Blog tour: As the Stars Fall by Steve N Lee

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Title: As the Stars Fall

Author: Steve N Lee

Genre: Fiction

Publication date: 25th August 2020

My rating: ★ ★ ★

Summary:

A desperate dog. A scarred girl. A bond nothing can break.

When a young girl suffering with her own tragedy comes across an injured young dog, she can’t resist helping him. Both having braved the worst the world had to throw at them, the pair quickly form an unbreakable bond. They picture their future as an endless stream of adventures filled with love, laughter, and good times.

But life has one last cruel trick to play…

At one moment heart-warming, the next heart-breaking, this is the story of a devoted dog’s roller coaster journey to be the one thing every good dog dreams of being — a best friend. Through a touching tale, As The Stars Fall explores how compassion can make us whole again and friendship can heal even the most broken of hearts.

If you crave a story of love and loss, of compassion and belonging, of friendship that knows no bounds, you need to read As The Stars Fall.

My review:

As the Stars Fall explores the myriad of emotions when dog and human meet and the special bond that is formed through the eyes of Kai, an injured homeless puppy rescued by a kind girl and her dad. Stories like this are always heartfelt and touching however what made this story truly special was witnessing the exciting and strange sounds, smells and feelings from a dog’s perspective. Details such as the scents in Mia and Dad’s house and finding happiness in the small things at home were original and entertaining. I especially enjoyed seeing Kai progressing from a scared and nervous young puppy to a confident and happy companion to Mia and the friendship that transpired was truly unique.

The characters in As the Stars Fall each have their quirks. I particularly adored the way Mia and Dad’s relationship developed through the years and the special role that Kai played in transforming it. Naturally, Mia and Kai became close friends from the start but it was delightful to see how much joy Kai brought to Mia’s life during the difficult period she was experiencing and likewise, Mia rescued Kai from a life threatening situation to only bring him up to be a cheerful and lively dog.

The story line traces many of the main milestones in a dog’s life but also reveals other less significant moments such as times when he is left home alone which allowed the reader to form an even deeper connection. By the end I almost felt as if Kai was my dog and I was completely immersed in the story. This is largely due to the coherent and emphatic writing and natural flow between chapters. The style was fitting without being too formal or unnatural for a dog’s voice.

I adored As the Stars Fall and was completely captivated by Kai and his adventures. I thank the author for providing this book at a very opportune time as I have always wanted a dog and have been considering making it a reality over the past few months and this book offered a different perspective. I highly recommend this book to any dog lovers or readers who love a brilliant story with realistic characters.

Many thanks to the author for providing an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

As the Stars Fall is out to buy now!

About the author:

Apart from animals and writing, Steve’s passion is travel. He’s visited 58 countries and enjoyed some amazing experiences, including cage-diving with great white sharks, sparring with a monk at a Shaolin temple, and watching a turtle lay eggs on a moonlit beach. He’s explored Machu Picchu, Pompeii, and the Great Wall of China, yet for all that, he’s a man of simple tastes — give him an egg sandwich and the TV remote control, and he’ll be happy for hours!

He lives in the North of England with his partner, Ania, and two black cats who graciously allow Steve and Ania to stay in their house.

Blog tour: Crossing in Time by D.L. Orton

Title: Crossing in Time

Author: D.L. Orton

Genre: Science Fiction / Romance

Publication date: 21st April 2015

My rating: ★ ★ ★

Summary:

“When offered a one-way trip to the past, Isabel sacrifices everything for a chance to change the rapidly deteriorating present–and see her murdered lover one last time. When she arrives twenty years in the past, buck naked and mortally wounded, she has 24 hours to convince a stunned but enraptured nineteen-year-old to change their future. Definitely easier said than done, as success means losing him to a brainy, smart-mouthed bombshell (her younger self), and that’s a heart breaker, save the world or not.

This offbeat tale is about falling madly in love when one is too cynical for such things, letting go of pessimism when it’s the last life jacket on a sinking ship, and racing against the clock when one doesn’t have the proper footwear. It’s a coming-of-age story for old fogeys, a how-to-make-love guide for diehard celibates, and a laugh-out-loud tragedy with a hopeful twist.”

