BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Little Siberia – by Antti Tuomainen #RandomThingsTours #blogtour #Orentober @Orendabooks @annecater

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Little Siberia 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 pick up Antti Tuomainen‘s books for quite some time now, and after reading the blurb of Little Siberia I just couldn’t resist posponing Palm Beach Finland slightly and read this newest story first. I definitely understand the love for his books now! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: Little Siberia
Author: Antti Tuomainen
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 17th 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: October 9th 2019
Pages: 300
(Originally written in Finnish: ‘Pikku Siperia’)

“It seems that the turning points in our lives are always associated with a strange combination of the banal and the extraordinary, like watching a spaceship land in a perfectly everyday landscape.”

*** 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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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. I definitely understand all that buzz around this Finnish dark comedy magician now!

So, dark comedy. Humor is basically a tricky element to introduce in any story, as it is extremely hard to get the tone and type of humor just right. Not everyone likes the same kind of humor, and black humor can go wrong real fast and even become offensive to some readers in a blink of an eye… I’m personally all for dark comedy and sarcasm when done right, and there is one thing for sure: Antti Tuomainen knows how to handle his humor. Sharp, hilarious and blacker than those seemingly endless Finnish nights… Oh yes, Antti Tuomainen‘s humor is definitely right up my alley. He is not only able to make me chuckle with his wittily wicked comments, but somehow he is also able to combine it flawlessly with one of my favorite genres. Humor and crime are not exactly natural partners, no matter how dark that humor might be, but Little Siberia makes you realize just how well both work together when someone who knows what he’s doing takes the reins.

That’s not the only thing that stands out in Little Siberia though. The remote and small town Hurmevaara up in Northern Finland is without doubt the perfect setting for this story. The descriptions of the setting are thorough, plentiful and really make the story come alive for me. The remoteness, the cold, the closeness to the Russian border… It all plays a carefully crafted role in the plot and Hurmevaara isn’t just an ordinary setting that could be swapped with a different town. Instead, Hurmevaara almost feels like yet another character of this story and its existence is basically essential to the plot. That same plot is both highly original, addictive and basically an emotional rollercoaster ride. The basics of this story are actually quite simple, but you soon realize that the finale of Little Siberia is constantly being dangled in front of you like a carrot, while at the same time little plot twist bones are being thrown your way to keep you hungry for more. Less in more in this case, although it is true that we still have quite a cast of characters to juggle.

What I love of this story is that the main character Joel is actually a priest. Quite unexpected and without doubt the driving force behind the successful introduction of humor into the plot… Joel has a fascinating history and his development is undeniably key to the story. Through his character, we are introduced both to the crime element and the more poignant story of his home life. After recent events, Joel is forced to fight for what he thinks is right, and decides to play both security guard and amateur detective to do so. This leads to all kinds of witty, awkward and even dangerous situations, and Little Siberia consequently has a healthy dose of action, suspense and violence in store for you. Things WILL escalate and you will find yourself biting your nails long before the end is in sight… Always having that wicked humor thrown in to ease the tension just when you think you are about to explode. Little Siberia has a very eclectic and well developed mix of characters to enjoy as well, each adding a little something to the plot and the story is all the more interesting because of them. On top of that, Little Siberia most definitely ends with a bang!

Before I stop today’s rambles, a big thank you is in place to David Hackston for enabling us to enjoy this fantastic story through his flawless translation. We are so lucky to have fantastic translators out there who make it possible for us to enjoy our dose of Nordic Noir to the fullest! And there is no doubt that Little Siberia is a little gem. 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!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his
literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. In 2011, Tuomainen’s third novel,
The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’
and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. Two years later, in 2013, the Finnish
press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart
was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the
first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark
and hilarious The Man Who Died (2017) became an international bestseller,
shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards. Palm Beach Finland (2018)
was an immense success, with The Times calling Tuomainen ‘the funniest writer
in Europe’.


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

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Cage Random Things blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve been meaning to read this series for a long time now, and this blog tour was the perfect excuse to binge-read all three books. I’m still kicking myself for not picking up the books sooner! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!

Title: Cage
(Reykjavik Noir Trilogy #3)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes
in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning
playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, including Snare and Trap, the
first two books in the Reykjavik Noir trilogy, which have hit bestseller lists
worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California.
She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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BOOK REVIEW: Snare – by Lilja Sigurðardóttir @Orendabooks #NordicNoir

Title: Snare
(Reykjavik Noir Trilogy #1)

Author: Lilja Sigurdardottir
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 15th 2015
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: September 18th 2019
Pages: 276
(Originally written in Icelandic: ‘Gildran’)

“There was no way out. She was still caught in the snare, and the vicious beast had her in its bloody jaws, ready to rip away the most important part of her.”


