You Were Here by Gian Sardar

You Were Here

Gian Sardar

You Were Here is written with fabulous detail and a true-to-life feel that evokes the romance and secrets of small-town America. 

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Readers of Kate Atkinson will delight in this suspenseful debut novel about a woman haunted by nightmares and her grandmother's role in a doomed love triangle almost seventy years before.

What if the past is never buried?

Death, accidental and early, has always been Abby Walters's preoccupation. Now thirty-three and eager to settle down with her commitment-shy boyfriend, a recurring dream from her past returns: a paralyzing nightmare of being buried alive, the taste of dirt in her mouth cloying and real. But this time the dream reveals a name from her family's past. Looking for answers, Abby returns home to small-town Minnesota for the first time in fourteen years, where she reconnects with her high school crush, now a police detective on the trail of a violent criminal. When Abby tries on her grandmother's mesmerizing diamond ring, a ring she always dreamed would be hers, she discovers a cryptic note long hidden beneath the box's velvet lining. What secret was her grandmother hiding? And could this be the key to what's haunting Abby? As she begins to uncover the traces of a love triangle gone shockingly wrong nearly seventy years before, we, too, see that the layers of our lives may echo a past we’ve never known. With mesmerizing twists and a long-buried secret that may finally rise to light, You Were Here weaves together two worlds separated by decades, asking if the mistakes made in past lives can ever be corrected in the future, and if some souls are meant to find one another time and time again.

Advance Galley Reviews

This is such a beautiful story that made me think about whether or not we are destined to meet our soul mates across many decades or many lifetimes. Well written, great plot, I look forward to more books from Sardar.

The saying if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all. The big was too slow for me and I had to give up. Others seem to enjoy. It's me not you.

I had a tough time with this book, but in the end I really enjoyed it. Once I figured out the mystery within the mystery, it was amazing and clever! I look forward to reading more from this author in the future!

The first part of the book was slow and it jumped, rather quickly, between the past and current years; if not paying attention you could get confused. But if you stay with the book, it captures your interest. The incident involving Ketty, Edith, Eva and Claire had the ending I, actually, was not expecting. But the dreams and the pull that Abby felt was rather interesting. The story line between Roger, Aiden and Abby was what I had expected BUT did not see how Aiden's case completely revolved around Abby in the end.

Two great stories in one book, both engrossed me in every way. Loved all the characters, they were all so relatable that it made it very difficult to become upset with them even after the terrible choices they made. Enjoyed how each chapters goes back and forth in time to deal with each storyline, even though at first I was a bit lost but once I became acquainted with the characters I couldn't put this book down. I honestly can't recall how many times I had to stop a sec to tell my husband "OMG let me tell you what just happened in this book!" I give it 4 out of 5 stars since the beginning was a tad slow and threw me off a bit but as I said once you get going the lines between both storylines tie in perfectly.

I really enjoyed this book. It takes a little while to get things figured out but then it's great reading. I loved the story line from the past and in Abby's current world and figuring out how she connects to both of them. 2 mysteries in one.

I was granted access to an advanced reading copy of You Were Here by Gian Sardar through the First to Read program. To be honest, it was a little difficult to get into this book. It started off really slow. But once I get past the first 100 pages or so, I enjoyed it. I thought the writing was fluent and the transition from character to character and from time period to time period was smooth. The characters were likeable and the story was very relatable. I like how everything linked together, but I wish it didn't end the way it did. I wish Abby learned the truth in the end and that Claire could have some peace. On a side note, I bet this would make a good audio book!

I really tried....twice....but I just could not get into this book. It got off to a really slow start, and I was not able to make it past the first 100 pages either time. That's too bad, because the synopsis is pretty interesting. Sadly, I had to DNF it!

Although it took me a while to really get into this book, by the midway point I could barely put it down. Definitely would recommend. 3.4 stars of 5

This book was slow starting and difficult to track whose thoughts I was in. I kept having to go back to the chapter title to see which character was sharing their thoughts. A paragraph or two in, I could start to figure it out (after the first 100-150 pages) but that it gave me pause and I had to search/guess indicates that the voices of the characters were quite distinct enough. I found the concept of the story intriguing yet at the same time slow to arrive at. I warmed to the main character, Abby, but only after passing the 150-page mark. Overall, not a bad debut but it was a bit of a struggle to get through.

You Were Here starts off somewhat slow and is hard to get into. There are multiple perspectives and alternating timelines. To start, we meet Abby in LA dealing with a commitment-phobe boyfriend and a recurring nightmare that she hasn’t had in years. A new clue emerges from this latest occurrence of the dream that sends her back home to small-town Minnesota. The story picks up once Abby returns to Minnesota. Abby’s first order of business is attending a high school reunion where she gets re-accquainted with an old high school crush, Aiden, who is now a detective. After that is Abby’s researching the meaning of her dream while Aiden simultaneously works to solve a series of murders happening in the tow. Abby's research links us to the past story that is being told as well. Once you get used to the unique writing style, it is not bad. The story is intriguing, but at the end I am just left with a lot of questions. I thought that there would be more of a conclusion, but it kind of just ends abruptly.

