#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! 

#TuesdayBookBlog ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ by Anne Bronte #BookReview #Victorian @Audible #Audiobooks

I read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall too many years ago, in my teens, when I read all the Bronte sisters’ novels, but I just couldn’t for the life of me remember much about the story. So, as the version I read, narrated by  Alex Jennings and Jenny Agutter was on Audible Included, which means that as a member, I could listen for free, I decided to have a go at the audio version. I wasn’t surprised when I was hooked immediately, I’ll tell you why right away.  

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall Audiobook By Anne Brontë cover art

From the Blurb

Fleeing a disastrous marriage, Helen Huntingdon retreats to the desolate mansion, Wildfell Hall, with her son, Arthur. There, she makes her living as a painter. Finding it difficult to avoid her neighbors, she is soon an object of speculation and gossip. Brontë portrays Helen’s eloquent struggle for independence at a time when society defined a married woman as her husband’s property.

Before I start my review, I’d like to tell you why I love Audible. I know I’ve told you many times already, but it’s even better now! My monthly credit allows me to buy one audiobook of my choice every month, plus there are daily deals and frequent sales and two for the price of one offers, plus there are loads of free listens in the ‘Included’ catalogue, which has new additions every week, and there are podcasts.

And I love to listen to audiobooks while I work out, go for walks, do the cooking, the laundry, the cleaning, clearing out cubboards, and much more! Here’s more information, in case you’re interested. (By the way, I have no commercial affiliation to Audible, I just wanted to share how great I think it is!) 

My Review

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was easy for me to enjoy. You all know how much I love Victorian Fiction, and as I had completely forgotten about the plot, it was like reading it for the first time. 

It’s a very long, three volume novel, as was the custom of the time. It is over 800 pages and over16 hours of narration time. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is the second and final novel by Anne Brontë, the youngest of the Bronte sisters. Her first novel was Agnes Grey, which I only vaguely remember, so I’ll probably be reading it again, soon, too.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was first published in 1848 under the pseudonym of Acton Bell. Although it was very successsful, it was considered the most shocking of the Brontë’s novels, and I can’t imagine why, because the main female character, Helen, is so very pious that she is at times quite nausiating. In fact, I was often furious with her subservient behaviour, especially in the third part of the novel, but more about that in a moment.

The first volume is narrated by Gilbert Markham (by the way, one of my new favourite romance heroes!), who is telling his friend about how he came to meet the Tenant of Wildfell Hall. He was intrigued and fascinated by Helen Graham, a beautiful and aloof, young widow, who moved into the crumbling, old Hall, with her young son, Arthur. They do eventually (very eventually), become friends, but then she becomes the target of local gossip and it is discovered that she is not a widow, because her husband is alive.

The second volume is narrated by Helen, who gives Gilbert all the letters she wrote from when she met her husband to the moment she left him. Here she shows herself to be a devoted wife, who is in love with an unworthy husband, and although she put up with a lot of psychlogical and some physical abuse, she was finally strong-willed and determined enough to abandon him.

This part of the novel certainly gives us a clear insight to the life of the country gentry and servants of the era, as well as the submission of women, even wealthy women, to their husbands,  fathers and religious notions of women’s piety.  I both pitied and admired Helen at this point, because I thought I was going to read a 19th century, #MeToo novel, and I almost did, but as I read the third part I discovered I was wrong. 

This third part, narrated by Gilbert, describes how she returned to her husband and what happens afterwards, but I won’t spoil it for you by telling you how the ending comes about. I will tell you I was exasperated with both Gilbert and Helen, and her brother, but especially with Helen, for being so obstinate and submissive. So, although I did enjoy the ending, I found it was not the feminist novel I had been expecting to read.   

A modern editor would have reduced the novel by half, even I, lover of Victorian literature, was impatient for something to happen and maddened by the going round in circles of the same events, and long drawn out conversations, which did not move the plot forward a single inch! 

There are two major difficulties in reading this type of Victorian fiction, for the modern reader; in the first place the excessive length, verbosity and repetition of certain parts, and on the other hand, the cultural and emotional distance, with contemporary readers. The later makes it hard to understand or sympathize with their passive acceptance of patriarchy, gender differences and medieval attitude to religion, and the former can become frustrating.  

