Book Review: Seeds of Intention by Andrea Thome

About the Book:

Seeds of Intention

Garrett Oliver has just settled into his job as heir apparent to one of the most renowned master gardeners in the country. After a difficult few years, he’s found a home and a renewed purpose at a famed resort in the secluded Smoky Mountains.The stars seem to be aligning for Garrett as he plans a future with his college sweetheart and envisions a simple life with her in the mountains of East Tennessee.

Willow Armstrong, fresh off a painful breakup, is coming home to Knoxville to care for her ailing father. She finds herself in the right place at the right time, landing a dream job alongside Garrett—as his boss. As they are thrown together by their work, an undeniable magnetism grows between them, despite the fact that Garrett is ready to start a future with someone else. Circumstances persist in drawing them closer, and an unexpected opportunity in Colorado prompts Willow and Garrett to wonder if a life together out west might be beyond anything either of them had dared to imagine.

My Thoughts:

Seeds of Intention is a quick and light read. It is the kind of book that you can pick up and finish as fast or as slow as you like.

The story is simple, focusing on Garrett and Willow, and the relationship that develops between them. Both the main characters are dealing with their own set of problems and we, the reader, follow them as they find their way out of it. The characters are warm and likeable, developing quite well as the story progresses. Though at times everything just seems to fall into place perfectly, most of the story flows well and can be related to.

The author emphasizes on the need to adapt and the ability to handle even the most difficult situation with the support of loved ones. This is a feel good story which brings out the fact that not everything happens the way one pictures it.

Book Review: Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer

About the Book:

Before I Let You Go

Your sister needs you. But her child needs you more…

As children, Lexie and Annie were incredibly close. Bonded by the death of their beloved father and their mother’s swift remarriage, they weathered the storms of life together. When Lexie leaves home to follow her dream, Annie is forced to turn to her leather-bound journal as the only place she can confide her deepest secrets and fears…

As adults, sisters Lexie and Annie could not be more different. Lexie is a doctor, successful in her practice and happily engaged. Annie is addicted to heroin – a thief, a liar, and unable to remain clean despite the fact that she is pregnant. When Annie’s newborn baby is in danger of being placed in foster care, Annie picks up the phone to beg her sister for help. Will Lexie agree to help and take in her young niece? And how will Annie survive, losing the only thing in her life worth living for?

My Thoughts:

 Before I Let You Go is a story that brings out the bond between family and sisters. There is a strong message of togetherness and trust, the effects of secrets and the power of love. The story mainly follows Lexie and Annie, giving us a glimpse into each of their minds and lives, sisters, who are so different in adulthood and who have drifted apart. Brought together by the death of their father, the girls forge a stronger bond with each other, but as time passes, they drift apart. The author weaves a strong plot of lies, secrets and things left untold which form the basis of the sisters’ relationship.

The story is well-written except for a few times when some points are repeated, driving in the difference in life styles of the sisters. When Annie seeks Lexie out for help and support, she is pregnant and still unable to avoid her drug addiction. Lexie has never been understand how or why her sister changed and when the addiction took over. In spite of this, she rushes to help her sister and agrees to take care of the baby in the time that it takes for her sister to attend rehab again. What follows is a confusing journey filled with strong emotions of anger, love, and togetherness.

As the story unfolds, the reader, along with Lexie, starts to learn a lot about the girls’ past, some of which Lexie had blocked out of her mind and some of it being the truth about her sister’s life that she never knew of. A lot of things bring people closer, but sharing secrets that were buried deep inside and telling the truth to someone you love, helps both of you to grow. That is exactly what happens with Lexie and Annie, during the process of the court-ordered rehab. It is also wonderful to read about Lexie’s fiance who as a supporting character adds more value to this story. However, the build up to the end leads to some unexpected twists that will both surprise and shock the reader, while also being realistic enough that they can understand the situations.

Overall an emotional page-turner, I particularly enjoyed how the author carried forward the plot and the depth of the characters and their emotions. The story may or may not end the way the reader may expect, but there is a lot to take away from this book which makes it worth the read!

Book Review: Three Voices by Nora Sarel

About the Book:

Three Voices

History always comes full circle

Whether she was hiding in an oven or the forest, in the monastery or in the cellar, Lena has been followed by one thing: loneliness. Now an elderly woman with nothing but her memories to guide her – she embarks on a journey to unravel the truth of her past, once and for all.

