Insecure Writers Support Group #IWSG ‘Readers’ Surprising Responses’ #amwriting #Histfic #JaneEyre #May2021

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts, and concerns about our profession. By the way, all writers are invited to join in!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

May 5 question – Has any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn’t expect? If so, did it surprise you?

The awesome co-hosts for the May 5 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, PJ Colando, Tonja Drecker, Sadira Stone, and Cathrina Constantine!

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

Have my readers’ responses surprised me? Definitely!

I have over a hundred written reviews on Amazon, and over two hundred reviews on Goodreads, which may not seem like a lot, but it never ceases to amaze me. The fact that so many readers, people I don’t know and who may never have heard of me, a relatively little known author, in a vast ocean of millions of books and writers, have been motivated to read my books and taken the trouble to write a review, amazes me.  

I feel encouraged by the good reviews, which fortunately account for the majority, and that used to surprise me when I started publishing, seven years ago, in 2014, because I was very insecure!

I used to feel upset when I got a negative review, again, because I was very insecure, but now I’m less insecure and I appreciate them too, because some are useful, and at least they all count as reviews!

At first, I was surprised that so many readers disliked my novel because they thought I had treated Mr Rochester too harshly. In my defense, I’d say I didn’t lock him in a windowless attic, or make him suffer any physical torture! He lived a good life, with his wife and son, even though he went back to some of his old ways. 

I mean, locking your wife in an attic in dire conditions, hidden from everyone (in spite of being a moneyed heiress), and pretending you’re single to the point of intending bigamy (until your wedding was interrupted at the altar) with an innocent nineteen-year-old, is pretty objectionable behaviour, even for 19th century standards.    

On the other hand, I can appreciate the fact that Mr Rochester has been an icon of passionate love, aka the brooding Byronic hero/lover, who is brought to his feet due to the love of a ‘good’ woman, for almost 200 years, but that’s due to an erroneous interpretation of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

Jane Eyre is the protagonist the reader should root for, not Rochester. Jane is the independent, resourceful and single-minded nineteen-year-old woman who stood up to a manipulative rake and won him over on her terms, with her money (Spoiler alert: at the end of the novel she becomes an heiress herself), once he was a widower, and once she had made her way in the world working and living on her own, a feat not all women achieve, even nowadays.  

I’d love to continue to be surprised by my readers, and I hope to surprise them too with more novels. I started by writing The Eyre Hall which will become The Eyre Hall Series shortly, as two new novels, Blood Moon at Eyre Hall and Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall are coming soon! 

Take a look at my provisional banner, I’m still making changes and adapting the covers. Do you like them? 

If you’d like to read or reread Jane Eyre, I’m posting one chapter a week, every Friday, in flash fiction, directly from the original novel, for readers who prefer to read an abridged version, here, just click on the banner below:

#Tuesdaybookblog ‘A Grief Observed’ by C. S. Lewis #BookReview #Memoir @Audible

This is a short and intense first person account of C S Lewis’s (1898-1963) emotional journey as a result of his beloved wife’s death. Lewis was a British writer, best known for The Chronicles of Narnia, who was professor of English literature at both Oxford and Cambridge University. 

The Chronicles of Narnia Adult Box Set

From the blurb

Written after his wife’s tragic death as a way of surviving the “mad midnight moments”, A Grief Observed is C.S. Lewis’s honest reflection on the fundamental issues of life, death, and faith in the midst of loss. This work contains his concise, genuine reflections on that period: “Nothing will shake a man, or at any rate a man like me, out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself.”

This is a beautiful and unflinchingly honest record of how even a stalwart believer can lose all sense of meaning in the universe, and how he can gradually regain his bearings.

My Review

A Grief Observed is a heartfelt memoir of the loss of his wife. It is the agonising experience of death as told by a highly intelligent, devout Catholic, who was also very much in love with his wife at her death. Lewis lays out his bare feelings honestly and poignantly.  This is the first paragraph:

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.

He then tries to make sense or accept her death from a religious point of view:

Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be—or so it feels—welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence.  

His wife had cancer and she knew she was dying, and they had discussed it before it happened, but once she was gone, he learns that no amount of prior discussion prepares you for the death of the person you love. He is plagued with the uncertainty of her whereabouts after death, as he tries to rationalise his religious beliefs and the reality and pain of her loss:

‘Where is she now?’ That is, in what place is she at the present time? But if H. is not a body—and the body I loved is certainly no longer she—she is in no place at all. And ‘the present time’ is a date or point in our time series. 

