Sleepless by Romy Hausmann

Thank you to Joe Christie from Quercus for giving me the opportunity to join the blog tour and sending me an advance readers copy. All views are my own

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What if your friend would ask you for your help? Would you say yes even though you are in over your head? How far are you willing to go for your friendship? Would you help them cover up a murder?

Back in January I had come across a little book titled ‘Dear Child’. The cover was the first thing that drew me towards the novel, having never heard of its author, Romy Hausmann. January was a month where I wanted desperately to go back to my roots, to spending hours upon hours discovering the German literature in high school, reading the small printed Reklam Ausgaben that had the colorful covers that looked more like collectibles. I had instantly made a connection with Hausmann and after finishing Dear Child I had to write a review about it. Back then little did I know that Quercus probably had already started to work on Hausmann’s debut – Marta Schläft – and mentioned even in my review that I hoped this would be translated.

Of course I didn’t have any patience and had a friend of mine in Berlin go and buy the German edition of the book. ( I think that book got lost in transit since it never reached me in the UK -.-” ) But then I found out that Quercus was going to publish Marta Schläft (trans. Sleepless) and it was happening sooner than I thought. And I made myself a promise, that if a blog tour would be organised, I had to be part of it.

Thankfully and thanks to Joe Christie who was kind enough to make my dream come true, I was allowed to take part in the amazing blog tour for this novel and now the time has come for me to share my thoughts on Sleepless.

With a strong publishing debut, Hausmann solidifies her status as the Queen of German suspense; proving her skills and abilities as a writer.

Meine Gütte did I enjoy Sleepless. Usually when it comes to debuts, I spot from the very first few pages that this is the first book someone has written. However with Sleepless, I never had that feeling; Hausmann brilliantly executing a complex narrative told from three points of view and on three different timelines.

The story follows the events in the life of Nadja who has been raised in Poland but now lives in Berlin. Her childhood wasn’t the best but she is now ready (or at least to a certain degree) ready to leave the past in the past and focus on her future. She is living a some-what normal life. Nadja has a job, and an apartament, however living is not as easy as it is for others. Battling with mental health issues and anxiety, Nadja finds it at times difficult to go on the subway, doesn’t like large groups of people and in the eyes of others her living conditions aren’t the best.

But to a certain degree Nadja is on the path of getting better. That’s until her friend one day appears at her work and tells her she needs her help. Nadja doesn’t hesitate to help her and why should she? Her therapist had told her she needs to make connections, and build friendships. But with what her so called friend needs help with isn’t opening a jar or help clean out the house of unnecessary things that she gathered without noticing. It’s with hiding a body.

The story from here on unravels in rapid successions. Multiple POVs contribute to fill in the picture about Nadja’s past and how she got to be who she is today. I’m not going to spoil the ending but all I’m going to let you know is that it is worth every moment.

The way Hausmann structured the novel I think is genius. We start somwhere in the middle of the story, without any context. We don’t know what’s happening only that things are happening. I found the moment to open the story perfect because it gave plenty of time and opportunity to give sufficient information to the reader whilst allowing for the current timeline to flow naturally. It also helped the overall ARC of the story to avoid any soggy middles by turning up the dial on the tension in the present moment and making the readers ask themselves how someone cold end in such a terrible position.

Sleepless, if I hadn’t known it was Hausmann’s debut, I would have been certain that it was written by an experienced writer that has penned many novels before. Simply from the structure adopted, I can only imagine how a difficult of a task it has been for Hausmann to strike the perfect balance that she has achieved. Now, thinking back to it, I should’ve known that Hausmann is a master storyteller from reading the intricate and yet effortlessly executed Dear Child.

Sleepless is definitely a great read for anyone who wants to see what German thrillers are all about. And paired with Jamie Bulloch’s translation, it is a perfect read for new readers of translated fiction as well as hard core lovers of the genre. Sleepless is now out everywhere where good books are sold and you should definitely check it out.

Please make sure you check out the other amazing reviewers who are part of this blog tour as well as check out Duncan’s review from Fiction from Afar who is my go to person when it comes to translated fiction reviews.

The Secret War by Louise Burfitt-Dons

Thank you to Anne Carter for giving me the opportunity to take part in this blog tour and to Louise Burfitt-Dons for sending me an advance readers copy of this novel. All views are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Where is the line you draw between fiction and reality? What if the reality to you’ve been told to believe isn’t actually the reality at all? What if what others would quickly dismiss as a conspiracy theory is in fact what truly happened?