So this book just reinforced my inability to DNF books. Let me explain.... This book starts out really slow. So slow that I was seriously considering DNF'ing which I never do. Yet, I read on and after I read the first 100 pages or so, I became so engrossed in the book that I read the remainder 260ish pages in one evening. So see, if I HAD DNF'd this book, I'd have missed out on what really was quite an enjoyable read. Abby left her hometown almost 17 years ago and has never returned. Prior to her leaving, she would have horrible nightmares where she was in a grave being covered by soil. Abby's life is not what she wants. Her boyfriend is working desperately at trying to sell his screenplay and he tells Abby if he does, they can finally get married and all the rest of the pieces will fall into place. Abby feels that Robert is just continuing to put her off and that marriage isn't a priority for him. Suddenly, Abby's nightmares return so she decides to go to her class reunion and try to figure out what is behind her dreams once and for all. While in town, Abby reconnects with her teen crush, Aiden, who is now a detective trying to solve a serial rapist case. She also begins to investigate the disappearance of grandmother's best friend and see if it somehow ties in to her horrible nightmares. As mentioned, I found the first 100 pages or so of this book to be extremely slow and almost dull. The reader gets a little insight into Abby's past and the nightmares which have haunted her for years. Also during this time the reader is introduced to all of the major players. The story is told in dual timelines and once the story picks up, it really is quite an interesting tale. There are several twists and turns throughout and the resolution of the mystery was extremely satisfying. I enjoyed Abby's character for the most part and found her fascination with death creepy yet wonderful. Besides the slow start, there is one other element to this book which really bothered me. It is full of cheating. Spouses, paramours, boyfriends, girlfriends, best name it and they are either cheating or hiding the secret for someone else. I am not a huge fan of cheating and yet I still found this book to be interesting and tolerable. Just be aware if that is something that usually puts you off on reading a book. "You Were Here" is a strong debut and one of the better thrillers I've read lately. I feel that it's probably going to get a lot of comparisons to "Gone Girl" which I hope isn't the case because I actually consider that the kiss of death. If you have been curious about this one from the start, I would recommend you go ahead and pick it up. However, if you easily DNF books, please realize you have to get through the first 100-120 pages for it to get good. If that's too long a wait, then you might want to pass this one by.

Abby is plagued with nightmares that seem to be a revelation of her grandmother's past. She returns home to attend her high school reunion and to investigate the connections. She reunites with a high school crush, Aiden, who is a detective investigating a string of brutal sexual assaults on young women in the area. While Abby and her neighbors are understandably frightened by the threat of a serial rapist in their midst, she and Aiden seem to uncover a love triangle involving a neighbor of Abby's grandmother. Could a crime involving the couple living next door to her grandmother decades ago be the reason why Abby is having nightmares? You Were Here started out a bit slow but became more interesting as the story progressed. Towards the middle of the book, the suspense still built slowly but the story became much more exciting and a little bit horrifying. The end did have some twists that I didn't see coming. The characters are fascinating. Eva needs William so much but turns out to be much less mature than she believes herself to be. Claire is more emotional than she is given credit for, at first. The writing wasn't bad but it won't pull the reader along in a way that makes the reading faster and easier, either. I really enjoyed this book and I hope that Sardar continues to write thriller fiction as I would love to read more from her in the future. This book would be great for any reader who enjoys mysteries and thrillers. This book would also be good for readers of women's fiction or historical fiction that want to add a bit of a mystery or thriller dynamic to the story.

Could not finish the book. Had a hard time getting into this book. It seemed very slow moving.

I appreciated this arc from first to read but found myself backtracking as I was losing my way. The synopsis was interesting and I will take a break and try again as I am still intrigued.

I really enjoyed the writing style of the author. It seemed like a breath of fresh air, compared to the same style other authors use. It did seem like the story picked up and then slowed down at times. It also seemed to end kind of abruptly, as if the author wasn't exactly sure what else to write and just ended it. I would be interested in reading another book by Gian Sardar, though.

The disconnected, poetic writing style was terribly cumbersome to read. At times I appreciated the depth and complexity of the writing to draw out character emotion, but at other times it seemed jumbled and overly edited to the point where dream sequences didn't differ much from normal character moments. A non-linear plot is usually a great way for creative storytelling, but in this case, I found it difficult to navigate between flashbacks and five main characters.

I enjoyed reading You Were Here and toward the end I hated any interruptions! Multiple questions to answer; some if them I had figured out, but not all by any means. I liked her use of language and the descriptions of people and places. Skipping backwards and forwards in time made for interesting transitions, especially as the story progressed. All in all, this was a good read. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This book was SOOOOO slow. The story itself was quite interesting and could have been excellent if well-written. Unfortunately, I could not finish the book before it expired. I picked it up to read a chapter here or there, but had to read other books because I could not get caught up in the story.

