Member Reviews

Enjoyed it and would give the book 3.5 stars. Pretty much Aunt Maude was the only good and stable person throughout Astrid's life. Astrid's parents kept many secrets from her and never wanted to talk about Nina. They never got her the help she needed after her sister's death. Rose was a terrible mother. She deflected everything back on Astrid and blamed her for her sister's death. Rose ran away to Europe to escape her problems and Bjorn started another family. Astrid was left to deal with everything on her own. Astrid's best friend turned out to be not such of a friend. Loved the mystery behind the letters. I wasn't sure who was behind Nina's drowning or if it was a terrible accident. I thought she was probably following someone when she met her untimely death. I couldn't imagine who would have hurt Maude and left all the notes for Astrid. Flooding Astrid's rental car isn't going to make her leave sooner. How's she suppose to drive away in a car full of water? I would have been scared staying in Aunt Maude's house all alone, but it didn't seem to faze Astrid. She was a great detective, with the help of Conor. I was extremely suspicious of Livie. She would randomly show up and had Maude's keys. I was genuinely surprised by the person who tried to kill Astrid. I knew Conor was the perfect person for Astrid, even if she didn't see it at first.

Definitely recommend the book, it was a good mystery that had me guessing until the end. Enjoyed the characters, story and writing style. Loved Aunt Maude's house and garden. It sounded like a beautiful place to live. As soon as I saw Aunt Maude's cottage, I knew it would be the perfect office for Astrid. Look forward to reading more books by the author.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Lake Union Publishing through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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What had her aunt found, and why didn't she tell Astrid what it was when they talked on the phone?

If Aunt Maude had told Astrid, maybe Astrid wouldn't have found her unconscious on the floor of the library without a clue what she meant about a letter and a typewriter.

Astrid took a few days off hoping to have some time with Aunt Maude and find out what was going on, but that's not how it turned out.

We follow Astrid as the chapters go back and forth from when she was ten and her sister drowned to present day when she had just divorced her husband, her father had remarried, and her mother was somewhere in Europe with her newest boyfriend.

Seventeen years ago Astrid found her four-year-old sister floating in a shallow pond.

It was ruled an accident, but after all these years did Aunt Maude find something to the contrary? Was Aunt Maude in danger and now Astrid?

Hopefully Aunt Maude wakes up and things will be revealed.

DREAMING OF WATER kept me turning the pages. The writing and the story line are so good.

The twist at the end, and when all the secrets are revealed is great!! 5/5

This is my first book by this author, and I definitely enjoyed DREAMING OF WATER.

Thank you to the publisher for the advanced reader copy. All opinions are my own.

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I haven't 100% decided how I feel about this yet; it's deeply atmospheric, pacy, and intriguing but for some reason I wasn't fully connected. It's written very well with great settings and very clever twists so a very brilliantly crafted book just perhaps not for my taste

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What a good, solid thriller that held my attention throughout. I kept thinking this was straightforward and predictable but ... Then the author would throw a curveball leaving me back at square one in figuring out the murderer. That spike my attention and made me turning the pages. I highly recommended.

#dreamingofwater, #A.J.Banner, # netgalley

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A.J. Banner does it again! I thoroughly enjoyed this story about Astrid who suffered a childhood drama. When beckoned back to her aunt’s after she makes a discovery but is subsequently injured, Astrid is on a mission to solve a mystery from her youth. The coastal town of Heron Bay is a great setting for an interesting mystery. A wonderful story of grief, how people cope differently, and how it shapes our future.

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Dreaming of Water by A. J. Banner was a gripping and compelling read; I couldn’t put this down.
The story itself contained so many layers, shedding light on secrets, lies, an unsolved mystery, secrets, with family drama and betrayals.
The suspense was riveting. The characters were excellently written and well-developed and really made for an entertaining read.
An intriguing, tense and compelling read that kept me up way too late.

"I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own."

Thank You NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for your generosity and gifting me a copy of this amazing eARC!

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I have read every single A. J. Banner book and I will read every single book she ever writes! Dreaming of Water has amazingly real characters and a great mystery that kept me guessing until the very end. I cannot wait for her next book!!!

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This is exactly.thr same as othe Banner books...different names, different crime...a bit. But still it's like a pop song that has been heard 4 times in a row.

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Astrid has done her best to put her family tragedy behind her. Not an easy task…Astrid found her sister in a pond...not breathing. No amount of CPR was going to bring her back. Now the remaining family is irretrievably fractured. And with no support from her parents she realizes she needs to leave Huron Bay and never return.

But never say never!

Astrid receives a curious call from her Aunt Maude, claiming to have information regarding her sister death. Astrid knows it’s time to return home.