You have never read a story quite like this. Based on real events, Three Voices illustrates the trauma and relief of a woman escaping the atrocities of the Holocaust, traveling the world and eventually reclaiming her childhood. This incredible tale, pieced together from three unique perspectives, weaves past, present and future into a heart-wrenching experience that will change you.
Watch Lena take her life back

Lena remembers everything from her childhood. She doesn’t know that her whole life is about to be turned upside down as she comes face-to-face with another Lena. A once-in-a-lifetime meeting between the two Lena’s and the town’s priest sends shockwaves that reverberate through the truth that was known to her.

My Thoughts:

Three Voices portrays the horrifying life and trauma of a woman during the Holocaust and her journey as she tries to put it behind her. The story is told in three parts, bringing together the past, present and future, creating links that the woman was unaware of and exposing some truths that were hidden.

The story is brings out the harsh conditions, the way of life and the hardships people faced at the time of the Holocaust. In the first part, we take a journey with Lena as she shows us a glimpse into her childhood and years of growing up. A child, forced to grow up and act mature right from the age of 3, Lena deals with hiding, secrecy, living away from her parents and changes in faith. The main question that comes up as a part of this story is the question of faith and religion, how the mind processes it and how it affects people.

At times it is difficult to follow the story as it is narrated without a clear distinction in who is really talking to the reader. It becomes confusing to separate the information until later on, in the last part, when the rest of the story unravels. The character profile of the “other Lena” is confusing and not very clear. The story of the priest and the truth he finally brings out ensures that the reader has the entire story by the end of the book. A lot of repetition of points, especially to re-enforce how the protagonist was forced to grow up very soon, diluted the effect and seriousness of the overall theme.

Overall, the story is a decent read for those who enjoy stories based on historical events and the reader will definitely feel the sadness and effect of the events as Lena sets out to rediscover and reclaim her past.

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

About the Book:

Someday, Someday, Maybe

A charming and laugh-out-loud novel by Lauren Graham, beloved star of Parenthood and Gilmore Girls, about an aspiring actress trying to make it in mid-nineties New York City.

Franny Banks is a struggling actress in New York City, with just six months left of the three-year deadline she gave herself to succeed. But so far, all she has to show for her efforts is a single line in an ad for ugly Christmas sweaters and a degrading waitressing job. She lives in Brooklyn with two roommates – Jane, her best friend from college, and Dan, a sci-fi writer, who is very definitely not boyfriend material – and is struggling with her feelings for a suspiciously charming guy in her acting class, all while trying to find a hair-product cocktail that actually works.

Meanwhile, she dreams of doing “important” work, but only ever seems to get auditions for dishwashing liquid and peanut butter commercials. It’s hard to tell if she’ll run out of time or money first, but either way, failure would mean facing the fact that she has absolutely no skills to make it in the real world. Her father wants her to come home and teach, her agent won’t call her back, and her classmate Penelope, who seems supportive, might just turn out to be her toughest competition yet.

Someday, Someday, Maybe is a funny and charming debut about finding yourself, finding love, and, most difficult of all, finding an acting job.

My Thoughts:

Someday,  Someday,  Maybe is a story of finding yourself amidst the glamourous world of acting (theater and films). Written in a fresh and quirky manner, this story will speak to the soul of every reader, ever dreamer and in general every person who reads it. Even though the setting is pretty specific (set in a world that the author understands best), it is easy to relate to the hopes, aspirations, heart break and search for love and meaning in life of the protagonist.

The title resonates throughout the story, reminding us that this thought has occurred to all of us at different times. Franny is an aspiring actress who is trying to find her place in the acting world. She believes in work that is fulfilling and meaningful. As she stumbles through with a particular deadline in mind, we follow her journey and her encounters with people, her decisions and the consequences of those. There is a lot to learn and as she starts to find her way, Franny realizes that the idea she had in her head of the acting world, might not coincide with the reality. Luckily she has friends and well wishers who support her along the way and teach her, helping her to find her place.

The author introduces us to the hard-work and dedication required to make it as an actor/actress as well as the number of people involved. It is an interesting and intriguing glimpse into the world of acting and the author handles the plot very well. The story is enjoyable and overall a wonderful read! The people we meet as the story progresses are well thought out and have crucial roles to play in this story. The author gives us so many points to take away from the story, with a fair amount of emphasis on staying true to one’s beliefs and ideals.

If not today, then, Someday, Someday, Maybe, it will indeed happen! Dreams do come true as long as we put in a fair amount of effort!

