Book Review: Another’s Child by Einat Danon

About the Book:

Another's Child

Imagine inheriting a child that you don’t even know!

One morning, Yael and Arik Katz are startled by a surprise inheritance: Noa, the ten-year-old daughter of Canadian friends with whom they had made a long-forgotten will-exchange agreement, is delivered to their doorstep with no warning. Why did her parents decide that she should grow up with acquaintances rather than family? How do you raise a girl you do not even know?

Secrets and lies are revealed and everything starts to get complicated

Noa does not find her place in Israel. Yael takes her back to Toronto to look for a more suitable adoptive home. The search reveals answers to questions that have not even been asked about parenthood, marital relations, love, one’s home, and the fragility of life.

Can life ever be the same again?

As Yael delves into Noa’s past to better understand her, she discovers some unflattering things about her own partner and that the connection between her family and Noa is deeper than it had seemed. These shocking revelations leave Yael with a serious dilemma about her own family relationships.

My Thoughts:

An intriguing tale of how a tragedy can change the lives of various people, Another’s Child deals with responsibilities, secrets and a little girl caught up in the middle of everything.

How would you feel if your normal routine and life is disrupted one day by the news that you have inherited a child?

Shocked! That is exactly how Yael felt when she opened the door one morning to a lawyer and little Noa. Noa’s parents had died in a car accident and as per their will, Yael and Arik Katz were to take care of the little girl. This story shows how certain decisions made in the spur of the moment can have bigger consequences later on in life.

As Yael struggles to accept the new child into her life, she decides to make it easier for everyone and takes her back to Canada to find a family willing to adopt her and keep her there. Through this journey, she learns things about Noa, while at the same time opens a can of worms that cannot be closed. Once she takes a peak, she is caught up in the web of lies that threaten to turn her world up-side down. She is forced to rethink her life and her opinions about her Husband, the love of her life.

The author deals with topics of trust, relationships, family, secrets and lies. The story is well-written and will draw you in, ensuring that you experience all the emotions of the various characters. Noa is a smart child, who senses the underlying tones of distrust, but yearns to be accepted by the family even though she acts out and against Yael. Arik is strong and gentle at the same time, connecting with Noa in a way that no-one can, easily understanding her moods. Yael is colorful, sometimes happy, sometimes angry and even sad, but still trying to do the right thing. At times she does come off as annoying and her reactions are very childish, but it will not make the reader hate her. The journey Yael taks through this story is not only one down memory lane, but also one that looks at her life and helps her rediscover herself, gaining confidence once more. The relationship that develops between Yael and Noa is beautiful to see as it goes from hatred to grudging respect to acceptance. It is difficult to hate a child even when you hate her mother!

The story ended quite abruptly for me, it seemed to just fall into place eventually, after all the drama and heartbreak. This was confusing and made the book seem incomplete to me. However, the entire plot and story were good and worth the read! The author did a good job with the portrayal of emotions and in keeping the reader engaged!

 

 

The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

I was provided with a copy of this book by Little Bird Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

About the Book:

The Summer That Made Us

My Thoughts:

The Summer That Made Us is a story spread across three generations of women, bringing them together once more in an attempt to make everything right again. The story introduces us to women who are mothers, daughters, sisters and even cousins. The tragedy that broke them apart, the lives they led before and after, and a journey towards healing.

What started off as tradition between two families (two sisters married two brothers) and their children, soon becomes a rather intriguing story as the truth of the past comes out into the open. When Meg, who is suffering from cancer, wants to open up the Lake house one more time, she sets into motion a series of events that finally shape the lives of her sisters, cousins, her aunt and mother. So much has changed and happened, but the voices of the past never keep quiet.

The Lake house brings out memories and secrets buried deep, and though the plan is met with resistance initially, it proves to be better than expected. Meg’s elder sister sets out to make the house livable again, while Meg invites the family. The best part of this story is when one by one, each woman finds her peace with her past and her present, finding ways to open up and move on. The journey of healing begins with frank conversations and open discussions. This is made clear by the author, who ensures that the reader is hooked until the end. You will laugh and cry with these women, you will love them and hate them and eventually, as things start to become right, you just know that this story was worth knowing and needs to be passed on.

This story is filled with people whom we can easily relate to, their troubles become our troubles and their pain is ours too. Such is the beauty of the author’s story telling. This book is worth a read for all the lessons it brings out and the life experiences along with the bonds between people. Even though people change in life, their journey shapes them, some bonds are forever and family is always there by your side no matter how bad it gets! That’s a message every reader will take away from this book!

