Just One More – 2ReviewTues

I’m sure we have all had the experience of picking up a book only to not want to put it down at bedtime. I had this happen with two books this month—one where I expected that to happen and one where I was pleasantly surprised. Let’s begin with the unexpected.

I “ran into” Dave Astor during a comment exchange on Rebecca Budd’s wonderful podcast. After that, I saw comments from him on various blogs, including my own, and as bloggers tend to do, I checked out his blog. Each week, Dave finds a unique way of looking at a subject in the world of fiction that I find compelling. His is also one of those blogs where the comments become an interesting discussion. I could picture sitting around a dinner table sharing those comments. His blog has become a regular read. Similarly, each week, I noticed a promotional message for his book. Last Monday, I bought it.

Dave Astor—Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time: The Book Lover’s Guide to Literary Trivia

It’s an alliterative mouthful, but I love the title. I was eager to find how many of these authors I was familiar with.  I know I started off talking about reading before bed, but I bought this book prior to going for my daily walk—still trained by the dog we no longer have, I walk at 7:15.

The book is organized in about 100 short chapters, each being a quick read, so it was easy to procrastinate. I ended up leaving fifteen minutes late for my walk. I just kept telling myself, “Just one more chapter and then I’ll go.”

The stories are fascinating. How I would have loved to have been able to reference this book to add some little-known facts to the book reports I was forced to produce in high school. I now picture Dave tuning in a report on “Fahrenheit 451” with a paragraph at the bottom that starts, “By the way, most people don’t know it, but…” I’m not going to spoil the fun on that one.

Do these fun facts matter, outside of those situations where you can impress your friends—if you have friends impressed by literature—at the bar? I think they do. In many cases, I learned about the author’s motivation for writing a particular story. In other cases, I was fascinated by the effort, often failed in the author’s lifetime, to get a book published. It was also interesting to learn how one book became famous, while a different book, by the same author, failed to succeed. These are things authors still struggle with.

I freely admit that I wasn’t aware of some of the authors in the book. That made me wonder if I should set aside more time for reading the classics. I was also surprised by how many of the authors of “the greatest novels of all time” I have read and enjoyed.

Whether you are an author, a reader, someone interested in history, or just a person who loves knowing something interesting about someone you admire, you would enjoy this book. One thing for sure, once you open it, you’ll have a hard time putting it down.

Moving onto the book I was certain I would enjoy, because I was returning to an author whose writing I have come to admire in the past couple of years. I’m not sure how Gwen does it, but she kept me turning pages past my bedtime for several nights.

Gwen Plano—Redemption

Anyone who has read any of Gwen’s previous books will understand my looking at the clock on the nightstand and thinking, “I can read one more chapter.” The plot and the characters she brings into her stories are nothing short of amazing. By the time I am done reading one of her books, I know her characters like I know my good friends. While reading, I worry about those characters, I laugh with them, and sometimes, I want to yell at them.

Lisa and Trace, the main characters in Redemption are in trouble, and they are angry about the fact that their father put them in a dangerous situation. Do they have a right to be angry? Clearly, but the title makes us think that perhaps there’s more to their father’s story than we know. Still, he’s dead and their mother is seriously injured, so the knowledge that he brought a threat down on his family is overwhelming.

Lisa and Trace are compelled to figure out the secrets their father left behind. Some they piece together from childhood memories. Some require help from others. They are driven to solve a mystery but, with the exception of one childhood friend, they don’t know who to trust. I don’t like giving spoilers, but I will say, there is a character where the distrust felt by one of the main characters (deserved or not) is palpable. It’s rare that I am drawn so far into the mind of a character in a work of fiction. I felt like I understood the thought process Gwen’s characters used in making decisions, even ones I didn’t agree with.

Gwen keeps the pace flowing rapidly, but the action is punctuated by ordinary events like meals and traffic jams, all of which helped sustain my belief that what I was reading was real. There is some technology involved in the story—something I always enjoy—but again, it’s believable and it blends in such that I never found myself asking “could that really happen?” Gwen builds trust with her readers very quickly. When I read her books, I believe the story.

If you like suspense, mystery, action, and a bit of head-turning, you will enjoy Redemption. If you’ve read any of Gwen’s other books, you know what to expect. If you haven’t read Gwen’s other books, and you read this one, expect to be loading up your shopping cart.

That’s it for this month. I hope to continue Two Review Tuesday as a monthly series as I work through my significant TBR pile.

Dave Astor Gwen Plano
Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction AuthorsRedemption: A Father’s Fatal Decision
Blog: Dave Astor on LiteratureBlog: Fiction and life…from the desk of Gwen M. Plano
Dave’s “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column Gwen’s Amazon Author page
Dave’s Amazon Author page


  1. Interesting books you review this Tuesday, Dan.
    Dave’s book sounds like it will appeal to many readers, and for just as many reasons. I find books with facts fascinating, and a great stress-reliever.
    A good mystery novel is always a big temptation for me.

    Congratulations to both authors for these beautiful reviews!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Dan – these sound fascinating reads … and I’ll be interested in your regular monthly reviews. I’ve a few books here with fascinating facts about authors … they always entice. Mystery novels are great fun to read – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi, Dan. I’ve read Redemption, and like her other books found it an engrossing and moving story.
    Dave’s book sounds wonderful. Thanks for sharing both of these. I love your format for Two Review Tuesday!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. My goodness, Dan, thank you for your incredible review and endorsement. I’m so pleased you enjoyed Redemption. I’ve yet to read Dave’s Interesting Facts, but I look forward to doing so. BTW, I love your Two Review Tuesday. ❤️

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Trivial fact: I just got back from grocery shopping and didn’t see your review of my literary-trivia book until now, Dan. Thank you so much — it’s an absolutely wonderful review! Your specific reactions to the book were what I was hoping for from readers when I wrote it. I am VERY appreciative. :-) And Gwen Plano’s novel sounds excellent and ultra-compelling!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s funny, Dave. I was out grocery shopping when you posted this and all your replies.

      I totally enjoyed your book. To be honest, I don’t remember buying and finishing a book so quickly. One I start reading, I tend to go fast, but I leave most books on the TBR pile for a while. I peaked inside yours and that was it for me.

      Liked by 1 person

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