This is the third installment of the Alexander Gregory Thrillers and it can be read as a standalone, but I urge you to read book one and two first, because they are also just brilliant!
From the blurb
Fresh from a high-profile case in the Paris fashion world, elite forensic psychologist and criminal profiler Dr Alexander Gregory receives a call from the FBI. The wife of a notorious criminal has been admitted to a private psychiatric hospital and can no longer testify in his upcoming trial. Without her, their case will collapse but, amidst reports that the staff are as unpredictable as their patients, who can the police trust?
In desperation, they turn to an outsider and now Gregory must find the courage to step inside the fortified walls of Buchanan Hospital to uncover the truth. The question is, will he ever be the same again?
Murder and mystery are peppered with dark humour in this fast-paced thriller set amidst the spectacular Catskill Forest.
Dr Gregory is a well known English forensic psychologist and criminal profiler. He is also a complex character who is battling with his own demons.
On this occasion he is helping the FBI solve a case related to the mafia. He goes undercover in a private psychiatric hospital, pretending to be a patient, and things get very complicated while he’s hospitalised.
I love Gregory’s complex, dark character and the way he battles with his own demons, which he is well on his way to recovering in this installment. In fact, I really enjoyed the psychological aspects of the novel and the discussions between doctors and patients at the hospital.
I’m glad Dr Gregory found a love interest in this novel, who is more of a possible long-term relationship than his previous female friends in the first two books (You know by now that I’m an incurable romantic!). Although Bedlam is in not a romance, there is a hint of things to come, and I hope it works out for both of them.
LJ Ross does a wonderful job of creating authentic characters and throwing them headlong into challenging situations, which they cope with and overcome because of their resourcefulness, moral strength and compassion. And of course, we have the villains, selfish people who have no moral scruples.
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 toMaggie’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Today I’m reviewing The House on the Water, a thriller and mystery novella by Margot Hunt, and narrated by Taylor Schilling.
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.
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!
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!
Today I’m reviewing another romantic comedy, This Time Next Yearby 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…
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.
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.
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?