Finally, he tells us she had come to terms with her own death at least there is some hope in the ending. These are the last lines:

How wicked it would be, if we could, to call the dead back! She said not to me but to the chaplain, ‘I am at peace with God.’ She smiled, but not at me. Poi si tornò all’ eterna fontana.

The last words, Poi si torno all eterna fontana, mean “And then she returned to the Eternal Fount,” which were the last words of Dante’s Divine Comedy, when Beatrice returns to heaven.

Nevertheless, it is the living who find no consolation.

A Grief Observed

I listened to it twice on Audible brilliantly read by Ralf Cosham  and also read the kindle version.

It is not an easy book to listen to, but I believe it could be very helpful for anyone who is working their way through grief because Lewis expresses his grief honestly and eloquently. And people who are suffering loss often cannot find words to express their pain, which leads to a sense of helplessness. If we can out our pain into words thereby verbalising our pain it will be easier to understand and gradually overcome the grief, and as I said in yesterday’s post on ‘6 Ways to Recover from Grief’, we have to walk through the stages of grief, and move forward until the love we feel when we remember is greater than the pain we feel for the loss.  

 A Grief Observed is not for everyone, I warn you it is raw and devastating, but it has 2,500 reviews and 80% are five stars written by people who found the book helpful for their own grieving process.   

His wife was the American poet Joy Davidman

I’ve just discovered this fictionalised account of their relationship and marriage, which is now on my TBR list. 

#Tuesdaybookblog ‘Ines of my Soul’ by Isabel Allende #BookReview #HistFic Audible

Today I’m reviewing ‘Ines of my soul’, a passionate tale of love, freedom, and conquest, set in the 16th century from the New York Times bestselling author Isabel Allende.

Inés of My Soul: A Novel by [Isabel Allende]

From the blurb

Born into a poor family in Spain, Inés Suárez, finds herself condemned to a life of poverty without opportunity as a lowly seamstress. But it’s the sixteenth century, the beginning of the Spanish conquest of the Americas. Struck by the same restless hope and opportunism, Inés uses her shiftless husband’s disappearance to Peru as an excuse to embark on her own adventure. After learning of her husband’s death in battle, she meets the fiery war hero, Pedro de Valdivia and begins a love that not only changes her life but the course of history.

Based on the real historical events that founded Chile, Allende takes us on a whirlwind adventure of love and loss seen through the eyes of a daring, complicated woman who fought for freedom. 

 

File:Isabel Allende Frankfurter Buchmesse 2015.JPG - Wikimedia Commons

I have a confession to make. I admire Isabel Allende so much that when I grow up as an author (I consider myself a young author, because I published my first novel seven years ago), I want to be as intelligent, insightful, prolific, poetic, beautiful (inside and out) and full of life and vigour as Isabel Allende. She’s 78 and fell in love and married a year ago. She has also sold over 72 million books since she wrote The House of Spirits in 1982, and she still writes every day and publishes at least one novel every year.

She writes in Spanish always, which is her mother tongue, but her English is so fluent that she has translated some of her Spanish books into English, such as her recent memoir The Soul of a Woman, which I featured on my blog yesterday, International Women’s Day.

I am proud to say that we have a few things in common. I write mostly in English, but also in Spanish. We are both perfectly fluent in both languages, we are incurable romantics, and we are both mothers, grandmothers, writers and feminists.

She is my role model as a writer and a woman, and it is my pleasure to tell you about Ines del Alma Mía, a novel I read in Spanish when it first came out in 2014.

By the way you can watch the brilliant mini-series of eight episodes produced by Spanish and Chilean television companies on Amazon Prime.

My Review

Inés of my soul is an epic tale of love, adventure and the cruelty of the conquest of South America by the Spanish conquerors of the 16th century, when Spain was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain, Charles V.

The tale begins in the early fifteen hundreds in Spain and continues to Venezuela and Peru, which had been conquered by Pizarro and continues with Pedro de Valdivia’s obsession to conquer Chile for the Spanish crown. 

It is also the story of Ines Suarez, a young girl whose husband travels to America in search of El Dorado and never returns, so she decides to go there herself to find him, which was a dangerous and daring thing to do at the time for a woman on her own. But Ines is no ordinary woman. When she arrives she meets Valdivia, they fall in love and travel together during his conquests. There is plenty of drama, action and adventure, as well as savagery and inhumanity, which had me gasping in horror and shame.