Although I loved the storyline, I struggled with Gian Sadar's writing style. It could be that when you add the shifting narrative, complex sentences and lots of complex characters, it gets to be a little cumbersome. I think it was worth the read, but not one of my favorites.

I received this ARC from Penguin Books and First to Read. I enjoyed the way this book was written and the development of the characters. Gian Sardar did a good job keeping my attention and keeping me wondering what would happen next. I look forward to reading future books from Gian Sardar.

I didn't know going into this novel that this is a debut fiction from Gian Sardar. Honestly, it didn't read that way. I thought the writing was strong and fluid and Sardar crafts a narrative that is quite complex. Sardar has real talent and I predict this author is one to watch out for! That being said, there was something about this novel that kept me from really connecting with the characters or fully getting engrossed with the plot. I think it might have been the narrative style, Sardar jumps back and forth between 2 different timelines and 5 different characters which made it hard for me to really connect with any of the characters or feel very much for them. And something about this made me feel as if I'd read this before... (Isn't that such a weird thing to say about a novel where a girl is having vivid dreams about the past?) Nothing really surprised me that much and I found it kind of predictable. 3 stars.

I was surprised to find out You Were Here was Gian Sardar's first book. Although it took a while for me to get into this book, once the story got going I couldn't put it down! The chapters alternate between the present day and 1949, and for most of the book I wasn't quite sure how the plot lines intersected. I made some guesses, but got the characters involved completely wrong (as someone who can usually guess these things, it was nice to be surprised). This book involves reincarnation and soul mates, without outright stating it. I loved the author's visual writing style- I could picture everything perfectly, especially that very first scene! Gian Sardar's writing career is just beginning, and I can't wait to see where it goes from here.

I, unfortunately, could not get into this book. I am usually a fan of alternating chapter/stories but found this book to move very slowly and was at times confusing to follow.

Gian Sardar loves her commas. Instead of varying her writing she seems to prefer long stretches of disconnected independent clauses and run on sentences separated into disparate parts with commas that lie like so many road bumps in the narrative, constantly shocking me out of the flow of the story to wonder just what the heck she was getting at. My guess is that she was trying for a prose poetry effect. Instead, I just found it all unreadable. I should mention that I love the works of James Joyce and Vladimir Nabakov, so my problem with this book is not related to an inability to process complex sentences. An occasional flight of prose wherein the sentence ends up somewhere completely unrelated from where it began is fine with me. To be hit over the head repeatedly with such sentences, however, is tiresome.

Unfortunately, this book expired on my device before i could finish it :-( I only got about half way through, but I do agree with some of the other reviews that the beginning of the book was a bit slow and there were too many random characters.

I just could not get into this book. There were a lot of names thrown out and it was hard to know which names would develop into characters the reader would get to be familiar with later. Typically, I enjoy books with parallel plots and that jump from past to present. However, there were so many characters introduced in both tenses that it came off as overwhelming to me. Furthermore, I did not care for one of the main characters in the present tense, Abby. I was not sure if she was supposed to have a panic disorder, anxiety, or if her tragic theatrics are what attracted the attention of her boyfriend, a screenwriter looking for his big break. The meltdown that Abby has at a restaurant, where she just got into her hometown that she hadn't been to in a long time, with her mother and her mother's best friend about a potential serial rapist in town was what made me put the book down for good. Maybe it's because I'm a city girl and her hometown was small suburb of Minneapolis, and therefore she might have been in imminent danger. But it just did not connect for me nor did it seem realistic.

this book actually started off really slow and disjointed, but just about as I felt like giving up, the book picked up pace and got really, really interesting! I am so glad I stuck with this read. I am currently finishing the last 1/3 now and am excited to see how it ends!

Wow - I really enjoyed this book. The plots jumps from the past in one chapter to the present in the next. The effect is you begin to see more and more clues unfold in such a wonderful way. I could not put this book down. I would get to the end of a chapter but then start to read the next chapter to see how it would tie in with what I had just read. There are a number of story lines, but they are woven in so well. It never feels disjointed. I will highly recommend this book to everyone I know! I will keep my out for Gian Sardar's next book!

