#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. 

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#FridayFictioneers ‘The Escape’ #FlashFiction

It’s Friday, time for another Friday Fictioneers Flash Fiction story featuring Alice Pendragon and her family!

Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting the challenge and for this week’s photo prompt.

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

The Escape

Alice looked up at the starry sky, not daring to look down at the street, four storeys below. She held on to the window ledge and moved slowly towards the next balcony, climbed over the railing and slipped inside the apartment.

Silence, although someone must have put the freshly cut leaves in the glass bowl on the kitchen table.
‘Can I help you, dear?’
Alice turned. A grey-haired lady wearing a woollen shawl smiled pleasantly.
‘Your neighbour kidnapped me. Could I use your phone?”
Her kidnapper burst through the door.

He nodded at the elderly lady. ”Sorry boss.

Then he pointed his gun at Alice.

****

To be continued…

My ‘Alice’ flash fiction written for the Friday Fictioneers Challenge can be read as standalones, but if you’re interested in reading previous stories of Alice’s adventures, here they are!

A quick recap of the three previous episodes: Alice and her mother, Marsha, caught Kevin on a date with another woman. When Alice confronted her father, she discovered the woman was her father’s half-sister, Clara, who was in serious trouble. Three weeks ago Alice was kidnapped, and last week the kidnappers made their demands. This week Alice tried to escape and failed.

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#TuesdayBookBlog ‘Us’ and ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls #BookReview #Amreviewing @Audible

Today on I’m reviewing One Day and US, contemporary literary fiction, written by David Nicholls.

I read ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls about eight years ago, when it first came out. It was before I started reviewing the books I read.

One Day by [Nicholls, David]

I loved everything about One Day, especially the way the plot was structured, taking one day every year for twenty years, starting on the day Dex and Em meet in their final year at Edinburgh University.

Those who haven’t seen read the book have probably seen the film, so although there may be few spoilers to disclose, I’ll just say that it’s not until the final devastating scene that we discover the importance of the day.

I cried at the end, at the injustice and absurdity of the ending, and the pain and loss of the characters I had come to know so well. Although they were both infuriating at times!

I know some readers thought it was slow and repetitive, and I agree that Dex and Em seemed to be going round in circles and taking one step forward in their lives and two steps backwards, for years, but unfortunately, such was the story of their lives.

I recently discovered that the author, David Nicholls had written another novel, which is humorous and poignant, so I decided to give it a go, and although I guessed it would be emotional, I wasn’t prepared for an even more devastating ending than One Day.      

Us: A Novel by [Nicholls, David]

When I finished listening to ‘Us’ on Audible, I was sitting in my garden, watching my grandson playing with his father, my son. They looked up in surprised as I rushed into the house, grabbed a tissue and ran upstairs.

’I’m OK,’ I managed to mumble on my way out. ‘I’ve just finished a novel’, and they carried on with their game, while I cried for a few minutes in the privacy of my bedroom, because it’s all right to cry at the end of a film, but it’s too personal to let people watch you cry when you finish reading a book.

Nobody dies at the end, although I thought they might. In fact it’s an optimistic, albeit not happy ending, in the traditional sense, but it’s very emotional.

US is a perceptive, sensitive and humorous account of the birth, life and death of a 25 -year- old relationship, told in the first person by Douglas, the husband. Douglas, Connie, his wife, and Albie, their son, are the main players in the story.

I found neither Connie nor Albie likeable. Mother and son were both selfish and I thought Connie also lacked integrity, but I’d have to include spoilers to explain why.

The family dynamics were unhealthy. Douglas’s relationship with his rebellious and artistic son was strained, and part of this strain was due to the mother and son tandem, which purposefully excluded Douglas. Consequently, it is when father and son are eventually alone that they are able to reach an understanding and mutual respect.

One of my favourite parts was the description of the family holiday around Europe, to France, Germany, Italy and Spain, especially the museums they visited and the people they met on the way. I’ve been to many of the places mentioned, and their descriptions and adventures brought back memories of my own trips.

US is a very perceptive, honest and realistic representation of contemporary family life. Many controversial issues, such as parenting, sex, drugs, the social and professional pressures of modern life, marriage, etc. are brought up.

I’m still trying to figure out why I was so upset at the end, because it is a hopeful ending of second chances and new beginnings, unfortunately, a new beginning, means there has to be an ending, too.

