What I read in April| #KimsKaffeeKlatsch #amreading

I would like to thank Netgalley, the respective publishers and the respective authors for the copies of the following books in exchange for my honest review. 


As always on #KimsKaffeeKlatsch, I have paired up my reads with my recommended coffee recipe. After all what is a good book without the decadently delicious aroma of strong coffee. So curl up on your favourite couch, light the fire, brew your favourite coffee and lets klatsch delicious books and thrilling coffee. 

   

Summit Lake | Charlie Donlea

[Kensington Books | ISBN: 9781496700988]

Set in a small, picturesque North Carolina town, Charlie Donlea’s suspenseful debut novel tells the haunting story of a murdered law school student, the reporter assigned to her story—and the intimate connection that comes when the living walk in the footsteps of the dead.

“No suspects. No persons of interest. Just a girl who was alive one day and dead the next.”

Some places seem too beautiful to be touched by horror. Summit Lake, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is that kind of place, with charming stilt houses dotted along the pristine water. But two weeks ago, Becca Eckersley, a first-year law student, was brutally murdered in one of those houses. The daughter of a powerful attorney, Becca was hard-working, accomplished, and ambitious. Now, while the town reels with grief and shocked residents gather to share their theories, the police are baffled. 

At first, investigative reporter Kelsey Castle thinks of the assignment as a fluff piece. But the savagery of the crime, and the determined efforts to keep the case quiet, all hint at something far more than a random attack by a stranger. As Kelsey digs deeper into the mystery, pushing on despite danger and warnings, she feels a growing connection to the dead girl. And the more she learns about Becca’s friendships, her love life—and the secrets she was keeping—the more convinced she becomes that learning the truth about Becca could be the key to overcoming her own dark past…

This book surprised me in more ways than one. Initially the blurb and the cover had me interested but not completely intrigued. But the moment I opened up the book and began to read, the author had me intrigued. I loved the main character Kelsey Castle. Kelsey Castle is the type of female fiction lead that I love reading about. She is smart, witty, resourceful and has a wonderful depth to her that this story has only begun to peel back. I also loved that she is a flawed character with her own demons to fight. She is not a cookie-cutter protagonist but then again Summit Lake is not a cookie-cutter mystery. She is an interesting and original fully-layered character that I doubt, at least I hope, we have seen the last of. I like smart writing and layered characters especially in my mysteries and thrillers. Charlie Donlea has both of these elements in this story. 

The premise of the story seems fairly simply and straightforward but with the turn of each page, more layers are pulled back to reveal a story that is plotted well and a cast of characters that keep surprising the reader. The story is told smoothly and seamlessly in two alternating viewpoints: Kelsey, main protagonist, and Becca, the victim. There is never a clear antagonist and each time I thought I knew who the killer was, another layer was peeled back for me and I was in the dark guessing again. I love a good twist or two in my tales but I especially love it when the twist comes when you least expect it. This story has more than a few twists to the tale yet the clues the author gives us are so well-drawn and so subtle that you don’t feel like you could know the ending until you get there. I love it when a climax surprises me and this story’s climax definitely did that. 

☕️☕️☕️☕️

This is a book about secrets. Secrets the characters keep from each other, secrets they don’t want to face, secrets at the heart of a small town. Summit Lake earned a solid 4 stars from me. This was a a very strong debut and I can’t wait to see what Charlie Donlea writes next. I know I’ll be first in line to read his next book. 

Author’s Website

Buy the Book

Add it on Goodreads

For Summit Lake I recommend 4 sweet mugs of Chocolate Coffee Kisses



Recipe | Chocolate Coffee Kiss

Ingredients

3/4 fluid ounce coffee liqueur

3/4 fluid ounce Irish cream liqueur

1/2 fluid ounce creme de cacao liqueur

1 teaspoon brandy-based orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier(R))

1 cup hot brewed coffee

2 tablespoons whipped cream

1 1/2 fluid ounces chocolate syrup

1 maraschino cherry

Directions

In a coffee mug, combine coffee liqueur, Irish cream, creme de cacao and Grand Marnier. Fill mug with hot coffee. Top with a dollop of whipped cream, drizzle with chocolate syrup and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️



The Lion’s Mouth|Anne Holt

[Scribner | ISBN: 9781501123238]

From the internationally bestselling author of 1222, called the “godmother of modern Norwegian crime” by Jo Nesbø, the next book in the Edgar Award–nominated mystery series: Hanne Wilhelmsen is on the case when someone murders the prime minister of Norway.

