I love to have a nice chat! For this reason, I will talk to many different people and record our chats in this blog. I hope to chat with authors, book characters and readers and I will also share some thoughts and book reviews with you. Enjoy!
One of my favorite authors has written a new book and of course I had to read it right away. Helen Pryke moved genres once more and now entered the realm of mystery and thriller. A thrilling read it was, indeed, presented in her usual beautiful and capturing style. It never takes me long to read what she writes and it was the same with this book. Two girls were kidnapped from different families and the police could never find them again. Were the kidnappings related? Are the girls still alive? If so, where are they?
Each of the girls has siblings and they cannot let the matter rest. They approach a journalist to help them find their sisters, who – as we learn – were indeed both kidnapped by the same man, and this man is rapidly losing his grip on sanity.
The story has all the ingredients you need for a good read: Well formed characters, emotional turmoil, twists and turns and insights into a deranged mind.
And yet … (Spoiler alert for the following paragraphs!)
The story left me strangely untouched. I should have ached with the abducted girls. I should have shuddered at the cruel madness of the kidnapper. I should have cheered the investigators on – but I didn’t. Despite all the right ingredients, the story brushed by me, an uninvolved bystander.
I would have expected more depth – especially from Helen, who I know is completely capable of making me shiver and cry and scream while reading her books. But this story feels as if she shied away from diving in all the way. It’s all there – but it’s all on the surface.
Take Jane, for example, one of the abducted girls. She had trouble with her family and readily accepted the kidnapper’s lies that her family didn’t want her anymore. Too readily for my taste. Where was her pain? Where was her struggle to accept that which she had hoped would not be true? And later, when she sees through the lies, where is her struggle in the opposite direction? Where is her shock at finding out the truth? She seems to be taking it all in her stride.
And then there’s Charlotte, the other girl. She misses her family. She is sad and scared beyond belief. But her deranged kidnapper wants her to be happy and smiling. I would have expected more interaction between them, showing me how they trigger each other, how each misunderstanding results in another beating. It’s the same with the relationship between the girls, which undergoes various changes. It’s all hinted at, and I can guess what happened – but I don’t want to guess. I want to be shown. I want to read it all and be shaken deep inside, moved and touched.
What did move me in the end was the stupidity of the journalist. I’ve come across this theme a few times before: private investigator finds all the details to solve the case and then rushes into danger without alerting the police. In this case it was a journalist and either she was totally delusional from fatigue or plain stupid, which would have been out of character, as she was presented as a pretty smart person. So why does she go into the kidnapper’s house with two teenagers in tow, knowing the kidnapper would freak out in the near future and more than likely set everything on fire? The story lost credibility for me at that point. Yes, the police were alerted by someone else, but nobody in their right mind would have acted like that. It annoyed me. But that’s just a matter of personal taste and has nothing to do with the quality of the writing. The scenes were full of tension and had me flipping through my kindle at top speed.
Comparing this story to the author’s previous works, especially ‘Walls of Silence’, I have the feeling it was published too soon. It feels rushed. Well done, great concept, beautifully written, but published too soon. I sincerely hope the author will take more time and really dive deep into her next work. I know she can and I’m looking forward to it!
Welcome to the Lindy Johnson series!
Having met the author in a facebook group, I got curious about her writing, bought two of her books and boy, did I get a wild ride!
I read both books back to back, luckily at a time when book 3 is already on the horizon, due to be released on July 12th. I will definitely pre-order it, because I’m dying to know how the story goes on.
Nellie K. Neves is a master storyteller. The tension in the story was so dense, I couldn’t decide whether to read on (need to know what happens) or take a break (my pulse has to come down). I stopped reading after one very beautiful scene for a while, because I knew bad stuff would happen next and I wanted to linger in peace!
Deep, deeper, depth!
Let’s talk about characters. Lindy Johnson is a private investigator with a warped past and a cruel fate. Suffering from Multiple Sklerosis, her daily struggle is a heartache in itself. Add to that an equally multi-layered character in the form of Ryder, handsome not-doc, but artist, and a series of deeply disturbing deaths, and you have a rollercoaster ride of a story that’s going to make you dizzy.