Overall, it’s much more optimistic, dynamic, and feel good than One Day, especially due to Douglas’s sense of humour and attitude.

US is also one of the best novels I’ve read so far  this year.

By the way, the narrator on Audible, David Haig, was fabulous. I really felt I was listening to Douglas tell me his story.

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#FridayFictioneers ‘The Ransom’ #FlashFiction #100words

It’s Friday, time for another Friday Fictioneers Flash Fiction story featuring Alice Pendragon and her family!

Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting the challenge, and to Courtney Wright. for submitting the photo prompt by a photographer who prefers to remain anonymous.

The Ransom

‘Alice! Are you alright?’

Alice held her throbbing cheek, too dazed to speak, and heard her father’s distorted voice coming from the kidnapper’s phone.

‘Her pretty face is still in one piece, for now, Kevin,’ said the kidnapper.

‘What do you want from me?’ asked Kevin.

‘My boss just wants to see his girlfriend.’

Kevin watched Clara wipe her tears.

‘Clara drowned,” said Kevin. ‘We all saw it on the news.’

The man laughed. ‘We found the pair of worn shoes by the cliff, but we know she faked her death.’

Clara gasped.

‘My boss wants his money back.’

****

To be continued…

I’ve made a few minor changes to clarify where the speakers are, as a result of a few comments: Alice and the kidnapper are together and Kevin and Clara are on the other end of the line.

My ‘Alice’ flash fiction written for the Friday Fictioneers Challenge can be read as standalones, but if you’re interested in reading previous stories of Alice’s adventures, here they are!

A quick recap of the two previous episodes: Alice and her mother, Marsha, caught Kevin on a date with another woman. When Alice confronted her father, she discovered the woman was her father’s half-sister, Clara, who was in serious trouble. Last week Alice was kidnapped, and this week the kidnappers have made their demands.

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#FridayFictioneers ‘Brooklyn Heights’ #FlashFiction #100words

It’s Friday, time for another Friday Fictioneers Flash Fiction story! 

Last week, Alice and her mother caught Kevin on a date with another woman. When Alice confronted Kevin, she discovered the woman was her father’s half-sister, Clara, who is in serious trouble.

This week something dreadful will happen to Alice as a result… 

Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting the challenge, and Jill Wisoff for today’s photo prompt, which led me directly to this weeks’ 100-word story.

PHOTO PROMPT ©Jill Wisoff

Brooklyn Heights

 

Alice pulled her bound arms and stretched her neck towards the window.

The last thing she remembered was meeting Clara, hers father’s step-sister. Then came gunshots, cries, darkness and finally silence.

‘Who are you?’ She screamed as a masked man pulled the duct tape off her mouth and freed her arms.

‘Where are my parents?’

‘Right here,’ he said handing her the phone. ‘You have ten seconds to tell them you’re alive.’

‘Mom, Dad, tell Bill I’m on the top floor of a low-rise in Brooklyn Heights.’

The man grabbed the phone. ‘That was mistake,’ he said, as his fist smashed into her face

****

To be continued…

All my ‘Alice’ flash fiction written for the Friday Fictioneers Challenge can be read as standalones, but if you’re interested in reading previous stories of Alice’s adventures, here they are!

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#FridayFictioneers ‘Clara’ #FlashFiction #100words

It’s Friday, time for another Friday Fictioneers Flash Fiction story. 

Kevin has been behaving strangely since he  was kidnapped and rescued by Alice and Billy.

Last week, Alice and her mother caught Kevin on a date with another woman. This week he has some explaining to do… 

Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting the challenge, and Yarnspinnerr for today’s photo prompt, which led me directly to this weeks’ 100-word story.

PHOTO PROMPT © Yarnspinnerr

Clara

“I’m listening, dad. Explain.”
“Alice, this is Clara. We met many years ago, before you were born.”
Alice folded her arms over her chest and stared at her father, ignoring the stylish woman by his side.  
“I was in Mexico, with my mother, looking for my father.”
“Nice try. Did you forget your father died when you were a baby?”
“The truth is he left us and returned to his native Mexico.”
Alice shivered. “Mexico?”
“He had another family there.”
Alice’s arms fell to her side. “What?”  
“Clara is your aunt, my stepsister.”
Alice’s head spun.
“Clara needs our help, Alice.”
****

 All my ‘Alice’ flash fiction written for the Friday Fictioneers Challenge can be read as standalones, but if you’re interested in reading previous stories of Alice’s adventures, here they are!