Less than six months after taking office, the Norwegian Prime Minister is found dead. She has been shot in the head. But was it a politically motivated assassination or personal revenge?

Hanne Wilhelmsen, Chief Inspector of the Norwegian Police, is on leave in California but when the death shakes the country to its core, she knows she can’t remain on the sidelines of such a crucial investigation. The hunt for the Prime Minister’s killer is complicated, intense, and grueling. When secrets begin to unravel from the Prime Minister’s past, Hanne and her partner, Billy T., must piece together the crime before a private tragedy becomes a public outcry, in what will become the most sensitive case of their career.

Filled with lies, deception, and the truth about government, The Lion’s Mouth questions who truly holds the power in Norway, and how far they will go to keep it…

This is my first Anne Holt novel. For the last three years or so, I have been introduced to Scandinavian noir and I have quickly fallen in love with these cool thrillers and mysteries. I had not heard of Anne Holt but the moment I saw this book on Netgalley I knew I wanted to read it.

From the opening of this book, I was intrigued. I love locked room mysteries and I do like political intrigue and this book opens with both. For all intents, it looked like I was in for another enjoyable read. But as I read on, I was disappointed. The premise of this book was brilliant and the characterisations of each character was done very well. But this story quickly became clunky and confusing to me. There seemed to be too many characters for me to keep interested. I didn’t particularly like the main investigator, Billy T, either. I have never taken more than a day or two to finish a Scandinavian mystery/thriller but I took weeks to finish this story. As for the political intrigue, the politics of this books seemed a little too dry for my own tastes.


☕️☕️☕️

I’m in two minds on this review. The characterisations were well-written and there were definite moments that grabbed me but ultimately there were fewer page-turner moments for me. This left the plot feeling clunky with too many dry political details and too many characters, and muddied what should have been a really good read. I give this book a sober 3 stars. 

Buy the Book

Add it on Goodreads

For The Lion’s Mouth I recommend three strong, rich shots of espresso-ristretto.


Recipe | Espresso Ristretto

INGREDIENTS

1/4 oz (7 g) ground espresso coffee, pod or capsule

INSTRUCTIONS

It is the smallest of them all, but it commands respect. Dedicated to those who don’t like half measures, Espresso ristretto has a strong character where everything is focused on a single goal: pure, decisive pleasure. Served without sugar, it is the passion of those who prefer coffee without distractions.

To prepare the smallest coffee of them all, follow the classic method, using your Espresso machine as usual with a capsule, pod or ground coffee. Only one thing changes: the extraction time is shorter.

Start the machine and stop it when you have 20 ml (1 tbsp plus 1 tsp) of Espresso and in any case not before 25 seconds have passed: this is the minimum time necessary for obtaining a cup rich in aroma.

 So tell me what books have you been curling up with, and what’s your caffeine indulgence of choice?

Thrilling Secrets and Tantalising Lies | #amreading #KimsKaffeeKlatsch

I would like to thank Netgalley, the respective publishers and the respective authors for the copies of the following books in exchange for my honest review.

 As always on #KimsKaffeeKlatsch, I have paired up my reads with my recommended coffee recipe. After all what is a good book without the  decadently delicious aroma of strong coffee. So curl up on your favourite couch, light the fire, brew your favourite coffee and lets klatsch delicious books and thrilling coffee. 

  

  

The Forgotten Girls | Sara Blaedel

[Grand Central Publishing, ISBN:  9781455581511]
“In a forest in Denmark, a ranger discovers the fresh corpse of an unidentified woman. A large scar on one side of her face should make the identification easy, but nobody has reported her missing. After four days, Louise Rick—the new commander of the Missing Persons Department—is still without answers. But when she releases a photo to the media, an older woman phones to say that she recognizes the woman as Lisemette, a child she once cared for in the state mental institution many years ago. Lisemette, like the other children in the institution, was abandoned by her family and branded a “forgotten girl.” But Louise soon discovers something more disturbing: Lisemette had a twin, and both girls were issued death certificates over 30 years ago. As the investigation brings Louise closer to her childhood home, she uncovers more crimes that were committed—and hidden—in the forest, and finds a terrible link to her own past that has been carefully concealed…”

I am obsessed with the Scandinavian Noir genre so I am always pleased to be introduced to another brilliant author in this genre. Sara Blaedel is a new author to me but after reading The Forgotten Girls, I am adding her as a new favourite. 

