BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Cage – by Lilja Sigurðardóttir #RandomThingsTours #NordicNoir #Orentober @annecater @Orendabooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Cage 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 read this series for a long time now, and this blog tour was the perfect excuse to binge-read all three books. I’m still kicking myself for not picking up the books sooner! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!

Title: Cage
(Reykjavik Noir Trilogy #3)

Author: Lilja Sigurdardottir
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 27th 2017
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: October 1st 2019
Pages: 276
(Originally written in Icelandic: ‘Búrið’)

“Life was like a game. Even with a handful of bad cards, it’s better to be the one calling trumps.”

*** 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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Isn’t it always the best feeling to find a new series to binge-read and love? You might have already seen me gushing about book one Snare and book two Trap during the last few days, and now it’s time to talk about the third and final book of the Reykjavik Noir Trilogy: Cage. Before we start with the content, let’s just sit down for a moment and appreciate just how eyecatching the titles and covers of this trilogy are. The titles instantly made me wonder what exactly is being hunted in the books or how the titles could relate to the plot, while the simple and colorful covers manage to catch your attention straight away… Top notch marketing and cover art I would say! Now before I start putting down my thoughts about Cage on paper, first a little disclaimer: The Reykjavik Noir Trilogy is definitely one of those series you have to read in order, because I don’t think the plot and character developments make much sense otherwise. So no cheating, otherwise you will miss out on all the fun that is this trilogy when you follow the reading rules!

Ready to read all about Cage? As I made clear my previous reviews, I’m a huge fan of the eclectic mix of different elements and POVs in the first two books. That is probably why Cage came as such a surprise to me, because there is no doubt whatsoever that the final book is quite different from the first two. I still can’t decide if it’s actually weaker though, but the road this third book took was definitely quite unexpected. Cage is set six years after the second book finishes (2017), so there is quite a gap to overcome as you try to figure out what happened to the main characters in the years in between. On top of that, the focus is almost fully on Agla this time around. Of course her character already played an important role in the previous two books, but she is definitely in the spotlight this time around.

Having the focus on Agla means that Cage is basically lacking the drugs angle so present in the previous two books, and I’m still not sure what to feel about that as this element is part of the reason why I was enjoying the series that much. To be honest, I was also quite surprised to see so little of Sonja and Bragi, but I guess their storylines were already exploited to the fullest in the first two books. Bragi actually almost made no appearance at all except for a short mention, but I guess he just retired from this trilogy as well as his customs officer job. Sonja herself, the so-called star of the first two books, only appears quite late in the story and has a surprisingly minor role in it all… Oh yes, this is 100% Agla’s book, with a secondary role for María. María’s character did appear in the previous books of course, although she wasn’t as present and to be honest she isn’t exactly my favorite. That said, we do have a new POV in Cage to shake things up a bit: the young Anton, Ingimar’s son. He definitely brings a dose of teenage angst into the story with his complicated relationship with his parents and girlfriend as well as all that talk about explosives and wanting to blow things up… I’m still not sure what to make of his POV, although it adds that hint of caos and suspense as you try to figure out what he has to do with the other POVs and if he will actually go through with his plans.

Like I said before, Cage is Agla’s book and we learn a lot about her situation, although you are also kept in the dark about what happened after Trap finished and how she ended up in her current situation. Not the prison part of course, which is hardly a surprise after the previous books, but let’s just say her emotional situation in those years in between (I don’t want to reveal too much to avoid spoilers). I personally thought the prison chapters were fascinating and helped restore part of the balance lost by mostly leaving out that now familiar drugs angle in Cage. Agla’s personal development plays a big role in this final book as well, with her first being on the border of desperation and giving up, then brought back by a new financial challenge… Having María also there, being forced to work together with the enemy, also made for very interesting reading material.