The novel is thoroughly researched; all the major characters are based on real historical characters. The rich prose immerses the reader in the life and minds of the characters and the hardships and cruelty they face.

It’s not a quick, easy read, but it’s worth it to gain an insight into this convoluted and fascinated period in European and South American history.  

Have you read any of Isabel Allende’s books?

Insecure Writers Support Group #IWSG ‘Favourite Genres and Novels’ #amreading

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts and concerns about our profession. By the way, all writers are invited to join in!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

The awesome co-hosts for the March 3 posting of the IWSG are Sarah – The Faux Fountain Pen Jacqui Murray, Chemist Ken, Victoria Marie Lees, Natalie Aguirre, and JQ Rose!

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

March 3 question – Everyone has a favorite genre or genres to write. But what about your reading preferences? Do you read widely or only within the genre(s) you create stories for? What motivates your reading choice?

I love reading, and although I make sure to widen my scope by reading outside my comfort zone, I have a favourite genre: romance.

I’m an incurable romantic, so novels that include an exciting, breathtaking, convoluted or epic love story with a reasonably happy or optimistic ending will give me great joy.

Some examples of classic romances I reread regularly for pleasure and inspiration are: Persuasion, Jane Eyre, Great Expectations, Gone with the Wind, and the Thorn Birds.

Gone With The Wind

Now for more contemporary examples of novels which include romance and have moved and inspired me recently and I’ve reviewed on my blog:

Recursion a techno thriller by Blake Crouch including a recurring love story which defies time.

The Kiss quotient a fun and moving romance including a heroine with Asperger’s and a complex hero.

Kissing my Killer by Helena Newbury an enemies to lovers mafia romance.

The Last Necromancer by C J Archer a steam punk fantasy romance (this one is part of a series)

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris a historical romance set in a concentration camp

The Book of Two Ways a contemporary romance by Jodi Picoult involving a woman who loved two men at different times and is faced with heart wrenching choices when they come together.

Cold Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas a Victorian Romance set in London

Sustained, A contemporary romance between the guardian of six nephews and nieces and a high-powered lawyer who prefers one-night stands.

Captured a vampire romance by Erica Stevens (this is part of a series)

Captured (The Captive Series Book 1) by [Erica Stevens, Leslie Mitchell G2 Freelance Editing]

The Baron by Joanna Schupe, about a fake medium and a railway baron, set in New York’s Gilded Age.

Missing You a crime thriller by Harlan Coben about a man who will never forget the woman he loved, even when she died, but is she really dead?

Holy Island by LJ Ross is the first novel is a series featuring DCI Ryan, who is the lead detective in the series. He meets his love interest in book one and she will appear in 17 of the 18 novels in the series. Crime fiction.

Holy Island: A DCI Ryan Mystery (The DCI Ryan Mysteries Book 1) by [LJ Ross]

I don’t care about the genre as long as there’s a moving love story in the narrative. I’m not referring to a typical romance of boy meets girl and they fall in love, I want novels to include other themes and plots, too. A love story which focusses on two characters obsessively is not enough to keep me reading.

What kind of romance novels do you enjoy reading?

 

#Tuesdaybookblog ‘Green Lights’ by Matthew #BookReview #Memoir @Audible

From the Academy Award®-winning actor, written and narrated by Matthew McConaughey, an unconventional memoir filled with raucous stories, outlaw wisdom, and lessons learned the hard way about living with greater satisfaction.

Greenlights Audiobook By Matthew McConaughey cover art

From the blurb

I’ve been in this life for fifty years, been trying to work out its riddle for forty-two, and been keeping diaries of clues to that riddle for the last thirty-five. Notes about successes and failures, joys and sorrows, things that made me marvel, and things that made me laugh out loud. How to be fair. How to have less stress. How to have fun. How to hurt people less. How to get hurt less. How to be a good man. How to have meaning in life. How to be more me.

So I took a one-way ticket to the desert and wrote this book: an album, a record, a story of my life so far. This is fifty years of my sights and seens, felts and figured-outs, cools and shamefuls. Graces, truths, and beauties of brutality. Getting away withs, getting caughts, and getting wets while trying to dance between the raindrops.

Hopefully, it’s medicine that tastes good, a couple of aspirin instead of the infirmary, a spaceship to Mars without needing your pilot’s license, going to church without having to be born again, and laughing through the tears.

It’s a love letter. To life.