However, there was one aspects that reminded me of contemporary society; harmful and spiteful gossip and blatant lies, which still occurs today, except nowadays it would spread on social media, instead parlours and at sunday service.   

I would recommend the audio version, because it brings the characters and events to life and makes the tedious parts more enjoyable (and you can speed them up!).

I hope I haven’t put you off, because it really is worth reading. The prose flows smoothly and the vocabulary and expressions are gorgeous, and you will be rewarded with an authentic, first-hand glimpse of what life was really like for women, men and children, in Victorian England. 

Have you read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall? What was your impression?

 

 

 

#TuesdayBookBlog ‘Call Me Maybe’ by Cara Bastone #BookReview #Romance @Audible #Audiobooks

Today I’m reviewing an Audiobook, which is not available in print, at least not at this time, and quite honestly, it’s such a perfect audiobook that I can’t imagine ever wanting to read in print or kindle.

Call Me Maybe Audiobook By Cara Bastone cover art 

From the Blurb

Can a customer service call really lead to love at first talk?

True love is on the line in this charming, laugh-out-loud rom-com—created specifically for the audio format!

Paint your toes. Pick up the wrong coffee and bagel order. Drive from Brooklyn to Jersey in traffic so slow you want to tear your hair out. It’s amazing all the useless things I can accomplish while on hold for three hours with customer service.

My shiny new website is glitching, and my inner rage-monster is ready to scorch some earth… when he finally picks up. Not the robot voice I expected but a real live human named Cal. He’s surprisingly helpful and really knows his stuff, even if he’s a little awkward…. in an adorable way.

And suddenly I’m flirting with him? And I think he’s flirting back.
And suddenly it’s been hours, and we’re still on the phone talking and ordering each other takeout while he trouble shoots my website.

And suddenly we’re exchanging numbers and sending texts and DMs every day, leaving voice mails (who even does that anymore?!).

And suddenly I’m wondering if it’s possible for two people fall in love at first talk.

****

Before I start my review, I’d like to tell you why I love Audible. I know I’ve told you many times already, but it’s even better now! My monthly credit allows me to buy one audiobook of my choice every month, plus there are daily deals and frequent sales and two for the price of one offers, plus there are loads of free listens in the ‘Included’ catalogue, which has new additions every week, and there are podcasts.

And I love to listen to audiobooks while I work out, go for walks, do the cooking, the laundry, the cleaning, clearing out cubboards, and much more! Here’s more information, in case you’re interested. (By the way, I have no commercial affiliation to Audible, I just wanted to share how great I think it is!) 

Call me Maybe is on the free Included catalogue for members. 

My Review

What can I say? I was hooked from the first line.

I was about to start my weekend chores and I thought I’d listen to some light romance, believe me, it makes ironing and peeling potatoes, so much more motivating!

I didn’t know what to expect, but it didn’t matter, because it was free and I could leave it and start another book if I didn’t like it, but of course, I didn’t stop listening until the end.

I’m a fast audioreader, because I put the speed on 150 usually, so I got through the 6 hours in a few hours less. My kitchen and whole house were spotless by the time I finished reading! 

It was a hilarious, fun, sweet, uplifting romance between a shy, tech nerd and a fun-loving extrovert, who do not meet until the very end of the audiobook. There is no sex, phone or otherwise, but there is a lot of chemistry and magic between Cal and Vera. 

The characters are engaging, believable and both so unique and so likeable that I loved getting to know them. This is because the dialogue was well written, but that’s only 50% of an audiobook, the other 50% is due to the narrators who were absolutely perfect.

There was a small plot twist towards the end, which wasn’t hard to see coming, but it made the end even sweeter.

I love discovering new authors and I’m glad I got to know Cara Bastone. I’ll probably be reading or listening to some of her other books, such as Just a Hearbeat Away in the future (my TBR pile is endless and growing every day!).

Just a Heartbeat Away (Forever Yours Book 1) by [Cara Bastone]

(I couldn’t resist the temptation, so I started Just a Heartbeat Away last night, on my kindle. It’s such a sweet romance, with such endearing main characters, but more about that another day!)

