Posted in reviews

Hinterland by L.M. Brown Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Trigger Warning: Themes revolving around mental illness are present in this novel. If you or someone you know suffers from illnesses such as schizophrenia and are easily triggered by these storylines, reader discretion is advised.

A husband and father trying to take care of his wife and child finds himself struggling as a childhood friend returns home, bringing complex feelings back to the surface and a dark secret threatens to tear apart his family in author LM. Brown’s “Hinterland”. 

The Synopsis

Nicholas Giovanni’s life revolves around his five-year old daughter Kate. When he isn’t driving his taxi, he is taking care of her and her mother Kathleen, whose last involuntary admission to hospital was before Kate was born. When his childhood best friend, Ina, returns next door, tensions rise in the house. Already unstable, Kathleen suspicions of Ina and Nicholas grow until a day of violence ensues and Kathleen disappears.

Kate’s life is shattered by her mother’s disappearance. No-one will tell her where Kathleen is. Although Ina helps to take care of Kate, Nicholas keeps her at arm’s length. He cannot bring himself to tell the truth about Kathleen’s last day, until Kate runs away, and he realizes his silence has torn everyone apart. To find Kate and to keep Ina in his life, there are truths he must face, if it’s not too late.

The Review

This was a well written, slow-burn style mix of family drama and thriller. The author explores two important themes in this narrative: the lengths a parent would go to in order to protect their child, and the hardships of trying to care for someone suffering from a severe mental illness. 

The protagonist Nicholas is a complex man, with both many faults and a desire to protect his daughter Kate from heartbreaking truths. From the return of his childhood friend Ina to the struggle he has with his wife Kathleen and her struggle with a serious mental illness, the author beautifully focuses on character development to highlight the story within this book. 

The Verdict

An emotionally charged, dramatic, and evenly paced read, author L.M. Brown’s “Hinterland” is a must-read thriller drama. The heartbreaking circumstances that push Nicholas and his family to the edge are truly engaging and keep the reader on the edge of their seat, and definitely felt like the delivery of the narrative was very reminiscent of a classic Hitchcock thriller. If you haven’t yet be sure to preorder your copy today or grab it on October 13th, 2020!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

L.M Brown is the author of novels Debris and Hinterland, and the linked short story collections Treading The Uneven Road and Were We Awake. Her award winning stories have been published in over a dozen magazines. She grew up in Ireland but lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three daughters.

https://www.facebook.com/LornaBrownAuthor

https://www.instagram.com/l.m_brown/

Posted in reviews

Were We Awake by L.M. Brown Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A series of short stories illustrate the world people thought they knew is not what it appeared in author L.M. Brown’s novel “Were We Awake.”

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The Synopsis

In each story of this collection, events make the characters understand that their world is not as it seemed.

In Hidden, the discovery of an affair between her father and aunt is only the start of finding hidden secrets for Hazel.

What it Means to Be Empty-Handed is narrated by a fourteen–year-old daughter of an alcoholic. Her denial and elaborate imagination starts to disintegrate when she lies to the wrong person.

In Crashing, a middle-aged woman lives a life of servitude until she hits teenage boy with her car.

A thirty-year-old murder takes its toll on the victim’s family in Walking A Country Road.

The stories are set in Boston and Ireland.


The Review

Author L.M. Brown does it again, creating a wonderful collection of stories that are both connected and illustrate the way life constantly throws people curve balls, turning the world they knew into a completely new one. A collection that showcases that things are never simple or what they appear. 

One of the truly engaging stories of the collection has to be Hidden, which delves into the complex family life of Hazel when she discovers her father and aunt are having an affair. Yet as her family life implodes, new secrets reveal that things are not as simple as they first appeared. The story is a prime example of how life is often lived in shades of grey, with people often living complicated lives in an attempt to find peace and happiness. The author beautifully illustrates the pain, the shock and the confusion that comes from having a person’s world turned upside down, and perfectly taps into the emotion and complexity of humanity as a whole. 


The Verdict

A fairly average length read with completely dynamic characters and stories that feel both personal and connected, this collection of stories is truly unique and wonderfully captures the author’s unique writing style and voice. A collection that honestly showcases the ever changing landscape of the world we live in, both the world at large and the world we create for ourselves. A dramatic journey through life’s greatest challenges, this is a fantastic collection readers will not want to miss, so be sure to grab their copy of Were We Awake by L.M. Brown today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

L.M Brown is the author of the novel Debris. Her stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines. She grew up in Sligo. Ireland, but now resides in Massachusetts with her husband, three daughters, a dog and a bearded dragon.

https://www.facebook.com/LornaBrownAuthor/

https://amzn.to/33xLrJz

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Interview with Author Lorna Brown

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I always wanted to write, I don’t remember a particular time when the feeling came to me- it was always there. I started my first book at around 11 and it was an orphan Annie story that really disappointed me for the lack of originality. I thought ‘I have nothing to write about’ and I believe that’s when the yearning for travelling came. I talked about that all the time. After studying psychology and working for a year, I left Ireland. I worked in Australia, Japan, Boston and traveled South East Asia and New Zealand for three months alone, and South America for six months with my husband who I met in Japan. Eventually I came back to Ireland and I was nearing 30 when I finally started writing full time, with my husband’s support.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

This collection has been a while in the making. I’d been writing novels, breaking every rule in the book too as I tried to figure it out, and when I moved the States with my husband and three daughters, I started writing the stories. I wanted to write about how society views certain people, which make it difficult for them, like Lou and dyslexia, or Marcus marrying and trying to hide that he was gay, or Ester getting it wrong when her friend moves in with an older man, all these mistakes we make about people because it is impossible to know the whole truth about anyone. After I knew the characters, I put them together in the village I grew up.   

