and plot development also really stood out for me. This story managed to grab my attention right from the very first chapter and the engaging writing style made it easy to fully emerge myself in the story and travel back in time. The descriptions of time, place and characters are detailed and well developed, making it easy to imagine yourself as a spectator observing the story from a front row seat. The main characters felt real as they are realistically displayed with flaws and all; you will soon find yourself rooting for them and this makes connecting to the story all the easier.

Another thing I could really appreciate was the historical content and the many references to daily life in Norway and Sweden in 1942 and 1967. Especially since WWII historical fiction tends to focus on countries like Germany, Poland or France, I was excited to be offered a glimpse of the history of lesser known countries that were affected by that particular part of history. It was interesting to see the characters evolve over time as they react to the things that happen to and around them. The plot also has quite a few surprises in store and I can promise you that you will not see them coming. The Courier is a little Nordic Noir gem and a very satisfying read for fans of historical fiction and thrillers alike. Highly recommended!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Olso.

 


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WWW Wednesdays #213 – March 13th

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 another upcoming ARC: The Fourth Courier by Timothy Jay Smith. This story has a fascinating setting, but sadly isn’t really living up to expectations so far… I’m also starting Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell, a story I’ve been looking forward to. And guess who’s finally continuing her Spanish reread of the Harry Potter series! I’m at book number four, and will be reading chapters in between other books so it will probably take me a while to finish it. Harry Potter Y El Cáliz De Fuego it is!

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Bones She Buried by Lisa Regan (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 21/03
Detective Josie Quinn has quickly grown into one of my favorite detective thriller series. I like my thrillers fast, entertaining, suspenseful and action-packed, and every single book has delivered exactly that so far. The main character is easy to like and meeting up with Josie Quinn is like visiting an old friend. Things can be said about the credibility of certain aspects of the plot and the fact that a LOT seems to be happening in such a small town and within such a small group of people. But I have to be honest here and say I was far too busy enjoying the ride to really think about it. This is one of those series you will find yourself flying through and it will be hard to let go before you reach the final page. The Bones She Buried is another scorcher!

2. The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 14/03
The Enchanted isn’t for everyone and if you are not a fan of magical realism I won’t suggest reading it. If you are open to the genre though, this story will prove to be a little gem. You will get swept up in the whirlwind that is this magical story and savour each and every single magical realism element that will help soothen the sometimes difficult and disturbing subjects as (child) abuse, violence and mental health. Rene Denfeld did a fantastic job combining the different elements, waving them together in such a way that will leave you speechless by the time you reach the final page.

3. Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga (3/5 stars) REVIEW 15/03
It might have been that I had set my expectations too high, but unfortunately I can’t say I was all that impressed by this story as a whole. It’s not a bad read and fans of character driven YA contemporaries will probably have a great time with this one. It’s not the writing either, which felt natural and I just loved the many musical references. But there was just something about the plot and characters that didn’t manage to convince me.

4. Smoke And Key by Kelsey Sutton (3/5 stars) REVIEW 
There were a lot of things I loved about Smoke And Key and this is by no means a bad read. There were just certain elements that really irked me and failed to live up to the fascinating blurb and fantastic beginning for me. The slow pace, the romantic elements, the love triangle, the predictability of the plot… All things that made me enjoy the story less than I thought I would. I still love the premise of this story as well as the historical setting, Under and its Corpse Bride feel characters and the magic among other things. It’s a very interesting story and I have no doubt this world will stay with me for a while.

5. The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl (4/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 22/03
Look out for my thoughts during my stop of the blog tour on March 22nd!! Spoiler: I really enjoyed it.

6. The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa (5/5 stars) REVIEW 15/03
The Travelling Cat Chronicles is the perfect book for anyone who enjoys being around cats. It’s so easy to relate to this wonderful story! The descriptions are wonderful as is the writing style in general… The characters will win over your heart in record time and will stay with you for a long time. Warning: make sure you have your tissues ready! Because the end will most definitely make you cry (I know I did, and I almost never cry).

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m going to pick up Verity by Colleen Hoover next no matter what… It’s been a while since I last read a CoHo book and I’ve been dying to read this one. I’m also going to pick up The Dry by Jane Harper after the weekend as a birthday present to myself… And I really need to read Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan as my blog tour stop is coming closer. My TBR jar pick is still Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt.


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