You Were Here follows 4 different characters 2 in the present day, 2 in the early 1900's who are distantly linked to them. First we have Abby who sells estate jewelry living in Los Angeles with her screenwriter boyfriend Robert. Abby has been with Robert for 4 years and they are waiting for his big break for their life to begin-marriage, house, kids. Abby is anxious battling her ticking biological clock, thinking about all her friends who are ahead in that respect. Abby suffered from nightmares in high school that were so unsettling she refuses to return home. The nightmares return coincidentally in time with her 10 year high school reunion. She decides to go home and dig into her dreams that she believes may be related to her grandmother. Hoping to fix her terrors and maybe run into Aidan, a man she desperately yearned for in high school. The next character we follow, unsurprisingly is Aidan, Abby's high school crush. He is a detective on the police force in their home town he has recently returned to. He is buried in a serial rapist case that is plaguing their town. We alternate from present day with those two to Abbys grandmothers neighbor Claire. Claire's segments are split between her and her husbands mistress Eva. Claire is trying to find out about her cheating husband, William. They've only been married for two years. She can't imagine what she's done to deserve the betrayal but fears they are only together because their fathers approved of the match. Both from well-off families they have to keep up appearances that nothing is wrong. Eva, the other woman, comes from a small town that William frequents for his medical practice there. He spends a few days a week with her. They both seem completely taken with one another, head over heels. She hopes he will commit to her and leave behind his wife. William and Eva try to conceal their relationship but are found out by another doctor and exposed. After their high school reunion Aidan and Abby are sifting through her grandmother, Edith's letters. Edith's next door neighbors were Claire and William. They begin trying to figure out what happened all those years ago. A love triangle, a suicide, a disappearance and robbery. Abby must decide in a situation of her own, to hold out hope for practical, caring Robert or to jump at the chance for Aidan who has always been interested in her as well. She hopes to stop her dreams of a terror long past, while Aidan hopes to stop a current monster that is lurking just out of reach, before he strikes again. Gian Sardar has written a beautiful story. At first it was slightly hard to keep track of all the characters. They cut to the next person before you had a full grasp of who you were reading about. This got better through the book. The chapters segued with much better timing. The characters are still likable even with their evident flaws. I felt myself somehow rooting for both Eva and Claire to get their happily ever after when clearly that cannot happen. And again with Abby I wanted her to have this happy duality, in Makade with Aidan and in LA with Robert. So no matter how the story worked out I was both satisfied and disappointed by their outcomes. I very much enjoyed this. Thank you Penguin for the opportunity to read it.

You Were Here starts off with a bit of a slow burn, introducing the characters and explaining their backstories. I think the first 100 or so pages could have been trimmed down a bit, but once I passed that mark the story really picked up. I enjoy books that switch between time periods with interconnected plot lines, and this one did not disappoint in that aspect. A blend of love triangles, mystery, and a bit of a supernatural elements combine nicely to create a read that kept the pages turning. I mentioned that the first 100 pages could have been trimmed down, and I would have liked to see some of that trimming make its way to the back end of the story. I felt the ending, once pieces of the mysteries were solved, was a little rushed and I could have done with some more explanation and character resolution. All in all though I found this to be a highly enjoyable read and I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

When I first began reading this novel, it was dragging. I almost gave up on this book within the first 30 pages, but others' reviews on this book urged me to get past the 50-page mark because "that's where it really gets good". So I did. And they were right. In reality, this is a novel that consists of 3 stories: 1. the story of the detective and the serial rapist, 2. the story of Claire, Eva, and William (from the past) 3. the story of Abby, trying to figure out this mystery and trying to figure out her life The author masterfully links these 3 stories to create a novel that flows beautifully and tells a complex tale about love, loss, life, and regrets. The characters were drawn up wonderfully and were each unique. The mysteries in this novel kept me on my toes and made me continue flipping pages well into the night. There were times when I felt a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of plot lines being thrown at me; I would get engrossed in one mystery only to be jerked out of it and placed into another one. However, it all resolved itself in the end and made for a satisfying novel. There were certain things that the author mentions but never really comes back to, and this would be my one criticism of the novel; I like for everything to be wrapped up nicely and having open-ended elements tend to bother me a bit. But in light of this remarkable story, I will forgive this! If you are looking for a deep and complex mystery, I would highly recommend this novel! Just make sure to give it 50 pages!

A Penguin First to Read ARC e-book in exchange for an honest review. Death has been a constant fixation for Abby Walter’s from a young age. Preoccupied by thoughts of a reoccurring nightmare of being buried alive she sees death everywhere. Crossing the street, maybe that taxi won’t stop. Driving through an intersection, maybe a truck driver fell asleep at the wheel. Out of all these nightmares though, it’s the taste of dirt from being buried alive that feels the most real and when Abby has the same exact nightmare 14 years later outside of her hometown she wants to go back and figure out what it all means. The story shifts from “then” to “now” and is wonderfully told. As the plot builds so does your excitement, and need, to finish the book. Then: Abby has always been fascinated with her Grandmother’s wedding ring, a ring that has been hidden away from the world due to horrors it is tied to. A seventy year old love triangle that ended in a nightmare for all those involved. Now: Abby has reoccurring nightmares of being buried alive. As the plot thickens "then", her life is up heaved "now". A serial killer is punishing mothers by killing their daughters literally down the hall while they sleep.

The story started off a little slowly for me with Abby's life in LA. She was living with Robert, who was never fully developed as a character, and working as an agent for estate sales. Abby is drawn back to her hometown in Minnesota for a high school reunion. The story shifts from the period just after WWII and the present, and the chapters are helpfully titled "Then" and "Now." I found the story of William, Claire and Eva to be more interesting than that of Aiden and Abby. The police investigation in the present time period seemed to be peripheral to the rest of the plot and I sometimes forgot about it. I thought some of the shifts between the time periods were too abrupt. Overall, this is a good mystery and I would probably read another from this author.