Book Review: Everything She Lost by Alessandra Harris

I was provided with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book will be out on 2nd January 2018 and is already available for per-order.

About the Book:

Everything She Lost

After suffering a mental breakdown that nearly destroyed her marriage, Nina Taylor works hard to maintain her tenuous hold on sanity and be a good mother to her two young daughters. Despite her best efforts, she questions the possibility of a full recovery.

Single mom Deja Johnson struggles to overcome her troubled past and raise her young son. But her friendship with Nina brings more complications. What Deja is hiding could not only destroy relationships, but endanger lives.

One traumatic night threatens to shatter Nina’s mind. With Deja’s help, she strives to maintain her mental balance. But as events spiral out of control, the women must find out if Nina is losing her sanity or if someone is plotting against her.

My Thoughts:

This is an interesting story which deals with the relevant topic of depression and mental breakdowns. The story revolves around Nina, as she struggles to recover from her mental breakdown and keep her marriage from breaking apart. Her husband and the society in general seem to be afraid of her and do not trust her. Nina’s main support system comes from her father and Deja.

Deja, a single mom who makes do with what she has, finds herself running from her past and nursing a broken relationship with her mother, whom she blames for everything. What Nina isn’t aware of initially is the nature of the relationship between her husband and Deja, both of whom seem to share an interesting camaraderie. We later see how these bonds formed are used all for money while putting at risk the trust placed in one another.

As the story progresses, we are given glimpses into Nina’s and Deja’s pasts, a comparison of the very different worlds they come from and the kind of lives they lived. At times it feels as though the story is being dragged along for no reason, with minor repetitions with respect to things Deja keeps thinking. This dilutes the seriousness and intensity of emotions and might even cause the reader to get bored. Towards the end, the author introduces a twist in the plot very subtly which most readers may not see coming. This has been well executed, but later on the sequence of events feel over the top.

However, on a serious note, the author brings out the difficulties of dealing with a a mental illness, no matter how small it is and how the people dealing with this are treated. She also emphasizes on the need for a strong support system. This book is definitely worth a one time read mainly in connection to the issues discussed and the way in which people can try to misuse it.

Book Review: The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

About the Book:

The Husband's Secret

At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that’s not meant to be read

My darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died…

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .

Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves.

My Thoughts:

The Husband’s Secret is a thought provoking story that brings together the lives of 3 women due to one earth-shattering secret. The story is gripping and will hold your attention until the very end. The author takes her time to reveal the main parts of the story, giving us a comprehensive background on the characters and their lives. We are introduced to Rachel’s daughter whose is pivotal to the story. The author goes back and forth between timelines to give us a sense of what is happening and to put the events in perspective. The feelings of each character are brought out very well and the author succeeds in drawing the reader in.

The plot focuses mainly on Cecilia who finds a letter written a long time ago from her husband, with instructions to be only opened at the time of his death. At first she keeps it aside with no intention of looking at it even though it seems quite intriguing. But when her husband deflects questions about it, Cecilia decides that she has to know. This is perhaps the decision that changes not only her life, but later on, the lives of two other women who feel the repercussions of this secret.

The main questions of How well do you really know a person? and How far can you go to protect the ones you love? are brought out through this story. Is it possible to forgive and move on? The death of Rachel’s daughter has affected a lot of lives, but is the truth something that can be contained? Or should the person responsible be brought to justice, thus disrupting some more lives? So many questions arise and the author ensures that everything is answered. She effortlessly handles the narrative, moving from character to character and flawlessly sowing together a plot that will keep the reader enthralled.

A must read for everyone who enjoys a read, this story raises some valid questions that everyone should take time to think about.

Book Review: The Good Mother by Sinéad Moriarty

About the Book:

The Good Mother

Kate has been through the fire with her three children …

Having been left devastated and homeless after her husband’s affair and the break-up of their family, somehow she has pulled through. Though times are still tough, she’s beginning to see the start of a new life.

But when twelve-year-old Jesssica is diagnosed with cancer, Kate’s resilience is put to the ultimate test. She has an eighteen-year-old son consumed with hatred of his father, a seven-year-old who is bewildered and acting up and an ex-husband who won’t face up to his responsibilities. And in the middle of it a beloved child who is trying to be brave but is getting sicker by the day.

Kate knows she must put to one side her own fear and heartbreak and do right by her children, particularly Jessica. But maybe doing the right thing means doing the unthinkable?