My review:

Unaware of the mayhem that is about to occur and change the fate of humanity, Isabel runs into her old love, Diego, and the two quickly relive their relationship. The first part of the book focused solely on the feelings and connection between these two characters, briefly pausing on their past mistakes and reflecting on their choices. Their love story didn’t seem too far fetched and I appreciated how they became a stronger couple by recognising their errors and working on their differences.

The time travel element was introduced far into the book after allowing enough time for the reader to connect with the main characters. I was dubious at first that the focus on time travel would be too forced however I was pleasantly surprised at how well developed this side of the story was.

Unfortunately I lost the rhythm at the part where Isabel travels back in time to meet Diego. There were certain moments which felt too uncomfortable as Isabel attempts to prepare Diego for the moment they will “meet” in his reality and almost drills into him how he should act and think around her. I realise that Diego was much younger here and Isabel was pressed for time as she tried to save humanity, but there were many scenes where I thought they were completely different characters.

Crossing in Time explores complex relationships and human emotions and offers the perfect mix of Science Fiction and Romance. I found a few inconsistencies between the time travel versions of the main characters however I still enjoyed the book despite this setback. It filled me with hope and positive energy and posed a series of important questions about what it means to be human.

Many thanks to Dave at TheWriteReads for providing an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Crossing in Time is out to buy now!

Blog tour: Catalyst by Tracy Richardson

Title: Catalyst

Author: Tracy Richardson

Genre: YA Science Fiction / Fantasy

Publication date: 2nd June 2020

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Summary:

Marcie is spending her summer working on the archeological dig that her mother runs: Angel Mounds, a site of an ancient indigenous civilization. Soon after she arrives, she meet some intriguing individuals, and becomes wrapped up in a supernaturally-charged mission to save the planet from the destruction man has brought upon itself.

Marcie Horton has a sixth sense. Not in the “I see dead people” way, but . . . well, maybe a little. She feels a sort of knowing about certain things that can’t be explained-an intuition that goes beyond the normal. Then there was that one summer four years ago, when she connected with a long-departed spirit . . . But nothing that incredible has happened to Marcie since.
This summer, Marcie is spending time working at Angel Mounds, the archeological dig her mother heads, along with her brother, Eric, and his girlfriend, Renee. The dig is the site of an ancient indigenous civilization, and things immediately shift into the paranormal when Marcie and her teammates meet Lorraine and Zeke. The two mysterious dig assistants reveal their abilities to access the Universal Energy Field with their minds-something Marcie knows only vaguely that her brother has also had experience with. Marcie learns how our planet will disintegrate if action is not taken, and she and her team must decide if they are brave enough to help Lorraine and Zeke in their plan to save Mother Earth, her resources, and her history. It looks like the summer just got a lot more interesting.

My review:

Catalyst follows Marcie, a young girl spending the summer at an archaeological dig. As such, the setting was well constructed and different to what I expected. There was some insight into the archaeological aspect which I found interesting and would have preferred a deeper focus on this even though I realise that it isn’t the main theme of the book.

The author tackles the difficult subject matter of fracking and environmental change with enthusiasm and weaves it into the main story line with ease. However, it sometimes felt too superficial and hurried as the point of view bounced from character to character in an attempt to capture different opinions on this controversial subject.

The magic and fantasy elements were well incorporated and developed and I liked how the characters didn’t immediately warm to their newfound powers. However, I wish that these powers were explored at a greater level as by the end I still had many questions about how they work.

Catalyst brings an element of youthful fun with the romance and setting while also analysing several extensive topics. This has its positive side but it also seemed like there were too many factors to juggle in such a short space and by the end I felt like the author only briefly touched on some of these topics even though the character development was strong. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the book and the author’s courage to highlight such a thought-provoking message.

Many thanks to Dave at TheWriteReads for providing an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Catalyst is out to buy now!