The Forgotten Girls is the seventh book in the Louise Rick Series. But don’t let this deter you. Although I had not read any of the other books in her series, this did not leave me lost. Louise Rick is a woman haunted by the past and haunted by secrets, both her own and the cases she investigates as head of a new Missing Persons branch. These secrets kept me turning the pages, searching for answers that tantalised me just on the edge of my vision. 

The story is set in the very atmospheric forests of Denmark. Sara Blaedel’s mastery of this atmospheric setting lends a haunting and mysterious tone that sets the theme beautifully for this disturbing story about past secrets and the unspoken guilt that lies at the heart of these secrets. The plot reminds me of a puzzle box. The further you go into the story, the more layers of secrets you uncover, the more puzzling the mystery becomes. Just when you think you have the answers, another hidden box is revealed. 

This is not a thriller that will have you looking behind the curtains or jumping at the strangest noises. But it is definitely a slow-burning, haunting and disturbing mystery. 

* * * *

I give it 4/5 stars simply because from the blurb I thought it would have more of a thriller vibe. This is a fantastic book to read around a camp fire in a dark forest or curled up on your favourite couch with just the light of a crackling fireplace and haunting soft candle-light.

Author’s Website

About the book, In the Author’s Own Words

Buy The Book

Add the book on Goodreads

For The Forgotten Girls (Sara Blaedel) I recommend at least 4 large mugs of strong Cowboy coffee.
   

The Recipe | Campfire/Cowboy Coffee

  • Use two tablespoons of fine grind coffee, (or auto-drip grind), per 8oz of water
  • *The finer grind will allow more flavor extraction in less time, and the finer coffee grinds will sink to the bottom easier than more coarse grinds that float more.
  • Pour your measured amount of water into the coffee pot, (just the water – no coffee yet), put the pot on the fire and bring the water to a boil
  • Remove from the fire, let sit 30 or 40 seconds to come off full-boil temperature
  • Add the measured coffee amount into the coffee pot – it will float on top so you will have to carefully stir the water to get the coffee to mix in
  • Let the pot sit for two minutes – really, the two minute part is important. In the end you want to have a total of only four to five minutes brewing time
  • After two minutes, stir the mixture again, re-cover and let sit two more minutes
  • Now you are ready, the coffee has had enough time for the flavor to brew, and the grounds have began settling. Now take a palm-full of cool water and sprinkle it into the coffee pot. ** this small amount of cool water will not make your coffee cold, but it will help the grounds settle quicker
  • It’s as easy as that. Now pour each cup slowly, trying to leave the coffee grounds in the pot.
  • Typical results; A much more flavorful and less bitter cup of coffee. The reason; You didn’t scald the coffee with too-hot water, and by simmering the coffee instead of re-boiling it you didn’t bringing out all the bitterness.
  • *Tip: A small pinch of salt in the pot, or a single quick shake of the salt shaker in a cup will reduce the bitterness of coffee. The keywords were small pinch and quick shake, you don’t want too much or it will taste salty.

Missing Pieces | Heather Gudenkauf

[Harlequin Australia, ISBN: 9781760374297]
“A woman uncovers earth-shattering secrets about her husband’s family in this chilling page-turner from New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf.

Sarah Quinlan’s husband, Jack, has been haunted for decades by the untimely death of his mother when he was just a teenager, her body found in the cellar of their family farm, the circumstances a mystery. The case rocked the small farm town of Penny Gate, Iowa, where Jack was raised, and for years Jack avoided returning home. But when his beloved aunt Julia is in an accident, hospitalized in a coma, Jack and Sarah are forced to confront the past that they have long evaded.Upon arriving in Penny Gate, Sarah and Jack are welcomed by the family Jack left behind all those years ago—barely a trace of the wounds that had once devastated them all. But as facts about Julia’s accident begin to surface, Sarah realizes that nothing about the Quinlans is what it seems. Caught in a flurry of unanswered questions, Sarah dives deep into the puzzling rabbit hole of Jack’s past. But the farther in she climbs, the harder it is for her to get out. And soon she is faced with a deadly truth she may not be prepared for…”

Missing Pieces is a book that will have you questioning how well you truly know the people you love. Can you truly know someone, including their dark edges, and still love them completely?