My Thoughts:

Sinéad Moriarty brings us a thought provoking and heart wrenching story of love, loss and family. Kate, mother of three, is forced to deal with the break-up of her marriage. Her husband had an affair and moved out, deciding to marry the other woman. The first part of the story shows us how Kate and the children cope with this, the impact this has on the children, and how they all pull together to support one another.

The bonds between the siblings is very strong, and even though they act out in different ways, they come together to support their mother through this time. Jessica, the middle child of the three and the only girl brings a childish charm and a level of maturity that is common among children who are forced to grow up too soon. However, in her, this just makes her more likeable, and everyone’s rock. Her older brother has a more difficult time dealing with the family break-up, as he looked up to his father more than anyone else. His support system are his sister and his girlfriend, who becomes a very integral part of the family and the story. The youngest, hardly knows his father, and is confused most of the time, acting out in any way that only children can.

The beauty of the plot is that the author portrays her characters in shades of grey. There is no right or wrong in this, things just happen, and after a point, you accept that and try to move on. Forgive, learn and move on, but it is not necessary to forget. The story moves at a steady place initially, painting a picture of Kate’s life, her coping mechanisms, and the support she gets from her father. The plot thickens when Jessica, who is absolutely healthy, suddenly takes a turn for the worse, and is later diagnosed with cancer.

In reality, unless you have had to deal with such a situation by yourself, it is not easy to relate to the shock, pain and horror of someone having cancer. The author has brought out the feelings and emotions very well, making sure that the reader is able to understand them. We are taken on an emotional roller-coaster afterwards, as we follow Kate and her family as they deal with the cancer. The way it affects everyone and how Jessica deals with it form the crux of the later half of the story. There is a lot to learn from Jessica, who though a child, has an “old soul” and wisdom that goes beyond her years.

The final question that this book prompts is this: Would you love someone enough to let them go? and, if you do, can you live with the truth? These questions are food for thought and this well-written story is a gripping read to the end.

Book Review: The Way We Were by Sinéad Moriarty

I was approved a copy of the book via NetGalley. Read on to know what I thought of it.

About the Book:

The Way We Were

Being a good mother is doing the right thing. But sometimes the right thing is not so clear.

When Alice’s husband Ben dies suddenly, her world falls apart. They shared twenty years and two daughters and life without him is unimaginable.

Having lost her parents while young, Alice understands her girls’ pain. At fifteen, Jools is at that awkward age and only Ben could get through to her. And eleven-year-old Holly looks for the answer to everything in books but this time she’s drawing a blank. Alice realizes that for their sakes she must summon up superhuman reserves of strength.

Somehow all three of them come through the dark days. In time, it’s even possible for Alice to consider marrying again, with the girls’ blessing. So when Ben turns up after three years, her world is again turned upside-down. The girls assume that their family can go back to the way they were. Alice is not so sure.

Once more Alice has to find the strength to be the mother her daughters need her to be. But this time what that means is far from clear …

My thoughts:

The Way We Were, is the story of a mother, a wife, a woman, as she strives to make everyone around her happy, to do the right thing as she sees it. Alice, our protagonist is juggling life as a General Practitioner and a mother. She has the support of her brother and throughout the book, it is wonderful to see how close the siblings are. Her relationship with Ben is just normal, the way most couples are, until it seems as though Ben is going through a mid-life crisis.

The author starts off by introducing the characters to us, describing their lives from day to day to give us a sense of who they are. Then slowly, the plot thickens with Ben taking an assignment to operate in Africa. He takes this as his opportunity to find meaning in his work and to do something more. Alice, having gone through the trauma of losing her parents, lives in constant fear of losing those close to her. The author manages to bring out the emotions and thoughts of the characters through this period and highlights the decisions they are forced to take. The children, Jools and Holly are polar opposites, and we follow their journey of understanding, acceptance and growth in this book as well.

As the story progresses, Alice receives a call that leaves the whole family in shock and mourning. Ben is dead. It is an unimaginable situation for the characters and the reader can feel their pain and emotions. The shock and horror of the situation and the need for Alice to stay strong for her children are key parts of the plot. The author describes the situations and how the children react. How they slowly come together as a family to support each other. How each one deals with the grief of losing a loved one. As time progresses, they slowly accept and move a little forward with their lives, to the extent that Alice starts seeing someone and the girls really like him.