I enjoy books that jump between past and present so I really enjoyed You Were Here! Both the Now and Then storylines kept me interested and wanting to know what was going to happen and how the two connected. I especially liked the suspense of the love triangle in Then. It was a great read that I would recommend for sure!

You Were Here centers around a young woman named Abby, who suffers from debilitating nightmares. Having grown up in Minnesota, Abby finishes high school and ends up living in California. Abby’s nightmares, which had been absent for the past several years while living in California, began to return around the time her high school reunion was approaching. She decides to return home to visit her mother, attend the reunion and to look through her grandmothers old letters and photographs to see if there is any connection to her recurring nightmares and a name that was revealed in her dreams. Coinciding with Abby’s return is the investigation into a serial rapist in the area. One of the detectives just happens to be the man Abby had a crush on in high school. They get reacquainted at the reunion and he eventually becomes involved in helping her discover the source of her recurring nightmare. Abby uncovers a secret from her grandmother’s past that reveals her involvement in a love triangle and the guilt she lived with in the years afterward. As her grandmother’s story is revealed, the situation with the serial rapist seems to indicate Abby may be the next target. I felt like from the beginning Abby would end up in some kind of danger and because of that it was easy to stay involved with the book. There were two stories being told--one from the past, the other from the present--and both held my interest. It was a little confusing in the beginning, but once I got more familiar with characters and the time frame, I had no problems. I enjoyed the book and would recommend to anyone who likes crime novels or mystery/thrillers. Thank you to First to Read for allowing me to read an advance copy.

All I can say is wow. I was able to read this book as an advanced copy and I'm not sorry. This book had peaked my interest from the little excerpt I read before requesting a copy. The sheer momentum of the book kept the interest flowing. I couldn't put it down. I wanted to know the correlation between the characters, what they were thinking, what was going to happen next. This book was a breath of fresh air in the monotonous lull I was in. Anyone who is looking for a new book to read, You Were Here is one you need to pick up.

I really enjoyed this book! It's got everything in it - mystery, romance, secrets, magic - and is well written. Separated by chapters of "Then" and "Now," we get to piece together a long-ago love story and watch as the main character, Abby, discovers that perhaps the relationship she is in is not for her. She returns to her hometown in Minnesota after many years, and reconnects with her high school crush, who is now more attractive than ever, and a detective trying to solve a serial rape crime. Great, light read. Thank you First to Read for the galley copy!

I felt a little disoriented at first, trying to keep track of all the characters and if they belonged in the 'now' or 'then', but I'm so happy that I stuck with it. This novel is filled with pleasantly surreal moments and intriguing mysteries.

This was a fantastic mystery that kept me turning pages well into the night to find out how the story would end. The first 50 pages or so were kind of slow but keep on reading because once things start to happen, you won't want to put it down. The story is told in two time periods. The modern story is Abby's. Abby lives in LA and keeps having the same dream that she's had for years but this time she hears a name in her dream and when her mother knew of the person that she dreamed about she decided that she needs to go home to Minnesota for the first time in years to try to find out what was causing her dreams. While she is home, she meets one of the first boys that she had a crush on. He is now a police detective working on the case of a serial rapist in their town. So Abby's story is all about her dreams and her history and the case of the serial rapist. Her grandmother's story takes in her best friend, whose husband is having an affair and plans to leave her. The author did a fantastic job of interweaving these two time lines and two plots and her characters are great. I really enjoyed this novel - there was a lot of mystery, a major bad guy and a bit of romance - how can you go wrong? Thanks to First to Read for a copy of this book to read and review.

This was another story where I just need more. I'm so sad that it's over. I loved pretty much everything about this. Gian Sardar created a character, Abby, that I so resonated with. Her fear of the unknown, of being constantly afraid of some tragic circumstance just around the corner that cannot be prepared for. "...a mind that's never been easy on its owner." Abby is so real to me. Her relationship with her long-term boyfriend, her best friend, her mother, her childhood crush, her hometown, I'm sorry to keep repeating myself but it all felt so real. Sardar has a darkly poetic way of writing that drew me in. Her words were powerful, but that power isn't presented with huge, daunting words. Rather, her descriptions of houses and weather and feelings seem to be written from experience. For example, a description I loved: "There's nothing so beautiful, she once told Hannah, as a parking lot late at night when the snow has just begun." Simple, yet I instantly understood and recognized the beauty. There is a complexity in its simplicity, and I felt that consistently in Sardar's writing throughout this book. What an amazing, slow-burning whodunnit, with so many minor clues hidden that made me go, 'Oh my god, of course,' more than once. I loved the two time-periods that were interconnected, loved the characters from both time-periods, and probably obvious, but I loved this book. Thank you to Penguin First to Read for the opportunity to read this book in advance.

