BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Nesting – by C.J. Cooke #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @RandomTTours

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Nesting Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I admit it was cover love at first sight when I first heard about this book, but it was the promise of a gothic thriller set in Norway that sealed the deal for me. And it definitely turned out to be a winner for me! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: The Nesting
Author: C.J. Cooke
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: September 29th 2020
Publisher: HarperCollins
Finished reading: October 6th 2020
Pages: 416

“What they don’t realize is that nature has been around much longer than humans. We don’t understand it, not really.”

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

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!! Happy publication day !!

I admit that it was cover love at first sight when I first spotted The Nesting, but the blurb itself had me fully intrigued as well. The promise of a gothic thriller set in Norway was simply irresistible… And I’m happy to say that the story most definitely ended up living up to that gorgeous cover for me. Eerie, atmospheric with a hint of the paranormal and a healthy dose of Nordic folklore… There is simply a lot to love in this modern gothic thriller.

The Norwegian setting is beautifully described as well as incorporated into the plot, and it made for the perfect backdrop for this story. You will find that eerie, dark and ominous vibe around the Nordic setting and the house itself, which sets the tone for the rest of the story and really complemented the plot. You will find yourself instantly on edge as soon as you arrive in Norway along with the main character, wondering what happened in the past and how this might relate to the present. I especially loved the incorporation of the Nordic folklore and how this element was used to add that eerie vibe as well as the hint at the supernatural. Likewise, I loved how big of a role nature itself played in it all.

The Nesting uses a multiple POV structure, which includes flashbacks with Aurelia’s POV, the past and present with Tom and the present with Lexi. While I do confess that the initial chapters with Lexi didn’t impress me too much, as soon as the story takes you to Norway I found myself to be hooked and the unique vibe of the story started to shine through. While I never did warm up to Lexi or Tom, they did make for fascinating characters to follow and the same goes for the rest of the cast. The mystery around Aurelia’s death and the flashbacks to the past were perfect to inject that supernatural vibe and it definitely gave the story that gothic and creepy feel. It was interesting to see especially Lexi develop over time and I also enjoyed seeing those secrets and lies slowly being revealed as the story evolves.

The Nesting is part supernatural with Nordic folklore elements as well as a ghost story, part domestic drama and part thriller, all dipped in a delicious horror sauce with ecological sprinkles. It’s without doubt a rich and captivating story with lots of different elements that add dept and intrigue to the story. I did have some minor issues with the plot and lack of connection to the characters, but the beautiful writing mostly makes up for that and the eerie atmosphere so present in most nordic noir stories is brilliantly developed as well. If you enjoy gothic thrillers and don’t mind dealing with unlikeable characters or stepping into the supernatural, The Nesting is an excellent addition for your wishlist.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

C.J. Cooke is an acclaimed, award-winning poet, novelist and academic with numerous other publications under the name of Carolyn Jess-Cooke. Born in Belfast, she has a PhD in Literature from Queen’s University, Belfast, and is currently Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, where she researches creative writing interventions for mental health. She also founded the Stay-At-Home Festival.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Seven Doors – by Agnes Ravatn #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @RandomTTours @Orendabooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Seven Doors Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve rediscovered my love for the nordic noir genre in recent years and I’ve been wanting to try this author for a while now… And I’m definitely kicking myself for waiting this long now! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: The Seven Doors
Author: Agnes Ravatn
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Nordic Noir
First published: September 13th 2019
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: September 8th 2020
Pages: 276
(Originally published in Norwegian: ‘Dei sju dørene’)

“We often stumble in the dark, unaware of the full scope of our actions.”

*** 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’m always immediately tempted when I see a new nordic noir title popping up on my radar, and this happened once again as soon as I first heard about The Seven Doors. I’ve been meaning to try Agnes Ravatn‘s work ever since I started hearing fantastic things about her previous title The Bird Tribunal, and while that one somehow slipped between the cracks of my TBR mountain (something I plan to remedy soon), joining the tour for the translation of her newest title sounded like the perfect guarantee to not make the same mistake with this title. I’m most definitely glad I did, because I now have another name to add to my list of favorite nordic noir authors!

