The Devil’s Wedding Ring
by Vidar Sundstøl
Release date: September 26th, 2017
I’m a huge fan of Nordic Noir and The Devil’s Wedding Ring by Vidar Sundstøl is a perfect example. Dark, edgy and brilliantly plotted, this novel captures your attention and holds it through to its very satisfying conclusion.
When Knut Abrahamson, a Police Officer is found a victim of apparent suicide, his former partner Max Fjellanger returns from the US to pay his respects but finds that all is not what it seems. Max, now a private investigator in Florida, doesn’t believe Knut would choose to end his life especially when the pieces surrounding his death don’t seem to fit. Thirty years ago the last case Knut and Max investigated, the mysterious disappearance of Peter Schram, a case that would drive Max from the force and still seems to still weigh heavily on Max’s soul. In 1985, Schram a folklore researcher writing about Pagan rituals and the Stave Church in Eidsborg disappears without a trace on Midsummer Eve, an important date in Pagan culture. The Stave Church is a tourist stop, although a Christian Church today was notorious for its Pagan history and rumours of a ghostly Monk who walks the grounds. The case of Schram’s disappearance remained unsolved but when Knut’s death looks like it is possibly related to the disappearance of a young grad student, Cecilie Weiborg as well as Schram, a shocking mystery begins to unravel. With the help of a quirky young librarian and mystery buff, Tirill Vesterli, Max sets out to solve the mystery but not before putting his and Tirill’s life in danger.
This story has it all, mystery, murder, Norse myths and the mysterious ghostly Monk. Vidar Sundstøl ( Translated by Tiina Nunnally) has written a story that is fast paced, well written and contains multi faceted characters. It has that great atmosphere that is indicative of Nordic Noir. I would definitely recommend this read to anyone looking for an exciting Nordic Noir thriller that perfectly blends murder and mythology.
by Kathy Reichs
Release date: July 11th, 2017
Kathy Reichs, famous for her Temperance Brennan, Forensic Anthropologist series has created a new stand-alone book; “Two Nights” a huge departure from her previous books. The protagonist in “Two Nights” is Sunday “Sunnie” Night, a former soldier and police officer who, after being injured in the line of duty, has decided to start a new life for herself, isolated from others. When Sunnie gets called upon by her old friend and mentor Beau to help locate a missing teenager, she is about to embark on a journey she didn’t expect.
Beau introduces Sunnie to elderly socialite Opaline Drucker who hires Sunnie to locate her granddaughter Stella. Stella was kidnapped after her mother and brother were both killed in a terrorist bombing and no one is sure whether she is still alive. Although hesitant Sunnie reluctantly leaves her isolated island home to rescue Stella and travels to Chicago to follow her trail. The more Sunnie discovers about Stella’s situation the more it stirs up trauma she thought she buried years ago and she makes it her mission to rescue her at all costs. After several close calls and a race against time, Sunnie enlists the help of Gus, one of the few she can trust and ends up placing them both in peril.
I really enjoyed Two Nights, it is an action-packed, engaging, fast-paced thriller that won’t disappoint. Sunnie is a multi-faceted character who carries a lot of baggage with much to overcome, yet is strong, sassy and sarcastic. Although it took me a while to warm up to her by the end I found myself rooting for Sunnie. This book was a brave departure from Reichs’s usual novels in both story and style and I really do hope Reichs continues to share Sunnie’s story.
My recommendation to fans new and old to go into this with an open mind, you won’t be disappointed.
Down Among the Sticks and Bones
by Seanan McGuire
Release date: June 13, 2017
I received a complimentary ARC copy of Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire from NetGalley in order to read and give an honest review.
Seanan McGuire is definitely one of my favourite fantasy authors. Her books have it all, perfect prose, masterful plots, exciting worlds and engaging characters and the same is true with her Wayward Children series.
Among the Stick and Bones is the second story and a prequel to Every Heart A Doorway. Among the Sticks and Bones shares the events that led sisters Jack and Jill to Miss West’s Home for Wayward Children.
We first meet parents Chester and Selena Wolcott, more concerned with social status and proper appearances than raising twins Jacqueline (Jack) and Jillian (Jill). To them, the twins are nothing more than accessories which they form and mold into their “perfect children”. Seanan McGuire is never shy in addressing tough themes such as emotional abuse and gender equality, I for one applaud her for that and in this book she tackles them head on. As Jack and Jill get older they begin to get resentful and frustrated with the other. Jack molded to assume the “girly girl” role and Jill the “tom boy” begin to become overwhelmingly jealous of the other.
