BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Birthday House – by Jill Treseder #RandomThingsTours #blogtour

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Birthday House Random Things blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. There was just something about the blurb of this novella that spoke to me and while I did end up having mixed thoughts, there is no doubt that the premise of this story is fascinating. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!

Title: The Birthday House
Author: Jill Treseder
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 24th 2019
Publisher: SilverWood Books
Finished reading: September 14th 2019
Pages: 149

“Gossip is not interested in innocence. It will curdle innocence in the blink of a curious eye.”

*** A copy of this novella was kindly provided to me by Anne Cater and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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When I received the blog tour invitation a while back, there was just something about the blurb that caught my attention straight away. The psychological aspect as well as the past mixing with the present in the form of memories sounded fascinating, and I was also curious about the murder, its effects on Susan and the why and how behind it all. While I did end up having mixed thoughts about The Birthday House, I have to stress that this doesn’t mean it’s a bad read, and the 3 star rating reflects my personal experience with this story. I’ll tell you all about what worked and what didn’t for me below.

First of all I have to say I still feel the premise of The Birthday House is engrossing and it’s without doubt one of the strongest aspects of this novella. While initially the murder is only hinted at, it is the psychological effects of Josephine’s death and the events leading up to that dreaded day in 1955 that have the main focus. Flashbacks to the past play a very important role throughout this novella, as we try to decipher what went on in the Kennedy house and why things happened that way. It was intriguing to discover that the author based this story on an event that happened to her in the past and now uses this story almost as a form of therapy… She stresses that the events in The Birthday House do not reflect what really happened in the case that affected her personally, but it’s only a possible explanation of what could have gone wrong in a similar situation. I applaude the author for being brave enough to face past demons and put it all out in the open…  I can imagine it can’t have been easy digging all those memories up again and her personal experience does give this novella an authentic touch.

That said, there were also certain aspects of The Birthday House I ended up struggling with… I personally wasn’t convinced with the novella having so many different POVs. It felt a bit chaotic and disorganized having to jump between so many characters as well as the past and present, especially for such a short story. I felt I didn’t get to know each character well enough this way, although I do get why the author opted for multiple POVs as I imagine she was trying to show the mental state of and psychological effects on the different characters involved. Still, the story lacked cohesion for me and I personally would have liked to see less POVs (for example by leaving Mrs. Harrison, the housekeeper, out of the mix to name one). I also wasn’t a fan of the tone and writing; it didn’t feel natural and some of the dialogue and thoughts sometimes even felt a bit forced… Susan’s 1955 POV felt a tad too childish as well, and I also felt part of the plot and reasons behind the murder were simply too cliche. This is my personal reaction to this story though and if you are able to connect to the writing and don’t mind a few cliches and a lot of POV switches, The Birthday House does have a captivating premise.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I started writing in a red shiny exercise book when I was seven years old. But in that time and place it was an ‘invalid’ activity, was overlooked, but never went away. It was many years before I felt able to call myself ‘writer’.

But there came a day when the phrase ‘I am a writer’ no longer sounded pretentious, but legitimate, and even necessary. Was it because I had a writing room instead of the corner of a landing? Or because I spent more time writing? Or because I’d got better at it? Or because I get miserable and bad-tempered if I don’t write? Probably a combination of all of the above.

Writing is my third career. The first was as a social worker with children and families, a job I loved, but left because I could no longer cope with the system.

This led to a freelance career as an independent management consultant, helping people to handle emotions in the work context. I worked in the IT industry, in companies large and small, as well as public organisations. Later I became involved in research projects concerned with the multi-disciplinary approach to social problems such as child abuse. So, in a sense, I had come full-circle.

All these experiences feed into the process of writing fiction, while my non-fiction book The Wise Woman Within resulted indirectly from the consultancy work and my subsequent PhD thesis,‘Bridging Incommensurable Paradigms’, which is available from the School of Management at the University of Bath.

I live in Devon and visit Cornwall frequently and these land and seascapes are powerful influences which demand a presence in my writing.

Writers’ groups and workshops are a further invaluable source of inspiration and support and I attend various groups locally and sign up for creative courses in stunning locations whenever I can. I try doing writing practice at home but there is no substitute for the focus and discipline achieved among others in a group.

I have written some short stories and recently signed up for a short story writing course to explore this genre in more depth.

I live with my husband in South Devon and enjoy being involved in a lively local community.