Lindy and Ryder quite obviously fell in love, but for a variety of reasons they can’t really start a relationship. Instead, they are pulled into two separate murder cases (one per book), which Lindy tries to solve at risk of her life.
So what you have is
a) an exciting, nailbiting mystery concluded in each book and
b) an ongoing character development in the persons of Lindy and Ryder that is totally believable and continuing through the series.
I can’t even begin to say on how many levels these books touched me and in which way. Whenever I was not reading, my mind was spinning with the mysteries, trying to solve them while at the same time my heart was aching for Lindy, because I really cared about her, despite the number of wrong decisions she made (in my opinion). Naturally woven into that are insights about one of the invisible diseases that only show up when they are really bad, but affect the sufferer’s life to a great extent long before anyone else will notice.
Folks, read these books. Here’s my new favorite author and for this outstanding tale, I’m more than happy to award this series my Chatworthy Read Award. Congratulations, Nellie!
Jack is fascinated by old houses. He loves to restore them and there is one in particular he always fancied in his home town. When he moves in and starts restoring it room by room, he has a spinetingling experience: There’s a young woman crying her eyes out in the garden. She insists it’s her garden, but when she runs frantically back into the house, she disappears. Jack begins to dig into the history of the house and finds any number of heartbreaking secrets.
This mystery is extremely intriguing and has a little bit of various things: time travel, romance, fight against abuse and fascinating riddles. With an easy to read language, the story captivated me from the start. Some of the riddles were easy to solve, others made for some surprising twists in the story. Woven into the absolutely believable characters is their faith, which comes naturally most of the time. Only in the end the author had to ram home a christian message that I felt was out of place. It knocked me over the head and left an unpleasant taste after this gripping read.
Some of the plot twists were a little too predictable and when the obvious bad guy really turned out to be the bad guy I was a little disappointed, but only a little. Overall, the story is great, well written and makes for an excellent reading experience. Highly recommended!
You can feel it in the pages of this little tale that the author is a musician with every fibre of his being. While his idea of pulling Mozart out of his own time and planting him into today’s social media jungle might be considered trivial, his exploitation of this topic is brilliant.
This is not about a person adapting to our modern inventions. This is about a musical genious who was an exceptional character in his own time, being an exceptional character in our time.
With the aid of a couple of highly devoted students, Mozart discovers not only modern living, he also discovers the musical styles and influences of centuries past and drinks them in, develops them, makes them his own and then takes off to create music no one has ever heard before.
Willoughby’s descriptions of Mozarts musical performances are excellent and vivid and to someone familiar with both classical and modern music these descriptions are nearly audible.
It’s also nice that the author has taken the time to give the reader some insight into his research for the book on the life of Mozart.
All in all a highly recommendable read.
All sorts of things pop up on social media and more often than not we are snared to read memes or watch videos without really thinking about it. This happened to me recently with a video about some fashion designer (sorry, forgot the name as this is way out of my range of interest) who apparently had a rough personal history and only found her calling late in life.
What made me really angry about this video was the contrast between “I have cared for other people all my life and was hurt and rejected” and “Now I only care for myself and am successful and happy”.
Sorry, folks, but that really made me sick. I understand perfectly that there are many women out there who get hurt and subdued and I truly believe it is necessary to care for oneself. But not for selfish reasons. There is nothing wrong with investing in family, friends and community. There is nothing wrong with investing, even if you get nothing back. But in my opinion, there is something seriously wrong with focusing on oneself with the sole aim of putting oneself ahead of others.
Why? Because women aren’t made that way. It is ingrained in us to care and to support. That is our original task, given to us by our maker. (Look it up in the Bible, Genesis 1, 18-24.) We were made to help. Turning our back on this task is not going to make us happy. Revolving around ourselves is not going to make us happy.
So why do so many memes that are meant to give value to women and to raise awareness for women’s needs often contradict our caring nature, calling women to put their first priority on themselves without following up with a life purpose? And we are agreed that we need a purpose in life, right? If there is no purpose to our existence, we feel totally and utterly useless and lost.
