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review 2018-06-06 15:14
Blue Window by Adina Rishe Gewirtz
Blue Window - Adina Gewirtz

This is the portal fantasy with teeth you didn't know you were waiting for. Many authors have explored this territory, but very few have gotten the danger across without their books ending up intended for a grown-up audience, think 'The Magicians' and 'Wayward Children'.

Gewirtz has five siblings fall through their living room window after it mysteriously turns a deep blue and they end up in the world of Ganbihar. The rules are subtly different. The dangers of Ganbihar are its people. Language and intent and the people themselves are twisted, made somehow bestial by a great wrong of the past. The story's narrative is told in the third person and is passed in turns to each of the five children. It is a long journey for them, and the reader must share that, as they travel from the wilderness into a strange city and must flee to a sanctuary that isn't what it appears to be.

There is a message here, and I often have issues with books that that try to impart a lesson on a reader, but I feel Gewirtz handled the story well. The children's characters were distinct, the setting creepy, and the ideas underpinning the fabric of this world were fascinating. Echoes of Narnia are inevitable, but 'Blue Window' doesn't suffer from the comparison in my opinion. I'll be keeping an eye out for Gewirtz's next book.

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review 2018-05-27 19:45
This one is a winner!
The Woman in the Window: A Novel - A. J. Finn

The Woman in the Window, A.J. Finn, author; Ann Marie Lee, narrator

This psychological thriller was written with a fine hand, using an exceptional choice of vocabulary to describe scenes and evoke images in superbly descriptive ways. The images will come alive in the mind of the reader because of the juxtaposition of words. No sentence is wasted and no description overdone. The narrator’s expression and emphasis evokes each scene and sets the stage perfectly for it to play out. She never becomes the story, but rather enhances the telling of it. I highly recommend it as an audiobook.

These are some of the things we know about the novel. We know that there is an agoraphobic woman, Dr. Anna Fox, who is a child psychologist. She has a husband named Ed and a young daughter called Olivia. We know that she has suffered from some kind of terrible trauma because she is unable to leave the confines of her home. We know that she lives alone, separated from her family. We know that she has a tenant who helps her around the house in exchange for a lowered rent. We know he is called David. We know that he is doing some work for the new neighbors across the park. We also know that she has spent the last 11 months, while unable to leave the house, either staring out the window, watching the lives of other people play out as her own stagnates behind closed doors or watching old classic movies on TV or engaging with others on the internet, others on a site called Agora, for people like her. We know that her user name is “the doctor is in” and she is committed to helping others with her affliction. We know that there are only a couple of people who engage with her to try and help her get through this terrible emotionally fraught time of her life. One is Dr. Fielding, her therapist. One is Bina, her physical therapist. We know that aside from them, she is most often alone watching the lives beyond her windows. We know that she has noticed that a new family, the Russells, Jane, Alistair and Ethan, have moved into a very high-end home across the park from her. They do not cover their windows, and she watches the goings on in their home avidly. We know she has a very vivid imagination. We also know that she believes she has witnessed a murder. We know that no one believes her. We also know that since she most often drinks and takes pills, lives in a bathrobe and is not too serious about her own hygiene that she is suffering greatly, emotionally, and may possibly be hallucinating. We know when she calls the police to report incidents she has witnessed from her window that the police view her as a nuisance. We also know that although the neighbors do not come calling much, she does not seem to want any visitors. We know that she believes a woman has come to visit her and has played chess with her. We know she believes it was Jane Russell, and that it was she who sent her the candle as a gift.

We don’t know why she Dr. Fox is in such pain that she cannot leave her house. We do not know much about the tenant, David, who lives in her basement for minimal rent in exchange for help in the house. We know the new neighbors have a young, well-mannered, home-schooled son who came to see Anna and brought her a scented candle, a present from his mother, but we do not know much about him other than the fact that he seems shy and sensitive to Dr. Fox. We don’t know much about the Jane Russell that Alistair and the police bring to see her. So, we don’t know if she has imagined the murder because of her addiction to murder movies and her carelessness with drink and drugs. We don’t know if her intuition is always on the mark or if it is colored by her emotional distress. We don’t know why she has conversations with her husband and her daughter from afar. We know that the internet is her salvation as it is her way to communicate with the outside world, but we can’t be sure how much influence it or the TV has on her psyche.