When a rainy day forces the twins to spend time together, out of boredom they decide to play in an attic where a mysterious staircase appears. When the girls descend the staircase, they enter into another world filled with conflict, creatures and danger. Upon arriving in the new world, they soon learn that things are not as they seem. The story follows both girls in the “new world” for a period of five years. Jill living as a princess in the castle with “the Master” while Jack takes on the difficult and often gruesome work as the Doctor’s apprentice. We begin to see the girls evolve away from their “formed” personalities and through a bizarre occurrence of events, they transform into their new roles.
I read both books out of order but enjoyed them both. I’m not sure whether reading them out of order would matter but I personally found that by reading the prequel first, I viewed Jack and Jill with a bit more empathy in Every Heart. I also think there was more of a surprise and sense of urgency, I needed to read Every Heart a Doorway to find out what happened to the girls.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone wanting to go on an adventure.
And they were the last to escape.
They thought he was safe.
They were wrong.
Jim Wales can communicate with animals, but that’s not why he lives with a traveling carnival. Turns out his family’s been hiding him there since he was little, since someone started hunting all the scholars. Jim is a scholar—someone who can manipulate energy using magic—and he has no idea.When a message arrives from Jim’s father—who supposedly died twelve years ago—Jim’s whereabouts are discovered, their carnival is attacked, and his mother is kidnapped. On the run with a strange glass map and a single coin, Jim finds himself racing to reclaim the father he thought he’d lost, plotting to save his mother, and discovering the truth about who he is.But going home isn’t the same as being safe, and trust is everything.
What readers are saying:
“Told in a beautiful, flowing style full of colorful images and adrenaline-pumping action.”
“Pop some popcorn, sit back … and enjoy the thrill ride, right up to the end, which leaves you begging for more.”
“Captures your attention from the start and then guides you through a roller coaster of adventure, drama, mystery, magic and young love.”
I love to read books on craft. I have many of them, and continue to marvel at the ways these books weave advice about writing in so many ways and yet all hope to get a writer to the same place. One of my very favorites is The Plot Whisperer, by Martha Alderson.
The book opens with an introduction which begins, Something urges you to pick up this book. And from there she begins to write not just about writing craft, but about our humanity and who we are in the world. Alderson describes how the stories we write, and things we put our characters through, speak about who we are as human beings.
I teach the Universal Story to writers through plot. Though difficult to accomplish successfully, plot is critical to stories. As I continue to teach and write and consult, I gain new insights into plot… and into writers’ lives.
She goes further to speak about the things that we struggle with as writers and the things that block us and how we should dig deep when these pop up in our writing because some baggage in our real world there needs to be unpacked and dealt with.
This is not to say that a murderous villain’s actions are speaking to the author’s experience. She’s talking about the deeper stuff. The conflicts, the motivations, the juicy meat that makes a story universally relatable.
Alderson talks about energy, and the Universal Story that we all strive to come into contact with. And how our ability to tell a story that speaks to everyone will be dependent on how we approach the world as a left- or right-brained person, or both. AND THEN… she tells you how to do it. *yay*
Look what happened when I finished the one of the exercises:
That’s my book there on my wall, all laid out in blue post-it notes. When I took this picture, I had been having issues with that first little downhill jaunt up there. Post-it note number 3 and 4 after the crisis peak were causing all kinds of havoc on everything that came after.
Posting it out like this, as the exercise advised, I was able to move through and solve the problem and became completely jazzed in the process. Being jazzed about your book is important.
I got so excited I grabbed my husband and made him come in to see the fabulous plot poster, but insisted that he didn’t actually READ any of the notes because he had not read the final draft yet and some of the juicy bits had now changed. So he admired my blue story structure plan and congratulated me and then left the room with me grinning like a starry-eyed maniac.
When I started writing this book, I did so without a plan. I had it in my head where I needed to go and I went. Once the first draft was finished, it was okay. I was enamored of the process and realized my story went in a few directions I hadn’t intended. Many drafts later, I was still paying for that lack of planning as I reworked some stuck spots and solved the larger issues of plot. Above all things, I have realized that I require a plot plan.
If you look closely, you’ll see a little pink post-it in the lower left corner. That was the start of another line of my story about to be explored and added to the six foot paper mural. I added green and orange tags as well. The exercises in this book are done in such a way as to help you see your story to its fullest completion. My plot poster was a kaleidoscopic adventure of bullet points when I was done.
If you’re looking for some help with your story plot, I highly recommend The Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson.