#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! 

January Full Moon #Blogging Goals 2021 #Blogger #amblogging

The first full moon of 2021, on the last Friday of January, with 1st of February just a few days away on Monday, seems like a magical day to tell you about my blogging goals for the next six months.

I’ve been carefully planning away all of January, regarding my personal, professional, spiritual and health goals for the first half of the year. I was more spontaneous up to now, which worked well for me, but I’m approaching blogging more systematically for the next six months, with calendar and topics in hand, and many posts outlined and even written well ahead of time.

These are my blogging goals.

Mondays will still have posts on Personal Growth. I’ll mainly be sharing books, videos and podcasts on this topic which I’ve read, watched or listened to and found inspiring and useful. I’ve been writing these posts for a few months and there’s so much motivational advice from experts on so many fascinating topics that won’t be running out of information to share for a long time!

Tuesdays will be #TuesdatBookBlog day when I’ll share reviews of ebooks, paperbacks and audiobooks that I’ve been reading on Kindle, Scribd and Audible, which are the platforms I use. There will be novels for everyone as my reading is eclectic. I have some Thrillers (techno and contemporary) science fiction, romance (thrillers and romcom), literary, historical, feel good and memoirs and much more, lined up!

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

Wednesdays on Writing will be for The Insecure Writers Support Group #IWSG, if it’s the First Wednesday of the month and #WWWBlogs on other Wednesdays I might follow the prompt on Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge and other Wednesdays I’ll be talking about writing with the following hashtags: #WritersLife, #amwriting #writingcommunity #writingtips 

Thursdays are for #Thursdayphotothoughts which are personal posts based on a random Pixabay photo which appears in my email every week.

Thursday is in the exact middle of the week. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday have flown by, probably full of work, obligations and general business, but Friday, Saturday and Sunday are days we anticipate with joy, because they hold the promise of some free time for relaxation, friendship, family and hobbies.

Thursday is an ideal day to stop and reflect on the past three days and prepare for the three days to come, or write about anything the image suggests.

I’m not planning on stream-of-consciousness, because although it’s an unplanned post based on a random picture, I’ll edit my thoughts and words.

Friday is a very special day, because I’m very excited to start a brand new series on Rereading Jane Eyre by sharing Flash Fiction rewritings of a chapter every week. But I’ll tell you all about it next Friday.

Saturdays will be for Flash Fiction Challenges. I’ll be taking part in #Writephoto hosted by the marvellous and supportive Sue Vincent, this challenge isn’t exactly flash fiction, but we are asked to keep our entries short, and Carrot Ranch weekly Fiction Challenge hosted by the equally supportive and wonderful Charli Mills, who requires our entries to be exactly 99 words. Check them out and join in!

Finally, Sundays are for #SundayWalks, #SilentSunday, #Photosthroughthewindscreen or #SundayFunday, where I share photos with or without a brief reflection or short poem.

Well, that’s it for my blogging goals. I hope you find something of value or something to enjoy in my posts. Suggestions are, of course, welcome!

What are your blogging goals for 2021?

Do you plan them out months or weeks ahead? 

Let me know in the comments!

#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! 

#NaPoWriMo Day 24 ‘The Meeting Place’ #poetrymonth #April #Poems #Tanka

NaPoWriMo

National Poetry Writing Month is a poetry writing challenge to write a poem a day, which takes place every year in April. Follow the link to find out more, be inspired, get daily prompts and meet other poets!

Day 24 poem, The Meeting Place,  was inspired by a bronze sculpture that stands at the south end of the upper level of St Pancras railway station in London. Designed by the British artist Paul Day and unveiled in 2007.

First photo is by EdwardX Second photo from Pixabay

The Meeting Place

Travellers rush past

Lovers trapped in timeless kiss

Train waits for no-one

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#NaPoWriMo Day 23 ‘Entwined’ #poetrymonth #April #Writephoto #Tanka

NaPoWriMo

National Poetry Writing Month is a poetry writing challenge to write a poem a day, which takes place every year in April. Follow the link to find out more, be inspired, get daily prompts and meet other poets!

For Day 23, I’m joining in with Sue Vincent’s weekly #Writephoto prompt. Writers and bloggers are invited to use the image as inspiration to post on their own blogs, poetry, prose, humour… light or dark, or whatever you choose.

Click on the banner for more information about this fun weekly writing prompt!

#writephoto

 

 

Entwined

Roots and trunks entwined,
Welcome sunlight in their midst.
Come closer, listen
To the whispering branches
And the shining of the leaves.

****

#NaPoWriMo Day 22 ‘Earth Day’ #poetrymonth #April #Poems #Tanka #Haiku

NaPoWriMo

National Poetry Writing Month is a poetry writing challenge to write a poem a day, which takes place every year in April. Follow the link to find out more, be inspired, get daily prompts and meet other poets!

For Day 22, 22nd April, Earth Day, my poem is an acrostic combination of a tanka (Earth) and a haiku (Day).

Photo by Pixabay

Photo by Pixabay

Earth, precious planet,
An oasis in vast space,
Repairing man-made bruises,
Tarnished, wounded, weakened, yet
Healing heavy heart.
****

I took this photo from a plane over the Canary Islands at sunset.

Dazzling skies, clean land, 
Alluring seas, lakes, oceans,
Yesterday once more.
****

Few sights are more breathtaking than the view of the sky from a plane.

#NaPoWriMo Day 21 ‘Sleepless City’ #poetrymonth #April #Poems #Tanka

NaPoWriMo

National Poetry Writing Month is a poetry writing challenge to write a poem a day, which takes place every year in April. Follow the link to find out more, be inspired, get daily prompts and meet other poets!

For Day 21 poem, Sleepless City, I’ve decided to follow the optional daily prompt  ‘Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that, like The Color of Pomegranates and “City That Does Not Sleep,” incorporates wild, surreal images. Try to play around with writing that doesn’t make formal sense, but which engages all the senses and involves dream-logic. Happy (and perhaps weird) writing!

I’ve incorporated free photos from Pixabay to illustrate my surreal tanka for today.

Sleepless City

Clusters of juicy

Seeds, like city lights shine bright.

Amber-eyed maiden

Bites into the howling night,

Wipes blood dripping from burnt moon.

****

That was fun!

#NaPoWriMo Day 19 ‘Madonna of Pain’ #poetrymonth #April #Poems #Tanka

NaPoWriMo

National Poetry Writing Month is a poetry writing challenge to write a poem a day, which takes place every year in April. Follow the link to find out more, be inspired, get daily prompts and meet other poets!

Day 19 poem, Madonna of Pain was inspired by a church float, for Holy Friday Parade, I took this morning in the church of The Holy Spirit (Espiritu Santo) in Cordoba, Spain.

Madonna of Pain

Lady of Sorrows,

Witnessed son suffer and perish.

Madonna of Pain,

Crowned and draped in rich, gold cloth,

Lit up, displayed, on parade.

****

Today commemorates a sad event in the Christian calendar, Jesus Christ’s death by crucifixion.

This float represents Christ's Descent from the Cross

This float represents Christ’s Descent from the Cross.

His mother, Mary’s, sorrow is vividly represented in many symbolic rituals, such as the famous church parades which take place all over Spain. Everybody can identify with a mother’s pain at the loss of her son  which is why the paintings, statues and floats of Our Lady of Sorrows (Virgen de los Dolores) are so popular in religious art and especially Holy Week celebrations.

****

Are there any special, religious rituals where you live?