Another thing I couldn’t help noticing is that this story isn’t as international as the previous books. Cage is mainly set in Iceland instead, with only a couple of chapters set in the US as we follow María… Although I do admit that the whole investigation and amateur detective work by María adds some needed umph to the plot, especially when things escalate. María is a journalist now, and it is interesting to see this forced change in profession also caused drastic changes in her personal life. I’m glad the financial angle Agla has become known for is still here in this final book, and it’s without doubt the main connection with the previous two books. Her competitive spirit and need to always try beating the others with her superior knowledge, twisting any existent plan into something to her advantage, makes for some very entertaining reading.

As for the writing… The writing is just as solid as before and definitely one of the reasons I flew through the pages and finished this story in one sitting. A big thank you is in place for Quentin Bates‘ flawless translation, making it possible for us to enjoy this Reykjavik Noir Trilogy and a true Icelandic gem. While I confess I do prefer the first two books, mostly because of the drugs related elements and the fact I really missed favorite characters Sonja and Bragi, there is also a lot to love in Cage. It has excellent writing, and interesting plot and both the prison scenes and the investigation angle to uncover what Ingimar is up to were key ingredients in the success of this final book. Sonja shows up later on to tie some loose ends as well and I liked how everything wrapped up in the end. And there is no doubt that this trilogy is one of my favorite new discoveries this year! Nordic noir, crime triller and Narcos fans will most definitely have an excellent time reading Snare, Trap and Cage.

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, 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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BOOK REVIEW: Trap – by Lilja Sigurðardóttir @Orendabooks #NordicNoir #Orentober

Title: Trap
(Reykjavik Noir Trilogy #2)
Author: Lilja Sigurdardottir
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 13th 2016
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: September 23rd 2019
Pages: 276
(Originally written in Icelandic: ‘Netið’)

“It was time to turn around, look fear in the face and swim back into the net. Somewhere in that tangle had to be the way out.”

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I know I’m a bit late to the party when it comes to this series, but I guess it also has the advantage of being able to binge read all three books in a row without the long and painful wait for the next book… And while I was already caught in a snare with the first book of the Reykjavik Noir Trilogy, this sequel has me completely trapped and under its spell. There are so many different elements in play in this series, and all those elements together create the perfect Nordic Noir recipe. Trap is no exception and is without doubt a fantastic sequel. So, what turned Trap into such a success for me?

First up, we have the international setting. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I have a weak spot for stories with an foreign (to me) setting. My love for travelling as well as  learning about countries and cultures lesser known to me probably has a lot to do with this interest, and Trap is without doubt a little treasure mine for those who also have the wanderlust bug. Iceland, Greenland, Mexico, The Netherlands, Luxembourg… Those are only a few countries featured during this sequel packed to the brim with travel scenes and this story does an excellent job describing the different settings as well as giving little references to local culture. This aspect gives Trap a truly international vibe and it is one of the reasons this trilogy is quickly turning into one of my favorite new discoveries this year.

Another weak spot of mine is any mention of drugs smuggling, drugs related crime or the ‘war on drugs’. And guess what: you get a little dose of all three in Trap! We have the drugs smuggling angle, with how things can go wrong and escalate as well as the practical angle… We have the drugs related crime and maffia feel with a couple of very graphic and shocking scenes… And we have the ‘war on drugs’ in the form of Bragi and the other customs officers trying to stop the influx of drugs. All these different angles are expectly combined and incorporated into the plot and definitely give Trap an unique touch. And for me it was yet another reason I love spending time with Sonja, Bragi and the others.

This trilogy isn’t just another drugs related story though… With its complex and rich plot filled with a wide variety of interesting topics, this series truly has a lot to offer. Another important topic involves the banking crisis and financial investigations that come afterwards, connecting historical facts with fiction in a way that really makes this story so much more authentic. Agla is a fascinating character and I loved learning a bit more about the whole financial world through her character as well as the others involved. And it’s not Agla alone. Trap has a fascinating mix of different characters, all well developed and adding a little something unique to the story. I love that none of the characters are perfect; they have their flaws and make their mistakes, but they feel all the more realistic because of it. I really loved the development of the main characters in the sequel and especially Sonja and Bragi are quick to win over your heart.

