Monday, February 19, 2018

Review: The Girl in the Woods by Camilla Läckberg

Hello readers,

its been a while. So much to my goal of getting back to a regular blog schedule. Life is hectic, but on a happy note I manage to read. I am not in a slump. And I got a couple of exciting things coming up in March.
So I actually planned a post about my most anticipated releases at the beginning of the year but never really got to it because that list didn`t include more than two books at that time. One of the reasons for that is, that I want to read all the unread books on my shelf and continue on series I have already started.
So that being said - one of my most anticipated releases was The Girl in the Woods by Camilla Läckberg, which comes out in english this month (I think in the next couple of days) but lucky me it was released a month earlier in german, so I read that version.

In The Girl in the Woods we follow again Patrick Hedström and his wife Erika Falck, who is an author who writes true crime novels.
Erika Falk is currently working on her novel regarding a 30 (or 20) year old case of a murdered girl in the woods of Fjällbacka when another girl goes missing and is later found dead at the exact same spot.
For the old case two young girls had testified that they killed the girl but then later on taken back their testimony. What an odd conincidence is it that one of these girls (now a famous actress) comes back to Fjällbacka and another girl wents missing?
Are the cases connected?
And what has the local refugee hostel to do with all that?
On a third story line we have an old case of a witch hunt.

For me this novel is difficult to describe. I had really high expectations, that for the writing were met as usual. I still like seeing all the different perspectives and that his is a more character driven crime novel and not just working a case.
But besides the writing I was really disappointed this time.
It was by all means an enjoyable read, but it really made me think if maybe this series should come to an end. Is there more Camilla Läckberg can do?
I don`t know.
I liked the aspect that she took up the problematic topic of xenophobia and I really liked the way she did it and to portrait it through different perspectives.
But I just felt this book had many elements to just make it longer. I absolutely couldn`t see the purpose of the witch-hunt storyline, I wouldn`t have needed that and I really felt it didn`t fit.
I really felt Camilla Läckberg went totally overboard with how many points of social criticism one book can take. Trigger warning here, there is a possible rape. Not going to say much more too that, with the witch-hunt and that part of the storyline (don`t want to spoil anything), I just didn`t like it. I felt there would have been so many other ways this part could have been executed.
And then I felt this book was very predictable at some point. You could easily figure out what was going to happen.
It didn`t make it less enjoyable, but for me the reason to keep reading on wasn`t because I really wanted to know what happened, but more because I wanted to see if my feeling was right.
As for the character developement and the personal storyline in these novels, I still love them and feel so much connected with them. In the end that was the part, that saved the book for me.

All in all by far the worst book in this series. It just felt like a storyline that could have been amazing was dragged out long by all means.
I gave it 3 out of 5 stars, which really breaks my heart because Camilla Läckberg never disappointed me so far. I will see what comes next.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Guest Post: The Circumstance behind The Circumstantial Enemy

The Circumstantial Enemy is an energetic journey to freedom through minefields of hatred, betrayal, lust and revenge. It’s a story about the strength of the human spirit, and the power of friendship, love and forgiveness.
The novel was released in October 2017. There is a twist to the title; The Circumstantial Enemy was written by a circumstantial author. Why do I categorize myself as such? For starters, I’d never felt a burning desire to write a book. But that all changed with one potent statement from my daughter. Seventeen years ago she said, “If you don’t write it, Grandad’s story will be lost forever.” I’ll never forget the yearning in her eyes. Though in good health, Grandad was 80 years old at the time and he wasn’t about to be the first human being to live forever. The family had heard his tales over and over again – trials and tribulations of a young Croatian pilot coerced onto the wrong side of WWII.
My daughter wasn’t requesting a book; a stapled record of the events would suffice. I reasoned that I was not a writer; the defense was feeble, partly because I had the time to write. My career as a CEO of a large company had ended and I’d embarked on consulting work that required a heap of travel and plenty of lonely nights in hotels. I also had to admit that preserving Grandad’s captivating story for his decedents was incredibly compelling. So began my journey as an author.
Thrilled by the opportunity, Grandad agreed to a host of interviews. I was no longer a passive listener. I treated our exchanges as might a journalist – probing for details and questioning events that seemed overstated. The most interesting revelation was his frankness. He soon forgot the recorder was on, revealing more than ever before – some of it both shocking and disturbing. Between the sessions I checked his facts to validate timelines and ensure life in POW camps on US soil were as described. Simultaneously, I read relevant non-fiction books to better understand time, place and prisoner predicament.  
When writing began, I found myself thinking as might a novelist – the notion that fiction hinges on the characters and what they want. Grandad had wanted freedom from repression. A year later, I had completed his biography. With enough copies printed for the family and a few generations to come, I thought I was done as an author. Not so. I’d been infected by that burning desire to write.
I went on to compose business-related blogs about leadership, strategy and branding on my website Three years and a 100+ blogs later, I thought back to Grandad’s story. There was so much to it. So much that had never been told before. I wondered if I could dramatize that fascinating journey to freedom and redemption into a thrilling novel. A couple of thousand words of fiction later, I realized my naivety; I was in over my head but that didn’t snuff my inspiration. I didn’t write another word for a year – reading every self-help book I could get my hands on regarding the writing of fiction.
Following the conventional process of research, writing, editing, rewriting (ad nauseam), and seeking an agent and/or publisher, The Circumstantial Enemy came to fruition eight years later. I’m already working on the plot for a prequel and a sequel.
About The Circumstantial Enemy
When Croatia becomes a Nazi puppet state in 1941, carefree pilot Tony Babic finds himself forcibly aligned with Hitler’s Luftwaffe. Unbeknownst to Tony, his sweetheart Katarina and best friend Goran have taken the side of the opposing communist partisans. The threesome are soon to discover that love and friendship will not circumvent this war’s ideals. Downed by the Allies in the Adriatic Sea, Tony survives a harrowing convalescence before being shipped to a prisoner of war camp in America.  But with the demise of the Third Reich, he considers the kind of life that awaits him in the homeland under communist rule. Will he be persecuted as an enemy of the state for taking the side of Hitler? And then there is Katarina; in letters she confesses her love, but not her deceit… Does her heart still belong to him?
About John R. Bell
John was born in Chigwell, UK and now resides in Vancouver, Canada. Before becoming an author of business books and historical fiction, he was the CEO of a Fortune 500 company and a global strategy consultant.
Twitter:     @JohnRichardBell
LinkedIn:     John Richard  Bell