Cover Image: Dreaming of Water

Dreaming of Water

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Member Reviews

Contrived. Clumsy. Inquisitive.

We are following our MC working as a forensic document authenticator. At the request of their Aunt, they are returning to the town where a family tragedy occurred when they were 14 years old.
Set along the Washington coast in a small town near Seattle, USA.

Growls, Howls, and Tail Wags 🐺🐕:
Good plot and premise but as a reader I felt disconnected and knocked about. As if I was fighting with the author just to enjoy the story. By the 70% mark, I wasn't sure I could power through. I tried to fix the writing with imagination, but the author was inconsistent in information provided so it all came together feeling like a Canadian made-for-TV movie from the '90s.

Written in third person limited POV in present tense. It made mundane actions more noticeable and lack of information more frustrating. At one point our character is rooting through a car for insurance papers, and apparently went in to the house but we aren't told that - the scene just changes without notification when she hops in a shower. For an imaginative reader, this is SO annoying!

All the characters felt flat and one-dimensional. The dialog reads the same regardless of who is talking. Dialog is written without noting who said what. I get that it's understood they each take a turn saying a line. For me, that is effective to show someone is rapidly speaking, angry, excited, or being snarky. But most of the dialog is written this way and it was jarring. I had to come up with my own tone for the characters because otherwise it felt like everyone was spitting words rapidly at each other.

On that note, there is little tone in the dialog. We don't know the emotion, body language, intonation etc. Every so often it is included (like, "Person A said _____ with intrigue") and that was MORE frustrating because I had been reading with a totally different vibe up to that point.

The ending felt rushed and a bit convoluted. It was like multiple people were aware of the truth and some of it wasn't even that big of a secret.

Inconsistency in our MC was also disconnecting for me. Astrid is putting together clues for us by literally telling us about them, then not noticing the obvious. She doesn't experience anxiety or fear - getting direct threats and recognizing danger yet purposefully putting herself in vulnerable settings with said threats...that can work if we have some character development or background but we don't get any. Why is she able to recognize danger but chooses to risk her life or leave items out to be stolen or vandalized? Has she given up? Is she a risk taker? Extremely forgetful?

Mood Reading Match Up:
-Contemporary fiction with family history mystery
-Themes about the impact of rejection and emotional neglect on a person
-Low-key you-were-always-here, should-they-or-shouldn't-they romance
-Amateur sleuthing with police pal
-Small town small neighbourhood drama

Content Heads-Up: Narcissistic parent. Parental rejection. Emotional abuse. Stalking/threatening. Infidelity. Death of a child.

Format: Digital advanced review copy from Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley.

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Astrid Johansen has dark ties to Heron Bay, Washington, where as a child, under her watch, her younger sister Nina is found to have drowned in a small reflecting pool. 17 years later, with the drowning case an unsolved, Astrid receives an urgent plea from her Aunt Maude to return to Heron Bay as she claims to have found something that sheds light on the unknowns of Nina's drowning. Upon arrival Aunt Maude is found unconscious in a comatose state, Astrid must not only figure out who possible attacked her Aunt, but uncover the mystery behind her sisters death 17 years before.

I unfortunately had to DNF this book at 47%.

This book starts off very slow. Not even 100 pages in and it feels like it hasn’t picked up much. The story, while an interesting concept, seems to suffer from over description at one point giving a description of which drawer the main character was looking through and where she put the drawer when she pulled it out. As a reader I felt that everything was handed to me and it felt so bloated. There seems to be so much filler writing in the book, dialogue that just feels unnecessary, and just things that felt unneeded. . There is a story here, but I just feel like the execution of this one did not work. I wanted to love this so bad and pushed farther into the book hoping my feels would change, but they did not.. The book reads like a WB drama show like “Supernatural” but I have to sit through more than 45 minutes of it. I love descriptive books, but it doesn’t always work for some stories and to hear every single one of Astrid’s thoughts just feels overly drawn out, making relatively uninteresting moments longer than they need to be. Even though this book did not work from me it didn't put me off to exploring more of this authors works, because again there is a story here, but this one I felt could have been much better.

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The plot and story line of this book were intriguing and well-thought out but I have to admit I had a problem with the first person view and tense. It seemed to hop about a bit from present tense to past tense with some abandon and it threw me out of the story here and there. Not enough to stop reading because it is truly a good book. I am going to read the book again because I am pretty sure I missed a few clues along the way! II enjoyed the characters and their interactions with each other—they were interesting and a bit mysterious and carried the story well. I found the book hard to put down!