This is the first book I have read by Heather Gudenkauf but it will definitely not be the last. From the first page I was transfixed by these characters. However, as brilliantly written as these characters are, the unspoken main character is really the small town of Penny Gate. On the surface Penny Gate seems just like another small town, but as the story unfolds we see a darker place being unmasked. A place of secrets that breeds a mysterious cast of characters. Sarah Quinlan, the protagonist, has no clue what to expect from her secretive husband’s hometown. From her very first impressions, Penny Gate and the Quinlin family and friends seem forbidding and darkly mysterious to Sarah. Within the first few pages of this story, Sarah is questioning everything she had ever known about her husband even so far as questioning the very foundation of their relationship. What is the truth and what is the lie and is there only a fine line between them?

This story kept me transfixed through one complete reading. I literally could not put this book down. Sarah could be me, she could be you, she is any of us. I grew up in and around small towns like Penny Gate and Heather Gudenkauf has captured this small town atmosphere and the quirky, strangely dark characters perfectly. In this story, the reader is asked to question whether you really know the people you love, and do you really want to know all their secrets. 

The secrets in this book are at the heart of this story but it is the evocative mysterious small town of Penny Gate and the people who grew up here that truly are the haunted soul of this story. As Sarah unfolds the past and unearths her husband’s dark secrets, she is pulled into the heart of an emotional storm that threatens everything and everyone. Is she really willing to risk everything to unmask the truth?

* * * * *

This is a solid 5/5 stars. If you like your thrillers with a dose of a dark realism and taut with emotion, then Missing Pieces is it.

Author’s Website

Buy The Book

Add the book on Goodreads

For Missing Pieces (Heather Gudenkauf) I recommend at least 5 decadent mugs of Bicerin.

  

The Recipe | Bicerin

  • It’s important to use a clear glass; you need to be able to see all three layers.
  • To make a bicerin, warm one cup (250 ml) whole milk in a medium-sized saucepan with 3 ounces (90 gr) of chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate. Whisk the mixture until it begins to boil, then let it boil for 1 minute, whisking constantly (the chocolate mixture will foam up a bit.)
  • Afterward, remove it from the heat and set aside. 
  • Make a small pot of very strong coffee, or good Italian espresso.
  • Fill the bottom third of a clear, heat-proof glass with the warm chocolate mixture. 
  • Pour in some coffee or espresso. (If you want to help it create a definite layer, pour it over the back of a spoon, into the glass.)
  • Top with a nice swirl of sweetened, freshly-whipped cream.

The Poison Artist | Jonathan Moore

[Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ISBN 9780544520561]
A gripping tale of obsession and deadly mystery, where the secrets of salvation and the most devastating desires are all written in blood

Dr. Caleb Maddox is a San Francisco toxicologist studying the chemical effects of pain. After a bruising breakup with his girlfriend, he’s out drinking whiskey when a hauntingly seductive woman appears by his side. Emmeline whispers to Caleb over absinthe, gets his blood on her fingers and then brushes his ear with her lips as she says goodbye. He must find her.

As his search begins, Caleb becomes entangled in a serial-murder investigation. The police have been fishing men from the bay, and the postmortems are inconclusive. One of the victims vanished from the bar the night Caleb met Emmeline. When questioned, Caleb can’t offer any information, nor does he tell them he’s been secretly helping the city’s medical examiner, an old friend, study the chemical evidence on the victims’ remains. The search for the killer soon entwines with Caleb’s hunt for Emmeline, and the closer he gets to each, the more dangerous his world becomes.

From the first pages up to the haunting, unforgettable denouement, The Poison Artist is a gripping thriller about obsession and damage, about a man unmoored by an unspeakable past and an irresistible woman who offers the ultimate escape…”

          “An electrifying read… I haven’t read anything so terrifying since Red Dragon.” —Stephen King

          “Patient, stylish and incredibly suspenseful”—Lee Child

          “Magnificent, thoroughly unnerving…I dare you to look away.” —Justin Cronin

This is a story that will grab your imagination, twist it into something unrecognisable and spit you out wondering whether Wonderland exists and are you Alice or the Mad Hatter.

Jonathan Moore has crafted a tale that is wholly original, spine-tingling and deeply unnerving. On the surface it is a serial murder investigation but in this story, everything that is up is upside down and everything that is on the surface is just a mask. 

