#TuesdayBookBlog ‘The Girl He used to Know’ and ‘On the Island’ by Tracey Garvis Graves #BookReview #Romance

Today I’m reviewing two novels by Tracey Garvis Graves, whose debut novel, On the Island (2012) spent 9 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. The novel has been translated into twenty-nine languages, and is in development with MGM and Temple Hill Productions for a feature film. I read the novel earlier this year and I enjoyed it so much that I also bought her second novel, The Girl He Used To Know (2019), which I enjoyed even more! Her books are romantic, but the romantic couples have highly problematic relationships, so there’s plenty of angst, before we get to the happy ending! Which is fine by me, I quite like some authentic, controversial and thought-provoking, romantic turmoil.

On The Island by [Tracey Garvis Graves]

From the Blurb

When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a summer job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family’s holiday home in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation: a tropical island beats the library any day.

T.J. has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He’s almost seventeen and if having had cancer wasn’t bad enough, he now has to spend his first summer in remission with his family instead of his friends.

Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.’s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Marooned on an uninhabited island, Anna and T.J. work together to obtain water, food, fire and shelter but, as the days turn to weeks then months and finally years, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man…

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My Review

This novel starts with a bang until they reach the island, and then it slows down, as the unlikely couple are stranded on a desert island for literally years, and in the meantime, the teenager becomes a man and they fall in love.

Their time on the island is at first traumatic. They both experience illness, hardship and emotional anguish due to the isolation and harshness of a life with no amenities at all. Their situation is challenging and it’s very well described. I felt claustrophobic on the island too! Their love helps them get through the worst, but is it real, or is it a product of their unique situation? 

The next part of the novel, back in civilisation brings even more challenges. They’ve broken too many rules and taboos and their family and society’s demands strains their relationship to breaking point, more than once.

The difficulties they face and the way in which they gradually overcome the negative forces around them, as well their own  traumas, was nerve-racking, although we’re ultimately given a believable and happy ending, no spoiler there, because it’s the way they reach their happy ending that concerns readers of romantic fiction.

The characters grow in age and evolve emotionally throughout the novel, and their love is constantly tested. It’s an emotional rollercoaster from beginning to end, which I admit I love! 

****

The Girl He Used to Know: A Novel by [Tracey Garvis Graves]

From the Blurb

Annika Rose likes being alone.
She feels lost in social situations, saying the wrong thing or acting the wrong way. She just can’t read people. She prefers the quiet solitude of books or playing chess to being around others. Apart from Jonathan. She liked being around him, but she hasn’t seen him for ten years. Until now that is. And she’s not sure he’ll want to see her again after what happened all those years ago.


My Review

I loved this novel, so much. There was plenty of angst, too, but Annika was so easy to love. She reminded me of other heroines on the spectrum, such as Eleanor Oliphant, which I loved and reviewed here, another favourite which I reviewed here, The Cactus, and The wonderful,  Kiss Quotient, reviewed here.   

The Girl He Used to Know is a heartbreaking and uplifting second chance romance. Annika is an unusual, loveable heroine, who faces many challenges due to her brutal honesty and lack of social skills, which Jonathan finds it hard to cope with, in spite of his efforts. Johnathan is a worthy hero, but there are heartbreaking pitfalls to their happy ending. The story is told from both characters’ first person point of view, so we get to understand the characters as if we knew them intimately.

Especially for readers who enjoy uplifting romantic novels with plenty of angst and complex characters.

****

 

 

 

#AtoZChallenge 2019 #Audiobooks ‘J’ is for Jess Rider ‘The Ex Wife’ @JessRyderAuthor @Audible @Bookouture #PsychologicalThriller

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

I’m thrilled to continue my AtoZ Blogging challenge with Jess Ryder author of three psychological thrillers, Lie to Me, The Good Sister, and The Ex Wife all published by Bookouture. She also writes books for children, teens and young adults as Jan Page.

Jess Ryder

I’ve listened to and enjoyed Lie to me and The Ex Wife on Audible, because, as you all know I love psychological thrillers, and I also trust Bookouture, because they publish plenty of great novels of his genre.

Lie to Me: A gripping psychological thriller with a shocking twist by [Ryder, Jess]

Meredith’s entire world falls apart when she watches the videotape of her four-year-old self with Becca, the mother who abandoned her, and hears her mother’s cryptic and disquieting words. Her father refuses to clarify their meaning and she embarks on a dangerous search to discover who her mother was and how she was involved in a murder which had taken place 30 years earlier.

Once you start listening to Meredith’s first person account of events told with the immediacy of the present tense, you won’t be able to stop until you find out everything about Meredith’s mother and father. I say no more, because I don’t want to spoil anyone’s experience of listening to this emotional and exciting thriller.

The Ex-Wife: A nail biting gripping psychological thriller by [Ryder, Jess]

Newly married Natasha has the perfect house, a loving husband and a beautiful little girl called Emily. Then her dream shatters when she returns home one day to find her husband and Emily gone without trace. She’ll need her husband’s ex wife’s help to find them, but is Jen her ally or her enemy?

The Ex Wife is a great novel for readers who enjoy long twisting thrillers where good and bad depends on the chapter your reading! plenty of unexpected events and relationships. Be warned, most of the characters are unlikable at some point in the novel, and likeable later on!