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I’ve always enjoyed this authors books, but this one didn’t grab me or leave me with a wow factor. It was a slow burn of explaining things in the past and Aunt Maude being in a coma… Aunt Maude has all the answers. Didn’t really care for any of the other characters. It was enjoyable; just not the authors best IMO. Thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for the ARC

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Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this ARC. This is a a great psychological thriller. I loved all the characters. Highly recommended everyone to read this book! Beautifully written!

@netgalley @ajbanner1

My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Publishing date: October 9, 2023

Astrid returns home to Heron Bay, a place she swore she’d never return to. Astrid’s sister Nina drowned in a reflecting pool seventeen years ago while under her watch. Astrid goes to back to visit her Aunt Maud. When she gets to the house her aunt isn’t home. She later finds out her aunt had a bad fall and is in the hospital in a coma. Her investigation into her past reveals family secrets and lies. Astrid thinks someone may have killed her sister.

#netgalley #netgalleyarc #ajbanner #dreamingofwater #read #readmore #thrillerbooks #thrillerbookaddict #bookstagram #bookworms #booksbooksbooks #booksarelife #avidreader #suspense #ilovebooks

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Astrid has never fully resolved the death of her sister, Nina in a wading pool. She is lured back to the scene of the accident by her Aunt Maude and the promise of letters that will assist in answering some of the questions about the accident. However, by the time that she arrives to the house, Maude has suffered from an accident and is unable to clearly communicate. This arouses even more intrigue and suspicion on the part of Astrid. Was her sister’s drowning truly a tragic accident or was there something more in play that evening? The characters in the story were well developed and numerous. I actually got to know each one, with details into their history and personality. I enjoyed this part of the story. Overall, the story flowed a little slow for me, but I did overall enjoy it. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the advance review copy in exchange for my honest review. I will be on the lookout for other books by this author.

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This latest thriller by Liv Constantine had me from page one, completely hooked!! There were so many twists right from the start that my mind was constantly guessing who to trust. Suddenly widowed due to a tragic event, Sloane finds herself heartbroken and shocked as she tries to go on with her life without her husband Robert who was a senator. Her husbands friend Whit, who had also lost his wife at the same time, found comfort in each other as he too was a senator and after two years passed they get married. Soon Sloane who has dealt with Lupus for years learns she needs to have a hip replacement and Whit decides they need to have a full time home health aide. The pacing now accelerates with more twists and red herrings to ramp up the suspicion as each chapter ends. But the shocking ending - I did not see that coming, I literally gasped out loud! A psychological thriller filled with lies, secrets and insight into the slippery politicians world will have you on the edge of your seat!

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A. J. Banner has written another intriguing novel that captivated me with the mysterious prologue that drew me in so well that I had to find out WHAT HAPPENS?!!! "All her secrets, her hopes, her regrets, will dissolve in the sea." Who is this character and what's brought her to this oceanside cliff? That was it.....I was in this story completely. I was hooked!

Ms. Banner wove a very suspenseful and thrilling story around this prologue with characters that have hidden agendas that take unexpected twists and turns. The main character, Astrid, is living with the guilt of the death of her little sister's mysterious drowning in a shallow relfecting pool...but why can't she remember the circumstances and what happened? She has flashbacks with twists and turns. Vague memories that don't connect. A freak accident? The truth is trapped with her Aunt Maude who's in a coma and possibly lost forever. The dysfunctional family and the evasive lies and deception from Astrid's parents drive her to search for the truth no matter what.

Ms. Banner writes her scenes so well and descriptively. I can see in my mind as if I were there and what the surroundings are. The sounds, the sights, the smells, the "feelings", the drama of what is going on. It pulls me into the story and makes me react along with Astrid. I love the cliff hanger chapter endings. I just HAD to keep reading on....

Ms. Banner is extremely talented in giving her readers a story that is so hard to put down. She weaves in bits that drew me deeper into the story and trying to figure out exactly what happened to little Nina and hoping that Astrid would find the truth and peace at the end of the book. It's another great read by this author who knows how to take the reader on a suspense filled ride.

I want to thank Ms. Banner for the honor of reading an ARC copy of this book. All opinions and thoughts in this review are my heartfelt own.

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I am a fan of A.J. Banner's work, and this book was no exception. "Dreaming of Water" is a well-written domestic suspense/mystery that grabs you from the start and does not let go. Recommended for mystery/suspense readers and fans of Banner. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

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I always have to check out A. J. Banner's books. This one, like all her others, was a unique tale that left you turning pages trying to piece together the puzzle. Intriguing and well-written domestic suspense/mystery read by a great author!

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When Astrid gets an unusually urgent call from her Aunt Maude pertaining to a letter she found that could change everything about sister drowning; Astrid can no longer hide from Heron Bay. Once arriving, she finds Maude unconscious and rushed to the hospital.

