Cover Image: Dreaming of Water

Dreaming of Water

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Member Reviews

I loved the Twilight Wife by this author so went into this one with great hopes but found it to be a bit of a slow burn and not flowing well for me. I didn't find it hard to put down as such and felt it took me a while to get through. Mood can definitely play a part and may have played a part in this instance for me. I did like the book so I would recommend you pick it up and give it a go for yourself!

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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this eARC.

In the haunting coastal town of Heron Bay, where memories ripple like water, A. J. Banner's "Dreaming of Water" immerses readers in a psychological suspense that leaves them gasping for breath. This gripping novel explores the murky depths of guilt, family secrets, and the fragile threads that bind us to our past.

Seventeen years ago, Astrid Johansen's little sister, Nina, drowned in a reflecting pool under Astrid's watch. The tragedy shattered their family, leaving Astrid burdened with guilt and haunted by dreams of water. Now, her aunt Maude claims to have found a letter that will rewrite their shared history. But when Astrid rushes back to Heron Bay, she discovers Maude unconscious, perhaps the victim of an attack. As Maude lingers in a coma, Astrid unearths evidence that Nina's death was no accident.

What Makes "Dreaming of Water" Unforgettable:

Atmospheric Setting:
Banner's prose paints Heron Bay vividly—the salt-kissed air, the whispering waves, and the secrets buried beneath the surface. The town becomes a character in its own right, casting shadows on every page.

Complex Characters:
Astrid is a wounded soul, torn between guilt and the need for answers. Her journey is a taut exploration of memory's unreliability and the weight of family bonds. Maude, too, holds secrets that threaten to drown them both.

Twists and Turns:
Just when you think you've unraveled the mystery, Banner throws a curveball. The plot twists are as unpredictable as the tides, keeping readers guessing until the final revelation.

Themes of Redemption:
Astrid's quest isn't just about solving a crime; it's about redemption. Can she forgive herself and find closure? The novel delves into the healing power of truth and forgiveness.

The Art of Letter Analysis:
Astrid's profession involves scrutinizing old letters for authenticity. Banner weaves this skill seamlessly into the narrative, adding layers of intrigue and historical context.

Final Verdict:
"Dreaming of Water" is a quick-paced, hold-your-breath thriller that navigates the murky waters of memory and betrayal. A. J. Banner's masterful storytelling ensures that readers will be swept away by the tide of suspense until the last page.

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I loved every book I’ve read by Banner. Of course, as with all thrillers, a woman returning to her past will now start meddling and trying to solve a crime for which she is unqualified to figure out. I will give Astrid a little bit of credit in that she's a forensic document examiner, so she's at least somewhat competent in that area. Also, luckily for us readers, Banner takes this trope and weaves a great story with it. Banner does a great job of mixing up Astrid's thoughts and casting suspicion on everyone, the rich family who owned the pool where Nina drowned, including their son; Maude's young caretaker; a local policeman; a diver with a checkered past; even Nina's own parents. Each page keeps you guessing. Overall, I quite enjoyed this!

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Astrid has avoided her hometown since she was old enough to leave because of her sister Nina's drowning. However, she comes back to take care of her aunt after her aunt has an accident. The accident is suspicious though, maybe even an attack. And soon, Astrid learns Nina's death was not an accident either.

I struggled to get into this one. I feel like the prologue drew me in, but then it quickly went the other way and was slow. I just feel like there was a lot of unnecessary detail early on, even about characters, that we could have gotten more throughout. It just took away from the mystery aspect for me.

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This was a interesting mystery - and an excellent audiobook.

Astrid's world was blown apart when she discovered her sister floating in a nearby neighbors mirror pond. It shattered her parents, their marriage, and their family. Now, her aunt has pulled her back to the house it all happened out and there are new secrets from that night coming to light.

I really did like the mystery -even if I felt like some of the more obvious conclusions weren't the first, second or even third conclusions the main character arrived to. I was so glad when she finally got on board with my assumptions and we had some great movement in the plot. I liked the twists as she talked to the neighbors, old friends, and even her parents as she tries to understand what really happened that night. It kept me hooked, wondering where it would go. The narrator did a great job of keeping me interested and conveying the emotions of the mc.

A huge thank you to the author and publisher for providing an e-ARC via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion regarding the book.

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An engaging story with a bit of a mystery. There were zigs and zags to keep the reader guessing.
Many thanks to Lake Union Publishing and to Netgalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Sometimes I read too many similar books too close together and I find myself having a hard time keeping them separate. I think that’s what happened here.

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When Astrid receives a call letting her know that her beloved Aunt Maude is unconscious after a fall, she rushes to her side. Maude had left a voicemail right before her accident urging Astrid to return to Heron Bay, where she spent a lot of her childhood but stayed away from after the tragic loss of her younger sister Nina. Maude thought she found some alarming news about the tragedy and wanted Astrid to come investigate.