The diverse characters also provide us with further interesting themes to enrich the plot… We have Bragi struggling to come to terms with his wife’s Alzheimer and trying to make her final stretch on earth more comfortable no matter what the cost. We have the family element, with divorced parents fighting over custody of their child. We have the LGBT angle and Agla struggling to accept who she is. On top of all those different elements mentioned, we have a number of plot twist bombs ready to be thrown at you at any moment… Creating that feeling of suspense and tension that will make you sit on the edge of your seat and will have you unable to let go until you find out how the story ends. And you won’t find relief after finishing Trap either. Because while it seemed like a happy ending, instead I was mostly left with feelings of dread and forboding… Will my intuition be right? Oh yes, the pressure is on! If you are looking for a dose of well written and captivating Nordic noir, love international settings, diverse characters and a complex and rich plot, the Reykjavik Noir Trilogy should be right on the top of your wishlist.


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WWW Wednesdays #240 – October 2nd

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?

No October is complete without spooky reads, and I’ve been saving Victoria Schwab‘s newest title Tunnel Of Bones especially for this Halloween month. I’m so excited to be diving into this sequel! I’m also starting another ARC: Close To You by Kerry Wilkinson. The blurb sounds absolutely brilliant, so I can’t wait to see if the story itself lives up to expectations. His writing is great, so I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy it…

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Hope And Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum (4/5 stars) REVIEW 11/10
Julie Buxbaum is one of the select group of authors who can make me enjoy the contemporary romance genre. After loving her first two YA books, it’s easy to say that my expectations were sky high for Hope And Other Punchlines. It might have been the wrong time to pick up this title, or it might have been that my expectations were a tad unrealistic, because while there is no doubt that this story is an excellent read, it didn’t blow me away as I thought it would. There is a lot to love in Hope And Other Punchlines though.

2. The Huntress by Kate Quinn (5/5 stars) REVIEW 05/10
I kept seeing glowing reviews about The Huntress and I love my WWII historical fiction, so I was super excited to finally dive in myself. It’s the first time I read one of her books (I have The Alice Network on my TBR though), and I was definitely blown away by what I found. Say hello to another 2019 favorite! The complex and rich plot, the writing, the different characters and settings… There is so much to love in this story and it’s without doubt one of the best WWII inspired historical fiction stories I’ve read to this date.

3. Cage by Lilja Sigurdardottir (4/5 stars) REVIEW 04/10
Look out for my full review during my stop of the blog tour this Friday!!

4. Coraline by Neil Gaiman (4/5 stars) REVIEW 18/10
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. 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!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

Next up is another upcoming #Orentober blog tour read I’ve been looking forward to: Little Siberia by Antti Tuomainen. I’ve been meaning to try his work for ages and I love the blurb for this story! I also need to read the ARC Like Follow Kill by Carissa Ann Lynch some time soon… And another #Orentober read is up soon as well: Hydra by Matt Wesolowski for an upcoming #WesolowskiWednesday post. I’m also reading my latest TBR jar pick The Museum Of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman no matter what before the end of the month.


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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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WWW Wednesdays #238 – September 18th

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 binge reading the Reykjavik Noir Trilogy by Lilja Sigurdardottir in preparation for my stop of the blog tour for the third and final book… I’m currently reading book number one Snare. I’m also starting Finding Henry Applebee by Celia Reynolds and I’m looking forward to the change of genre and read a contemporary again.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. All Cats Are Introverts by Francesco Marciuliano (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 15/10
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.

2. The Birthday House by Jill Treseder (3/5 stars) REVIEW 08/10
Look out for my review during my stop of the blog tour next month!