Now having to figure what the heck is going on with some help from an old friend, can Astrid finally get the closure she needs from her sister death?

Absolutely loved this. Was easy to read and follow with just enough suspense to keep you hooked

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After a phone call with her Aunt Maude, Astrid is returning to Heron Bay Washington a place she swore she would never go back to. When she was 14, her younger sister Nina drowned. When she gets there, she discovers aunt Maude has been attacked and a letter stating that the drowning wasn’t an accident. Can Astrid discover what happened or will become the next victim. Truthfully, I am a bit conflicted about this book, there was many things I enjoyed and a couple that a didn’t. The premise of the book was interesting, and I liked exploring the family dynamics. But I felt like at the times the plot was a little disjointed and that they were trying to include a point point that didn’t fit. Since this is my first A.J Banner book, i would be interested in reading another. Thanks NetGalley and lake union publishing for giving me an opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest opinion

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Dreaming of Water is a story filled with family drama. Astrid never planned to return to Heron Bay, but her aunt summons her. Aunt Maude has information about the death of Astrid's sister, Nina. Astrid always blamed herself for Nina's drowning death. So Astrid returns to Heron Bay and finds Aunt Maude unconscious in her home. Her aunt is recovering in a coma and is unable to provide the information she promised to Astrid. Astrid tries to figure this out on her own, uncovering secrets and finding strength.

Great outing from A.J. Banner. Really enjoyed this. Wholeheartedly recommend.

Thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

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I really liked this book. Read it very quickly for me. I couldn’t figure out “who done it” on my own. Had to keep reading. I appreciate the chance to read this pre-release copy in exchange for honest review.

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Dreaming of Water by A.J. Banner, published by Lake Union Publishing is a full-length stand-alone novel. Introduction to characters and story are made perfectly.
Astrid is back in town after years away. She swore to never return to this place that holds so much pain. But her aunt needs her and begrudingly she moves to back. And soon she's knee-deep in an investigation to find out what happened today and what happened years ago.
An excellent read, wonderfully written gives the story all the feels, from goosebumps to fuzzy and warm. A thiller of its finest full of unnexpected twists and turns. 5 stars.

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A tale of a woman returning to the town she spent her summers as a child at when her Aunt ends up hospitalized, and the hunt for what really happened during that final fateful summer.

I personally loved this book. While it has a bit of a slower start, which I enjoy in books like this one, it was some wonderful twists and turns that I did not expect. I also love the nods to classic typewriters, and the enthusiasts that love them. I've been a fan of AJ Banner for awhile now, and this is easily in my top 3 of all her books along with "The Twilight Wife" and "In Another Light."

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Enjoyable writing and a promising premise but the novel starts to lag about halfway through and never makes up for it in the end. However, still Interested in exploring future novels by this author.

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This book presents a complicated and emotional story of a family in turmoil after a young girl drowns in a neighbor’s reflecting pool. Almost two decades have passed and Astrid, the older sister of young Nina, is loathe to return to Heron Bay but does so when her aunt urgently summons her. The action really begins to pick up and keeps a fast pace once Astrid arrives in Heron Bay and confronts her past and all of the ghosts that haunt her dreams. There is an eerie feeling that something is missing from her memory and Astrid is determined to discover the truth about Nina’s drowning, a tragedy for which Astrid blames herself. As Astrid delves deeper into mysterious letters typed on an old manual typewriter, I was fascinated with the research into how the letters matched the typeset and the expertise of Astrid as one who verifies documents. The entire story flowed seamlessly, even with multiple characters and flashbacks into an illusory, dreamlike past. I enjoyed the mystery and suspense, but I especially liked the clever character development which was slowly revealed and so brilliantly written. The plot was compelling and multi-layered, with secrets hidden by most of the characters and plenty of red herrings to keep me guessing. The drama is intense, the characters are dynamically unique and the entire book is a well-crafted dive into the waters of what you think you know because your subconscious tells you it is true. As the story progresses to the climax, it fairly crackles with tension that captivated me all the way to the stunning conclusion. For fans of suspense that does not waiver and authentic details that are riveting, this novel is perfect!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guidelines Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”

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A. J. Banner writes another FANTASTIC psychological thriller that has an ending not to be missed! Put this on your beach read
Iist!! Thanks for the advanced copy!

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Returning to a place if tragedy is never easy. Astrid received a message from her aunt calling her to the town where Astrid's little sister drowned in a neighbors reflecting pond. Her mother never forgave her and neither parent would speak about the events. A bit convoluted but the story unfurls. Typewriters, illicit affairs and past hurts are exposed. Entertaining.

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