We are left to constantly wonder about Anna as her mind wanders, conjuring up all sorts of mysteries that cannot be solved. We are left to wonder whether or not they are real or figments of her confused imagination. We are left to wonder about who the title means is the woman in the window. Is it Anna or Jane or another woman entirely? Each woman has a unique part to play regarding the windows. We also have to wonder about what happened to separate Anna from her family? We are forced to wonder where they are? Why can’t they be with her? Then we think, is there really a Jane Russell, or if it simply the name of a the star of one of her old time moives. Is she a figment of her imagination when in a drug induced state? Was anyone really murdered? Is David, her tenant a possible threat to her?  Why did Alistair Russell lose his job? Is Ethan troubled about his sexuality? Does Ethan have problems at home?

This author keeps the reader on the edge of the seat, knowing just when to switch the scene, just when to leave the reader guessing about what is coming next. In the end, Finn cleverly ties up all the loose ends, knitting them together seamlessly. There are no miraculous results, but the story works out perfectly without disappointing as so many endings often do. The road the author takes to answering all the questions and solving the mystery will keep the reader on the edge of their seat, eager to turn the pages. The reader’s attention is held constantly with the push and pull of the narrative as questions are raised that elude answers.

This is a good one. There are several aspects of the story that the reader may guess at, but the entire story will never reveal itself until the author reveals it.

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review 2018-05-26 17:14
Was hat sie wirklich gesehen?
The Woman in the Window - Was hat sie wirklich gesehen? - Nina Kunzendorf,James Finn Garner,Christoph Göhler

Anna ist krank. Sie ist Agoraphobikerin und kann ihr Haus nicht mehr verlassen. Daher schaut sie oft durch die Fenster zu ihren Nachbarn, wobei sie einen Mord beobachtet. Wer war die ermordete Frau im Fenster? Und was ist wirklich geschehen?

"The Woman in the Window" begegnet dem Leser gleich auf zweierlei Art. Zum einen ist es Anna, die von ihrem Fenstern aus zu den Nachbarn späht. Zum anderen handelt es sich um die Frau, deren Ermordungen sie beobachtet hat. Diese Doppeldeutigkeit des Titels ist bezeichnet für den Handlungsverlauf, weil der Autor genau damit zu spielen weiß.

Es handelt sich dabei um einen klassischen Thriller der sich an Hitchcocks Filmklassiker "Das Fenster zum Hof" anlehnt. Auch in diesem Buch ist die Mordzeugin ans Haus gebunden und niemand glaubt ihr, was sie gesehen hat.

Anna ist Agoraphobikerin. Das heißt, sie hat eine Angststörung und fürchtet sich so sehr vor weiten Plätzen, dass sie ihr Haus nicht mehr verlassen kann. Der Auslöser dieser Angst liegt ein Jahr zurück und wird im Buch in Rückblenden aufgearbeitet.

Die Krankheit nimmt einen hohen Stellenwert im Buch ein, was ich insgesamt als sehr interessant empfunden habe. Trotz Thrillercharakter nimmt sich der Autor ausreichend Zeit, um in den krankheitsgeprägten Alltag der Protagonistin einzuführen. Es ermöglicht dem Leser auf spannende Weise mehr über dieses Krankheitsbild zu erfahren.

Zudem ist Anna Kinderpsychologin und hat einen äußerst professionellen Blick auf ihre psychische Verfassung. Allerdings endet ihre Professionalität, wenn es um dem Umgang mit sich selbst, Alkoholkonsum und Tablettenmissbrauch geht. Denn Anna ist ständig zugedröhnt, wodurch natürlich ihre Glaubwürdigkeit bezüglich ihrer Beobachtung deutlich sinkt.

Zu Anna möchte ich noch sagen, dass sie mir stellenweise äußerst unsympathisch war. Sie trägt eine sehr ablehnende Haltung gegenüber ihrer Mitmenschen zur Schau, ist unhöflich und nimmt keine Rücksicht. Allein wenn ich daran denke, wie ruppig sie mit anderen umgeht, hat sie für mich nicht gerade zum Sympathieträger gemacht.

Die Handlung ist sehr fesselnd, wenn auch eher ruhig erzählt. Anna beobachtet den Mord an dieser Frau im Fenster. Es handelt sich um die neue Nachbarin, die allerdings kurze Zeit später lebend vor ihr steht. Nur hat Anna eine andere Frau vor Augen und weiß nicht so recht, wer hier ein übles Spielchen spielt.

Damit hat der Thriller großartiges Rätselpotential. Es wird nach Motiven sowie Erklärungen gesucht und natürlich Protagonistin Anna in Frage gestellt. Kann es sein, dass sie sich das alles - bei ihrem Rauschmittelkonsum -  nur eingebildet hat?

Autor A. J. Finn glänzt mit Wendungen und Wirrungen. Er versteht es gekonnt, den Leser in die falsche Richtung zu führen und hat mich am Ende eiskalt erwischt. 

