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

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

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

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

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

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

Have my readers’ responses surprised me? Definitely!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the blurb

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

Have you read any of Isabel Allende’s books?

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

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

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

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

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

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

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

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

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

Gone With The Wind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What kind of romance novels do you enjoy reading?

 

#Tuesdaybookblog ‘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 ‘Deep Woods’ by Helena Newbury #BookReview #RomanticSuspense

Today I’m reviewing Deep Woods a romantic suspense by Helena Newbury, which us currently number one on the amazon bestseller lists for:

.Deep Woods de [Helena Newbury, Wander Aguiar]

I have read and love all of Helena Newbury’s romantic novels, because they are well-written, with action-packed plots and engaging characters, and of course a guaranteed happy ever after, not before a few heart-stopping obstacles!

In the case of Deep Woods, the female lead, Bethany, is in a dark moment of her life, she’s dropped out of medical school, has a huge student debt, and she’s barely making ends meet working in a call centre.

She rescues a German sheepdog, Rufus, who is tangled in barbed wire and the dog follows her home. The following day, she meets the dog’s owner, Cal, a bitter marine and ex recluse, living as a mountain man. Months later, she is kidnapped by a criminal organisation, escapes and meets Cal again who rescues her, but can he keep her safe?

The rest of the novel includes nerve-racking pursuits and life in his cabin in the wilds, as their mutual attraction grows and they help each other overcome their respective traumas and move on with their lives, after facing life-threatening situations.

A steamy, romantic suspense for a cold winter evening, to be read preferably sitting by a cosy fireplace!

I love all Helena’s novels, but I can’t help it, I have a favourite and it’s called Kissing my Killer and here’s my review.

#Tuesdaybookblog ‘This Time Next Year’ by Sophie Cousens #BookReview #RomanticComedy

Today I’m reviewing another romantic comedy, This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens, which has been hailed as ‘2020’s most perfect pick-me-up. Refreshingly romantic and certain to hold a special place in your heart.’ It is set in London, mostly on and around 2020 New Year’s Celebrations.

From the Blurb

Quinn and Minnie are born on New Year’s Eve, in the same hospital, one minute apart.
Their lives may begin together, but their worlds couldn’t be more different.
Thirty years later they find themselves together again in the same place, at the same time.
What if fate is trying to bring them together?
Maybe it’s time to take a chance on love…

****

My Review

This Time Next Year, is an uplifting and engaging, quick and fun novel, which I read in one sitting. It reminded me of One Day by David Nicholls, but it’s a much shorter and less intense version of a love story, and it has a happy ending.

The plot revolves around Quinn and Minnie’s meeting on New Year’s Eve, 2019 and ends on the same day in 2020. in between we get flashbacks to previous New Year’s Eves, when they almost met, and various meetings throughout 2020, told mainly from both protagonists points of view, in third person.

It is a slow burn, sweet love story, which gradually unfolds as Quinn and Minnie come face with their emotional issues, and work towards overcoming them. They are both likeable characters, trying to grow emotionally, and the way their relationship develops is believable and sweet. There are also plenty of laugh out loud moments, as well as challenging moments, in their relationship.

I also enjoyed reading about Quinn and Minnie’s parents, who had met when Quinn and Minnie were born, as they shared a room at the hospital. Thirty years later, Minnie’s parents and Quinn’s mother re-established contact and something very special happens (no spoilers, you’ll have to read it to find out!).

The setting, in London, and mostly in the upcoming festive season, was another engaging aspect. It’s definitely worth reading on a cosy, winter afternoon-evening.

#Tuesdaybookblog ‘New Orleans Rush’ by Kelly Siskind #BookReview #RomanticComedy

Today I’m reviewing a unique romance I read a few months ago,  New Orleans Rush by Kelly Siskind. It’s the first in a four-book series called Showmen, because the Marvelous Marlow Brothers, the main characters, are theatre entrepreneurs who put on magic shows. Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to the first of four standalone, romantic comedies with a difference.

My Review

Beatrice Baker meets Huxley Marlow after ‘accidentally’ vandalising his Mustang, which she mistakes for her ex-boyfriend’s, the man who stole all her money. As she is unable to pay for the cost of the repair she agrees to cover her debt by working for the gruff, moody and eccentric magician, at his nightclub, and although she feels attracted to him at once, she isn’t going to fall for a man ever again, of course we know that’s not true and (very) eventually they fall in love.

You know what happens, when you read romantic comedies and they are so alike that it feels as if you’re reading the same novel all over again, and you get bored with the whining or indicisive heroine and brooding or selfish hero? Well I have news for you, this romance is a hundred percent unique!

I love reading romantic comedies, with engaging main and supporting characters, including some suspense, lots of fun and  guaranteed happy ever afters, although I appreciate a few storms along the way, too! If that’s the type of novel you enjoy, New Orleans Rush fits the bill.

When I read the first scene in which they meet, which is alternately dramatic and hilarious, I knew I’d love reading about the two main characters.

But it is not all fun and games. The plot revolves around both their emotional and financial problems, which are plentiful, and some are quite serious. The way they help each other work through their issues and gradually fall in love, was one of the best aspects of the novel.

There was plenty of mostly contained chemistry between the charatcers, which makes a light romance all that much more suspenseful. The setting, in the magical city of New Orleans. and the theatre. where most of the action takes place, added to my interest.

I loved it all, the writing, the story, the characters, the twists, the ending, in fact I was upset when I finished reading, because original and engaging romances are not so easy to find.

Do you have any recommendations for romantic comedies?

 

#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 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…

****

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.

****