This book starts out slow and it was bit hard to keep track of all of the moving parts at first. The two timeline structure, which I've enjoyed in other novels, is not completely successful here (there are also several POVs, which further complicates things for the reader). I did find that the book picked up in the second half, but the ending was a bit lacking to me. Overall, this novel was just okay.

First time reviewing any book, so I read a few other reviews to get an idea of where to start. I agree that there are aspects of the "Now" story that are not as compelling as the "Then" story. I felt that the author started off interested in Abby's character - as a fully-fleshed woman with a somewhat lonely and fearful childhood turned into dreaminess and appreciation of history as a grown woman working with antiquities and estate jewelry - and then lost Abby to chasing the man who got away. The bleakness and unsatisfactory trajectory of Abby's current relationship is well established so when Abby begins her fling with Aidan, the reader can't be that upset about the impropriety but it's odd how fast they become a couple as if neither of them take the time to question anything. Even Abby's questioning of the past seems to be ill prepared and half-hearted. Aidan's character is the least developed. We are told he is handsome and somewhat of a womanizer but then struggle to find too much more to add to his character development besides his sudden, inexplicable attraction to Abby. Aidan's past is affected by a traumatic event that isn't clearly articulated so we can't understand fully why he is gun shy and hiding in his hometown. The rapist from Abby's past seems farfetched and flimsy as a side plot. As for the "Then" storyline, I think it is more interesting simply because the author slows everything down. The dark, haunting, and ghostly descriptions are still employed as in the "Now", but the pace becomes more day-to-day which, ironically, speeds up the action. You can actually see the tension developing between Claire and William and feel the relationship blooming between Eve and William. The repetition of each relationship (same restaurants, music, games, baths, hobbies, menu, etc) helps to cement the passing of days and allows the reader to focus on the thoughts and emotions rather than actions. This is the opposite of the "Now", which focuses too much on disjointed actions to spur the plot rather than conveying true emotions. I rather liked the ending - that Abby and Aidan couldn't quite put all the pieces together and that Eleanor's true identity remained unknown. The author even writes in the beginning that Claire is viewed by William as "faded and unremarkable" - I think Eleanor ends up as she began and as a just punishment. Finally, I understand where Edith came into play with her bitterness towards cheating husbands, but I would have liked a little more background on Ketty - that was the one character that would have been interesting to know more about besides a couple paragraphs relating her sad childhood. Overall, I enjoyed the book. Slightly more romance than mystery, but intriguing characters nonetheless. I'd be interested to read more by this author as there is tremendous potential for something great.

Original and atmospheric, although occasionally there is an overwhelming amount to keep track of and too much happening at once. For the most part, the book effectively jumps back and forth between the past and present, establishing each of the characters and doling out a tantalizing amount in each chapter to keep readers engaged. The two storylines converge nicely in a thrilling climax, and I found the endings in both time periods to be satisfying. I was more invested in the unfolding Eva/William/Claire love triangle than I was with Abby and Aiden reconnecting or the murder investigation, the latter of which feels like an afterthought to connect the two characters and add excitement to the present day events. Sardar has bitten off more than she can chew with the many intricacies of this story, but nonetheless it was an enjoyable ride.

I found this book difficult to follow. The beginning didn't flow, and as such didn't hold my attention. Just not for me!

I reviewed an advance copy of this book and I seem to be in the minority's of reviewed because I really enjoyed this book. It starts out a little confusing with jumping back and forth between time periods and not really understanding the whole storyline behind the grandmothers ring, but it unfolds in a really novel direction and I found myself flying through the pages. The ending was exactly what a mystery like this should be...complete and satisfying. A very well written book and I look forward to reading more by the author.

I'm sorry to say I didn't enjoy this. I read the first few chapters and couldn't get into it. I didn't connect with the story. Did not finish. :(

I'm usually a fan of books that span time periods, dedicate chapters to different characters, and flip back-and-forth between plot lines, but this struggled to hold my interest from the start. It picked up every one and a while, especially the excepts from the past, but overall, the description was much more intriguing than the actual novel was unfortunately. Also, from a technical standpoint, the book still requires a lot of editing work. I figured with a 33-year old protagonist this would be geared towards adults (or at least those in their 20s), but it read too simplistically like a teen novel. The descriptions, while pretty, seemed like a grade school paper fluffed up with a plethora of adjectives to stave off a potentially unsuspecting teacher who wasn't paying close attention to anything but surface level reading. Alternatively, it could've been descriptions written for a screenplay that the author decided to quickly turn into a novel format. It just was not for me.

I was given an advanced copy of this book. First of all, the writing in this book is amazing. The transitions between the past & the present is a refreshing style. I loved the characters & related to them. I also loved the mystery of it & trying to figure it all out while reading. It was a page turner & I could not put it down. Highly recommend this book.

I generally like novels with dual time periods, but this novel was difficult to follow. While I liked the characters, it was difficult to put them together to make the connection between the time periods.