So… The Seven Doors. I admit that I was sold as soon as I read the blurb. I mean, how can I say no to the promise of a nordic setting AND an university professor investigating the mysterious disappearance of her tenant?! I’m glad I didn’t, because this story turned out to be a true gem. The Norway setting really shines through as soon as you start reading, and I felt transported to this nordic country along with the main characters straight away. The descriptions really made the different settings within Norway come alive for me, and I liked how certain places were not only incorporated into the plot naturally but were also quite fundamental for certain developments in that same plot.

It’s hard to put The Seven Doors inside just one neat genre box… This story can be seen as an amateur PI thriller turned psychological thriller turned domestic drama, all doused with that delicious nordic noir sauce to spice things up. On top of this, the story shows a focus on psychology as well as literature and incorporates many theories and background information along the way. You will find psychology related terms and theories, but also folklore stories and fairytales as well as literature theory related elements… And even the title refers to a folklore story with a key role in the plot, which I personally thought was a brilliant touch. Both elements really gave this nordic noir an unique angle that made this story stand out for me.

The story is told through the eyes of main character and university professor Nina. Both the investigation, her background and the final truth around the disappearance might seem a bit colored that way, but this sole POV is used perfectly to add suspense and keep the air of mystery around it all. It was interesting to see Nina develop over time and react to the things happening in the plot; especially once she started investigating Mari’s disappearance and kept going stubbornly despite the police not taking her seriously. The focus isn’t just on the investigation though, as we also learn about the changes in her personal life, her struggles with her family home that is about to be demolished as well as other secrets and events happening to those close to her. Both the investigation and the more personal angle are well balanced and I liked how they complemented each other.

The writing itself is fluid and descriptive and really made both the nordic setting and the main characters of this story come alive. I have to point out the flawless translation by Rosie Hedger too, as without her time and effort I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy this story in the first place… The Seven Doors has a more leisurely pace than my usual reads, but this slower pace is used to properly dive into the different characters and elements in play and makes you fully savour both. The story works steadily towards more than one highly explosive final reveal that will most likely end up hitting you with a sledgehammer. Why? Two words: THAT ENDING! What a way to leave us with our jaws hanging on the floor… BOOM.

This was my first experience with Agnes Ravatn‘s work, but I have a copy of The Bird Tribunal hanging out on my kindle which I will pick up very soon (read: Orentober month)The Seven Doors is most definitely another nordic noir gem!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Agnes Ravatn (b. 1983) is a Norwegian author and columnist. She made her literary début with the novel Week 53 (Veke 53) in 2007. Since then she has written three critically acclaimed and award-winning essay collections: Standing still (Stillstand), 2011, Popular Reading (Folkelesnad), 2011, and Operation self-discipline (Operasjon sjøldisiplin), 2014. In these works, Ravatn revealed a unique, witty voice and sharp eye for human fallibility. Her second novel, The Bird Tribunal (Fugletribuanlet), was an international bestseller translated into fifteen languages, winning an English PEN Award, shortlisting for the Dublin Literary Award, a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick and a BBC Book at Bedtime. It was also made into a successful play, which premiered in Oslo in 2015. Agnes lives with her family in the Norwegian countryside.


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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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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Death Deserved – by Jørn Lier Horst & Thomas Enger #RandomThingsTours #blogtour @Orendabooks @annecater

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Death Deserved 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 huge Nordic Noir fan over the years and I always love a good serial killer thriller, so of course I just couldn’t say no to this first book of a new series. And I’m definitely glad I decided to read this story now! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts.

Title: Death Deserved
(Alexander Blix & Emma Ramm #1)

Authors: Jørn Lier Horst & Thomas Enger
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Nordic Noir
First published: July 2nd 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: February 6th 2020
Pages: 276
(Originally written in Norwegian: ‘Nullpunkt’)

“That brief second of absolute, total silence. It was impossible to describe, because it was so replete with emotions. Adrenaline. Questions. A dread that still held him in its grip.”

