BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Mexico Street – by Simone Buchholz #RandomThingsTours @Orendabooks @annecater

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Mexico Street Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve been meaning to try this series for a while now and the blog tour was a perfect excuse to catch up… I’ve grown to love Simone Buchholz‘ writing style after reading the previous two books, and Mexico Street might just be a new favorite! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts.

Title: Mexico Street
(Chas Riley #8)

Author: Simone Buchholz
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 10th 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: March 8th 2020
Pages: 276
(Originally published in German: ‘Mexikoring’)

“We’re like a window that life has kept jumping through in recent years, and with every jump we’ve gone flying through space like shards of glass, but, because the shards know where they belong, they piece themselves back together, bit by bit, every time.”

*** 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 know that I’ve only recently started reading this series, but the Chas Riley books have been on my radar for quite some time now. I’m not sure why it took me this long to finally pick up the books, but I’m definitely kicking myself now as I’ve found a new favorite series. While it is true that it took me some time to warm up to both the writing and the characters in Blue Night, as soon as I did I was completely hooked. Blue Night ended on a high note for me and I was hooked once again as soon as I started Beton Rouge, which turned out to be an excellent ride. It’s easy to say that I had high hopes for Mexico Street after that, and I might just have found a new favorite!

There are a lot of things that turn this series into something special. Before I start, I do have to state first that this is actually book number eight that has been published in the original German series, but (only) book number three that has been translated into English. Due to the missing first five books, we might miss some background at times… In the case of Mexico Street the most pressing one would probably be the history behind Inceman and what happened to him, but we do get a few hints and in the end the lack of information didn’t bother me too much. And while Blue Night might be more difficult to get into without that background information, both Beton Rouge and Mexico Street can technically be read as stand-alones without too many issues.

On to my Mexico Street rambles… The first thing I love of this book and the series in general is the writing style. Simone Buchholz has an unique, snappy and snarky writing style laced with short sentences, a dark and sarcastic kind of humor and a style that goes between blunt and lyrical. Her writing style is highly recognizable and as soon as I read the first page I knew I was dealing with another authentic piece of Simone Buchholz writing again.Trust me, I’ve become addicted to it! I like how there isn’t just one style nor singular POV, seemingly using chaos and unpredictability to weave together the chapters and story. Flashbacks, different POVs, short sentences, breathtaking and almost lyrical sentences with a deeper meaning, humor, sarcasm… It sounds like a terrible mess, but it’s a most wonderful mess and if you ‘get’ the writing style you will find yourself hopelessly in love.

Another forte of this series lies without doubt with the main characters. The books have a colorful and diverse cast of characters who will have no problems winning over your heart… Chastity is the star of the show of course, and I love her in all her cigarette, beer, antisocial and disheveled glory. Quite a few of the characters we were introduced to in the previous books make their appearance once again in Mexico Street, although the main focus is on Stepanovic (and Calabretta) this time around. We see less of some of the other characters and I did miss them, although in a way it’s no surprise after how things ended in Beton Rouge to be honest… But I did end up enjoying the new balance as well as the introduction of Inceman as a character.

I also loved both the plot and the setting in Hamburg and Bremen. Having had the chance to get to know both cities briefly from a tourist point of view, it really enhanced the reading experience for me as I could actually imagine the characters in a real setting. I loved the descriptions of both cities and they set the perfect atmosphere for this story. The plot itself is intriguing and gives us plenty of action as well as insight in a foreign culture and just how different the rules for those families are. We get (organized) crime, we get death, we get an investigation angle, we get banter and we even get a forbidden love story… All wrapped up nicely into one brilliant story. How’s that for an excellent deal?!

As you might have guessed already, I loved my time with Mexico Street and I’m now officially a huge fan of Simone Buchholz‘ writing style. Before I sign off, a huge round of applause to Rachel Ward for the impecable translation, which makes it possible for us to get to know Chas Riley and the rest of the characters! Especially since my German is pretty rusty haha. If you enjoy noir, a good crime thriller and love an unique and unconventional writing style as well as cast of characters, you should definitely try this series.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Simone Buchholz was born in Hanau in 1972. At university, she studied
Philosophy and Literature, worked as a waitress and a columnist, and
trained to be a journalist at the prestigious Henri-Nannen-School in
Hamburg. In 2016, Simone Buchholz was awarded the Crime Cologne Award
as well as runner-up in the German Crime Fiction Prize for Blue Night,
which was number one on the KrimiZEIT Best of Crime List for months. She
lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg, with her husband and son.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #153 – I’ll Be Gone In The Dark & If I Stay

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two backlist titles with a completely different target group and genre, but both I’ve been meaning to read for a while and both were stories I ended up enjoying. The true crime title I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara and If I Stay by Gayle Forman.