This is a book that uses dual time periods to tell its story. I wasn't feeling the Then storyline, but as it became more clear how it tied into the Now storyline it picked up. Abby was an excellent character, and I really like Aidan the earnest cop.

Never start a novel with a dream, budding authors are told, but a dream opens YOU WERE HERE. But it's not just a dream, for the dream here is as much a character in the story as the protagonist Abby Walters. Those budding authors are also told to kill their darlings, and that's a bit of advice that Gian Sardar should have taken, but I digress. The novel starts out slow, slow, slow, and I was close to abandoning the thing as I waited for something to happen. Abby is wretchedly annoying, obsessed with death and dying to the point that you wish the manuscript had been edited a bit more tightly to cut out some of the constant repetition. We the readers get it, she's afraid of things to the point of nearly being crippled, always thinking she's about to get killed in some accident. However.... Don't give up on this one. In time, Abby will leave Los Angeles and her committment-phobic lover to attend her high school reunion, where she reconnects with the boy she once adored from afar. Turns out he's a police detective on the trail of a violent serial rapist. And while Abby is back in her former stomping grounds, she goes snooping around to uncover the meaning of a cryptic note she finds tucked into a ring box that once belonged to her grandmother. Woven into Abby's narrative is the tale of a woman connected to the grandmother, a woman who is having an affair with a married man. That subplot is interesting in itself, and the tension that builds as the man plans to leave his wife, who has uncovered the illicit romance, will have a reader turning the pages to see what comes next. That serial rapist is still on the loose in the present day, so there's tension building in that section of the narrative as well, enough to keep your eyes glued to the book. After a slow start through a tangled thicket of pretty prose that feels quite unnecessary the story gets down to business, and YOU WERE HERE proves to be an intriguing read. Just skip over all the darlings that the editor was unable to kill and you'll find a well-crafted novel for a weekend's entertainment.

Abby Walters struggles with various anxieties, the resurgence of disturbing dreams, and a long term relationship that doesn't seem to be moving forward. She then decides to return to Minnesota to attend a high school reunion and faces her past, along with her grandmother's past. I usually don't mind books that alternate past and present scenes, but for some reason the editing for this story did not flow for me and distracted my interest in the plot. Thanks to First to Read- Penguin Books USA for the free copy of this book.

I didn't love this book. I liked each story individually but didn't like them together even after you get the connection. I still don't understand the dream. It was definitely readable but I wouldn't read it again.

Thoroughly enjoyed this book. It did take a while to see how past and present were coming together. But once that happened story flowed along nicely. Loved Abby's character. Ending was a surprise!

I like a book that is written with a back and forth style, in this case Then and Now. I far preferred the Then side of this book and found the addition of Now to be distracting to the story. There are basically two endings one satisfactory and the other seemed to be just tagged on to finish up the Now side of the story line. The book was written with enough suspense built into the Then that pulled me along through the Now and engaged me enough with those characters to want to know what happened and to whom. If that sounds a bit confusing, that is how I felt reading the book.

Enjoyed this book. Wish the then and now related more to each other, but all in all very good. Relatable characters and easy to follow

Perhaps I should have read the blurb more carefully. I might not have requested. I think the Kate Atkinson mention peaked my interest. Again, a format I enjoy--here it's "Then" and "Now". So, two parallel story lines. BUT. My interest waxed and waned. I went from 2.5 [especially at the beginning] to 3 to 3.5 and finally settled on 3. The writing is fine. Then" interested me much more than "Now." Some I figured out; most not. Yes, it was suspenseful--when I was most interested in the "Then"--suspense was [for me] at a high point. But ultimately, the "Now" disappointed and became trite. Perhaps because I didnt really care for Abby. Some sympathy for her nightmares, but on the whole... I suspect this book willl do far better than my review portends. Just not for me.

wonderful read...could not put down

I received an advanced copy of this book in electronic format from in exchange for an honest review. This review is also posted to This was an engaging read from start to finish, interweaving a past and present day mystery. The main character, Abby, returns to her childhood home in Minnesota to put an end to her recurring nightmares; nightmares that she eventually finds out are related to a tragic family event years ago. Meanwhile, she conveniently runs into her former high-school crush to find her feelings haven't changed much although she has a serious though non-committed boyfriend back home in L.A. The former crush himself is on the hunt for a serial rapist that is poised to strike again any day; could his sights be set on Abby? The switch to the past and back is gripping and the stories unfold generously, although it was hard to keep all the names & relationships straight at the beginning.

Beautifully written novel. It was so difficult to put the book down as I got caught up in the emotion and intrigue of the characters.

I enjoyed the tie in between Abby and Claire's stories and the vivid imagery that the author uses however I felt that the story fell flat for the first few chapters of the book. It was hard to make heads or tails about what was going on with the characters and to make a connection and want to know more. It was a struggle to get there, but once there I was captivated. The relationship between Abby and the detective felt coerced and forced at times as well. I would be interested in seeing what else the author can come up with. The talent is definitely there, but just needs some creative editing.