3. Muse Of Nightmares by Laini Taylor (5/5 stars) REVIEW 11/10
After being blown away by the first book of this duology, I was afraid it was going to be almost impossible for the sequel to live up to expectations. But I shouldn’t have doubted the power of Laini Taylor‘s absolutely gorgeous prose! Like with Strange The Dreamer, I was absolutely mesmerized by the words she uses to describe both the high fantasy world, its characters and the plot itself. Things can be said about the fact that not all that much seems to be happening considering its 500+ pages, although I did feel there was more going on in the sequel. But personally I didn’t really care as long as I was going to be able to keep lapping up those gorgeous sentences.

4. Here To Stay by Mark Edwards (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 29/09
I just HAD to get a copy after reading Meggy’s review and seeing others raving about it as well… And there is no doubt that this book delivered. 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 do something about his situation. I definitely didn’t see the ending coming either! I might need some time before I can get my thoughts together and write a review that does it justice. Mark Edwards has a new fan!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I just remembered I still had to read this month’s Criminally Good book club read! Since I really want to read it in the first place, I’m picking up The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup next. Afterwards it’s time for more ARCs… First up are The Huntress by Kate Quinn and I Will Make You Pay by Terese Driscoll. My latest TBR jar pick is still The Museum Of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman… I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get to it this month as I have a huge pile of books I need to read first. xD


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WWW Wednesdays #237 – September 11th

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 needed to cleanse my palate after finishing Blood Song, so I decided to finally pick up Muse Of Nightmares by Laini Taylor. I LOVED Strange The Dreamer when I read it last year, and I’m still not sure why it has taken me this long to pick up the sequel… The writing is definitely just as gorgeous as the first book so far, and I can’t wait to read more of it today. I’m also picking up the ARC Here To Stay by Mark Edwards soon, as I don’t think it will take me long to finish Muse Of Nightmares at this pace.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Liar’s Sister by Sarah A. Denzil (4/5 stars) REVIEW 13/09
The Liar’s Sister is a psychological thriller filled to the brim with secrets and lies and without doubt packs a mean punch. Both focused on family relationships, grief and something possibly sinister happening in past and present, this story will appeal to both fans of more domestic thrillers and those who enjoy a healthy dose of suspense and action.

2. Secrets Of The Mist by Kate Ryder (4/5 stars) REVIEW 19/09
I know romance is not my typical genre, but I do love my historical fiction and there was just something about this timeslip romance story that caught my attention. Not only has Secrets Of The Mist a stunning cover, but the blurb instantly intrigued me. And I’m definitely glad I made the decision to read this story, because it was without doubt a beautifully written and poignant read.

3. The Lies We Tell by Debra Webb (4/5 stars) REVIEW 17/09
I had The Lies We Tell wrongly identified as romantic suspense (I’m not sure why), but there is nothing mild or tranquil about this story. Oh no, this is a full blown serial killer thriller where things will get dark, disturbing and violent and some scenes are definitely not for those with a weak stomach. The fact that the main character is an undertaker and her connection to everything that is happening gives the story an unique touch. Fans of darker and fast-paced crime thrillers will have a great time with this series!

4. Sorry I Barfed On Your Bed Again by Jeremy Greenberg (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 07/10
I’m what you call a cat lover and I just couldn’t resist what sounded like a combination of a fun read and cat photos. It’s without doubt a great gift for anyone who likes cats and some of the letters are very funny. I do hope they will make the photos less dark in the printed version, because some details were lost in the ARC copy.

5. Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson (5/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 20/09
Look out for my review during my stop of the blog tour!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

Next up are more ARCs… The Birthday House by Jill Treseder for an upcoming blog tour and All Cats Are Introverts by Francesco Marciuliano because I’m in the mood for a funny read. I also want to pick up Snare by Lilja Sigudardottir in preparation for the blog tour of the third book Cage next month. My latest TBR jar pick is still The Museum Of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman… I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get to it this month as I have a huge pile of books I need to read first. xD


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