Now imagine the characters’ shock when on the day of announcing her engagement again, Alice receives a call from Ben, her supposedly dead husband saying that he is alive and coming back, after three whole years. Is it possible to go back to the way things were? Is it possible to accept that things have changed, the people have changed and still live together? So many questions arise and form the crux of the later part of the book. The fact that Alice is willing to try everything to keep her marriage together, mainly for the sake of her children shows a deep sense of character. Though there were many times I wondered why something was happening, it all came together in the end. Ben’s way of wooing his wife and showing her what she was missing felt a little over the top and too easy for me.

The issues brought out are something many people can relate to (with respect to mid-life crisis and teenage years). The love between two people and the effort needed to keep a relationship alive, the sacrifices and compromises are portrayed well. The journey towards acceptance and healing is a long one, but is worth it in the end, if the effort is spent by all.

The story is well written and worth a read.

Beautiful Scars: A Life Redefined by Kilee Brookbank and Lori Highlander

About the Book:

Kilee Brookbank was a typical sixteen-year-old, thinking about school, soccer, her friends, and her boyfriend. But her last ordinary day erupted in an explosion that consumed her house, burning over 45 percent of her body and sending her to the very brink of death. After thirty-eight days of surgeries, skin grafts, perpetual physical therapy, and excruciating pain, she had to discover how to live again.

When Kilee returned home, she had to find a new “normal,” relearning how to tie her shoes, put on her makeup, and even turn a doorknob. In each moment of her long journey back to everyday life, she had to make choices that would define who she was and who she would become.

With unwavering support from her mom, Lori, and the rest of her family, Kilee faced her journey with determination, strength, and a positive attitude that inspired not only her community, but people around the world.

Told together by Kilee and Lori, Beautiful Scars is a story of recovery, healing, and hope, reminding us all that we’re never powerless, never alone, and that each challenge we face helps make us the people we are meant to be.

My Thoughts:

This story of 16 year old, Kilee Brookbank’s experience with skin burns and her positive outlook to fight back and live a fulfilling life is encouraging and inspiring. The idea to get her story out there, to teach people to love themselves in spite of how they look or the scars they bear is wonderful and I applaud Kilee for the same!

This book brings out the sequence of events from both Kilee’s POV and her mother, Lori’s POV, thus helping us to understand all sides of the story and the feelings of everyone involved. It is a scary thing that happened, but the way in which it was approached and dealt with, made a huge difference to the recovery.

How do you recover from the pain and shock of the burns to living a normal life again? How does someone accept that they no longer look the way they used to, they are different in many ways? All this is covered and shared in great detail. The strength and support of the family and the people around them is wonderful and this story of hope and healing tells us that we are not alone, as long as we do not hesitate to ask for help. There is always someone out there who has gone through what you are going through and there are support groups and help if we seek it out. This is a story of growth and healing of not only of Kilee but also of her family and her mother who stood by her and supported her. They treated her as a normal person, in spite of her burns and the difficulties she faced initially. She had to re-learn to do all the everyday things by herself and I think Lori deserves a huge amount of credit for her unwavering faith and support. The idea to help people deal with the trauma of burns and healing makes Kilee’s story worth a read!

Book Review: Christmas at Mistletoe Cove (Hope Island #3) by Holly Martin

About the Book:

Christmas at Mistletoe Cove

Growing up on Hope Island, Eden Lancaster always believed that if you wished hard enough for something, dreams really could come true. But Eden’s greatest wish is also her biggest secret: she has been completely in love with her childhood friend, the charming and attractive Dougie Harrison, for as long as she can remember. And he has no idea.

When Dougie leaves his successful life in New York to return home to Hope Island for good, Eden can’t escape her feelings. Her heart is full of hope that her romantic dreams are finally, at long last, going to come true…

This Christmas could change everything. But can a lifelong friendship really turn into the perfect romance? And will Eden get the happily ever after she’s always wished for?

My Thoughts:

 Christmas at Mistletoe Cove is the story of childhood friends Eden and Dougie, who have always loved each other but don’t realize that the other has the same feelings until much later. They both shy away from telling the other about their feelings which seems quite clear to everyone else around them. As much as I enjoyed the concept of magic and hope at the time of the holidays, the romance did not do much for me. It all felt rushed and sudden and then quite over the top. All of a sudden everything just works out and is perfect with a lot of over the top gestures to prove that dreams can come true. It seemed a bit too easy for me and thus I ended up skimming through some parts of the story that didn’t hold my attention. The characters are nice, but everyone seems to be rather perfect in how they are and their lives.

The concept of a happily ever after and finding love at the time of Christmas is wonderful and I am sure that fans of romance will enjoy this story!