Book review: Olivia MacAllister, Who Are You? by Celine Rose Mariotti

I was provided with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Olivia MacAllister, Who Are You?: A Ghost Mystery Set in Maine

New Children’s Book from Dreaming Big Publications
Author: Celine Rose Mariotti
Illustrator: Bob Veon
Available in Paperback and Ebook
Page Count: 80 pages

Amazon Link:
https://www.amazon.com/Olivia-MacAllister-Who-Are-You/dp/1548809780/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1502775150&sr=8-1&keywords=olivia+who+are+you

Publisher Website: Dreamingbigpublications.com
Email: Dreamingbigpublications@outlook.com

About the Book:
Bobby MacAllister and Noel Simpson are cousins, who visit their Uncle Eb in Maine for the summer. There they embark on an adventure to discover the story of their ancestors and the secrets of the ghost, Olivia, who stays in the house. Together, with family friends and partners from the town, they uncover the truth of a long lost love story. Olivia MacAllister, Who Are You? is a fun fiction chapter book for children aged 7 to 10. Will you be inspired to learn about your ancestors’ past like Bobby and Noel?

My Thoughts:

This is a simply written, quick read with an interesting plot line. The main characters, cousins, Bobby and Noel come to visit their Uncle for the summer. With highly inquisitive natures, they start exploring the house and try to discover it’s secrets. Along with some history about the family, we are introduced to the ghost of one of their ancestors, Olivia MacAllister, who seems to still be tied to the house.

As the story unfolds, we learn of her tragic death and her lost love. The mystery behind all this, the tiny adventures that the children go off on and the old house with its secret doors makes for a fun read. It is wonderful to read about how the children bond with their uncle and share a sense of interest in all things mysterious and supernatural.

The story ends abruptly, with some questions left unanswered. It feels hurried and short and at times as though everything is just falling into place very easily. But, this does not take away from the rest of the plot which is actually quite good. Overall, this is a decent read and will ensure that children enjoy themselves.

 

The Silk Weaver’s Wife – An intriguing story of two women!

About the Book:

The Silk Weaver's Wife

‘On the way back down the grand staircase to the hall, her eye was caught by a portrait, hanging in a particularly dark corner of a landing. It was of a young woman, seated at an easel; she was painting a silk moth, its eggs nestling on a mulberry leaf.’

1704: Anastasia is desperate to escape her controlling and volatile father and plans to marry in secret. But instead of the life she has dreamed of, she finds herself trapped in Venice, the unwilling wife of a silk weaver.

Despite her circumstances, Anastasia is determined to change her fate…

2017: Millie wants more from her relationship and more from her life. So when her boss Max abruptly ends their affair, she takes the opportunity to write a feature in Italy.

Staying in a gorgeous villa, Millie unexpectedly falls in love with the owner, Lorenzo. Together they begin to unravel an incredible story, threaded through generations of silk weavers.

And Millie finds herself compelled to discover the identity of a mysterious woman in a portrait…

A gorgeously written, richly evocative story, The Silk Weaver’s Wife is perfect for readers who love Kate Morton and Gill Paul.

My thoughts:

The Silk Weavers Wife is a well-written story, set in Italy and which tells of two tales set almost three centuries apart. The story revolves around 2 women, Anastasia and Millie, both strong and well crafted characters, who prove to be an inspiration for all.

Anastasia is brought up to be respectful, proper and do as her father says. Along with her younger sister and mother, they live in constant fear of her Father’s moods and hate. He only ever seems to show his love to his dog and the horses. Anastasia develops an interest in art and secretly tries to pursue the same. When she is taken away from the man she loves and is forced to marry someone her father had made a deal with through his gambling, her life takes a turn for the worse. Forced to lead a life she doesn’t want, she finds solace in her maid, who helps her find a way to escape the abuse and eventually find her way back to the man she loves. However, even this road is not smooth and is filled with learning and a journey of self-discovery, as well as healing. Anastasia travels across Europe and then to London where she learns to improve her art and then to apply it to the finished product of silk weaving.

Jump ahead to the current day scenario and we meet Millie who has come down to Italy to write a feature on Silk Weaving and how it has evolved over time. Ironically, this trip also proves to be one of self-discovery and developing a sense of respect of oneself. She develops a bond with Lorenzo, the owner of the villa where she is staying and his charming daughter. Millie learns to deal with her failed relationship with her boss, a married man, and as she researches more into the subject of her article, she digs up information pertaining to Anastasia.