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I think through all the stories is the idea that we never truly know what’s going on with other people, while also addressing the fact that society can be tough. ‘In Taste of Salt’, when the group of kids come into the room with Lou, I write, they didn’t really know him but it was easy to forget this, to accept their wariness as reasonable, because there is the idea that we become how society views us. It is so hard to break from the mold. But there is also through the stories an idea of second chances, or being able to rise above it, and I think the ending of ‘White Trout’ is good for that.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I started short stories because I wanted to understand them and see how it was done. It took a good while for me to learn what they were about and how to write them.  This year I finished my second collection ‘It Is Good We Are Dreaming’ which is about that moment when people realize something about their live never known before, or that moment when we are forced to grow up, and I loved writing the stories, as well as the stories of Treading The Uneven Road, because they really made me look at the world around me. Writing a novel is a lot more insular I think. At least I tend to focus on the world I am creating, but when I am working on a collection I really look at what’s going on around me. The second collection most of the stories are taken from news articles and my ideas of what was behind them while Treading The Uneven Road was more about society and its biases.  

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

Hard one, I like Dick for his dreaminess, but I really like Patrick from ‘Amends’ for his sense of humor. Eilish is a funny one, so stern and upright, but there is some softness to her that I’d like to see, Ann, would be interesting, I’d imagine sitting in her small kitchen with the view of the bay and that I wouldn’t get a word in edgeways. I’d probably ask her if she wished she’d knocked on that hotel door. (You have to read the collection to get see what I mean)

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I really don’t like social media, and I don’t use it much. But I love all the reviewers, such as yourself, who have been willing to review my book after my request with a synopsis. It’s fantastic that you spend time helping authors get known. I have to give it to the book bloggers sites.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

To accept feedback with gratitude because it is impossible to get better or learn without it. To be able to erase your words, none written is a waste of time. They lead to the destination, but not all are meant to stay. Read and write as much as you can and believe in your talent and ability no matter what anyone says, or how long it takes.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I have a lot of projects on the horizon. Fomite has my second collection. It Is Good We Are Dreaming. I secured an agent with my novel, Patient 55. But I finished my re-write of Hinterland soon after and we both agreed it was a stronger one to start with. It took eight years for me to get all the pieces right for Hinterland.  I was glad that he thought it stronger because I’d like to think my books get better with each one. I recently finished my latest novel Our Wandering, and I was planning to write a short story collection with Irish folklore in present day setting. I love doing short stories between novels. They are so different. But with the Government shut down and everything that’s happening here, I realize I need to write something about that. I’m reading now and in the planning stages. I write a lot and am always thinking of stories.

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Treading the Uneven Road by L.M. Brown Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author L.M. Brown delivers a powerful collection of short stories that explores the connected lives of several people living in a small village in Ireland during the 80’s and 90’s in her upcoming book, Treading the Uneven Road. Here’s the synopsis.

The Synopsis

The stories in this linked collection are set in a small village in the Northwest of Ireland in the early 1980’s and 90’s. A by-pass around the village has rid them of their once busy traffic. The residents feel forgotten by the world. The need to reach out and be heard is explored in every story, from the young woman who starts to have phone conversations with her husband’s gay lover, to the dyslexic man who confronts his cruel teacher years later. 

The collection is not only about the characters need for salvation but it is about a society that is unraveling. In Amends, we hear about the Bishop who has fathered a child. A priest is beckoned by a dying man to be mocked. The world inside and outside the village is changing. In every story the characters need to make a choice on how they might carry on.

The Review

This is a fantastic short story collection. Filled with heart, passion and fantastic character development, the story flows naturally and makes for an even paced series of stories that build this village’s life in unique ways. Exploring this unique time period and showing off some of the many problems people living in Ireland faced on a daily basis was an inspired choice, highlighting the changing world around them and how some people accepted this change, while others fought it wholeheartedly. 

From the hostility towards anyone who comes out or is found to be gay in a very religious community to the trouble that comes from  parenthood and how some people aren’t made to be mother’s or father’s. Exploring marriages, friendships and everything in between, this emotional roller coaster of a short story collection is truly unique and brings some heartfelt struggles to life.

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The Verdict

This upcoming collection is a must read 2019 book. An interesting journey of individuals with their own personal struggles and how those struggles affect others really shone brightly in the novel. Amends in particular is one short story you won’t want to miss, as the story takes readers into shocking directions and forces the reader to ask themselves how our elders prejudices affect us, and how they can affect others. If you haven’t yet, be sure to preorder your copy of L.M. Brown’s “Treading the Uneven Road” today (or grab your copy of the book if it’s already released)!

Rating: 8/10

https://www.amazon.com/Treading-Uneven-Road-L-Brown/dp/194438880X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1548732149&sr=1-1&keywords=9781944388805