But she arrives to find Maude unconscious and the police believe she was attacked.

Who would hurt Aunt Maude? And why?

This was a good, solid thriller that held my attention throughout. I kept thinking this was straightforward and predictable. Then the author would throw a curveball leaving me back at square one in figuring out the murderer. Love that!

Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing

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Dreaming of Water is a captivating and intriguing psychological thriller.
When Astrid returns to Heron Bay she finds her Aunt Maud unconscious. Astrid becomes determined to reveal past secrets and seek out the truth. Astrid needs closure as she is still dealing with grief.
Dysfunctional family, flawed characters, secrets, dark memories, lies, mystery, suspense.

Thank you NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the opportunity to read this book.

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A dark and disturbing thriller reminiscent of Paula Hawkins. The best book this reviewer has read all summer.

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Astrid was 14 when her 3 year old sister Nina drowned in a wading pool her neighbor’s property. She was supposed to be watching her while her parents attended a neighbor’s party. Astrid blamed herself for her sister’s death. Astrid received a call from her aunt Maude about mysterious letters . Astrid finds her aunt on the floor.
I enjoyed the storyline of mysterious letters and what happened to Nina. I felt bad for Astrid. I couldn’t stand her mother. It was a slow story and lacked character development. The reveals were not surprising or twisty.
The story dealt with parental rejection, death of a child, grief, lies, secrecy, infidelity.

Thank you NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the ARC.

Pub date: October 10, 2023

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AJ Banner’s short thrillers are always under 300 pages and can easily be read in one day!

Dreaming of Water is a psychological thriller centered around the theme of grief. When Astrid was fourteen, her parents attended a neighbor’s party in Heron Bay while she babysat her three year old sister, Nina. Astrid had her hands full, as Nina often wandered off. When she awoke the next morning, she found her sister drowned in a wading pool on her neighbor’s property. It was deemed a tragic accident, but Astrid blames herself for her sister’s death for the next sixteen years.

Currently, Astrid is struggling to cope with her recent divorce from her husband. To make matters worse, he is dating her best friend. When she receives a cryptic call from her Aunt Maude about mysterious letters, she takes a trip back to Heron Bay to learn what she has found out about her sister. But when she arrives, Aunt Maude is unconscious. What happened to Maude and what has she learned about Nina?

This is the second book that I have recently read that uses a typewriter as a major plot device. I guess old technology is the new rage? Unfortunately, I found the plot of the former book more intriguing. While I didn’t guess all of the twists, it felt like the author didn’t commit to fully answering the ultimate question of what happened to Nina. This was a bit of a let down, as were a few other over the top twists. However, I enjoyed the suspense along the way!

If you are looking for a quick suspenseful read, check out Dreaming of Water!

3.5/5 stars rounded down

Expected publication date: 10/10/23

Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union publishing for the ARC of Dreaming of Water in exchange for an honest review.

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Master storyteller and a long-time favorite author, A.J. Banner, returns following In Another Light with her latest highly anticipated psychological fiction DREAMING OF WATER —an intricately plotted and captivating tale of long-buried family secrets as the past and present collide.

An engrossing literary mystery—as mysterious and dreamy as its stunning cover. Top 5 thrillers for 2023, thus far!

The author grabs readers immediately with the breathtaking prologue—a confession. Someone is holding someone underwater—a drowning.

Set in the picturesque Pacific Northwest in fictional Heron Bay, we meet Astrid. She is on her way to Aunt Maude's house. As a child, she and her parents had closed their home in Seattle and spent every summer in coastal Heron Bay, three hours away.

They stayed with Aunt Maude, her mother, Rose, her father, and her three-year-old baby sister, Nina, who drowned in a shallow reflecting pool along the trails near a stone garden and a complex maze bordering a magical forest.

She was supposed to be babysitting while her parents were at a party at the neighbors. But she had come back home. Her little sister had a habit of running off to explore the gardens. A freak accident, or was it? The family had never revisited Heron Bay since the tragedy. Her parents divorced shortly after that.

Rose was the younger sister of Aunt Maude. The beautiful and mysterious Rose spent her nights dancing at parties in the neighbor's mansion on the hill, which required Astrid to babysit Nina.

This is the first time Astrid has been back in seventeen years. Astrid lives and works in San Ramon, California. She spends her days peering through a microscope or magnifier, searching documents for signs of anomalies.

She also has an ex-husband Trent that wanted children. She did not after the horrific drowning. She kept this a secret. He is now marrying her best friend, Leona.