*** 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 become huge fan of the nordic noir genre over the years, and I’m always looking out for new authors and books to discover. Both Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger have been on my radar for a while now, and although Death Deserved is my first encounter with their work, it has completely convinced me I have to read more of both authors soon. It is no exaggeration when I say that I was hooked from the very first page until those hilarious final acknowledgements. Death Deserved is one of those lightning-fast, exhilarating and simply thrilling serial killer reads that won’t let you go until you reach the very end… A true rollercoaster ride that keeps you on your toes the whole time.

This first book of a new nordic noir series blew me away from the very first chapter. The plot, the writing, the characters, the plot twists… There is a lot to love in Death Deserved and it’s the perfect nordic noir cocktail for anyone who loves a thrilling and action-packed ride. Let’s start with the beginning and talk about plot. The prologue itself is a true teaser as you wonder how it fits in with the rest of the story… What a way to start a story with a bang! Afterwards, at first glimpse we have a typical serial killer thriller or at least a hint at a crime thriller with the disappearance of famous Sonja Nordstrøm. Sonja gives us an immediate link between our two new main characters, which makes it easier to have both present from the very beginning… The plot itself is filled with action, violence and suspense as the serial killer manages to kill and taunt without leaving a trace. Plot twists will trap you, send you on the wrong track and have you doubt your suspicions and everything you already read. And I just love it when story manages to do that! The plot is simply excellently developed, the descriptions of the setting really make that Nordic feel come alive and the plot twists are definitely spot on.

Next up are the characters. Both Alexander Blix and Emma Ramm make for intriguing main characters. Blix might be a bit of a cliche with the past haunting him, but I liked him almost instantly and his new partner Kovic too. It was interesting to see his past slowly revealed and I liked the way he works his investigations. Emma Ramm is without doubt an intriguing character as well, and the connection with Blix once revealed is simply fascinating. I like how she is celebrity blogger/journalist who is suddenly being thrown into crime journalist game. Her personal life quite interesting too, and her actions are slowly explained as more about her past is revealed. Both characters together were able to help take this story to the next level and it was interesting to see them work together despite fact that Blix isn’t really allowed to share information with Emma in the first place. It’s without doubt an unorthodox team, but it makes for some very interesting reading!

I didn’t talk about serial killer as a character before, and that’s mostly because his identity is hidden until the very end. This only helps keeping up that level of suspense, as you think you have it all figured out only to have your theories crushed by some new detail. Trust me, I totally thought I did guess it all quite early on, only to be completely wrong in the end! The serial killer element is very well developed and the main focus is actually on the murders themselves and how they may connect. This was definitely one of the elements that made this story such a success for me, as there wasn’t one fixed killer signature except for all victims being famous for something. I also loved how the true motive finally became clear and how everything was explained in the end!

The murder investigation and journalism angle are not only elements in play though. We also have a spotlight on fame and celebrities; not only in the form of the murder victims, but also in the form of Blix’ daughter who participates in reality show with a high cash prize for the winner. I really liked how this element was developed and it definitely added a little something extra to the plot. There were also other minor elements involved including family and acceptance of a medical condition. All together the different elements form an explosive story that will have you running to keep up and fully breathless by the time you reach that final page… And you will most definitely find your jaw dropping right on the floor after you discover the full truth.

Death Deserved is an absolutely fantastic start of a new nordic noir and crime thriller series and highly recommended to any fan of the genre. This author duo is one to look out for! And yes, I totally wish I could understand Norwegian just so I could read the second book which hasn’t been translated yet… But that is just me being greedy. 😉 A big round of applause for translator Anne Bruce for giving us the opportunity to meet Alexander Blix and Emma Ramm in the first place!

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger are the internationally bestselling Norwegian authors of the William Wisting and Henning Juul series respectively. Jørn Lier Horst first rose to literary fame with his No. 1 internationally bestselling William Wisting series. A former investigator in the Norwegian police, Horst imbues all his works with an unparalleled realism and suspense. Thomas Enger is the journalist-turned-author behind the internationally acclaimed and bestselling Henning Juul series. Enger’s trademark has become a darkly gritty voice paired with key social messages and tight plotting. Besides writing fiction for both adults and young adults, Enger also works as a music composer. Death Deserved is Jørn Lier Horst & Thomas Enger’s first co-written thriller.