Do you listen to audiobooks? Which was the last one you listened to? And if you don’t, I think you really should!

 

 

 

#TuesdayBookBlog ‘The Other You’ J. S. Monroe @Scribd #BookReview #Tanka #MedicalThriller

The Other You: a gripping and addictive new thriller for 2020 by [J.S. Monroe]

From the Blurb

Is he who you think he is?

Kate used to be good at recognising people. So good, she worked for the police, identifying criminals in crowds of thousands. But six months ago, a devastating car accident led to a brain injury. Now the woman who never forgot a face can barely recognise herself in the mirror.

At least she has Rob. Kate met him just after her accident, and he nursed her back to health in his high-tech modernist house on the Cornish coast. When she’s with him, the nightmares of the accident fade, and she feels safe and loved.

Until, one day, she looks at Rob anew – and knows, with absolute certainty, that he has been replaced by an impostor. Is she right? Have her old recognition skills returned? Or is it all in her damaged mind?

*****

My Review

The Other You is a spine chilling techno and medical thriller.

It’s a well plotted and tightly written novel. It has engaging characters; some are the good guys, who are led astray, and others are villains, who are very, very cunning and evil. Part of the suspense is figuring out who the good and bad guys really are.

The plot of The Other You brings us face to face with actions which push well over the limits of ethics, by using technology to fuel unlimited greed.  It makes us think about how far science and technology could go to literally take over our lives and even our minds.

It is an enthralling, entertaining and fast paced read, with a frightening, but believable premise and engaging characters. A 5-star read!

I listened to the audiobook version which was brilliantly read by Eilidh Beaton.

Especially for lovers of disquieting psychological and medical thrillers.

By the way, you can get it for the price of a coffee on kindle, right here!

Amazon.com author page

Amazon UK author page

Scribd

My Double

If I could live twice,
I’d be both saint and sinner.
My double and me,
We’re under your very eyes,
But you will never see us.

****

#TuesdayBookBlog ‘Love Her or Lose Her’ by Tessa Bailey #Romance @Scribd #Audiobook #BookReview

Today, after a few heart-pounding thrillers, I’m reviewing a sweet and steamy, second chance romance, Love Her or Lose Her, by Tessa Bailey.

Love Her or Lose Her: A Novel by [Bailey, Tessa]

From the Blurb

Rosie and Dominic Vega are the perfect couple: high school sweethearts, best friends, madly in love. Well, they used to be anyway. Now Rosie’s lucky to get a caveman grunt from the ex-soldier every time she walks in the door. Dom is faithful and a great provider, but the man she fell in love with ten years ago is nowhere to be found. When her girlfriends encourage Rosie to demand more out of life and pursue her dream of opening a restaurant, she decides to demand more out of love, too. Three words: marriage boot camp.

****

My Review

Love her or Lose Her is a sweet and steamy, second chance romance by Tessa Bailey.

It’s easy to fall in love with your High School sweetheart, marry and expect a happy ever after, but what happens when real life takes over dating and having fun? Can couples stay in love after marriage? What’s the secret to staying in love after years of marriage?

There is plenty of food for thought in this apparently light romance. Why do couples fall out of love? Why do some pull through, while others split up? It’s a complex question, and although this novel isn’t a deep, psychological or sociological analysis of love and marriage, it did make me wonder about why love doesn’t always last and how to decide if it was a mistake or whether it’s worth making the effort to pull through the rough patch.

Rosie and Dominic are a young married couple who has fallen out of love. Tessa thinks her high school sweetheart and husband doesn’t love her any more and she leaves him. There is no cheating and no third parties involved. They’re both unhappy because over the years they’ve given up their cherished hopes and dreams and they’re not communicating their feelings or needs.

Some of the best moments of the novel are the sessions with their unique and insightful marriage guidance councillor. It made me think I know a few couples who would benefit from his therapies! And it made me realise how vital it is for a couple to communicate their feelings and if they can’t, how important it is to get professional help, before deciding to break up.

