I can hardly believe it’s already August! July was a fantastic reading month for me—while I didn’t read as many books as I typically do, I loved the majority of the books I did read. And I had a great reason for not reading as much: I spent nearly a week of the month involved in activities for ThrillerFest 2017, an annual crime fiction conference held in New York! Learn all about my July reads and ThrillerFest in this post.
But first things first—a few bookish statistics from my month in reading:
Books Read: 5
Pages Read: 1,464
Favorite Read of the Month: THE DEVIL'S WEDDING RING by Vidar Sundstol
Least Favorite Read of the Month: THREE DAYS AND A LIFE by Pierre Lemaitre
And now, onto a roundup of my July reads!
UNRAVELING OLIVER by Liz Nugent
Gallery Books; 8/22/17
CBTB Rating: 4.5/5
The Verdict: a tense & compelling character study
Read CBTB’s Review
A harrowing, unnerving portrait of the development of a sociopath. Better qualified as a psychological profile than a psychological thriller, UNRAVELING OLIVER gives readers a 360-degree view as the story’s titular character develops from neglected child to manipulative, abusive adult. This story is truly unique—readers not only follow Oliver’s narrative, but are also given the perspectives of those in Oliver’s life who have witnessed this progression. Highly recommended for readers looking for a book that delves into the mind and history of a crime’s perpetrator.
ORDEAL by Jorn Lier Horst
Minotaur Books; 8/8/17
CBTB Rating: 4.5/5
The Verdict: a superb Nordic Noir procedural
Read CBTB’s Review
ORDEAL is the newest installment in Norwegian crime writer Jorn Lier Horst’s William Wisting series, but it can absolutely be read as a standalone. Readers looking for a detail-oriented, slow-burning police procedural will find their perfect match in ORDEAL—but Lier Horst also infuses this crime story with a certain endearing personality and urgency that will attract new fans to his series, too. Lier Horst worked as a policeman before turning to crime writing, and his personal experience adds a layer of realism and credibility to his crime writing.
THREE DAYS AND A LIFE by Pierre Lemaitre
CBTB Rating: 3/5
The Verdict: beautifully written, but not crime fiction
Perhaps my most-anticipated read of the month, THREE DAYS AND A LIFE was unfortunately not what I was hoping for. A bit of background information: Lemaitre is also the author of BLOOD WEDDING, one of my favorite reads of 2016 and most-recommended psychological thrillers. (Read my review of BLOOD WEDDING here.) While I still enjoyed Lemaitre’s forthcoming release in its own right, I would not recommend this book for readers looking to replicate BLOOD WEDDING’s twists and darkness. Rather than a crime novel, THREE DAYS AND A LIFE is more of an interpersonal drama. Beautifully written and a compelling story, but not crime fiction.
LIES SHE TOLD by Cate Holahan
Crooked Lane Books; 9/12/17
CBTB Rating: 4/5
The Verdict: addictive, obsessive psychological thriller
Read CBTB’s Review
Readers looking for a purely entertaining psychological thriller with love Holahan’s “book within a book” mystery. Fast-paced, addictive, and totally immersive, LIES SHE TOLD explores what happens when a thriller writer’s life begins to mirror her fiction. Pick this book up for its pure entertainment value and binge-worthy drama, and stay for its superb plotting. The one element of this book that I could have done without: there’s a touch of romance to it, which just isn’t my personal taste. Regardless, I highly recommend this one for twisty, engaging fun!
THE DEVIL’S WEDDING RING by Vidar Sundstol
University of Minnesota Press; 9/26/17
CBTB Rating: 5/5
The Verdict: atmospheric Nordic Noir with a folklore twist
I’m always on the lookout for new Nordic Noir, and when I first read about THE DEVIL’S WEDDING RING, I wondered if it could be one of those “under the radar” books that quietly becomes a new favorite. I was absolutely right. This Norwegian crime novel brilliantly balances a modern investigation with ancient folklore, all set against the backdrop of Norway’s Telemark region. Readers will love the story’s many appealing elements: from its brooding atmosphere to a legend involving a real church to the story’s crime-solving duo of a private investigator and a detective-novel loving librarian, THE DEVIL’S WEDDING RING will appeal to readers on many levels. Highly recommended!
Plus: ThrillerFest 2017 Recap!
One of the highlights of the month of July for me was without a doubt my time spent at ThrillerFest 2017! This nearly week-long conference brings together authors, publishing industry professionals, and readers from around the world. My ThrillerFest Journal is live now on CBTB—read all about the authors I met, panels I attended, authors I interviewed, and much more in the post! (Plus see lots of photos!)
READ CBTB’S THRILLERFEST JOURNAL HERE
Additional CBTB Posts in July:
Along with the above book reviews and festival coverage, here are the “extras” I had on CBTB this past month!
Author Q&A: Erik Axl Sund, authors of THE CROW GIRL
One of my all-time favorite books, THE CROW GIRL, is now out in paperback! Learn more about the book in this author Q&A.
Book Event Recap: Fiona Barton, THE CHILD
I was thrilled to moderate Fiona Barton’s New York stop on tour for THE CHILD!
Audiobook Review: IN HER WAKE by Amanda Jennings
My first-ever audiobook! I loved listening to this emotional, twisty domestic thriller.
Author Q&A: Ruth Ware, author of THE LYING GAME
What a total honor to have one of my favorite thriller writers, Ruth Ware, on CBTB to talk about her newest release!
Fall 2017 Nordic Noir Reading List
This fall is going to be huge for new Nordic Noir. Find the books that should be on your reading list here!
Cover Reveal and Excerpt: CLOSE TO ME by Amanda Reynolds
I’m thrilled to reveal the cover for upcoming domestic thriller CLOSE TO ME -- plus, you can read the intro + first chapter to this book on CBTB now!