The importance of pace in thrillers

Studious Saturday

After struggling through a strange period during the beginning of the lockdown where I was unable to concentrate on reading for more than 10 minutes, I finally managed to finish several thrillers which were stuck on my TBR list for a while. They each had positive and negative features but a common factor which helped me determine the rating was the use of pace.

I have discussed the importance of beginnings and endings before but had never truly considered pace as a key element of the genre until now. Exceptional additions to the genre usually involve a solid beginning, a compelling plot and a set of charismatic characters. However, after carefully analysing why I didn’t fully enjoy some of the more recent thrillers that I read, I realised that the common trait which ultimately prompted my decision to give an average rating was pace.

Does slow pace make the reader lose interest?

I have noticed that focusing on setting and character development is often the main goal of many authors, particularly in the mystery & thriller genre. Many authors prefer to flesh out their main characters while introducing some other minor characters and others concentrate on creating an atmospheric setting. This works well in many thrillers, especially when the writing is crisp and articulate. However, it sometimes hinders the pace as a huge chunk of the beginning and middle is absorbed by character growth and descriptions and little movement. Although I appreciate a slower pace in historical fiction and contemporary fiction, I often find that setting the pace too slow in thrillers loses emphasis on the suspense and doesn’t engage the reader fully.

Does pace always need to be dynamic?

Pace will always have peaks and valleys in books and the thriller genre is no exception. Keeping the reader fully invested will involve a combination of both highs and lows in pace – lots of action and edge of your seat moments mixed in with reflection of the characters’ decisions. When executed well this combination has the potential to create an unforgettable experience for the reader. It works particularly well in spy and legal thrillers in which the author builds up the tension right before a huge revelation or when delivering a twist. However, in psychological thrillers a constantly changing pace sometimes provokes a sense of unease in the reader as it doesn’t reflect the nature of the genre as the focus is naturally on the characters rather than the pace.

Is fast pace the solution to a gripping thriller?

Many thrillers have a constantly set fast pace with lots of action, the occasional red herring and many twists. These are usually my preferred choice of reading although I don’t believe that fast pace is the answer to a gripping thriller. While it may keep the reader invested for longer, if the characters or plot aren’t interesting enough a fast pace will only create confusion and still make the book fall short of the reader’s expectations. A steady pace with a few unexpected twists coupled with an engaging plot and characters often has a bigger impact than a book with a fast pace but little space for the characters’ backstory.

Pace is an extremely important element in thrillers and one that I believe all authors should consider. Changes in pace are often based on the author’s intentions of how and when twists are delivered and the suspects revealed so it is key that the pace echoes these decisions. Pace is a very powerful tool of building tension and suspense and when used well can create memorable moments that satisfy the reader and have a positive impact on their final verdict of the book. However, authors should not rely only on pace as character growth and plot are equally influential and should not be forgotten.

Question time

Do you believe that pace is an important aspect in thrillers?

Blog tour: The Friday Edition by Betta Ferrendelli

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Title: The Friday Edition

Author: Betta Ferrendelli

Genre: Mystery

Publication date: 6th July 2012

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Summary:

“Christmas is coming to Denver, Colorado, but it isn’t only snow that’s falling.

A beautiful young woman, who also happens to be a Truman County Assistant DA, tumbles from her apartment balcony to her death on Christmas Eve.

The incident is ruled a suicide, but the DA’s sister, newspaper reporter Samantha Church, isn’t buying it.

Feverishly Samantha throws herself into finding out what really happened to her sister. She pursues her sister’s killers, maneuvering through a minefield of intrigue deliberately set out to divert her from the truth. She invariably stumbles when confronted by the inescapable specter of a greater enemy: the alcohol dependency that has already cost her the respect of her peers, and, worse, custody of her daughter.

Samantha must summon the courage to face not only a cartel of criminals, but also her own demons. Physically threatened and betrayed, she nearly defeats herself through her own insecurities and fears. She not only must summon the courage to get beyond her own shortcomings, but she must work quickly to beat her nemesis – a reporter at the major metropolitan daily newspaper, who is also in close pursuit of the developing story.