I have to say that the first part of the book is more like 1-2 stars, but as I considered giving up on it, I read the reviews other readers posted and I couldn't believe it was about the same book. So I kept reading and lo and behold, it did get to a point, halfway or so through the last of the book where I had to keep reading and put off doing anything else for a bit longer because I needed to find out what happens. So yes, if you can make it through the slowness and confusion in the beginning, it turns into quite a thrilling story.

It took me a few chapters to get a handle on this book. Once I did I enjoyed it. Abby was nice but I was more interested in the past. The ending was both anti climatic and too convoluted to really work. I ended up disappointed.

I really wanted to like this book. I loved the premise and wanted to find out the secrets of Abby and Claire. I think there were just too many details and jumps for me to get into it. I'd find myself skipping ahead a little because I got bored of all the sensory descriptions, then I wouldn't know who they were referring to. The jumps between two different time periods and four different characters didn't help. I got about halfway through (which took about 2 weeks to do) and got frustrated enough that I stopped reading. Maybe I can read the cliff notes to find out what happened!

This time-hoping thriller got me hooked from the very first chapter and didn’t let go until I got to the tragic ending. Sardar does a fantastic job of weaving a tale between two very different eras without it ever feeling forced. The jumps from “then” to “now” and back again all happen in moments within the story where it makes sense to explore another character or location; like little sanity breaks in the intensity. My one gripe is that leading lady Abby felt a bit weak character-wise, but I can sort of excuse it if you only look at her as a catalyst for telling the story of the more interesting characters. Overall, it’s a solid story with interesting mystery and suspense elements.

Initially I didn't care for this book. I had trouble following the storyline and was confused by the constant quick change between characters. I am really happy I continued to read. As the story continued I became very involved and found it hard to put down the book. The author's descriptive voice painted vivid scenes. The ending was perfect. I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

You were here by Gian Sardar was a great book. It was full of suspense and it kept me interested until the end. I'm glad I found this author and I'll be looking forward to future books.

You Were Here by Gian Sardar is two mysteries in one and a ghost story. Abby Walters suffers from paralyzing nightmares about being buried alive. When she wakes with the name Claire Ballantine on her lips, she decides to leave her home and boyfriend in L.A. and look for answers in the Minnesota town where she grew up. Aidan Mackenzie is also on Abby’s mind. Aidan was “the boy who got away in high school” and is now a police officer in Makade, pursuing a mystery of his own. Who’s raping women in this otherwise quiet town? Told in alternating stories, almost seventy years apart, You Were Here attempts to fit a lot into one book. Claire’s story and its connection to Abby are interesting and in itself, would have made a good gothic mystery. I found the Aidan-Abby reconnection and the modern-day crime drama less effective and add-ons.

This is an interesting tale that is woven together with the present and the past. Abby has been plagued with nightmares for years. The nightmare has the strange feeling of being buried alive but she knows it is just a dream. It couldn't be more than that, could it? The story is mesmerizing. The difference between the past and the present is narrowing and suddenly they become the same story, or do they? I really enjoyed the storyline and stayed up late trying to finish it quicker. Great read.

3.5 stars because the beginning and then the unresolve I felt at the end. Format: ebook (protected PDF) Tissue warning: no HEA: implied Triggers: Cheating, a serial rapist on the loose (we don't read any of the action, just that it happened, and to none of the main characters) Narrative: Third person, following multiple characters, and alternating past and present My reviewer rating: 3.5 out of 5. Recommend read: yes, get through the first half, and you will be totally engrossed Published: May 16, 2017 The blurb pulled me as I was reading through the list on, and I knew I just had to read this book, so I requested it. It sounded so different from what I've been reading lately, and I needed something different. Well, come March 21st, I definitely got something different. I received my e-mail saying that I could download the book! Yay! Then, boooooo . . . I was not feeling the first half of this story. Seriously, the beginning was confusing and it dragged for me. The writing was too formal and I had a hard time getting it to flow as I read in my head. Changing POV's and going from past to present was just too much for a while, and I couldn't keep up. But just as I got to the middle, 47%'ish, I *needed* to know what was going on. I actually didn't want to skip the "then" chapters to get back to the "now" chapters. Gian hooked me. But it was an awfully slow bait. [ normally I flounce when there is cheating, but since it happened so late in the story, and I was so invested by then, I let it go. I wasn't happy about it, but I let it go. But I'm giving Abby some serious side-eye. And I don't feel satiated by the ending. There's still loose ends. Did Gian do this on purpose? Are we not supposed to know if Abby ever actually calls it off with Robert? He deserves that. What really was the deal with the ring and the butterfly bottle necklace? Will anyone ever figure out who Eleonor is besides the reader? All this time, we're reading about the serial rapist, and for some reason I thought it was supposed to tie into the story, but it didn't. It was its own separate storyline. [ It took me almost a week to read this. 4 days for the first half, and 24-hours to get through the second half. Good job, Gian.


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