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Why o why didn’t I pick up this trilogy sooner?!?! I have always loved a foreign (to me) setting in my stories and 2019 is definitely the year I have rediscovered my love for the Nordic noir genre. There is just something about the combination of a darker and mysterious story and the cold and harsh weather often present in Nordic countries that really makes my heart beat faster and the setting often gives the perfect backdrop for a blood chilling read.

The first book of the Reykjavik Noir Trilogy is mostly set, as you might have guessed already from the title, in Iceland and was originally published in that language. A round of applause for the translator Quentin Bates for giving us the opportunity to meet Sonja, Bragi and the rest of the characters with the help of his translation! The description of the setting is detailed and also incorporates two events in recent Icelandic history most people will remember into the plot: the 2008-2009 banking crisis and the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruptions that caused chaos in Europe with so many canceled flights and stranded travellers (including myself, as I was just about to go on a trip to the day it started). Snare is set in 2010-2011 and makes references to both events, although the criminal investigation involving Agla and the other important bankers plays a far bigger role in the plot. I personally loved these flashes of real historical references mixed in with the fiction, as it made the story feel even more authentic.

But that is not what I loved most of Snare. That prize goes to main character Sonja, Bragi and the whole drugs smuggling and airport customs angle. I admit I went in blind and it was the most fantastic surprise to find such an original plot! Snare wins a lot of brownie points for the drugs smuggling angle alone, but the interesting, well developed and diverse characters also have a lot to do with the success behind this first book of a trilogy I already know will be a new favorite. Every single main character is thoroughly developed and evolves as the story continues… Each character has its flaws and that makes them feel so much more realistic: especially Sonja and Bragi won me over quickly and I can’t wait to see more of them in the sequel.

Snare is not just about drugs smuggling and the corruption investigation; it has so much more to offer… We have the broken family element, the heartbreaking Alzheimer situation with Bragi’s wife, a LGBT angle and a character struggling to come to terms with who she is… We have the danger of the drugs smuggling, the feeling of being trapped in a snare and being in a hopeless and dangerous situation impossible to escape from… On top of that, we have a box filled with plot twists ready to be dropped on you any time, and those twists are well crafted and most definitely will be able to surprise you. The plot is well developed as well and the ending definitely makes me even more excited to pick up the next book soon. The writing is simply a pleasure to the eye! Snare is without doubt an excellent start of a Nordic noir trilogy with a original, exciting and well crafted plot fans of the genre will love. Recommended!


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Blood Song – by Johana Gustawsson #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @Orendabooks @JoGustawsson @givemeawave @annecater

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Blood Song Random Things blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. The first two books of this series already blew me away recently, but Blood Song took it one step further and left me both shell shocked and with my mouth hanging wide open. Or in one word: FLABBERGASTED. Boy, this book hit me hard! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!

Title: Blood Song
(Emily Roy & Alexis Castells #3)
Author: Johana Gustawsson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 19th 2019
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: September 10th 2019
Pages: 300
(Originally written in French)

“We all see the world through our own lens, which is shaped by our past and our upbringing, our desires and our fears.”

*** 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 have lost count of the times the Emily Roy & Alexis Castells series has been recommended to me in the past, and with the first two books waiting impatiently on my shelves I thought joining the blog tour would be the perfect excuse to finally binge read all three books. And guess what? I have definitely joined #TeamRoyandCastells and #TeamJohana! I already reviewed Block 46 and Keeper recently, and now it is time to gush about book number three: Blood Song. I admit it doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while I come across a story that is able to blow me away to such extent that I find myself unable to put a coherent sentence on paper, let alone write a review that would do it justice. This is exactly what happened when I finished reading Blood Song. Not only did I find myself staring at that last page and unable to process what I just read, but the story also gave me one of the biggest book hangovers I’ve had in a long time. After being unable to read or blog for three days straight, I’ve now decided to sit down, get my thoughts on paper and hopefully start the road to recovery. Oh yes, such is the power of this book!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: one of the reasons this series has quickly turned into one of my all time favorites is the fact that it represents a perfectly balanced combination two of my favorite genres: historical fiction and crime thriller. Both genres are combined in an expert and intricate way, making time fluid as you find yourself floating between the past and present. Johana Gustawsson is able to incorporate not only historical facts as well as the present situation, but also a variety of different settings that truly gives this series its international and timeless essence I’ve come to treasure. Not a small feat, as it is extremly hard to juggle so many different storylines without us readers getting lost along the way… But Johana Gustawsson not only makes it work, she turns this multilayered, complex and well crafted plot into a true masterpiece.