Title: I’ll Be Gone In The Dark
Author: Michelle McNamara

Genre: Non Fiction, True Crime
First published: February 27th 2018
Publisher: Harper
Finished reading: February 25th 2020
Pages: 340

“If you commit murder and then vanish, what you leave behind isn’t just pain but absence, a supreme blankness that triumphs over everything else.”


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True crime has always intrigued me, so I’m not sure why I don’t pick it up more often… I’ve been meaning to read I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara ever since it was first published two years ago, but somehow I just never got to it. I’m happy I finally did pick it up though. I confess I hadn’t heard of the Golden State Killer before, so this book was a true goldmine filled to the brim with information about his crimes and the investigation as it evolved both back in the 1970s and 1980s when they were first investigated as well as the cold case investigation in the 21st century with the help of DNA tests. True crime journalist Michelle McNamara played a big role in the investigation around the identity behind the Golden State Killer and it is sad that her untimely death ment she wasn’t able to see the guy finally get caught in 2018… Still, I’ll Be Gone In The Dark shows just how talented and determined the author was in her investigation and I can imagine just how big of a help she was in uncovering the truth after all that time. The details of the Golden State Killer crimes, both the rapes, home invasions and the murders, are pretty brutal and it’s hard to believe that with so many victims and attacks he was still able to escape justice for this long… I’ll Be Gone In The Dark doesn’t sugarcoat the graphic and gruesome facts, and definitely makes you glad you weren’t living in the areas mentioned back then… Or at least rethink about how terrifying the knowledge that someone dangerous is prowling close to where you live is, and how difficult it would be to defend yourself if he suddenly shows up in your bedroom that way. Definitely not a read for those with a weak stomach, but more than recommended if you are a true crime fan!


Title: If I Stay
(If I Stay #1)
Author: Gayle Forman

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 2nd 2009
Publisher: Speak
Finished reading: March 3rd 2020
Pages: 196

“He got it before I did. If I stay. If I live. It’s up to me.”


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I’m probably the last person on the planet to read this one! I’ve been meaning to try If I Stay for years now, but to be honest I wasn’t so sure if this story would be for me… I was afraid it was going to be too sappy and cliche for me, and that the hype around it simply wasn’t worth it. I confess I kept my expectations low, and the unexpected happened: I ended up being so much more invested in this story about Mia and Adam than I thought I would be! While I do feel part of the plot is a bit cliche, and especially the flashbacks can be a bit slow, there were also other elements I really loved. The most important of them being just how important music is throughout the story. Both the classical cello and the rock guitar come together beautifully and also represent the different characters in play in If I Stay… Somehow I ended up rooting for Mia and Adam despite the cliches, and I loved the fact that we saw the present story progress from the point of view of Mia’s unconscious self. Definitely an unique angle! The story introduces questions about life and death and it was intriguing to see Mia struggle to decide whether to stay or let go after this tragedy… Cliches and sometimes slow pace aside, I had a great time reading If I Stay and I might even have almost shed a tear or two at some point.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #150 – Lori Anderson Edition (Book 1-3) #TeamLori @Orendabooks

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a very special series edition featuring the first three books of the Lori Anderson series written by Steph Broadribb: Deep Down DeadDeep Blue Trouble and Deep Dirty Truth. I actually first read and loved the second book two years ago, and I have been looking forward to meet up with main character Lori again… I’m not sure why it took me this long to do so, but I definitely had a blast spending more time with my favorite bounty hunter! #TeamLori


Title: Deep Down Dead
(Lori Anderson #1)
Author: Steph Broadribb

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 15th 2016
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: February 15th 2020
Pages: 350

“I didn’t want to think about promises. A promise is just a disappointment bought on credit.”


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Ever since I first met Lori Anderson back in 2018, I have been wanting to go back to the beginning and find out how it all started. And damn, I sure wish I would have done so sooner! Deep Down Dead is thrilling, exhilarating and simply explosive from the very beginning until that final page. It was fascinating to learn more about where Lori came from and how she turned out to be the kickass bounty hunter she is today… What a powerful and shocking transformation! Your heart will beat miles a minute as you keep turning those pages, both learning more about the past as well trying to keep up with the action-packed and highly flammable present. It will feel as if you are running a marathon with a bunch of blood-crazy and armed gangsters right behind you! There is a constant note of danger, a lighting-fast pace to keep you running as you try to keep up with past and present events… Lori, Dakota and JT will win over your heart from the very beginning and you will find yourself biting your nails as you keep rooting for them and keep fingers and toes crossed hoping that everything will turn out to be ok for them in the end. The character development is done realistically and both Lori and JT are definitely one of the reasons this story works so well. The whole bounty hunter angle, the plot twists and secrets of the past, everything that happens after Lori is sent to catch her old mentor and lover JT after he skipped bail… There is so much going on in the plot, but everything works brilliantly together and the result is some serious dynamite, ready for an atomic bomb level explosion. If you like your thrillers fast, explosive, action-packed and love a story that has both an unique twist and will get your heart racing, you should not pospone your meeting with Lori Anderson any longer. Trust me, you won’t regret it!