Can Samantha ultimately prevail, write the biggest story of her career, and finally begin to change her life before it is too late?

My review:

The Friday Edition starts daringly as we discover that a woman has died after falling from her apartment’s balcony. The authorities are quick to label the incident as a suicide however Samantha Church, who we later discover is the woman’s sister, is not convinced. This strong beginning had me immediately hooked and I was eager to learn more.

The author successfully manages to develop Samantha as a protagonist, ambitious and hungry for the truth while fighting her own battles. Although I didn’t like her character and found her frustrating at times, it is clear as the story line develops that her close bond with her sister is the main reason behind her drive and is a character trait that I found admirable. My aversion to her personality largely stems from her lack of initiative to reconcile her family life and focus on her health. Throughout the book her relationship with her husband and daughter deteriorated and her alcoholism worsened and at no point did she decide to take action to improve these aspects of her life which I found irritating. The remaining minor characters were not unlikable however did not manage to impress as they often felt insignificant to the plot.

In terms of the story line, the author had some solid ideas and the pace at which these were developed felt right however there were times where the main mystery seemed to go off track. I was keen to follow Samantha to try and expose the murderer however a lot of the story line focused on Samantha’s history which, although makes sense considering this is the first book in the series, I was ultimately not interested in. Some parts felt moving, such as learning about Samantha’s childhood and how it shaped her life, however others I found unnecessary.

I was left with mixed feelings after finishing The Friday Edition. Although the beginning felt engaging the story line wavered and sometimes felt detached. A lack of interest in the characters also didn’t help but I also understand that the author was building the groundwork for this series. The Friday Edition would be a good read for fans of the genre who are hoping to read an uncomplicated murder mystery.

Many thanks to Dave at TheWriteReads for providing an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Friday Edition is out to buy now!

My reading and blogging goals for 2020 and a reflection of 2019

Studious Saturday

As tradition calls, I have decided to look back on my achievements from last year and prioritise my goals for this year. 2019 was a difficult year in many ways but it was also very rewarding as I managed to read many wonderful books and grow my blog in a way I never thought was possible.

These were my goals from last year:

Read 55 books – achieved!

I finished my 55th book on New Year’s Eve! I don’t know how this always happens but in 2017 and 2018 I found myself flipping through the pages of a tense thriller which made reaching my Goodreads challenge so much easier. The same happened on New Year’s Eve 2019 when I was halfway through The Whisper Man and just couldn’t wait to see what happens.

Branch out to other genres – achieved!

This was probably the goal that I was most focused on last year and I am happy to say that I managed to achieve it. I read several Science Fiction and Dystopia novels as well as a Poetry book and a few Non-Fiction books for book club. This has made my reading experience much more valuable and I find myself reflecting on the books I have read a lot more as I am no longer reading just thrillers and contemporary literature.

Discover Spanish Contemporary Literature – failed miserably!

I feel ashamed to say that, despite living in Spain and being surrounded by books in Spanish, I didn’t read even one Spanish book last year. I already have 2 Spanish novels at home waiting for me in my bookcase but I kept putting off reading them until the end of the year when it was already too late. I hope to rectify this in 2020 as I am sure that reading in Spanish will benefit my knowledge and use of the language a lot.

Schedule my posts in advance – achieved!

Although I didn’t always schedule my posts in advance, I usually had a clear idea of the blog posts I want to write and book for the next month. Most of my book reviews were usually written and scheduled at least one day before publication which made organising my blog so much easier than before.

Design a new look for my blog – sort of achieved?

I redesigned my blog in April last year in time for my one year blogiversary however I am still not too pleased with the new design. I hope to do some more research this year to understand how I can use WordPress custom designs to my advantage and will hopefully redesign my blog layout again.

Summary: I reached most of my goals for 2019 and I am especially pleased to have read a much more diverse range of literature. I didn’t focus much on my blog design and layout after the redesign at the beginning of the year but I managed to organise my blogging to fit my schedule by planning and writing posts in advance.