It’s narrated in two time frames by two characters, the wife and the ex-wife and the husband has the final say in the last chapter. It is an original take on an old theme of a love triangle involving the husband, old wife and new wife.

Both narrators, Annette Chown and Lorraine Coady have pleasant voices and the present tense, first person writing style, makes listening a vivid and exciting experience for listeners. However, I would have preferred two different narrators in the Ex Wife, because, although the chapter headings inform the reader of which of the two narrators is speaking/narrating, with the same voice, I found it confusing at times.

I’ve just discovered on Twitter that Jess Ryder has a new novel out soon! I can’t wait to read another one of her psychological thrillers!

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Jess Ryder’s novels are especially for readers who enjoy nail-biting, well-plotted and complex psychological thrillers set in the UK.

Jess Ryder’s Audible Author Page 

What? You’ve never read an Audiobook? Here are my 34 reasons why you should be reading audiobooks! 

I’ll be reviewing an audiobook a day throughout April, so come back on Monday! There will be a round-up tomorrow!

Would you like to read about the other authors and audiobooks I’ve posted about during the challenge, which started on 1st April? Here they are!

Find out more about this blogging challenge here!

 

#FridayReads My Husband the Stranger by Rebecca Done #BookReview #Amreading

What you would do if your husband became another person overnight?

When Molly married Alex Frazer, she knew it was for ever. Theirs would be the perfect future.

In sickness and in health.

However, after a night out with his twin brother, Graeme, a terrible injury leaves Alex with permanent brain damage. In a single moment the man she married is transformed into someone new. Someone who has forgotten how to love her. And someone Molly isn’t sure she can ever love again.

From the blurb of My Husband the Stranger, a contemporary family drama by Rebecca Done.

My Husband the Stranger: An emotional page-turner with a shocking twist you'll never see coming by [Done, Rebecca]

My Review

My Husband the Stranger is an intense family drama and love story narrated by Molly and Alex, in two timeframes, before and three years after, Alex’s accident, which led to serious physical and emotional changes.

The reader receives a great deal of insight into both characters and their relationship, but there is a third dark and troubled character, Alex’s twin brother, Graeme.

It’s a contemporary domestic drama, which contrasts Alex’s dysfunctional family and Molly’s supportive parents. Other important topics brought up are parenting, sibling rivalry, friendship and the hardships of contemporary life.

My Husband the Stranger is also and overall a love story. Molly loves Alex, but she’s having financial and emotional difficulties coping with her husband’s changed and unpredictable personality, after his accident.

Molly literally has to learn to live with a new man and cope with a depressing job in a small town, far away from her family and friends in London.

Molly is the strongest and most admirable person in the novel. Her caring, determined and patient character ensures her struggle, against all odds, to preserve her marriage and help Alex through his long and challenging recovery.

The conclusion was satisfactory and feel-good, which surprised me because there was a lot of suspense and tension throughout, so I kept expecting a dark twist, which never came.

In spite of the lack of surprising plot twists, the novel had a steady pace and the prose flowed smoothly. I listened to the whole novel over two days, because I was invested in the characters and the storyline.

I will definitely be looking out for more novels by Rebecca Done.

The narrators of the audio version were excellent. 

US buy link

UK buy link

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman #TuesdayBookBlog #amreading #Bookreviews

Eleanor Oliphant is completely Fine is one of those exceptional, unsettling and ultimately uplifting novels a reader never forgets.

It’s a special novel that made me feel a multitude of contradictory and strong emotions; optimism, devastation, shock and joy, but overall enthusiasm and positive energy.

Eleanor is definitely not fine. The reader will walk in her shoes and gradually discover why she’s not fine and what, if anything, she can do about it.

Amazon UK Buy link

Eleanor is a unique and engaging narrator. She’s honest, naive and very lonely, and at the beginning she’s also insensitive and infuriating!

She’s hard-working and efficient, but lacks social skills, because she’s physically and emotionally scarred. There’s a dreadful reason for her detachment from others, which the reader suspects and is very gradually unveiled throughout the compelling narrative.

There are some twists in the story, mainly due to Eleanor’s unpredictable actions and reactions to events, but my main reason for turning the pages avidly was because I cared about Eleanor and hoped she would find a way to recover from her agony and alienation. 

In spite of the traumatic subject matter, it is an optimistic novel of hope, love and second chances. There is a great deal of comic relief, too, and a touching romance.

Eleanor is able to start moving on thanks to the unexpected friendship of a colleague and a wonderful case of serendipity. Sammy is an endearing character who has a short but vital role is Eleanor’s awakening and recovery.

Eleanor and Raymond are unforgettable characters brought to life in a unique and beautifully narrated, heart-wrenching story with an uplifting ending. I can’t stop recommending it to my friends.

****

According to Deadline.com Reese Witherspoon’s new company Hello Sunshine has set up to produce Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine.

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Blurb

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. 

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . . 

I listened to the audio version, which I really enjoyed, and now I have my paperback copy on my proud bookshelf, ready to be enjoyed all over again, because Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine is a truly wonderful novel to be read and reread.