Dr. Caleb Maddox is the protagonist of The Poison Artist. We meet him at one of his lowest points and as the tale takes him and you, the reader, further into this mad wonderland as he sinks lower and lower. The only light at the end of his downward spiral is the mysterious, ethereal and darkly seductive Emmeline. As he falls under her spell in one brief meeting, she disappears and he is obsessed with finding her again. This obsession drives the story and drives Caleb towards the destruction of his truths even as it brings him into the cross hairs of a serial murder investigation.

This is a story that would not let me go. I finished it in one breathless sitting and simultaneously wanted to immediately both push this book away and dive back into the strange world of Dr. Caleb Maddox and the seductive Emmeline. This is one of the most perfectly executed psychological thrillers I have ever read. The characters are exceptionally compelling, so compelling you cannot look away from them even if you truly want to. The setting of San Francisco, mysterious fog- covered San Franscisco, is the perfect setting for this twisted tale of murder and destruction. This is a strange and twisted tale whose surface keeps on changing, always keeping you guessing, never knowing what is the truth and what is the lie. 

* * * * *

I give The Poison Artist a perfect 5/5 stars. If you want a psychological thriller that will, in equal parts, both disturb you and seduce you, then read The Poison Artist.

Author’s Website

Buy The Book

Add the book on Goodreads

For The Poison Artist (Jonathan Moore) I recommend at least 5 shots of the illicit and decadent Bronx Bomber.

  

The Recipe | Bronx Bomber

  • Fill a cocktail shaker with cracked ice.
  • Add 1/8 ounce of absinthe.
  • Add 1 ½ ounces of gin.
  • Make a double shot of espresso, preferably a Columbian roast, pour over the ice and shake briefly.
  • Pour liquid, straining out the ice, into an eight ounce glass
  • Drink and repeat process as desired.

Tell me, what books can’t you put down this month? And what’s your caffeine poison of choice?

What’s on your bookshelf this month? | #KaffeeKlatsch #amreading

February’s #CurrentlyReading Bookshelf

  1. The Forgotten Girls – Sara Blaedel
  2. Summit Lake – Charlie Donlea
  3. Burning the Days – James Salter
  4. The Poison Artist – Jonathan Moore
  5. Blood on Snow – Jo Nesbo
  6. The Lion’s Mouth – Anne Holt
  7. Missing Pieces – Heather Gudenkauf
  8. Dust – Arthur Slade

   

 
Coming up on the next Kaffeeklatsch…Watch this space next week.

I’ll be chatting about The Forgotten Girls , The Poison Artist and Missing Pieces.

So tell me…

What’s on your bookshelf this month?

Kim’s Kaffeeklatsch | Falling down the Reading Rabbit Hole #amreading

So I thought I would give you a quick update on my August reads. Winter has been a very busy season for me this year and life has done its utmost to crumble the cookie. But I have been reading a few juicy reads, gotten addicted to a delicious new crime series and fallen down a delightful – but addictive and consuming – reading rabbit hole.
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Recently Read/ing

Perfect People by Peter James
*finished in a redeye-inducing all nighter binge-read*

When a young couple learn they are both carriers of a gene likely to give their children a rare genetic disease, they visit a secret clinic for a ‘designer baby’. But it does not all work out as planned….

Citadel by Kate Mosse
*currently deliciously savouring each wordful*

1942. Occupied France. A time of courage, betrayal, loyalty – and love.
1942, Nazi-occupied France. Sandrine, a spirited and courageous nineteen-year-old, finds herself drawn into a Resistance group in Carcassonne – codenamed ‘Citadel’ – made up of ordinary women who are prepared to risk everything for what is right.
And when she meets Raoul, they discover a shared passion for the cause, for their homeland, and for each other.
But in a world where the enemy now lies in every shadow – where neighbour informs on neighbour; where friends disappear without warning and often without trace – love can demand the highest price of all.

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson
*currently letting this mind twister twist my mind*

Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Welcome to Christine’s life.
Christine wakes up every morning in an unfamiliar bed with an unfamiliar man. She looks in the mirror and sees an unfamiliar, middle- aged face. And every morning, the man she has woken up with must explain that he is Ben, he is her husband, she is forty-seven years old, and a terrible accident two decades earlier decimated her ability to form new memories.
But it’s the phone call from a Dr. Nash, a neurologist who claims to be working with Christine without her husband’s knowledge, that directs her to her journal, hidden in the back of her closet. For the past few weeks, Christine has been recording her daily activities—tearful mornings with Ben, sessions with Dr. Nash, flashes of scenes from her former life—and rereading past entries, relearning the facts of her life as retold by the husband she is completely dependent upon. As the entries build up, Christine asks many questions. What was life like before the accident? Why did she and Ben never have a child? What has happened to Christine’s best friend? And what exactly was the horrific accident that caused such a profound loss of memory?
Every day, Christine must begin again the reconstruction of her past. And the closer she gets to the truth, the more un- believable it seems.