My goals for 2020

Read 55 books from a variety of genres

I have decided to keep the same Goodreads challenge as 2019 and also keep my goal of reading books from many different genres. I hope to branch out into Young Adult and Fantasy this year and maybe try a few Romance books again.

Discover Spanish Contemporary Literature

I will try to reach this goal this year after completely discarding it at the end of last year. As I already have some books in Spanish at home I hope that it won’t be too difficult to achieve as long as I put time aside to focus on them rather than my most recent ARCs or my kindle.

Don’t overload myself with ARCs

I went overboard with ARCs last year and at one point found myself too overwhelmed with deadlines and had to force myself to write  reviews. I don’t enjoy this part of blogging and have decided that for this year I will only read one ARC per month to spread them out across the year. I also want to keep my Netgalley average above 80% so hopefully this goal will help me meet that target.

Redesign my blog

There is still a long way to go until I feel completely happy with my blog design. I am not very knowledgeable in this area so I know that I will have to do some research beforehand so it is quite possible that this goal might be postponed until the end of the year. However, I know that design is very important for first impressions so I want to ensure that I focus on this area as well.

Get more involved in the book blogging community

I am so pleased to have found many wonderful book bloggers who I have formed connections with through this community but lately I feel like I am less inclined to blog hop and find new bloggers. I hope to correct this in 2020 as this is a fundamental part of book blogging and also a great way to get to know others, find new books and share new ideas. I have set a preliminary target of blog hopping at least twice per week although I know that this might be hard to reach over the next three months when I know that I will have other career and travel related goals planned.

Those are my goals for 2020. Most of all, I hope to read many more interesting books across different genres and also try to read more in Spanish. I enjoy blogging but I hope to focus more on design and also find time to discover new bloggers in the community.

Question time

What are your reading and blogging goals for 2020?

My top books of 2019

Studious Saturday

It feels surreal to write this but… it’s almost 2020! This year has had some great and not so great moments but one of my favourite aspects to reflect on is my favourite books of the year. Before I started writing this post a few books immediately jumped out without me even having to think too hard. I decided to split my top books into backlist and those published in 2019, similar to last year’s post Studious Saturday: My Top Books of 2018. You can read my thoughts in full for each book in the below links.

Top books published in 2019

Book CoverBook CoverBook Cover

5. Girl, Woman, Other

4. No Way Out

3. The Passengers

2. Twisted

1. The Chestnut Man

There was no doubt for me that The Chestnut Man deserves the top spot on my list; it was dark, original and gripping. However, it was difficult to narrow down the other 3 thrillers as they were all extremely well written. Twisted won the battle for me as it had the most intense plot but The Passengers was equally engrossing as it comprised of a set of especially unique characters. Cara Hunter’s addition to the DI Fawley series, No Way Out, did not disappoint and I felt had to be included in this list. Finally, although I found some issues with the writing style of Girl, Woman, Other, the subject matter was perhaps the most interesting I have read this year and is a book I have been recommending a lot lately.

Top backlist books

Book CoverBook CoverBook Cover

5. Beartown

4. I Am the Messenger

3.Circe

2. Where the Crawdads Sing

1. Changeling

 

I am happy that I managed to tackle the long list of backlist books this year and even more pleased that several of those books quickly became some of my favourites. It wasn’t easy to pick the top spot between Changeling and Where the Crawdads Sing because even though I loved them both for different reasons, the writing style and setting is very different. However, Changeling ultimately managed to convince me with its slick plot and excellent storytelling. A surprise for me this year was Circe which I read in January for book club and was a wonderful introduction to a new genre. I also decided to read more of one of my favourite authors, Markus Zusak, and it took me a very long time to get over the brilliant ending of I Am the Messenger. Later on in the year I read Beartown, an excellent book that stayed with me for a long time and made me reflect on several aspects of life.

Some of these books have certainly made their way to my favourites to date and I am so pleased for the recommendations, advanced reader’s copies and other opportunities through the book blogging community. I can’t wait to tackle the remainder of my TBR list next year and for even more exciting thrillers and thought-provoking contemporary and historical fiction.