Title: Deep Blue Trouble
(Lori Anderson #2)
Author: Steph Broadribb

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: November 5th 2017
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: February 16th 2020 (reread)
Pages: 320

“All of us have the potential to kill. We just don’t know if we’ll do it until we find ourselves in that situation.”


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This was actually a reread as I first read Deep Blue Trouble back in January 2018… You can find my full review I wrote back then here, as I still stand by everything I said then. It was just as thrilling the second time around! A little snippet of my 2018 review:

“If you like refreshing, fast-paced, suspenseful and action-packed thrillers with a strong female lead, you are in for a real treat with Deep Blue Trouble. Bounty hunter Lori Anderson seriously kicks ass and isn’t afraid to step on a few toes to get the results she is after. The writing is strong, filled with plot twists and will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page… Trust me, you will want to know what happens to Lori and you will enjoy every single step along the way. Thriller fans will love this one!”


Title: Deep Dirty Truth
(Lori Anderson #3)
Author: Steph Broadribb

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: November 5th 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: February 18th 2020
Pages: 320

“He smiles at me, and in that moment I know for sure that I’m a dead woman walking.”

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Oh boy, binge-reading the first three Lori Anderson books has sure left me breathless! My heart is still beating like a maniac and I definitely need a dose of sugar to come to my senses again… What an explosive, action-packed and absolutely thrilling ride! Deep Dirty Truth is already the third book of this series and of the same high quality and entertainment level as the first two books. While technically you could read this one as a stand-alone, you will miss out on background information and previous events referred to in this third book… And as the first two books are absolutely brilliant too, you would definitely be missing out by not reading these beauties in order. That said, Deep Dirty Truth picks up where the second book has left off as the same threat has been there for a while. I love how the characters have evolved over time and it definitely makes me happy to see Lori, JT and Dakota being together… In Deep Dirty Truth we have another bounty hunter angle with a twist, another mob angle, a whole lot of danger, a pace that is way over the speed limit and a plot that won’t stand still even to take a little breather. It is action thriller at its finest, with a solid cast of characters, danger around every corner and impossible situations Lori and the others involved will somehow have to find themselves a way out of… It’s simply unputdownable and you will find your heart racing and yourself gasping for air as you turn another page and discover yet another obstacle to overcome. Without doubt a new favorite! #TeamLori


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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 #139 – The Shadow Cabinet & Next Year In Havana

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two books I read for the Magical Readathon Winter 2019 challenge… The first, The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson, turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, but the second, Next Year In Havana by Chanel Cleeton, turned out to be absolutely fantastic.


Title: The Shadow Cabinet
(Shades Of London #3)
Author: Maureen Johnson

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal 
First published: February 5th 2015
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Finished reading: December 15th 2019
Pages: 385

“We’re both broken right now. Something’s happened to us. But we can do this. We have to.”


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Say hello to another unpopular opinion ramble! I really enjoyed the first book of the Shades Of London series when I read it back in 2016… And even though I wasn’t as impressed by the sequel when I finally read it a few months back, when I discovered I had to read an urban fantasy for the Magical Readathon Winter 2019 challenge my thoughts went to this series almost immediately. I decided to give Rory another shot, and see if the third book would make me fall in love with the series again… Sadly, it wasn’t ment to be and The Shadow Cabinet turned out to be the weakest link of this series yet. I honestly start to believe Shades Of London would have worked better as a stand-alone, going out with a bang after the Jack The Ripper inspired case and just leave it at that… The plot in The Shadow Cabinet seems even more jumbled and farfetched than the sequel, and with many eyebrow raising moments and the characters being possibly even more annoying (Rory, I’m looking at you!) I’m still not sure why I even kept reading. I definitely didn’t enjoy reading about the direction this story seems to be taking, and to be honest I don’t really mind that there still isn’t any news about a possible book four? It’s truly a shame I ended up having this reaction after such a positive first experience with this series, but it is what it is I guess.


Title: Next Year In Havana
Author: Chanel Cleeton

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
First published: February 6th 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: December 18th 2019
Pages: 394

“You never know what’s to come. That’s the beauty of life. If everything happened the way we wished, the way we planned, we’d miss out on the best parts, the unexpected pleasures.”