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#TuesdayBookBlog ‘The Missing Wife’ #BookReview by Sheila O’Flanagan #amreading

Today on #TuesdayBookBlog I’m reviewing The Missing Wife, suspenseful, contemporary women’s fiction by Sheila O’Flanagan.

My Review

One day, insecure and shy Imogen vanishes into thin air without a trace. Everyone is shocked, especially her doting husband. Nobody knows where she is or why she has gone, but Imogen has a plan. As the novel unfolds, we gradually discover why she left and where she’s going.

Imogen embarks on a journey of self-discovery and liberation. I don’t want to include spoilers, so I’ll just say it was easy to sympathise with Imogen’s need to break away and go back to understand her past searching for answers to her present predicament and as a way towards her future. Drama unfolds as she finds out the truth about her past and starts to live a new life,  but not everyone is willing to let her move on.

Various family dramas unfold and eventually collide in the end when Imogen will have to decide who she is and where she wants to be, and prove to herself that she’s strong enough and ready to move forward on her own.

I enjoyed reading about Imogen’s geographical and emotional journey of self discovery. In spite of some very unpleasant events and circumstances occurring throughout her life, on the whole it was a feel-good read and an  optimistic take on a very dark family drama.

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#TuesdayBookBlog ‘Close To Me’ by Amanda Reynolds @AmandaReynoldsj #BookReview #amreviewing

Today on #TuesdayBookBlog I’m reviewing Close To Me, a gripping psychological thriller by Amanda Reynolds.

 

Close to me is a gripping psychological thriller and family drama. It is a difficult book to review without including any spoilers, but I’ll do my best.

I read it over a few days, finishing it late one night, because I had to find out what happened in the end. When I completed it, I literally couldn’t sleep, because I had been so wrapped up in the characters and the story, that I found the events both absorbing and unsettling.

The writing and especially the characterisation and plot impressed me so much that it even led me to rethink my own life, and the lives of so many women in their fifties, readjusting to their new situation after their children leave home. I’m about the same age as Jo, the main character, and although my life is nothing like hers, I couldn’t help thinking, what if? How well do we really know our children, our husbands? Or our close friends and colleagues? Even ourselves?

Jo thought she had an ideal family. A doting husband who was an actuary in London, earning a high salary, a comfortable lifestyle, two wonderful, adult children, and she was a stay-at-home mum, who was devoted to her family and her part-time volunteer work.

One day, after having a domestic accident, she forgot everything that had happened during the previous year of her life. Her husband convinced her children that she shouldn’t be informed of what had happened, until she remembered on her own, which, by the way, he hoped would never happen.

Jo gradually pieced together the previous year, which had been her ‘annus horribilis’, without her family’s help, leading to an unexpected and devastating finale.

The story is told from Jo’s point of view, starting with, ‘The day of the fall’, and moving backwards and forwards from that point in time, until her life is finally pieced together, ending with ‘Three months after the fall’.

Jo’s drama, is not unique in many aspects, but the suspenseful way in which the plot is gradually unveiled, and the final twist, leads to a unique reading experience.

Especially for readers who enjoy intense, thought-provoking and suspenseful, psychological thrillers.

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Find out more by visiting Amanda Reynold’s webpage.

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#FridayReads Yonder by @LeeAnne_Hansen_ #amreading #amreviewing

Yonder by LeeAnne Hansen is a beautiful novel. It is set mainly in a small town in Mississippi, in the 1940s. Life and death in the south, at the time, is vividly and poetically portrayed. It was easy to get lost in the narrative and imagine I was right there.

It is a family drama, a mystery, suspense, and a romance with a touch of paranormal happenings, which could blend into the action as coincidence and intuition.

The novel starts with Isabel’s childhood, on her 10th birthday and her first crush, we gradually see some of her subsequent birthdays, leading up to her middle twenties. We witness her childhood hopes and dreams, her painful and sudden departure from her hometown and move to New York, her first adult romance, her first job, as well as heartbreak, devastation and her return home on her father’s death, leading up to the unravelling of the family secret and discovering true love.