The Gentlemen | Official Trailer [HD] | Own it NOW on Digital HD, Blu-ray &  DVD - YouTube

My Review

Green Lights is a (half)-Life Story, brilliantly written and read by Matthew McConaughey. From his childhood to his existential 50th year, he tells us about the moments which made him the man and the actor he is and will be.

A one-way ticket to the desert is a great place to write a book or a memoir with no interruptions, except your own memories.

Green Lights was poignant, hilarious, enthralling, thought provoking, optimistic, and overall compellingly written and engagingly narrated. 

No name dropping or hard feelings from this real southern gentleman. By the way, The Gentlemen, is my favourite film, so far, but I expect there will be even better ones in store.

What more can I say? Well done Mr McConaughey! Keep acting and writing. There are plenty more green lights ahead!

#Tuesdaybookblog ‘Bedlam’ by LJ Ross #BookReview #Thriller #Audible

This is the third installment of the Alexander Gregory Thrillers and it can be read as a standalone, but I urge you to read book one and two first, because they are also just brilliant!

The Alexander Gregory Thrillers

From the blurb

Fresh from a high-profile case in the Paris fashion world, elite forensic psychologist and criminal profiler Dr Alexander Gregory receives a call from the FBI. The wife of a notorious criminal has been admitted to a private psychiatric hospital and can no longer testify in his upcoming trial. Without her, their case will collapse but, amidst reports that the staff are as unpredictable as their patients, who can the police trust?

In desperation, they turn to an outsider and now Gregory must find the courage to step inside the fortified walls of Buchanan Hospital to uncover the truth. The question is, will he ever be the same again?

Murder and mystery are peppered with dark humour in this fast-paced thriller set amidst the spectacular Catskill Forest.


Bedlam: An Alexander Gregory Thriller (The Alexander Gregory Thrillers Book 3) by [LJ Ross]

My Review

Dr Gregory is a well known English forensic psychologist and criminal profiler. He is also a complex character who is battling with his own demons.

On this occasion he is helping the FBI solve a case related to the mafia. He goes undercover in a private psychiatric hospital, pretending to be a patient, and things get very complicated while he’s hospitalised. 

I love Gregory’s complex, dark character and the way he battles with his own demons, which he is well on his way to recovering in this installment. In fact, I really enjoyed the psychological aspects of the novel and the discussions between doctors and patients at the hospital.

I’m glad Dr Gregory found a love interest in this novel, who is more of a possible long-term relationship than his previous female friends in the first two books (You know by now that I’m an incurable romantic!). Although Bedlam is in not a romance, there is a hint of things to come, and I hope it works out for both of them.

LJ Ross does a wonderful job of creating authentic characters and throwing them headlong into challenging situations, which they cope with and overcome because of their resourcefulness, moral strength and compassion. And of course, we have the villains, selfish people who have no moral scruples.  

I preordered the kindle version, but I added the audible version and ended up listening to Richard Armitage’s fabulous narration. I can’t wait for the next book in the series!

#Tuesdaybookblog ‘Home Before Dark’ by Riley Sager #GhostThriller #Suspense @Audible

Today I’m reviewing another audiobook I listened to on Audible with my monthly credit, Home Before Dark by Riley Sager, a ghostly, mystery thriller narrated by Cady McClain and Jon Lindstrom

Home Before Dark: A Novel by [Riley Sager]

From the blurb

Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity—and skepticism.

Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself—a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.

My Review

Home Before Dark is a cleverly plotted story of various generations of secrets, lies and crimes surrounding a mysterious Victorian house and estate in the woods, Baneberry Hall. The last owners, before Maggie inherited the house, were her parents, who lived in there for exactly 3 weeks before running away in the dead of night, with 5-year-old Maggie, supposedly fleeing from ghosts.

Maggie’s father, a novelist, wrote a bestseller based on their experiences, and although their lives improved financially, their family was destroyed after that fateful moment, and even today the adult Maggie cannot get over her experiences at the house. She’s still searching for the truth, which could be stranger and more devastating than her father’s book.

The novel is narrated by Maggie and her father in two time frames, past and present, and the plot cleverly unfolds amidst secrets, legends, lies, half-lies, and a few truths, until the mystery is finally solved.

I enjoyed reading the novel, because the story was engaging, and I love stories set in atmospheric houses with spooky legends. But, although the characters were authentic and interesting, I didn’t actually like any of them, especially Maggie or her parents, except the father (but that was mostly due to Jon Lindstrom’s brilliant narration!). Despite wanting to understand them, I found it hard to sympathise with their thoughts, actions or lack of affection.

