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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WWW Wednesdays #243 – October 23rd

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 two ARCs that are due soon… The first is Cold Fear by Mads Peder Nordbo, a nordic noir sequel set in Greenland I’ve been looking forward to as the first book was excellent. The second is my first Peter May read (finally!): The Noble Path. I’m looking forward to see how I will react to his writing! And I’ve also decided to continue my Spanish reread of the Harry Potter series… Book number six it is!

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Thin Air by Michelle Paver (4/5 stars) REVIEW 25/10
Partly a historical adventure story set in the 1935 Himalayas, partly a ghost story, Thin Air turned out to have a very interesting mix of different elements and it’s a story perfect for this Halloween month or the winter months for that matter.

2. Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson (3/5 stars) REVIEW 28/10
I’m not sure if this was the wrong book at the wrong time for me, or if it’s just that I’m not that used to middle grade books in the first place… But the fact is that I couldn’t help but feel a bit underwhelmed by this story. While the historical aspect of Fever 1793 was brilliantly handled, the characters somehow ended up falling a bit flat for me… I seem to be in the minority though.

3. The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 27/10
After reading Call Me Star Girl earlier this year, I already knew I was going to be in for a treat with this title. I’ve been warned to keep tissues and comfort food close, and that was without doubt solid advice as this story left me with my heart shattered into a million little pieces. The Lion Tamer Who Lost isn’t my usual genre, but I should have worried as Ben and Andrew’s story won me over right from the very first chapter.

4. The Museum Of Extraordinary Thingsby Alice Hoffman (DNF 38%; 0 stars) REVIEW 28/10
I’m not sure if it’s just not the right time for this story or if my book hangover after The Lion Tamer Who Lost would have made me struggle with any book in the first place… But the fact is, I REALLY struggled with The Museum Of Extraordinary Things and I just couldn’t force myself to keep reading any longer. The pace is so so slow and I find the main characters to be quite flat and cliche… I’m really struggling to stay focused and even started skimreading some bits; I definitely wasn’t expecting this reaction as the premise of The Museum Of Extraordinary Things is fascinating.

5. The Neighbours by Nicola Gill (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 23/01/2020
That’s my first 2020 release in the pocket! xD If you are looking for a fun and entertaining romcom with that Bridget Jones vibe, The Neighbours should definitely be on your 2020 wishlist. It’s a superfast read and has both funny and more serious moments incorporated into the plot. Ginny and Cassie make a very unlikely pair, but I had a great time following them despite some of their character traits starting to get on my nerves…

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

As the blogging slump is getting worse every day and it’s becoming almost impossible to write a proper review, I’ve decided to put those ARCs and Orenda beauties on hold and only read backlist titles I can write shorties reviews for. I feel sad for having to do this, but I see no other way out… Also, I’ve decided to go on a blogging break in November (and maybe December too); more about that soon.

I’m hoping to read The Near Witch by V.E. Schwab next as I’m really in the mood for a Halloween read… I’m also going to try and finally read The Whisper Man by Alex North to see what the hype is all about. And what is Halloween month without a Stephen King read?! I was going to read Pet Sematary, but then I remembered I had promised myself to finish the Bill Hodges Trilogy first, so Finders Keepers it is. Hopefully I’ll enjoy it better than the first book. xD And I have a new TBR jar pick! The third Lacy Flint book Like This For Ever by Sharon Bolton… I really enjoyed the first two books, so I have high hopes for this one.


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WWW Wednesdays #242 – October 16th

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 finally reading my copy of Thin Air by Michelle Paver, a cover love buy with a very promising premise and a title I thought would be perfect for this Halloween month. I’m also finally starting The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech, although I admit I’m a bit worried my heart will suffer immensely before I reach the final page… And also that I’ll have yet another impossible review to write afterwards. xD

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Little Siberia by Antti Tuomainen (4/5 stars) REVIEW
The first thing that people seem to mention when it comes to Antti Tuomainen‘s recent books is the way he is able to introduce dark comedy more than successfully into an already solid crime thriller. Nordic noir with a healthy dose of blacker-than-black humor? You can definitely count me in for that! I’ve been looking forward to finally discover his work for some time now, and while I thought it was going to be my pink and fabulous copy of Palm Beach Finland, I’m more than happy my first introduction has been Little Siberia in the end. If you like your humor dark and your Nordic Noir lighting fast, bloodchilling and touching at the same time, Little Siberia is simply a must-read. It’s like a big black bowl of delicious and hilarious crime magic!

2. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (5/5 stars) REREAD
Ove is easily one of my all time favorite characters, and A Man Called Ove was long overdue for a reread… After watching the Swedish movie adaptation last week, I decided to just give in and meet up with Ove again, and the story was just as magical the second time around. The Swedish movie adaptation is highly recommendable as well as it stays so close to the original story and it portrays Ove and the other characters perfectly. I won’t be writing a new review, but you can find my 2016 review here if you are interested.

3. Hydra by Matt Wesolowski (5/5 stars) REVIEW 23/10
Boy, this book blew me away! I already had a brilliant experience with the first Six Stories book, but Hydra left me lost for words and unable to write a proper review… The podcast format, the premise, the characters, the paranormal and horror elements, the writing, the suspense and plot twists… I don’t even know where to start my review, as everything was just pure magic.

4. Like Follow Kill by Carissa Ann Lynch (4/5 stars) REVIEW 20/10
The writing is solid and makes it really easy to fly through those pages. The plot is also well constructed and handled perfectly to keep building up that suspense as well as managing to mislead you successfully. Things can be said about the credibility of certain aspects of the plot, but there is no denying that Like Follow Kill was a very entertaining ride with an ending that I never saw coming and left me flabbergasted. Those final chapters are on fire!! If you enjoy reading psychological thrillers with an unreliable narrator and an explosive twist, Like Follow Kill should definitely be on your wishlist.

5. Infinity + One by Amy Harmon (4/5 stars) REVIEW 25/10
I think most will be aware of the fact that I adore Amy Harmon‘s books by now… I’ve decided to make the wait for her next story Where The Lost Wander a little less painful by tackling some of her backlist titles I still had pending. I was going to finally pick up The Bird And The Sword, but my heart screamed for a dose of contemporary romance and Infinity + One sounded perfect for the job. And it definitely was! While this story isn’t my absolute favorite of her work, it’s undeniably an excellent read fans of the genre will love.

6. The Other Daughter by Shalini Boland (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 05/11
I’ve been a fan of her psychological thrillers ever since the first one came out, and The Other Daughter is another excellent read. Well written and with a humongous plot twist bomb I never saw coming!!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m probably reading Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson next so I can finally finish the final era for the When Are You Reading? challenge… I also need to read the ARC Cold Fear by Mads Peder Nordbo some time soon. And it’s time for another dose of Matt Wesolowski with the third Six Stories book Changeling as soon as I’m able to get my thoughts together and actually finish my review for Hydra. I also need to finally read my latest TBR jar pick The Museum Of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman some time soon.


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