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In The Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende

New York Times and worldwide bestselling “dazzling storyteller” (Associated Press) Isabel Allende returns with a sweeping novel about three very different people who are brought together in a mesmerizing story that journeys from present-day Brooklyn to Guatemala in the recent past to 1970s Chile and Brazil.

Title: In the Midst of Winter
Author: Isabel Allende
Publish Date: October 31st 2017 by Atria Books
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: Library

Publisher’s Description: In the Midst of Winter begins with a minor traffic accident—which becomes the catalyst for an unexpected and moving love story between two people who thought they were deep into the winter of their lives. Richard Bowmaster—a 60-year-old human rights scholar—hits the car of Evelyn Ortega—a young, undocumented immigrant from Guatemala—in the middle of a snowstorm in Brooklyn. What at first seems just a small inconvenience takes an unforeseen and far more serious turn when Evelyn turns up at the professor’s house seeking help. At a loss, the professor asks his tenant Lucia Maraz—a 62-year-old lecturer from Chile—for her advice. These three very different people are brought together in a mesmerizing story that moves from present-day Brooklyn to Guatemala in the recent past to 1970s Chile and Brazil, sparking the beginning of a long overdue love story between Richard and Lucia.

Exploring the timely issues of human rights and the plight of immigrants and refugees, the book recalls Allende’s landmark novel The House of the Spirits in the way it embraces the cause of “humanity, and it does so with passion, humor, and wisdom that transcend politics” (Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post). In the Midst of Winter will stay with you long after you turn the final page.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Agent Annie says…

I usually try to read anything that Isabel Allende writes because I’ve enjoyed all of her books.  I don’t think this particular book is her strongest.  I enjoyed the characters and the different backgrounds they reveal as the book progresses.  The choices they make to deal with what has happened in their current situation seemed a bit unrealistic.

I also didn’t become as attached to the characters as I have in Allende’s previous works.  I thought the backstories were more interesting than the present day circumstances, and the slow reveal as the characters got to know each other was well done.  I particularly liked the part in which Lucia recognizes that, through the sharing of their stories, what “a strange healing power words had… how important it was to share one’s pain and discover that others, too, had their fair share of it, that lives are often alike and feelings similar.”

I would give this book 3 stars.

Other recommendations…

If you liked this book, you might enjoy anything else by Isabel Allende, including her young adult fiction trilogy, Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario, or The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean.


Ghost Writer by Damon Norko

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Ghost WriterTitle: The Ghost Writer
Author: Damon Norko
Series: Stand Alone
Publish Date: November 20, 2015, Black Rose Writing
Genre: Paranormal Literary  Fiction
Source: Provided by Publisher

Publisher’s Description: What would you do if you came back as a ghost? You could finally write that novel . . .

Meet Arnold Showalter, ghost.

At night, Arnold haunts the magnificent underground Mystic Caverns of Appalachia. But during the day, Arnold becomes The Ghost Writer, the first “literary voice from beyond the grave.” Yet before Arnold can capitalize on his fame, he must first exorcise the “ghosts” of his own past. And it is easy to become bitter when one is dead . . .

Fortunately, Arnold’s world is rocked when he meets Clarisse, a 15-year-old fatality of a car accident. Her fresh outlook and spunky energy awaken Arnold to the real possibilities of post-life existence. Clarisse inspires a quest that takes Arnold to the farthest reaches of the universe, and deep within himself.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Luna_Lovebooks_100Luna Lovebooks says…

I had a hard time trying to figure out how exactly to do my review and what to rate this one. I think it is an interesting idea, but that it is confusing and could have been planned out better.

The Ghost Writer is written using stream of consciousness. It jumps from scene to scene, past to present, earth to space and back very rapidly.  A lot happens in a short amount of pages, and it ends rather abruptly. I was left with unanswered questions and feel like there are loose ends that are not tied up.

As far as the characters go, I found myself wishing I could connect with them more. They are well thought out and I think—given the space of a full-sized novel—I would have come to love them. The world building could also use some work. Several ghosts seem to have jobs and are expected to sign a contract and clock in and out of work, but Arnold doesn’t seem to have set hours and often leaves his post early. The punishment for breaking a contract is disintegration by way of ghost cop, but these beings can clearly get far enough away by flying to the Moon that they can’t be caught. There is also some philosophical stuff at the end about Ghost Winds and how ghosts are the next stage of human evolution, but I feel like I missed something earlier in the book leading up to this. It just wasn’t very clear to me.

badge3v4While the novella does need a bit of work, it is a truly unique idea. I enjoyed the quick read. I just wish it could be expanded upon. I give it 3 stars.


More Paranormal Reads…

The Wood by Chelsea Bobulski, The Architect of Song by A.G. Howard, The Rattled Bones by S. M. Parker

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

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