The purpose for returning to Heron Bay was an urgent request from Aunt Maude, now seventy. She had found a typewritten letter. She sounded as though this was of the utmost importance. The signature was handwritten, and in a letter, she said, would change everything they believed about the past.

The hidden secrets. Maude stated they must meet in person. The typewriter was there, and the letter was in a safe place. Did this have something to do with her sister's drowning long ago? Was there foul play that the investigators did not discover?

Heron Bay was the source of sorrow, a town haunted by its tragic past. A place that reminds her of her lost little sister. Astrid was introverted, a reader, and moody. Nina was outgoing, easygoing, friendly, photogenic, and sweet-natured. She has so much guilt due to the death of her sister.

Aunt Maude worked as a head librarian before her retirement; she was an avid reader, a lovely lady with beautiful gardens, twelve years older than her sister Rose. Her husband, Raj, died of a heart attack when Astrid was six.

On the north side of the property, there was a meandering path through the woods leading up to the grand mansion on the bluff a quarter mile away, where the Michaels family spent summers and threw raucous parties. A low stone wall surrounds its ocean-front patio.

As a young teen, Astrid had a crush on Julian Michaels when she was a teen. He was the son, a 22 yr old university student at home for the summer. He was now a successful novelist and lived on San Juan Island, a ferry ride away from his parents, Beatrice and Verne. A fashionable well-to-do couple. His son, a high school student, often stays with his grandparents.

The pool (the scene of the crime) stood at the edge of the Michaels' property. Now the pool sits empty.

When Maude and Astrid last spoke by phone, the voicemail ended abruptly with a loud noise, and upon arrival at the house, Maude had fallen and ended up in a coma. Maude had listed Astrid as next of kin and no children. So how is she supposed to solve this urgent mystery that can change the past when she does not know where the letter is or the typewriter she was referring to?

What was the meaning of her cryptic message? Now in a coma, she cannot ask her; however, Astrid feels there is a sense of urgency if someone attempted to harm her aunt, she may also be in danger.

Was it a fall, or did someone push her?

The ongoing mystery begins as she tries to solve the puzzle with the help of the local sheriff, Conor, a friend of Astrid's back in high school—the closer she gets to the truth, the more danger she is in.

Did someone drown her little sister, and if so, who and what was the motive? How far will they go to keep their secrets?

I loved DREAMING OF WATER! What a beautiful cover, atmospheric, vivid setting, lush descriptions, lyrical prose, well-developed characters—and an intense riveting mystery suspense whodunit.

Everyone that follows A.J. on social media knows of her love of vintage typewriters and collections. In the novel, she brilliantly incorporates elements of vintage typewriters as an integral part of the storyline. There are so many fascinating parts of a typewriter and how they are related surrounding the mystery in the novel.

As a clever tie-in with the typewriters, the main character, Astrid, is a court-qualified forensic document examiner. She authenticates antique handwritten letters, signatures, and typewritten samples, as seen in the book. Plus, Aunt Maude was a head librarian and often encountered rare finds (notes, books, etc.)

I thoroughly enjoyed the fascinating forensics, letter-writing analysis, and antique typewriters. Banner ratchets up the tension masterfully with many twists and suspects. The narrative is infused with just enough intrigue to keep the pages turning to a satisfying conclusion.

In addition, while reading DREAMING OF WATER, I got The Great Gatsby vibes, a favorite classic. From the grand mansion adjacent to Maude's house, the atmospheric setting, the wealthy residents, the glamorous parties of the rich, the scandal, the affairs, the pool, the drowning, the jealousy and envy, the elaborate grounds, and the mystery and intrigue.

DREAMING OF WATER is a superb blending of literary, historical, psychological, mystery, whodunit, crime, forensics, suspense, domestic, and thriller— crossing many genres like the classic. I love this mix of genres full of twists and suspects.

In her enthralling novels of literary suspense, A. J. Banner writes stories of emotion set in lush atmospheric landscapes that entice the senses. With DREAMING OF WATER, she seamlessly infuses the past and the present, creating her most lyrical work yet.

The author's mastery of eerily atmospheric and richly intricate plots is fully displayed with the deliciously menacing and mysterious tale of greed, guilt, betrayal, revenge, loss, love, redemption, and second chances and blended with clever antique letter writing, typewriters, and signature analysis to assist in solving this mystery puzzle of what happened years ago in a drowning of a child during an elaborate party.

Highly recommend all her books! Fans of authors Carol Goodman, Ruth Ware, Joyce Maynard, and Lisa Jewell will find much to like here.

Stay tuned for my #AuthorElevatorSeries Q&A with A.J. coming October, where we go behind the scenes of the book and this multi-talented author!

Get this fall gem on your TBR list!