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WWW Wednesdays #238 – September 18th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m binge reading the Reykjavik Noir Trilogy by Lilja Sigurdardottir in preparation for my stop of the blog tour for the third and final book… I’m currently reading book number one Snare. I’m also starting Finding Henry Applebee by Celia Reynolds and I’m looking forward to the change of genre and read a contemporary again.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. All Cats Are Introverts by Francesco Marciuliano (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 15/10
I know I don’t read a lot of poetry, but give me cat photos, give me humor and give me a relatable topic and I’m sold. As a true introvert and a cat owner, it was extremely easy to relate to the poems included in this bundle. I literally laughed out loud multiple times, my own cat Delilah Bard frowning at me as apparently I was making too much noise to her liking. The dry, sometimes slightly sarcastic humor is right up my alley and some poems definitely have a mean pun. The cat photos in this bundle are of a high quality and it shows that they have been chosen carefully as they suit each poem extremely well.

2. The Birthday House by Jill Treseder (3/5 stars) REVIEW 08/10
Look out for my review during my stop of the blog tour next month!

3. Muse Of Nightmares by Laini Taylor (5/5 stars) REVIEW 11/10
After being blown away by the first book of this duology, I was afraid it was going to be almost impossible for the sequel to live up to expectations. But I shouldn’t have doubted the power of Laini Taylor‘s absolutely gorgeous prose! Like with Strange The Dreamer, I was absolutely mesmerized by the words she uses to describe both the high fantasy world, its characters and the plot itself. Things can be said about the fact that not all that much seems to be happening considering its 500+ pages, although I did feel there was more going on in the sequel. But personally I didn’t really care as long as I was going to be able to keep lapping up those gorgeous sentences.

4. Here To Stay by Mark Edwards (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 29/09
I just HAD to get a copy after reading Meggy’s review and seeing others raving about it as well… And there is no doubt that this book delivered. I basically felt uncomfortable and threatened during the whole book, feeling what the main character feels while also just wanting to shake him and tell him to do something about his situation. I definitely didn’t see the ending coming either! I might need some time before I can get my thoughts together and write a review that does it justice. Mark Edwards has a new fan!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I just remembered I still had to read this month’s Criminally Good book club read! Since I really want to read it in the first place, I’m picking up The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup next. Afterwards it’s time for more ARCs… First up are The Huntress by Kate Quinn and I Will Make You Pay by Terese Driscoll. My latest TBR jar pick is still The Museum Of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman… I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get to it this month as I have a huge pile of books I need to read first. xD


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You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. Instagram. Facebook. Bloglovin’.

WWW Wednesdays #237 – September 11th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I needed to cleanse my palate after finishing Blood Song, so I decided to finally pick up Muse Of Nightmares by Laini Taylor. I LOVED Strange The Dreamer when I read it last year, and I’m still not sure why it has taken me this long to pick up the sequel… The writing is definitely just as gorgeous as the first book so far, and I can’t wait to read more of it today. I’m also picking up the ARC Here To Stay by Mark Edwards soon, as I don’t think it will take me long to finish Muse Of Nightmares at this pace.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Liar’s Sister by Sarah A. Denzil (4/5 stars) REVIEW 13/09
The Liar’s Sister is a psychological thriller filled to the brim with secrets and lies and without doubt packs a mean punch. Both focused on family relationships, grief and something possibly sinister happening in past and present, this story will appeal to both fans of more domestic thrillers and those who enjoy a healthy dose of suspense and action.

2. Secrets Of The Mist by Kate Ryder (4/5 stars) REVIEW 19/09
I know romance is not my typical genre, but I do love my historical fiction and there was just something about this timeslip romance story that caught my attention. Not only has Secrets Of The Mist a stunning cover, but the blurb instantly intrigued me. And I’m definitely glad I made the decision to read this story, because it was without doubt a beautifully written and poignant read.

3. The Lies We Tell by Debra Webb (4/5 stars) REVIEW 17/09
I had The Lies We Tell wrongly identified as romantic suspense (I’m not sure why), but there is nothing mild or tranquil about this story. Oh no, this is a full blown serial killer thriller where things will get dark, disturbing and violent and some scenes are definitely not for those with a weak stomach. The fact that the main character is an undertaker and her connection to everything that is happening gives the story an unique touch. Fans of darker and fast-paced crime thrillers will have a great time with this series!

4. Sorry I Barfed On Your Bed Again by Jeremy Greenberg (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 07/10
I’m what you call a cat lover and I just couldn’t resist what sounded like a combination of a fun read and cat photos. It’s without doubt a great gift for anyone who likes cats and some of the letters are very funny. I do hope they will make the photos less dark in the printed version, because some details were lost in the ARC copy.

5. Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson (5/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 20/09
Look out for my review during my stop of the blog tour!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

Next up are more ARCs… The Birthday House by Jill Treseder for an upcoming blog tour and All Cats Are Introverts by Francesco Marciuliano because I’m in the mood for a funny read. I also want to pick up Snare by Lilja Sigudardottir in preparation for the blog tour of the third book Cage next month. My latest TBR jar pick is still The Museum Of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman… I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get to it this month as I have a huge pile of books I need to read first. xD


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