Question time

What are your favourite books of 2019?

Book review: The Bridge of Little Jeremy by Indrajit Garai


Title: The Bridge of Little Jeremy

Author: Indrajit Garai

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: Indrajit Garai

Publication date: 17th March 2019

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Summary:

“Jeremy’s mother is about to go to prison for their debt to the State. He is trying everything within his means to save her, but his options are running out fast.
Then Jeremy discovers a treasure under Paris.
This discovery may save his mother, but it doesn’t come for free. And he has to ride over several obstacles for his plan to work.
Meanwhile, something else is limiting his time…

My review:

The Bridge of Little Jeremy is a heartfelt story that highlights the importance of family and the need for resilience when life throws an array of struggles at you. Despite his age and lack of life experience, Jeremy is able to help his mother through many financial hardships using his sense of adventure, reflection and wit.

My favourite part of this book was the simplicity in friendship and family relationships that played a vital part in highlighting the main themes. Jeremy  is a quiet and thoughtful boy who spends a lot of time with his dog, Leon, and the beauty of this friendship was wonderfully portrayed. Similarly, Leon’s relationship with his mother was just as special and reciprocated making it great to see both mother fret over her son and son take care of his mother.

Unfortunately there wasn’t much plot and this made the pace seem too uneven. I also felt that there was too much self-doubt and questioning coming from Jeremy as he struggled with many decisions. Several moments in the book were filled with a question/answer section and I found this too repetitive and unnecessary.

It was a pleasure to join Jeremy and Leon in the many adventures around Paris. The beautiful setting and wonderful relationships created a feel good atmosphere that stayed with me a long time after finishing the book. I highly recommend this book to anyone hoping to experience the beauty of humanity and celebrate the simplicity in life.

The Bridge of Little Jeremy is now out to buy!

Many thanks to Estelle for providing a free advanced reader’s copy in exchange for my honest review.

Book review: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo


Title: Girl, Woman, Other

Author: Bernardine Evaristo

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: Grove Atlantic

Publication date: 5th November 2019 (Kindle)

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Summary:

“The twelve central characters of this multi-voiced novel lead vastly different lives: Amma is a newly acclaimed playwright whose work often explores her Black lesbian identity; her old friend Shirley is a teacher, jaded after decades of work in London’s funding-deprived schools; Carole, one of Shirley’s former students, works hard to earn a degree from Oxford and becomes an investment banker; Carole’s mother Bummi works as a cleaner and worries about her daughter’s lack of rootedness despite her obvious achievements. Other central characters include a nonbinary social media influencer, a 93-year-old woman living on a farm in Northern England, and a woman who retires to Barbados harboring a secret of sex and betrayal. Class, race, age, sexuality, and chance separate and connect this constellation of unforgettable characters, as Evaristo shows with great artistry how our worldview is inevitably shaped by our background and how we are all linked by the fabric of society.

Sparklingly witty and filled with emotion, centering voices we often see othered, and written in an innovative and fast-moving form that borrows from poetry, Girl, Woman, Other is a polyphonic and richly textured social novel that reminds us of everything that connects us to our neighbors, even in times when we are encouraged to be split apart.

My review:

Girl, Woman, Other is an ode to identity, strength and perseverance. It follows twelve women of different ages and socioeconomic backgrounds with different pasts and goals whose paths cross at some point in their lives. It narrates the struggles these women have faced, from abuse to social exclusion, and praises the successes of each one however small or big they may be. It explores complex topics like race, sexuality and spirituality through its twelve diverse characters. And most of all, it celebrates these women as the beautifully flawed people they are and gives room for reflection without any bias.

When it comes to character and setting, Evaristo proudly and rightfully shows off her incredible storytelling skills as she builds up to the final chapters where the twelve characters’ journeys collide. Each character is unique in her identity and I adored getting to know them all. Although there were twelve different stories, there was never a moment where I felt that the narrative was too repetitive or the stories too similar. By the end the characters came to life and their adventures felt so vivid that they could easily have been real.