Meiner Meinung nach ist „The Woman in the Window“ ein guter, klassischer Thriller mit interessanten Fakten zum Krankheitsbild Agoraphobie, eine Hommage an Hitchcocks Filmklassiker und ein fesselndes (Hör-) Buch für spannende Lesestunden! 

Source: zeit-fuer-neue-genres.blogspot.co.at
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review 2018-05-23 19:41
The Woman In the Window by A.J. Finn
The Woman in the Window: A Novel - A. J. Finn,Ann Marie Lee

“What is it about that house? It’s where love goes to die.”

Anna loves peeking in on her neighbors and making these fun little observations. She suffers from agoraphobia and hasn’t left the house in ten months and has nothing much else to do really. She watches old thrillers, drinks far too much Merlot, and downs enough pills to keep her mail-in pharmacy in business all while staring at the wealthy neighbors who are apparently all too cheap to buy curtains.

“I am the woman who viewed too much.”

After I patiently listened to three or four hours of audio with nothing much of anything happening, Anna’s peeping finally pays off and she sees something interesting! Her new neighbor and brand new friend gets knifed but she doesn’t see who does the stabbing. Too scared to venture outside, she calls 911 but as she’s sloshed off her butt and slurring her words they don’t believe her. 

From here accusations are made, red herrings weave in and out of her blurry vision and everyone feels bad for Anna for reasons that I guessed from the very beginning. That reveal was a complete dud but the one at the very end was perfectly evil and I loved it. 

Anna is a mess. She has reason to be a mess but it is rough reading about someone in complete self-destruct mode for an entire story. I also found it incredibly hard to sympathize with her due to reasons I cannot reveal but mostly due to the fact that I can be a little heartless and unforgiving sometimes. This was definitely one of those times. I also think I’m getting a little fatigued with drunken woman who sees a crime syndrome. I didn’t trust her and I wasn’t supposed to but at least she really was on to something, if you were wondering. 

I can only give this book a three because I found most of it not very thrilling. And with a book like this, aren’t I supposed to be thrilled and chilled and all tensed up? This never happened but maybe you’ll get lucky and it’ll happen to you.


The narration was decent. Nothing screamed out at me to take notes so that's a good thing.

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review 2018-05-01 22:52
The Woman in the Window (Finn)
The Woman in the Window: A Novel - A. J. Finn

I thought this was really well-done. Even though I accidentally managed to spoil myself for the final twist (and what a twist), I was completely drawn in until the very last page, largely because of the writing. The first revelation (the one about protagonist Dr. Anna Fox's family) was, I'm pretty sure, one of those that are there in order to make the reader feel good about their own instincts. There were plenty of hints dropped even within the first few pages, drawing us into a self-satisfied feeling that, ah yes, we do indeed know what is going on with this slightly addled, unreliable first-person narrator. In contrast, we are at that same narrator's mercy when it comes to impressions of all the other characters, including the one ultimately revealed as the psychotic villain, which is genuinely surprising and shocking to Anna, and therefore to any unspoiled reader.


Our narrator is fond of old thriller movies, and frequently has them playing, thus allowing that evocative quoted dialogue to seep into whatever alarming or puzzling thing is happening in her own life. And, too, this novel is very clearly written with movie adaptation in mind; from the pathetic-fallacy major rainstorm during the climactic events, to the devastating and echoing effects of sudden falls in scary places, to characters suddenly appearing in dramatically described light - it's as if the promised movie is already unspooling in one's head. No surprise, then, that the film rights were already sold before publication.


I became more emotionally involved than I expected I would in Anna's haze, her agoraphobia, her depression, and her absolutely heart-rending self-doubt when she allows herself to be pushed at one point into believing that she really did delude herself, seeing things she did not see, making up stories, sending an e-mail and photo she did not send... Gaslighted, in fact.


I was only vaguely aware that the gender-neutral A.J. Finn pseudonym belonged to a male author, and I thought he did a really decent job of inhabiting a female voice. In fact, the only moment when I specifically spat, "pah! male author!" was when he failed to update us on the condition of the cat in the sunny denouement. (I am like many mystery/thriller readers in that I can contemplate human murders without pain - presumably because it's part of the implicit contract - but any description of cruelty to animals puts me on edge and makes me worry inordinately. Anyway, potential readers of this novel needn't be put off my mentioning the subject; it's minor.)


It's always a question with a first novel from an author with another established career: is this the beginning of a long relationship, or has "A.J. Finn" written the one novel he had within him? Either way, I'm glad he got it published, and if his real-life position at the publishing house did have something to do with that, in this case the publishers got it right.


A very trendy title, but nonetheless heartily recommended.

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