Reviews on these three books next week Wednesday right here on Kim’s Kaffeeklatsch.

Death by Chocolate Reads (highly addictive crime thriller reading)

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Chelsea Cain and her “Gretchen Lowell series”

Portland detective Archie Sheridan spent years tracking Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful and brutal serial killer known as the Beauty Killer. In the end, she was the one who caught him…and tortured him…and then let him go. Why did Gretchen spare Archie’s life and then turn herself in? This question keeps him up all night—and keeps him coming back to visit Gretchen in prison every week. But Archie also needs Gretchen, as new murder cases he’s solving keep leading him back to his former captor. Read this mystery thriller series and discover the creepiest serial killer you’ve ever encountered.

*Voraciously Consumed*
#1 Heartsick

#2 Sweetheart

#3 Evil at Heart

*Currently Salivating Over*
#4 The Night Season

*On The Night Stand*
#5 Kill You Twice

#6 Let Me Go

Review on this decadently addictive series coming on the first Wednesday of October right here on Kim’s Kaffeeklatsch.

Reading Rabbit Hole

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I have been let into the Cool readers group….a not so secret society that gives readers first glimpses into new books before they get published…
I know you want the down-low and pronto:
I am talking about Net Galley.
I recently heard about Net Galley through a fellow book addict/crime writer, Rebecca Bradley. (If you haven’t checked out her blog, Murder down to a Tea, – tell me that isn’t an amazing blog name for a British crime writer! 😉 – do yourself a favour and go check it out.)
After digging around the Net Galley site I knew I wanted in. I signed up. Then I requested some books I wanted and waited for the tick of approval from the publishers. The first two books I got were:

Phantom Instinct by Meg Gardiner

When your own eyes betray you, who can you trust?
In Edgar Award-winning author Meg Gardiner’s new stand-alone thriller, an injured cop and an ex-thief hunt down a killer nobody else believes exists.

What Came Before by Anna George

David Forrester and Elle Nolan are sophisticated, mature people who don’t understand love. They live in a world where love is revered but marriages commonly end in divorce, or worse.
Over the course of one ill-fated night, David and Elle recount the journey of their love affair.
And it begins with David admitting into his dictaphone to the killing of Elle.
Visceral and compelling, What Came Before creates a chilling modern portrait of the dark side of love.

So look out for the reviews on Kim’s Kaffeeklatsch right here, coming in a post this month.

What have you been reading in August?
What books were greedily gorged on?
What books are you deliciously savouring?
What books are on your night stand for September?

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Kim’s KaffeeKlatsch | Scandinavian Mindhunter #amreading

As Old Mr. Frost sets in and unpacks for a chilly winter I am still making my way through the Scandinavian crime series. I have a few on my bedside table at the moment and Mind’s Eye is the latest I have finished.

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Mind’s Eye (Hakan Nesser)

This is an intriguing story premise. A woman is drowned in a bath, her husband with no memory of the previous night, finds her in the early hours of the morning. He calls the police. After questioning, the police arrest him as the prime suspect. The problem is that he is not even sure that he didn’t do it. He has no memory of the night.
The first half of the book is fast-flowing as the trial begins. The husband is found guilty and is committed to an insane asylum. But within weeks he is found murdered.
Now the police have to reinvestigate the original murder as all their suspicions are turned on their end.

The strongest part of this book for me was the characterisation of the characters. The part that let me down was that there was not a strong sense of place or setting. I loved the premise of the story and the puzzle at the heart of these murders. The author kept me in the dark right up until the end. This kept me turning the pages. I wanted this mystery solved and the real killer caught.

However I did feel that that author held back more than he should. His main character Inspector Van Veeteren leads the investigation with all the cards held to his chest not even letting in his own investigating team in on his suspicions. This gives the reader the feeling of a “smirking” arrogant main character who leaves little about him left to like.

The mystery at the heart of this story kept me turning the pages. I had to keep reading to find out who the killer was. However, although this is the first in a series I am not sure I would read book 2 because I don’t like the series protagonist.