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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 #109 – The Woman In Cabin 10 & Us Against You

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two highly popular books… One which was good, but not mindblowingly good and I ended up having a few issues with it: The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. The other initially started out as another slowburner but was able to get hold of my heart, rip it out and tear it in a million pieces. Fredrik Backman has worked his magic once again with this heartwrenching Beartown sequel Us Against You.


Title: The Woman In Cabin 10
Author: Ruth Ware

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 30th 2016
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Finished reading: June 22nd 2019
Pages: 384

“Time is very elastic – that’s the first thing you realize in a situation without light, without a clock, without any way of measuring the length of one second over the length of another.”


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One of my goals this year is start making a dent in my mountain of backlist titles, and The Woman In Cabin 10 has been on my TBR for a long long time. This story was the last Ruth Ware title I had pending before her new story will be published later this year… And The Woman In Cabin 10 is probably her most famous story at that. I’m definitely glad I finally got the chance to read it. While it’s not my favorite Ruth Ware (that prize goes to The Death Of Mrs. Westaway), there is no doubt that I enjoyed my time with this story and I was able to finish it in no time at all. The writing probably had a lot to do with that, because the pace wasn’t always that fast… Although the speed picked up considerably after the mayor reveal. I think what made me enjoy The Woman In Cabin 10 was the Agatha Christie like feel of the plot and the whole premise of having a small group of people ‘trapped’ in a small environment and the possibility of something dodgy going on… I have a serious weak spot for those kind of stories. I do have to say that the main character is beyond annoying. Lo Blacklock is one of those spineless and whiny women without a real personality and I didn’t appreciate how her anxiety was used as an excuse for her actions. She didn’t come over as a credible character and her actions were mostly seriously frustrating. Things can be said about the credibility of the plot in general, and I also found the ending to be too abrupt and it left too many questions unanswered. I don’t mind open endings when done right, but in this case I feel it had a negative effect on my thoughts on the story as a whole. I can’t deny I still mostly enjoyed reading The Woman In Cabin 10 though, both due to the writing, the Agatha Christie feel and the travel/Norway element. In short: while it’s true that I had a few issues with certain aspects of the story, overall I still found it to be an entertaining read. Not the best I’ve read, but if you enjoy the genre and don’t set your expectations too high, you will probably enjoy what you find.


Title: Us Against You
(Beartown #2)
Author: Fredrick Backman

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: August 21st 2017
Publisher: Atria Books
Finished reading: June 25th 2019
Pages: 434

“It’s so easy to think that what we post online is like raising your voice in a living room when it’s actually more like shouting from the rooftops. Our fantasy worlds always have consequences for other people’s realities.”

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I think that most of you will know by now I’m a huge Fredrik Backman fan… I’ve been saving Us Against You as it was the final fiction book I had pending and with no new project on the horizon (that I know of) I wasn’t ready for it to be over. I couldn’t resist any longer though, and I’m glad I finally picked it up. While, like with Beartown, I initially thought it was going to be slowburner for me, things soon improved and this story quickly won over my heart. Then it took hold firmly of that same heart, ripped it out and teared it into a million tiny pieces… I don’t cry often while reading, but this story definitely made my eyes water. Trigger warnings are in place for abuse, rape, alcoholism, LGBT discrimination and violence… Difficult topics, but the author is able to incorporate them realistically and respectfully into the story. As with Beartown, this story has a big cast of characters (mostly the same as in the first book), and it may take a little time to remember where each one stands. Us Against You has multiple POVs and uses them both to give more dept to the story and properly develop the different elements at play. This isn’t just another sports inspired story, and Beartown isn’t just a little town with a big love for the hockey sport. Hockey means so much more for both the Beartown and Hed team, and the sport and rivalry have huge consequences for various characters before you reach the final page. And as you are caring deeply for most characters by the time you reach those plot twists, make sure to have some tissues at hand just to be safe. There is no doubt that Fredrik Backman has done it again! It’s not my absolute favorite story of his, but without doubt an excellent albeit heartbreaking read.


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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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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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