Also, a little bit of love or romance of any type would have been nice. All the relationships portrayed between married couples, friends, or family, seemed cold or damaged. There wasn’t a single drop of warmth between anyone, but I’m a hopeless romantic, so I would say that. 

Overall. it was an entertaining story which was excellently read by both narrators. And I’m certainly curious to read more of Riley Sager’s books.

Check out my other fiction book reviews here or my non-fiction, personal growth books here.

Happy reading! 

 

#Tuesdaybookblog ‘Recursion’ by Blake Crouch #TecnoThriller #SciFi #Romance #Suspense @Scribd

Today I’m reviewing another audiobook. This time I listened on Scribd, to Recursion by Blake Crouch, an unputdownable Science Fiction, Technothriller narrated by Abby Craden and Jon Lindstrom

Recursion

From the blurb

What if someone could rewrite your entire life?

‘My son has been erased.’

Those are the last words the woman tells Barry Sutton, before she leaps from the Manhattan rooftop. Deeply unnerved, Barry begins to investigate her death, only to learn that this wasn’t an isolated case. All across the country, people are waking up to lives different than the ones they fell asleep to. Are they suffering from False Memory Syndrome, a mysterious, new disease that afflicts people with vivid memories of a life they never lived? Or is something far more sinister behind the fracturing of reality all around him?

Miles away, neuroscientist Helena Smith is developing a technology that allows us to preserve our most intense memories, and relive them. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent.

Barry’s search for the truth leads him on an impossible, astonishing journey, as he discovers that Helena’s work has yielded a terrifying gift – the ability not just to preserve memories, but to remake them . . . at the risk of destroying what it means to be human.

My Review

I hadn’t read any books by the author and I don’t usually read technothrillers or science fiction, so I didn’t know what to expect from this novel, but I like to read outside my comfort zone so I started listening.

Beginnings are vital, a good first paragraph, page, chapter will make a novel irresistible to the reader, and that’s what happened with Recursion. I knew from the first line I’d love it.

Detective Barry Sutton rushes up to a skyscraper to stop a woman from jumping off but before she does so, she tells him she has a strange disease called False Memory Syndrome (FMS) which means she has memories of different lives, but only one is real at present.     

From this moment on, the novel is fast-paced, full of action and suspense as Barry decides to investigate the woman’s story and finds himself involved in a crazy conspiracy to control time and history. 

The story may sound far-fetched, but Recursion is so convincingly written that it feels authentic. 

The best parts of the novel are the two main characters, Barry and Helena and their timeless love story, which is breathtaking. I can’t help being an incurable romantic, and although this is not a romance at the beginning, it does soon turn into an epic romance across time and space.

I’m glad I read it and I’m going to read his other novels, too.

Since writing the post I also read Dark Matter, which is his first and most successful novel, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, too.

Dark Matter is another mind blowing science fiction technothriller about the choices we make, doppelgangers, alternate universes and what a person is prepared to do and give up to keep the life he chose and stay with his wife and son. I also listened to the audiobook which was also brilliantly narrated by Jon Lindstrom.

However, if I were to recommend one of the two, it would be Recursion. I found the plot more believably constructed, and the narrative more tightly spun. I also preferred the main characters because they were more engaging and complex. 

Check out my other fiction book reviews here or my non-fiction, personal growth books here.

Happy reading!  

 

#Tuesdaybookblog ‘The Book of Two Ways’ by Jodi Picoult #BookReview #Romance #Suspense @Audible

Today I’m reviewing another audiobook, The Book of Two Ways, by the great Jodi Picoult, a stunning novel about the choices we make, the life we leave behind and second chances, beautifully narrated by Patti Murin. I was so impressed by the narrative that after listening, I read the ebook version. 

The Book of Two Ways: A Novel

From the blurb

Everything changes in a single moment for Dawn Edelstein. She’s on a plane when the flight attendant makes an announcement: Prepare for a crash landing. She braces herself as thoughts flash through her mind. The shocking thing is, the thoughts are not of her husband but of a man she last saw 15 years ago: Wyatt Armstrong. 

Dawn, miraculously, survives the crash, but so do all the doubts that have suddenly been raised. She has led a good life. Back in Boston, there is her husband, Brian, their beloved daughter, and her work as a death doula, in which she helps ease the transition between life and death for her clients. But somewhere in Egypt is Wyatt Armstrong, who works as an archaeologist unearthing ancient burial sites, a career Dawn once studied for but was forced to abandon when life suddenly intervened. And now, when it seems that fate is offering her second chances, she is not as sure of the choice she once made. 