So for the well-thought out mystery element of who the killer is and the strong characterisation this book gets 3 stars and 3 Irish coffees from me.

Recommended coffee

Irish Coffee

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“I can envision a small cottage somewhere, with a lot of writing paper, and a dog, and a fireplace and maybe enough money to give myself some Irish coffee now and then and entertain my two friends.”
– Lt Richard Van de Geer

Tell me what are you reading this week?
What coffee are you indulging in?

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You can follow me on Goodreads

Kim’s Kaffeeklatsch | it was a dark and stormy winter… #amreading

A wintry welcome to the first post on Kim’s Kaffeeklatsch. Hope you have your books and your libation of choice. Mine is coffee and lots of it. Coffee is so important that I rate the books I read by the amount of coffee consumed in one sitting. Which is what those coffee mugs under each book on this post means. The higher the number of coffee mugs, the more riveting the read.
So pull up a chair and let’s talk books and what we are reading this week…

Coffee Recipes

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My coffee brand of choice this month is: Hummingbird Crave Fresh Beans

Winter has arrived with force in my corner at the bottom of the Southern Hemisphere, New Zealand. I read in all seasons and all moods but when it comes to winter reading, I tend to match my books to the weather outside my window. This winter I decided to make my imaginary way to the stories of suspense, crime and horror in the Scandinavian winters.

As I write up this blog post, the wind is howling outside and the trees are swaying like some crazed person desperately waving for rescue. With North-Easterly winds gusting up to 170km/hr, the night is dark and menacing. In other words, stories with a tinge of horror, suspense and fear set in the deep dark Northern winters of the Scandinavian countries are the perfect match this Winter.

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This week I have been reading The Hypnotist ( Lars Kepler) and tonight I just finished The Darkest Room (Johan Theorin).

The Hypnotist (Lars Kepler)
Goodreads & Amazon

Synopsis

Prepare for The Hypnotist to cast its spell

In the frigid clime of Tumba, Sweden, a gruesome triple homicide attracts the interest of Detective Inspector Joona Linna, who demands to investigate the murders. The killer is still at large, and there’s only one surviving witness—the boy whose family was killed before his eyes. Whoever committed the crimes wanted this boy to die: he’s suffered more than one hundred knife wounds and lapsed into a state of shock. Desperate for information, Linna sees only one option: hypnotism. He enlists Dr. Erik Maria Bark to mesmerize the boy, hoping to discover the killer through his eyes.

It’s the sort of work that Bark has sworn he would never do again—ethically dubious and psychically scarring. When he breaks his promise and hypnotizes the victim, a long and terrifying chain of events begins to unfurl.

An international sensation, The Hypnotist is set to appear in thirty-seven countries, and it has landed at the top of bestseller lists wherever it’s been published—in France, Holland, Germany, Spain, Italy, Denmark. Now it’s America’s turn. Combining the addictive power of the Stieg Larsson trilogy with the storytelling drive of The Silence of the Lambs, this adrenaline-drenched thriller is spellbinding from its very first page.

I am a sucker for an arresting cover and The Hypnotist wows me as possibly the creepiest cover I have seen.

Does the book live up to its cover? Yes.

The story is dark, twisted and disturbing. Throughout the story there is a sinister menace that lurks between the lines. The characters are deep and conflicted. Each of the main characters has a secret and it is these secrets that threaten to undo them and those around them.

This book is book 1 in the series and I cannot wait what Lars Kepler has done in book 2. I finished this story in one sitting, reading right through the night into the early hours of the morning.

This book is not for the faint of heart. It is gruesome and confronting but the story is solid and has more than one twist in the tale. The characters are compelling and finding out their hidden secrets makes this a page-turner.

Recommended Coffee

Espresso

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The Darkest Room (Johan Theorin)
Goodreads & Amazon

Synopsis

‘The dead are our neighbours everywhere on the island, and you have to get used to it.’

It is bitter mid-winter on the Swedish island of Oland, and Katrine and Joakim Westin have moved with their children to the boarded-up manor house at Eel Point. But their remote idyll is soon shattered when Katrine is found drowned off the rocks nearby. As Joakim struggles to keep his sanity in the wake of the tragedy, the old house begins to exert a strange hold over him.

Joakim has never been in the least superstitious, but from where are those whispering noises coming? To whom does his daughter call out in the night? And why is the barn door for ever ajar?