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I have to say I’m still kicking myself for not picking up Next Year In Havana sooner… I’ve been wanting to read it ever since I first heard about it last year, and despite the glowing reviews it took me way longer than expected to actually do so. Say hello to another top read of 2019, just in time before the year is over! Oh yes, I loved every single minute of this story and it will without doubt stay with me for a long time… And I also can’t wait to read When We Left Cuba soon and learn more about Beatriz. First things first though, and let’s talk Next Year In Havana. I do love my historical fiction, and the 1958 Cuban setting was both absolutely fascinating, well researched and excellently described. Chanel Cleeton was able to truly make the setting come alive, using detailed descriptions to paint the perfect portrait of a complicated time in Cuban history. This is a story that will not only entertain, but also teaches you about both past and present. Facts are mixed with fiction in a seamless way, and the two complement each other flawlessly.

The story is told using a dual timeline and two different POVs: Elisa in 1958 and her granddaughter Marisol in 2017. Dual timelines can go both ways for me, as it is extremely hard to balance the two correctly and one normally tends to fall short for me. But not in this case. I absolutely loved both present and past chapters and both Elisa and Marisol are the perfect characters to help us understand more about Cuban life and its history. The characters are another big reason I can call this story a new favorite, and I was able to warm up to them almost instantly. Elisa and her sisters, Ana, Pablo, Marisol, Luis… There are so many characters I loved in this story, and they all play their role in teaching us more about Cuba as well. The plot itself is complex, multilayered and shows a thorough research into Cuban history as well as a wonderful romance story to counter the darker elements in Next Year In Havana. This story is an absolute must-read for historical fiction fans!


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BOOK REVIEW: Changeling – by Matt Wesolowski @Orendabooks

Title: Changeling
(Six Stories #3)

Author: Matt Wesolowski
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: November 15th 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: November 8th 2019
Pages: 194

“It’s like an urban myth, a legend that has refused to die; this case has resurfaced again and again in my life. This case has an inexorable pull. Whether I like it or not.”


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I know I’m late when it comes to the Six Stories party, having only discovered the series this year, but I’ve become a fast and irrevocable fan. While my first experience with this series was already brilliant, the second book blew me away completely and I wasn’t sure how any sequel would manage to live up to it. I shouldn’t have doubted the writing powers of Matt Wesolowski though, because he has truly outdone himself with Changeling. It’s been weeks since I finished reading this absolutely brilliant read, and I’m still struggling to get a word on paper… My ability to review completely destroyed by this story. Oh yes, such is the power of Changeling!

I think that part of the reason that makes this series in general so unique is its format. Told in a podcast form with six different episodes and a number of guests interviewed by an impartial podcast host, each book enables us to dive into the different cold cases from the very beginning. In the case of Changeling, we are trying to find out more about the 1988 disappearance of a child as they were driving through the Wentshire Forest. The seven-year-old Alfie Marsden disappeared without a trace when his father stopped after hearing a strange sound coming from inside his car… And no trace of the boy nor his body is ever found. What happened to Alfie that night? To this date nobody seems to know for sure, but after receiving a letter our already famous Scott King decides to give in and try to discover the truth.

As with the previous two books, the suspense is build up slowly but surely. Changeling  once again toes the line with the horror genre after the introduction of the supernatural angle and hints of the myths around the Wentshire Forest. This story isn’t just another thriller and investigation into a cold case; the strange things happening in this forest definitely give this story an eerie and ominous feel. As the episodes continue, we slowly get to know more about both the case, Alfie and those close to him. Nothing is as it seems and this story definitely has some surprises for you in store… But nothing is as big as that final reveal. I almost dropped my copy of the Changeling on the floor along with my jaw when I reached that part of the story… Those who have had the chance to read book three already will know what I’m talking about. Oh yes, Changeling most definitely ended with a bang and left me both speechless and wanting to analyze everything I just read all over again to see if I should have seen the signs… And it is without doubt a story that will stay with me for a long time.

Along with the format, plot and writing, the characters themselves also play a key role in the success of Changeling. Scott King we of course already know, and it was interesting to see him interact with and react to yet another intriguing case. The other characters that play a role in this story are all realistically and meticulously developed, making both them and Alfie’s case truly come alive for me. I had a fantastic time slowly discovering the truth about Alfie and those around him, and while not every character is all that likeable and has its flaws, I found it didn’t matter at all as it only made Changeling feel more realistic. If you are looking for a well written and spine-chilling thriller with an unique podcast format and an explosive ending, Changeling (and the rest of this series for that matter) should go straight to the top of your wishlist!


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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