These are only a few of the questions that I found myself asking myself as I turned page after page in The Secret War by Louise Burfitt-Dons. I had my reservations about this book when I first saw the invitation from the lovely Anne to join this blog tour but I told myself that I needed to step outside of my comfort zone if I wanted to discover more books to love and adore. And spoiler alert… I don’t regret that decision.

With a very close to anyone’s heart premise, I dived deep into this action packed thriller following characters that were very well fleshed out and made me take an interest in the overall Karen Andersen series that Burfitt-Dons has penned.

With a chilling premise and twists and turns at every page, The Secret War is definitely the perfect read for lovers of Dan Brown and Blake Crouch thrillers.

Without spoiling the books content too much, the story centers around one particular premise that I have found gutsy. What if one of the biggest nations in the world would develop a bio-weapon to further their plans for the world? But going off of only this idea, and why I find this idea so intriguing and gutsy is that if this is not done right, the repercussions could be immense.

Having now read The Secret War I understand just how well these types of books can be written. There were many times where I had feared that the characterization might go wrong but the thrill of discovering the narrative as well as the plot only added to the excitement and thrill. With a strong list of characters, I found myself often swept into the story and my hyperactive imagination made come alive in my mind. And I’m not kidding, I really got some big Mr Robot vibes (but not to the extend where I found it too similar).

The Secret War is a unique story that flips the ‘What If?’ plot theory on its head and delivers a strong story told from multiple locations and points of view. I highly recommend this book to the lovers of action thriller genre but also to readers who have been enjoying Dan Brown’s thrillers and Blake Crouch.

I’m very thankful to Anne Carter and Louise Burfitt-Dons for allowing me to take part in this blog tour and if you haven’t already make sure you check out Varietats review form the 21st of June here. Also tomorrow is BooklyMatters turn over on instagram to share their thoughts on the book, so make sure you head over to her instagram account (@booklymatters) and give them a follow to check out their review.

The Secret War is now available to be order on Amazon and even is free to read on Kindle if you have a KindleUnlimited subscription. So there’s no reason why not to check this thrilling read.

The Kingdom by Jo Nesbo

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Jo Nesbo, for me, is one of the best scandinavian writers up there with Ragnar Jonasson. There is just something about his Harry Hole series, besides the amazing plot and characters, that draws me in instantly when I see that there is another book being translated and published.

However The Kingdom has somehow managed to sneak past me and was surprised after Christmas to find that the book had been published and is available to be bought. So I didn’t linger too long on the Waterstone’s webpage and acquired it.

Now, to a certain degree, because it carried his name, I went into this book with a certain expectation. Expectations that usually Nesbo manages to match if not exceed. Yet after finishing The Kingdom I found myself longing for something more. Something that I couldn’t place my finger on.

Jo Nesbo does thriller well because he understand his readers.

I believe that once you publish as many books and carry the success that Nesbo has carried, something needs to be changed from time to time. You can’t simply carry on without challenging yourself as a writer, whether that means changing the genre in which you’re writing or by telling different stories from the ones that brought your success. I liked this about his books. I like that he doesn’t stick with a pattern and tries new things that probably excite him as a writer.

However as a reader, there is a reason why I return to Nesbo. Whether it is for the flawed characters (which The Kingdom has plenty of) or whether it is for the actioned packed plot, you return because you liked what you read. Right? There is something that appeals to you. It can be anything.

I mentioned in a previous post that Harry Hole for me is the stable for crime thrillers however I should have probably looked into the book more. Maybe then I wouldn’t have been disappointed to find a domestic thriller about two brothers that have had a difficult childhood and now that they are grown up they find themselves pushed with their backs against the wall when a cold case from when they were children gains the attention of the current police detective.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed The Kingdom however it isn’t what I expected when it came to a Jo Nesbo novel. It is definitely a more character driven novel than a plot driven novel than his Harry Hole series. There is a clear path set out for the protagonist from the beginning. You as the reader discover things from his perspective and understand why he is the way he is. Because of this the protagonist (if he can even be called a protagonist…) is the most striking feature that is still with me now that I read the book.

Nesbo does thriller well because he understands his readers. He understands that every promise he makes in the first part of the novel requires to have a reveal and a pay off (regardless if the reader agrees with it or not) towards the end of the novel. I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone who has enjoyed Nesbo in the past but also to new readers to the Nordic Noir genre who want to be gripped by a beautiful, pristine setting. I also would recommend this novel to aspiring authors who want to read and understand how a flawed character should be written.