As the end of the year approaches, and the infamous winter storm moves in across Oland, Joakim begins to fear that the most spine-chilling story he’s heard about Eel Point might indeed be true: that every Christmas the dead return…

There is nothing that I love more than a good ghost story. I could easily have finished this story in one sitting but I really enjoyed the atmosphere and mood of this book so much that I read it in mouthfuls, savouring each delicious spooky mouthful.

The main characters in this story are an island and an old lighthouse-keepers house. The people in this story play out their parts but both in the past and the present, the island of Oland and the house direct and influence their paths.

I love stories that build in twists from the past and this story is really many stories within one binding. As you follow one family through this story, your heart is pulled with their joys and their tragedies in equal measure.

I was truly mesmerised by this story and know that it will remain in my memory for years to come. This is the second in a quartet of stories all set on the remote Swedish Island of Oland. I cannot wait to return to the literary landscape of this bleak and fascinating island.

Recommended Coffee

Espresso Con Panna / Vienna Coffee

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On my Kindle this week

The Man Who Left (Theresa Weir)
79 Park Avenue (Harold Robbins)
Strange True Stories of Louisiana (George Washington Cable)
World’s Worst Serial Killers / Sexual Psychopaths:British Serial Killers
(David Elio Malocco)

These are the books in my Scandinavian themed winter pile for this month. I cannot wait to tuck into them. Nor can I wait to tuck into the mugs of coffee as I indulge in these wintry tales.

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All of these Scandinavian stories I have picked are part of a series. I love reading series especially when the characters and/or the settings are so compelling. If you want to indulge in some wintry tales from up north, then click on the link below for all the skinny on delicious Scandinavian crime fiction.

Recommended links

The Skinny on all Scandinavian Crime Fiction

Now it’s your turn to klatsch…
Tell me what books are you reading this week/month?
Tell me what coffee are you drinking? If not coffee (clearly there is something missing from your life if you are not drinking coffee 😉 ) then what are you drinking while reading?
How do you prefer your coffee – instant/percolated/beans/ground?

“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?…Was ever anything so civil?”
― Anthony Trollope

You can follow me on Goodreads

Kim’s Kaffeeklatsch | Books & Caffeine #amreading

I have 2 addictions which I have to indulge in daily:
1. Caffeine
2. Books

I start my morning with caffeine and end my night with books. I drink a lot of coffee. I drink so much that I invested in a top of the range Delonghi Magnifica Automatic Cappucino/Espresso Coffee Machine (Amazon) which has a permanent residence in my writing cave.

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I read a lot of books, of every genre and every persuasion. I have a well-used library card, piles of books next to my bed (because my 6 bedside drawers are already full of books), two full book shelves and a bursting digital bookshelf on my kindle.

I also read exceptionally fast, the advantages of having a photographic memory, but sometimes I read too fast: you know those times when a story is so delicious that you want to indulge every eyeful of words like eating a delicious chocolate cake with slow mouthfuls. So I read 4-6 books at the same time. This way I can jump in and out of stories, lengthen out each delicious story morsel but still fill that gnawing craving for story. It also means I always have a story on the go at any time of day or night.

So I have decided to start a new Wednesday feature (I might miss a week here and there depending on how busy my own story-writing mode is going) on the blog called: Kim’s Kaffeeklatsch.

kaf·fee·klatsch (kf-klch, -kläch, kôf-)
n.
Variant of coffee klatch.

kaf•fee•klatsch or kaf•fee klatsch (ˈkɑ fiˌklɑtʃ, -ˌklætʃ, ˈkɔ-) also coffee klatsch
n.
a social gathering for informal conversation at which coffee is served.
[1885–90; < German; see coffee, klatsch]

Don't you just love that word: kaffeeklatsch ?
Good conversation, books and coffee…this is a good afternoon.
I also chose this word in a nod to my maternal side. You might not know it, but I am half German (yes I am fluent in German) and really there is no better description for this new fortnightly feature.
You see…this feature is not just about me: what books are in my reading pile or what coffee flavour I am drinking but also about You, my reader, my follower and my friend.
Every 2nd Wednesday I am going to share with you what I am reading and what I am drinking, but I want to indulge in the "klatsch" of this feature: I want you to tell me what you are reading and what you are drinking each week.

So join me tomorrow for the debut of Kim’s Kaffeeklatsch to find out what I am reading and drinking this week…don’t forget to pour yourself some coffee and bring your books…let’s klatsch books and caffeine.

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