A sweet, second chance romance. A nicely written and plotted romance with angst, humor and lots of food for thought.

 Especially for readers who are in a very romantic, feel good mood!

Scribd link to Love Her or Lose Her

****

Tessa Bailey

Tessa Bailey is the New York Times Bestselling Author of the Line of Duty Series. She lives in Long Island, New York with her husband and exuberant daughter. When she isn’t writing, eating cheese, listening to true crime podcasts or reading romance, Tessa enjoys a good argument and thirty-minute recipes.

Follow Tessa on twitter.

Tuesday

Photo taken on my morning walk, in Córdoba, 4th February, 2020

Check out my other reviews!

#TuesdayBookBlog ‘The Dutch House’ by Ann Patchett @ParnassusBooks1 #BookReview #Audiobook by @TomHanks

The Dutch House: A Novel by [Patchett, Ann]

I am ashamed to say that this is the first novel I’ve read by Anne Patchett, and I’m so glad I read it. I was so impressed that I read her most famous novel Commonwealth, straight after, and I enjoyed it even more, but more about that another week.

The Dutch House (from the blurb).

Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. The story is told by Danny, as he and his older sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from the house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all they have to count on is one another. It is this unshakeable bond between them that both saves their lives and thwarts their futures.

****

Ann Patchett

ANN PATCHETT is the author of seven novels and has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including England’s Orange Prize, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the American Bookseller’s Association’s Most Engaging Author Award, and the Women’s National Book Association’s Award. Her books have been both New York Times Notable Books and New York Times bestsellers. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages.

In November, 2011, she opened Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, with her business partner Karen Hayes.  She has since become a spokesperson for independent booksellers, championing books and bookstores. In 2012 she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

****

My Review

The Dutch House is such an emotional novel that I had to wipe away some tears as I listened to the last lines.

It’s hard to describe the beauty of the story and the smoothness of the prose, in a novel where nothing exceptional happens and yet so many extraordinary things take place over three generations.

Danny, the narrator, is an honest and endearing character. We first meet him as a child trying to understand the world and the contradictory adults in his family. As he grows up, he becomes a generous and reliable narrator who tells every character’s story with insight and empathy.

Danny chronicles a tragedy about dysfunctional families, including deficient parenting and the destructive power of jealousy leading to cruelty bordering on abuse, and yet it’s also an uplifting tale of love, forgiveness, and goodness.

Nothing is repaired, because the past can’t be changed, and yet everything works out, because life’s like that; it’s a cycle, so, in a way, we are always going back and revisiting the past, occasionally, as in this case, with some improvement.

A warning, the beginning is slow, but it’s well worth persevering, and if you can, listen to Tom Hanks magnificent reading. Unforgettable.

A must read for anyone who enjoys family sagas set in 20th century USA, and for those who believe in the healing power of forgiveness.

*****

More reviews by Luccia here!

#TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ by Heather Morris @Audible

I’d heard about this novel when it first came out, but it was after recently listening to an interview by Richard Armitage, who is the narrator on Audible, that I decided to purchase it with my monthly credit, and I’m so glad I did. The Tattooist of Auschwitz is more than a book, it’s an emotional experience.

BLURB

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.

 

****

My Review

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is one of the most emotional love stories I’ve ever read. It’s about Lale and Gita, both from Bratislava, who meet and fall in love in a concentration camp in Poland.

It’s the story of Lale’s resourcefulness, strength, tenacity, goodness and love for Gita, during the three years they spent in the camp, and how he found her again when they lost touch after leaving Auschwitz.

It’s also about the horrors of war, the cruelty humans are capable of, and the need to take risks and compromise in order to survive.

The struggle for survival in extreme situations is complex and unimaginable for those who have never experienced it. The emotional and psychological cost of that survival is just as unimaginably distressing, and also comes across in the narrative. 

Yet the end of the novel, the epilogue and their son’s testimony, makes it ultimately an uplifting novel, because there is more gratitude and faith in the future than bitterness or desire for vengeance about the past.

In the end it’s not a novel about war or evil, it’s about the power of love.

Did I tell you I listened to the audio version brilliantly read by Richard Armitage?

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