I have found the solution in the command that Jesus referred to as the most important of all.
37 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 “This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22)
There is an order to this. First, God loves you. Then you love God. When you understand that God loves you, no matter what, you will be able to love yourself. And when you love yourself, then you are capable of loving others.
Many women have suffered violence and abuse, both physical and/or mental. I am no exception. And in my experience, the capability of caring for myself, accepting myself as a valuable human being, loving myself and not feeling worthless could never have happened if I had not understood that I am unconditionally loved by God. You could have told me a hundred times and more that I should take care of myself, should love myself and I could not have done it.
I didn’t know how. But now I do (Thank you, God!) and it fills me. I am not responsible for loving myself and caring for myself. God does that. All I have to do is accept it. And then I can go and open my hands and my heart and let it pour out to others. There is not only purpose in that, there’s also fulfillment. Satisfaction.
It doesn’t mean life is all pink fluffy unicorns. It doesn’t mean I don’t have a care in the world. It doesn’t mean I’ll never get hurt or disappointed again. It means I’m no longer lost and I know where to turn with my pain. It means the people around me benefit from my presence. It means I can make this world that little bit better.
With your eyes locked onto yourself and your own needs, that’s not going to happen. And if women stop caring for the people around them, we have failed on an epic scale.
This start into the series following criminal profiler Jessie Hunt is a gripping thriller with all the right twists and turns.
Pierce obviously knows his craft; the story runs smoothly, if a trifle predictable at times. Still, the characters are believable, the story starts innocent enough with a move into a wealthy neighborhood and the logical step to find social contacts in the local boat club.
But then there’s Jessie. Loaded with a terrible past, she feels insecure in her new surroundings and is kept on her toes by the strange machinations going on around her. On top of that her training as criminal profiler opens up doors that are usually closed and she wonders more than once if she is paranoid.
I can’t give much more away without serious spoils, so let it suffice to say the book had me turning the pages, despite the fact that my intelligent guesses led me in the right direction. Perhaps I should start a new career as profiler? No, I’ll stick to writing, which I’m more than happy with.
If you enjoy a good thriller and don’t mind a serial killer or two involved, I recommend this book. I’m currently on book 2 of the series, the perfect block, which starts out pretty good, too. Can’t do anything wrong with these!
Can you believe that 2019 has already shed one month? I remember that time had no relevance for me as a child. If ever I noticed its passing, it was because it had a tendency to drag out like chewing gum. Never did I wonder how come another week already passed. Talking to my children about this lately, their experience is totally different. They perceive the fast passing of time and even comment on it. It makes me wonder, if time has really sped up over the past 40 years.
In my Bible studies I’ve been reading the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah lately, as well as giving Revelations another run-through for research reasons (I’m basing my current WIP on it, what a challenge!). Looking at the strange developments throughout the world, I do wonder if everything is drawing to a close, like water going down a drain that speeds up and creates a twirl before disappearing altogether.
Especially when watching the news, taking in wars, migrants drowning in the Mediterranean while Europe turns a blind eye, natural disasters, global warming and all those other disquieting issues, I catch myself thinking ‘It’s enough. Please, Jesus, come back soon. Put a stop to this craziness. I want peace, your peace.’ How blessed I am to have this hope accompanying me through every day.
A busy month January was for me. Apart from a long list of doctor’s appointments with various family members and some not so nice experiences along the way (I never thought I’d ever get kicked out of a dentist’s office for not agreeing to the recommended treatment!), I have started a new translation project, worked on book 5 of my German Christian children’s adventure series, made slow progress with the translation of my Way of Life series into German, contacted a professional cover designer to create some stunning covers for the series and helped some fellow Indies with proofreading. Two of my German books are published now and collecting positive feedback, while my publisher has secured our cooperation all the way through 2020.
It feels so right, this decision to go freelance. I’m deeply grateful to be able to do what I love and touch people’s lives in a positive manner along the way. My personal little light that I may hold up to fight the darkness in this world.