After the crash landing, the airline ensures that the survivors are seen by a doctor, then offers transportation to wherever they want to go. The obvious destination is to fly home, but she could take another path: Return to the archaeological site she left years before, reconnect with Wyatt and their unresolved history, and maybe even complete her research on The Book of Two Ways — the first known map of the afterlife. 

As the story unfolds, Dawn’s two possible futures unspool side by side, as do the secrets and doubts long buried with them. Dawn must confront the questions she’s never truly asked: What does a life well lived look like? When we leave this Earth, what do we leave behind? Do we make choices…or do our choices make us? And who would you be if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are right now?

My Review

‘My calendar is full of dead people’.

The first line of a novel novel pulls you in.

‘Brace, the flight attendants yell. Brace!
As we fall out of the sky, I wonder who will remember me.’

The first pages confirm your decision.

“Where do you need to go?”
Boston, I think. Home. But there’s something about the way she
phrases the question: need, instead of want; and another destination rises like steam in my mind.
I open my mouth, and I answer.

And the first chapter convinces you you’re about to read an epic novel and enjoy it to the very last page. 

After a stunning beginning, in which the heroine is faced with her own death, instead of going home to her husband and daughter, she makes the snap decision to go back to the man and the life the left behind in Egypt, when she worked as an archaeologist over sixteen years earlier.

The rest of the novel is an engaging narration of Dawn’s emotional journey through her past, her present and the decisions she must make regarding her future.

It’s a powerful novel about complex universal themes such as life, death, love, marriage and parenting, and about the decisions we make and the people and possibilities we leave behind as a result. It’s also about second chances and the freedom we have to change our minds and our futures. 

Dawn’s narrative wraps your thoughts as she takes you to Egypt and her life as an archaeologist, Boston, her family, the two men she loved, her daughter, her present job as a doula, and the decisions she must make, before it’s too late.

The Book of Two Ways is an unforgettable, emotional rollercoaster right up to the last agonising line. I can’t imagine any reader not loving this unique novel.  

Check out my other fiction book reviews here or my non-fiction, personal growth books here.

Happy reading! 

#Tuesdaybookblog ‘The House on the Water’ by Margot Hunt #BookReview #Whodunit #Mystery #Suspense @Audible

Today I’m reviewing The House on the Water, a thriller and mystery novella by Margot Hunt, and narrated by Taylor Schilling

The House on the Water Audiobook By Margot Hunt cover art

From the blurb

Every year, Caroline Reed takes a trip with her best friend, Esme Lamont. They’re usually accompanied by their spouses—but this year, everything’s changed. Esme has just gone through a bitter divorce, and Caroline is wondering if her own marriage is reaching its breaking point, as she and her husband John cope with the discovery that their nineteen-year-old son has been abusing drugs. Still, the inseparable duo books a week-long stay at a beach-front home in Shoreham, Florida, inviting Esme’s brother, Nick, and his new husband, Ford, hoping the additional guests will help lighten the mood.

After a blissful first night in the vacation home, tragedy strikes, and one of the houseguests is found dead. While it’s assumed at first to be a horrific accident, it quickly becomes clear that there’s something more sinister at play, and over the course of this fast-paced, deeply chilling novella, the potential motives of each guest are revealed—until a shocking conclusion is reached.

My Review

I don’t listen to many novellas, but I read the blurb and thought I’d take a chance with The House on the Water, and I was pleasantly surprised. Although it is described as a mystery and thriller, which it is, it is also a ‘whodunit’ in the traditional sense of the ‘Agatha Christie’ way! A group of friends in a house, a murder and everyone is suspect, because everyone had a powerful reason and the opportunity to commit the crime.

It could have been any of them, and I had fun wondering who it was, guessing and changing my mind, until the culprit owns up at the very end, but there’s another little twist… 

It was a light, easy and satisfying read. I love listening to audiobooks while I exercise, go for a walk or do the cooking, and it was great for that. For such a short read, the characters were mostly engaging and well-rounded, the suspense built up gradually, and the plot was cleverly thought out. 

The one narrator, Taylor Schilling, was very good with all the different voices. I’ll be listening to some more of the author and narrator’s novels and novellas which are included in my monthly subscription, so they’re great value.

By the way, there are plenty of similar novellas, which last between one and three hours, on audible. They’re great for a short listening break!