Thank you to #LakeUnion and the author for an ARC via #Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Blog review posted @
@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks
Pub Date: Oct 10, 2023
My Rating: 5 Stars++
Oct 2023 Must-Read Books
Top Books of 2023

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“Dreaming of Water” by A. J. Banner is an intriguing and captivating novel. The Genres for this book are Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Mystery, and Domestic Thriller. The timeline for this story is set in the present and goes to the past regarding the characters or events. The setting is Heron Bay, Washington. Heron Bay is a small coastal town with deep secrets, mysteries, and suspicious characters. I love how A.J. Banner vividly describes her dramatic characters as complex, complicated, dysfunctional, flawed, and suspicious. A. J. Banner has provided a well-written novel that does provide clues to help guess what has happened. I love how the author describes a typewriter and explains how it almost has its own “DNA” when used for evidence and clues. The protagonist, Astrid Johansen, has promised she will not return to Heron Bay because of tragic memories of her baby sister drowning in a reflective pool years ago. Astrid questions her divorce and betrayal when her Aunt Maud asks her to visit Heron Bay. Maud claims she has evidence that can change many things. When Astrid returns to Heron Bay, she finds Maud unconscious. While Maud is in a coma, Astrid is determined to discover the truth and reveal past secrets. There is danger, and Astrid thinks her aunt’s accident and her sister's death were intentional. Astrid comes from a dysfunctional family, and deep secrets can have severe consequences. When Astrid is in Heron Bay, she can see people from her past. I highly recommend this intense and memorable mystery to readers who enjoy suspenseful novels.

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A.J. Banner is one of my favorite atmospheric, guilty-pleasure thriller writers. They do not take a lot of brain power, but are thoroughly enjoyable for those of us that enjoy that classic kind of mystery.

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Mysteries and thrillers are always better when set in small, sleepy coastal towns. The author creates a rich world through vivid imagery - I could see and smell the sand and surf - but unfortunately I found it lacking in terms of pacing, character development, and overall depth and complexity.

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AJ Banner has done it again! Dreaming of Water is her newest book and it is outstanding! Astrid is a young woman with a tragic past. Her little sister Nina drowned 17 years ago while Astrid was supposed to be taking care of her. Astrid and her family left soon after and never returned. Now her aunt has called her claiming she has found a letter that is shocking and has information about something in the past. When Astrid arrives, her aunt has been attacked or injured? It’s not clear if it was an accident or done on purpose. Astrid starts digging into her memories and past to find out what really happened all those years ago to her.
This book was so atmospheric and emotional. I really liked Astrid’s character and learning about her past and her family’s relationships with each other. The setting of the Pacific Northwest is the icing on the cake! I could picture this little town and all the characters involved so vividly thanks to the author’s descriptions. You can’t go wrong with an AJ Banner book! With every book of hers that I have read, I find myself thinking of it long after I finish it. You definitely need to read this one! Thank you to the author for an advanced copy of this book. All opinions are my own

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3.5 stars !

Having read and enjoyed several of A.J. Banner’s other books, I was excited to read this, but it fell slightly short of my expectations.

Things I loved:
-The premise - What an ominous storyline; the description hooked me
-The twists & turns - There were so many fun surprises, and ultimately I did not correctly guess what happened to Nina
-The atmosphere - Banner did a great job of creating the setting of Heron Bay, Washington
-The cover -It’s beautiful and adds to the overall ominous vibes of the book

Things I struggled with:
-The pacing - The first half was a slow burn, but the latter half was super-fast and action-packed
-Over descriptions - The story might have flowed better with some descriptions cut down
-I couldn’t connect with the main character, Astrid - At times, I would root for her, and at others, I would doubt my fondness for her.

Overall, I enjoyed reading and uncovering what happened to Nina, although this was not my favorite book by Banner.

If you enjoy mystery novels based on family, love, betrayal, and secrets, you must pick this one up!

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Astrid loses her little sister Nina to a drowning years ago while her family was vising her aunt Maude. Astrid has blamed herself for not catching her little sister leaving the house that night. Now, years later, Aunt Maude requests Astrid come see her for a visit. She has found a letter that will change everything about the past and she must tell her in person. What?! By the time Astrid gets there, she finds her Aunt unconscious and she is rushed to the hospital. Now aunt Maude lingers in a coma, what happened and where is the letter? What I love about A.J.'s writing is her ability give you a trail of mystery and questions until the end. This book really kept me guessing. A little suspense, mystery and family drama all tied into one book. Get youself a copy and see what really happened the night Nina died.

Thank you A.J. Banner for the advanced copy of your book Dreaming of Water. This is my honest review. 5 stars!!!

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