Astrid is struggling with her recent divorce from her ex-husband who is now getting married to her former best friend. Heron Bay may just be the respite she needs, as well as a way for her to face the trauma of her sister’s death that still takes a toll on her every day psyche.

After Astrid finds typed letters she believes her Mom wrote, she tries to put together the pieces of that fateful night. The chapters flip between past and present day.

I found most of the book intriguing but also a very slow burn. I didn’t see the twist coming so that was a major plus, Because of this I would rate it 3.5 stars, It is worth the read but be prepared to read a while before getting any information or excitement.
Thank you Netgalley for the gifted eARC in exchange for my honest review.

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This was a good read - I really enjoyed this book. I'm so glad that I got the chance to read it early and will definitely be recommending it to multiple people who enjoy these types of novels. I enjoyed the characters and especially enjoyed the writing by this author. I'm excited to see what the author comes out with next as I'll definitely be reading it! Thank you to the publisher for my early copy of this book!

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A heart-breaking story about the loss of a sister and the search for the truth of her death. This was a really quick read with a unique character, she's a handwriting analyst which is really interesting and really detailed descriptions. I loved how many twists were involved and so many more secrets being revealed than you expect although this is only short it's so worth a read as it takes you on a journey.

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I really enjoyed this thriller/mystery. Everyone felt like a suspect and I didn’t anticipate who was really responsible for the sister’s death. None of the reveals seemed too far fetched. I would love to read more from this author.

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I clicked download this one on accident. I used to love thrillers but have not gotten into them lately so this one is not for me.

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A tragedy splintered Astrid Johansen's family apart 17 years ago, when her little sister drowned in a pond near her Aunt Maude's house in Heron Bay. Astrid is compelled to return when Maude reaches out to her claiming to have found a letter that will change everything they thought they knew about that time. Only when she gets there, Maude is unconscious, the victim of an attack. Someone wants to keep the past's secrets buried, and Astrid must find out who.

DREAMING OF WATER is part family drama and part mystery that kept me guessing, though the story overall didn't grab me like I'd hoped. It's a slow-burn for sure, and I felt like the characters could have been fleshed out more. I wanted to know details about this mysterious letter, but Maude's coma for a big chunk of the book pushed that to the wayside. I enjoyed the reveal at the end, definitely a surprise, though the conclusion left me wanting more.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book. Opinions are my own.

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Banner is masterful at memory loss books… rewriting history Enjoyable read by a must read author

Page turning and compulsively readable

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Well this one was a bit of a let down for me. I still think the conclusion was really vague and I thought the dialogue was kind of stiff and awkward. I don’t think I can recommend this one.

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I can’t remember why I chose this book, it’s mostly on recommendation these days rather than a lucky dip. It’s my first book by this author.

Astrid swears she’ll never return to Heron bay the place where her young sister drowned. Her aunt Maude calls her back saying that she’s found a letter that will change the past only Astrid finds her unconscious with a head injury.

The story is told in the present by Astrid with flashbacks to the past. Astrid’s skill set is unusual, she authenticates handwriting. I thought her skills would have provided more interest, luckily it doesn’t dwell too much on that aspect of her job as it’s quite dull. But it makes for a different kind of mystery.

The pace I found slow, and I struggled to engage with the story.
There are a few twists and turns, but nothing that totally gripped me.
There’s quite a lot of unreliability, and re examining the few known facts.

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I really enjoyed this mystery with its interesting and complex familial relationships, with a touch of potential romance thrown in. I appreciated that I it grabbed my attention right away and the storyline was not predicable. I look forward to reading more from this author!

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Dreaming of Water by A.J. Banner

Pub: October 10, 2023

Thank you Lake Union and NetGalley for the gifted copy to read and review.

Dreaming of Water had me hooked from start to finish. The writing and storyline are top-notch and the final twist is*chef's kiss.*

I've read a few of A.J. Banner's books and I love how she builds atmosphere in her stories. All of the details about the woods, the flowers, the plants and the houses and the artifacts inside them really makes the setting pop off the page.

Dreaming of Water is a great pick if you’re looking for a speedy read to fit in over the holidays!

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This was a very good book! I love AJ’s books and I highly recommend it. It’s a must read next to a fire place and a cup of hot cocoa!

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Astrid never wanted to return to her aunt's house after a tragedy struck when she was a kid. Her sister Nina was found by Astrid after she drowned in a reflection pool at a neighbor's house. Many years later, Astrid is asked by her aunt Maude to come back because she found some mysterious letters that she wants her to read. When Astrid walks in the door, Maude is unconscious, and it looks like someone was looking for something. Astrid begins to investigate and all the unanswered questions from the night Nina died gets answered. This book is almost a cozy mystery because there is some romance and not any real violence happens.

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