Unfortunately I struggled a lot with the writing style and pace. The book is written in prose with no full stops and, although I admire this unconventional style which fits with the tone of the book, I could not get used to this structure and found my thoughts drifting with the lack of punctuation. As a result it took me a very long time to finish the book as I was forced to keep reading back to understand what had happened. For me this was the biggest drawback and had it not been for this style I would have easily considered this to be the book of the year.

Despite not taking a liking to the writing style, I still found a lot to love in Girl, Woman, Other. It felt revolutionary to me, partly because I am ashamed to say that I did not previously consider the struggles that black women face in society. This book truly opened my eyes to some of these hardships and encouraged me to reflect on this more, which I am very grateful for. After finishing Girl, Woman, Other I can completely understand why it won the 2019 Booker Prize and will continue to encourage others to read this book so they can understand it for themselves.

Girl, Woman, Other is now out to buy!

Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing a free advanced reader’s copy in exchange for my honest review.

Book review: The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup


Title: The Chestnut Man

Author: Søren Sveistrup

Genre: Thriller

Publisher: Penguin

Publication date: 10th January 2019

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Summary:

“The police make a terrible discovery in a suburb of Copenhagen. A young woman has been killed and dumped at a playground. One of her hands has been cut off, and above her hangs a small doll made of chestnuts.

Young detective Naia Thulin is assigned the case. Her partner is Mark Hess, a burned-out investigator who’s just been kicked out of Europol’s headquarters in The Hague. They soon discover a mysterious piece of evidence on the chestnut man – evidence connecting it to a girl who went missing a year earlier and is presumed dead, the daughter of politician Rosa Hartung. A man confessed to her murder, and the case is long since solved.

Soon afterwards, another woman is found murdered, along with another chestnut man. Thulin and Hess suspect that there’s a connection between the Hartung case, the murdered women and a killer who is spreading fear throughout the country. But what is it?

Thulin and Hess are racing against the clock, because it’s clear that the murderer is on a mission that is far from over . . .

My review:

“Chestnut Man, do come in.

Chestnut Man, do come in.

Have you any chestnuts that you’ve brought for me today?

Thank you, kindly… won’t you stay?”

Dark, intense, stunning – there simply aren’t enough words to describe the brilliance of this book! I was awake until the small hours of the night and left guessing right until the end.

After a young girl is found ruthlessly murdered with one of her hands cut off and a small chestnut hanging above her, detectives Thulin and Hess are called in to investigate the ghastly killing. The murderer strikes again soon after and this time the next victim is found with both hands cut off, urging the team to realise that they are running against time, dealing with a skilled murderer who is always one step ahead of them.

The characters are impressive and just enough details revealed of their personal lives to allow the reader to form a connection with both Thulin and Hess. Both detectives are portrayed as talented and resilient and still there were several parts during the book where they took me by surprise. There is also a group of other minor characters who are introduced and sometimes reappear based on how the investigation is progressing and the author handles these transitions effortlessly. Although these minor characters are too many to recall, it never feels overwhelming or confusing and the interactions between the detectives and the other characters is always relevant to the crime.

The plot is intense and filled with surprises and twists. There were many opportunities to guess the murderer as little snippets of information were revealed along the course of the investigation. Although these details may not seem relevant at first, each piece of information is ultimately consistent with the profile of the murderer and is revisited in the last chapters where the chestnut man is revealed.

I believe that the success of this book is ultimately related to the fast pace and brilliant writing style. Sveistrup writes with flair but without unnecessary complications or unnatural word choice. It was shocking to find out that this is a debut as based on the writing style I am surprised that he is not a bestselling author.

A powerful plot and range of diverse characters were the winning points in this book for me, along with the fast-paced and never ending action and excellent writing. I was certain that I couldn’t love The Chestnut Man more until I reached the ending and was left in shock when the murderer was unmasked. It surpasses many other books in the Nordic Noir genre and is easily the best Thriller I have read this year.