Isabel is a loving, generous, yet naive, young girl, who gradually, and on occasions traumatically, finds out who she is and what she wants out of life. She also uncovers a shocking family secret, which came as a complete surprise to me.

All the characters come to life vividly, Isabel’s family, as well as her childhood friends and their families. There are a few unpleasant characters, and others who are simply immature. I have a favourite character, and that’s Ben, you’ll understand why when you read it. He’s solid, dependable and patient, but unfortunately, not everyone in the novel values these qualities.

The novel can be read as a standalone, because it has a clear and satisfactory ending, tying up all the loose ends, but there are other characters, too, with stories to be told, and I’m also interested in seeing some more of Isabel’s life, so I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

I listened to the audio book, narrated by the author, which was an added treat.

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LeeAnne Hansen was born in Paris, grew up in Oklahoma and now lives in sunny southern California with her husband and cats. She enjoys writing, acting and playing bass guitar. She can be seen gracing the stage in various theaters or even directing. She is a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City and has studied art and astronomy. She also thoroughly enjoys long walks on the beach.

To learn more about LeeAnne please visit her website.

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#Fridaybookshare ‘Bayou My Love’, by Lauren Faulkenberry #amreading #amreviewing @firebrandpress

#FridayBookShare was created by Shelley Wilson for book lovers to share what they’re reading. The idea is to answer a few simple questions about the novel and post on Fridays.

friday-book-share

Today, I’d like to share Bayou My Love, by Lauren Faulkenberry. It’s a suspenseful family drama and romance set in present-day Louisiana.

First line of the book.

I knew when I strode into my father’s office _ before he’d had time to drink his two cups of coffee_ that I was asking for trouble.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb.

Escape to the beautiful bayous of Louisiana in this tale of romance, secrets and suspense from Family Circle Award Winning Author Lauren Faulkenberry.

Thirty-year-old Enza Parker is at a crossroads. To prove to her overbearing father she can flip a house on her own, she takes on an ambitious project that brings back painful memories—and puts her in the path of the most alluring man she’s ever met.

Enza plans to flip the house she inherited from her estranged grandmother in Bayou Sabine, Louisiana. As a child, she spent summers there until the day her mother inexplicably left. Since then, Enza hasn’t let anyone get close to her.

Arriving in Bayou Sabine, Enza finds her house occupied by bedeviling firefighter Jack Mayronne. Enza wants to kick him out, but Jack convinces her to let him stay in exchange for helping with repairs. With only six weeks to fix the house and sell, she’s determined to prove her father wrong, but she didn’t count on Bayou Sabine and Jack capturing her heart.

When Enza’s fling with Jack intensifies, she finds herself entangled with a vengeful arsonist from Jack’s past. As she reaches her breaking point, she must decide: Should she sell the house and leave her past in Bayou Sabine behind for good, or can she overcome her fears and build a new life there with Jack?

If you like the heart and story of novels by Emily Giffin such as The One & Only and enjoy the romance in books by Robyn Carr, this exciting new voice in Southern fiction is for you!

Introduce the main character using only three words.

Enza is hard-working, independent, and brave.

Delightful design (add the cover image of the book).

bayou-my-love

Audience appeal (who would enjoy reading this book?)

Readers who enjoy reading contemporary romance with some suspense, action, and a family mystery, in a breathtaking setting. 

Your favourite line/scene.

Enza has just arrived at her estranged grandmother, Vergie’s, house, which she has inherited on her death.

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Now, standing in this room that both was and was not Vergie’s, it made me wonder: Had Vergie ever tried to see me, or had she quietly given in to my father’s wishes? He could be cruel. He could sniff out people’s weaknesses and drive them away, and he could have easily done that to Vergie. I felt the pang that comes when you know you’ve done something terrible, and there’s no real way to fix it.

I traced my fingers over a patchwork quilt that Vergie had almost certainly made. It was mostly blue and green, the log cabin pattern. The floorboards creaked when I walked across the room to the closet, where a half a dozen dresses still clung to wire hangers.

“This seemed bigger when I was a kid,” I said.

“Things always do.” Jack opened the drawer of the nightstand and handed me a key. His fingers brushed over my palm as he placed it there. “In case you want to lock yourself in.”

“Thanks.” I slipped the key into my pocket.”

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