Block 46 and Keeper were already excellent reads, but the impossibe happened and Blood Song really took the essence of this series to the next level. The writing is simply sublime and the plot development of both past and present chapters is both thorough, intricate and well researched. On the one hand, we have the historical chapters set during a very difficult period in Spanish history: the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship. I’ve always had a special interest in Spain and its history and I have actually studied the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath during Uni… And Johana Gustawsson does a fantastic job describing the atrocities committed against those against general Franco’s ideas and regime. Heartbreaking, appalling and horrifying: the historical chapters will both thoroughly unsettle you and chill you to the bone. Brutality, child abuse, families torn apart… All used to give a (sadly) extremely realistic view on a very dark chapter of Spanish history.

The present doesn’t give you much respite though, as we both have to deal with a shocking murder case involving the parents of a new favorite character of mine, Aliénor Lindbergh, and the heart-rending and moving topic involving parents struggling to conceive and IVF treatment. I applaude the author for being brave enough to tackle such a personal topic and using her personal experiences in general in her books. It truly makes the stories come alive and really took Blood Song to the next level for me. The murder case really hit me hard as I have grown really fond of Aliénor and it was heartbreaking to have that happening to her. That said, her development in this third books was on point and I loved meeting up with Emily, Alexis and the others again as well. Having a profiler and a true-crime writer as our main character duo gives this series a unique touch and it’s easy to say they are one of my favorite crime duos out there. Especially Alexis, but Emily as well will also experience development on a personal level, and some new details will definitely leave you astounded.

There are so many different elements in Blood Song, each already fascinating on its own, but all combined together they turn this story into one hell of a read. The detailed historical chapters filled with appalling and realistic facts about a dark period in Spanish history, the present day murders, the elements related to the fertility clinic, the personal development of the main characters, the current chapters set in Spain and Sweden… All woven together masterfully into an absolutely brilliant and harrowing story with an ending that will leave you flabbergasted. A big round of applause is also due for the translator David Warriner, who has given us the chance to meet Emily Roy and Alexis Castells and bring this fantastic series into our lives. Blood Song will always have a special place in my heart, and not just for bringing back memories of my time living in Madrid… It’s a book that was able to give me the biggest book hangover in a long time and without doubt a worthy addition to my list of 2019 favorites. Of course I cannot recommend both Blood Song and the rest of the series highly enough! This series is simply an absolute must-read.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Born in Marseille, France, and with a degree in Political Science, Johana Gustawsson
has worked as a journalist for the French and Spanish press and television. Her
critically acclaimed Roy & Castells series has won the Plume d’Argent, Balai de la
découverte, Balai d’Or and Prix Marseillais du Polar awards, and is now published
in nineteen countries. A TV adaptation is currently underway in a French, Swedish
and UK co-production. Johana lives in London with her Swedish husband and
their three sons. She drew on her own experience of fertility clinics and IVF to
write Blood Song and is happy to speak and write pieces about this.


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BOOK REVIEW: Keeper – by Johana Gustawsson @Orendabooks

Title: Keeper
(Emily Roy & Alexis Castells #2)
Author: Johana Gustawsson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 15th 2017
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: August 27th 2019
Pages: 300
(Originally written in French: ‘Mör’)

“The news had hung in mid-air for a moment, a millisecond of incomprehension and doubt when reality only existed in words, as if it were gearing up to hit you where it hurts.”


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And it happened again… As with the first book of the Emily Roy & Alexis Castells series, I’ve been struggling to get a word on paper after finishing Keeper last week. Such is the power of these books! Many fellow bloggers have recommended this series to me over time, and I’ve definitely become a fan. Keeper has only reconfirmed my love for this series, and even a week after I’m still recovering from the shock of this absolutely brilliant and without doubt disturbing read. But it’s time for me to stop procrastinating as I really want to dive into my copy of Blood Song, so let’s see if I can put together a somewhat coherent review…

Like in the first book, the first thing that stands out in Keeper is the combination of two of my favorite genres: historical fiction and crime fiction. And not just any historical period: this sequel involves the infamous Jack The Ripper! That alone is a huge bonus for me, but having both genres merged so successfully really turns this series into something special. Both past and present are excellently developed and Johana Gustawsson has a way of making you feel like you are right there next to the characters. The historical chapters are described realistically and in great detail; I really loved how she incorporated the Jack The Ripper references into the plot as well. The historical chapters give this crime thriller an unique touch and once again really enhanced the reading experience for me.

Another thing I loved is the international setting. Having part of the story set in Sweden definitely added more dept to the story, especially with similar murders being discovered in both London and Sweden. Descriptions of both the Swedish setting and culture are thorough and give you the perfect backdrop for this blood chilling read. Because there is one thing for sure: you will have to prepare yourself for a particularly harrowing and brutal read…Trigger warnings are in place for themes including (child) abuse, addiction and (extreme) violence. Oh yes, this is not just another ‘simple’ serial killer case, and the things you will learn about the past and present will leave you flabbergasted. Keeper is definitely a keeper, but only for those with a strong stomach! You will get some relief though in the form of new favorite characters Emily Roy and Alexis Castells. Apart from the fact that I love that they are not the typical detective leads, but instead are a profiler (Emily Roy) and a true-crime writer (Alexis Castells), I really like both their dynamics and their personal development in this sequel. There was another character that really stood out for me in Keeper though: Aliénor. She really added a little something extra to the present chapters set in Sweden and I hope we will see more of her in the future… That said, the other characters are likewise well developed and it was fascinating to learn more about the who, how and why behind the murders as well as trying to discover how it could be connected to the events in 1888.

The structure of the plot is complex and has multiple POVs, flashbacks and different settings. This only adds to the richness of this story and it is one of the reasons this series in general is one of my favorite new discoveries this year. The chapters are well balanced despite the multiple POVs and settings… Since you already know quite a lot of characters from Block 46, it is really easy to just dive in, forget about pending chores and fully immerse yourself into the story. The writing is simply beautifully and the pace is just right; it was hook, line, and sinker from the very first chapter and I finished this briliant read in no time at all, albeit with a few fingernails less than before. Why? I can guarantee that the excellently developed plot twists, well placed moments of suspense and shocking paragraphs will have you biting your nails and checking your blood pressure repeatedly in no time at all.

In short, if you enjoy a well written, expertly crafted and unique crime thriller with a historical twist, you should definitely schedule yourself a meeting with Emily Roy and Alexis Castells. Both Block 46 and Keeper are exceptional books I can highly recommend to any fan of the genre.


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BOOK REVIEW: Block 46 – by Johana Gustawsson @Orendabooks

Title: Block 46
(Emily Roy & Alexis Castells #1)

Author: Johana Gustawsson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 21st 2016
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: July 26th 2019
Pages: 300
(Originally written in French: ‘Block 46’)

“Whatever she did, the words were dislodged by her thoughts; like a swarm of bees hounded from their hive, they scattered erratically, unable to organise themselves.”


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It’s been three weeks since I finished reading Block 46 and I’m still struggling to get a word on paper. Oh yes, such is the power of this story! After multiple recommendations and reading fantastic reviews about both Block 46 and Keeper, I knew I could not go wrong with this series and I’ve been meaning to pick it up for quite some time now. I think the only reason I hesitated was that I knew I was going to be blown away and that it would be impossible to write a decent review afterwards… Guess what? That is EXACTLY what happened! Even three weeks later, I’m still recovering from the shock of this brilliant and harrowing read, but the time has come to stop procrastinating and try getting something constructive on paper. I do have a copy of Keeper waiting for me I want to read before the blog tour for Blood Song starts next month after all…

The first thing that stands out is that Block 46 is basically a combination of two of my favorite genres: historical fiction and crime fiction. Having both genres merged so beautifully and successfully was a huge bonus for me, as well as the fact that I have a weak spot for WWII stories and the chapters set in Buchenwald were both harrowing and fascinating at the same time. I’ve read my share of WWII fiction, and I truly believe Johana Gustawsson describes and developes the events in the Buchenwald concentration camp thoroughly and realistically. Shocking, gut-wrenching and definitely not for the weak-hearted, but then again the Holocaust was no picnic in the first place. The WWII flashbacks are expertly incorporated into the plot and give us background information as well as a possible explanation about what is happening in the present. They give this crime thriller an unique touch and really enhanced the reading experience for me.

Another thing I loved was the setting: I have a weak spot foreign settings and having part of the present story set in Sweden was a huge bonus for me. Descriptions of both London and Sweden setting were again thorough and really made both places come alive for me. I loved the references to Swedish culture and customs and it gave Block 46 another unique touch. Likewise, I found it to be really easy to connect to the main characters of this story. I’ve become an instant fan of Emily Roy and Alexis Castells, their character development well crafted and realistic and making me root for them as they try to get to the bottom of what is going on. I love that instead of having the typical detective leads, we have a profiler (Emily Roy) and a true-crime writer (Alexis Castells) instead. Talk about an interesting combination! The other characters were likewise well developed and I always love it when we get to glimpse inside the head of a serial killer.

The writing is beautiful and combined with the pace and plot I found myself to be fully absorbed in the story from the very first chapter. The structure of the plot is complex, with multiple POVs and flashbacks, adding to the richness of Block 46 and really taking this story to the next level. This story has also quite a few surprises for you in store; certain developments you definitely won’t see coming and will leave you with your mouth hanging wide open. The suspense is well present and Block 46 definitely ends with a bang! This first book of what I already know will be a very successful series for me is a beautifully written and harrowing read, and 200% worth your time. If you enjoy unique crime thrillers and haven’t met Emily Roy and Alexis Castells yet, now is the time to change that… Go get a copy! Trust me, you won’t regret it.


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