As connections are made with the past and parallels are drawn, the author takes the reader on an interesting adventure. In many ways, the journey of the silk worm relates to the journeys led by both women they they finally discover who they are meant to be and learn to be content with their lives. The story moves across time as it unravels, going back and forth to give us a complete picture. The characters are well developed and deep, with the supporting characters playing major roles and contributing to this beautiful tale.

An inspiration, this story brings out the strength of women and how the love and support of those around them, helps them achieve wonders!

 

Book Review: Henry and the Hidden Treasure by B.C.R. Fegan

About the Book:

Henry and the Hidden Treasure

Henry and the Hidden Treasure is an imaginative adventure a young child has in defending his pocket money against his little sister. Henry constructs elaborate defensive measures that he is sure will stand up to the clever ambitions of Lucy. Little does he know, Lucy has a few tricks of her own.

With a focus on introducing children to the use of ordinal numbers, Henry and the Hidden Treasure also draws out some important qualities of being a kid – such as creativity, the value of listening to parental advice, and of course, being nice to your sister.

My Thoughts:

A simple enough children’s story, this book seeks to enlighten children about the importance of listening to your parents and of having an imagination and not shying away from it. It also subtly brings out the concept of ordinal numbers and thus proves to be a useful way of teaching a mathematical concept to children.

The story is imaginative and Henry’s ideas are highly amusing. However, though it is a short story, it felt very abrupt and incomplete, as though the whole point of the plot is not yet conveyed. Looking at this from a child’s point of view however, it proves to be enjoyable and just enough to perhaps keep their attention.

This is a good story to use for both fun reading and as a teaching aid with it’s wonderful illustrations.

Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove

What I thought about The Man called Ove

‘Men are what they are because of what they do. Not what they say,’ said Ove.

Set in Sweden, this story of your everyday person and the things they face in life is both heart warming and heart breaking at the same time. The author takes us on a journey through Ove’s life, a short duration after his wife dies and while he is contemplating committing suicide to join her. Ove is a grumpy old man, who seems to put people off with his attitude. Little does anyone know that underneath that hard exterior, there is a wonderful man inside!

A perfectionist, Ove expects things to be a certain way, to happen in a certain way. He has a routine and he expects to keep it. When he is suddenly out of a job, he is thrown off center for a while. Add to this the death of the one person who truly understood him and accepted him for who he is and I am sure that you can understand Ove’s state of mind. If not, read on! This book is truly worth it.

We are introduced to an intriguing set of characters who make this story more colorful. Parvaneh, a pregnant lady with two children and a weird husband, seems to take it upon herself to bring Ove out of his shell. As Ove sets out everyday with the idea of killing himself, something happens to prevent it and make him postpone by a day, each day. A stubborn man, Ove has a set way of doing things and he follows the rules. He has come up through sheer hard-work and determination and all theses experiences seem to have shaped him. The entry of his wife into his life proves to add some color into it, but just enough for her to bring out the best in him.

This story shows us all sides of life and how it shapes a person and their attitude. We are shown how Ove has grown and how the people in his life have affected him. The story goes back and forth, thus ensuring that we get all parts of the story. The man called Ove, has a lot to say and a lot to teach us. It’s up to us to understand this and learn. We are also shown a side of him where he has made friends and lost them over something that ideally wouldn’t matter much to us. With a set mind and ideals, Ove is as stubborn as one can be. This story is about how to break out of this and adapt to the changes in the world around you.

The supporting characters in this story are well crafted and seek to bring out different shades of life. They are from different backgrounds, and show us various kinds of lifestyles and thought processes. The children are delightful and it is partially their innocence, coupled with Parvaneh’s bossy nature that seeks to bring Ove out of his shell. As he begins to help people again, frankly speaking, he is forced to, it changes him once more and gives him a new purpose in life.

A well-written novel, the author brings out the truth behind every person’s life, the hardships they face and the ease with which they can handle it when surrounded with people who love and support them. The simplicity of the plot and the depth of the characters make this a brilliant read.

Review: A Character in Reality by Nicholas Bridgman

Self Aware? Not  really.

Image result for a character in reality

‘A Character in Reality’ begins with Robert Gladstone, a fictional detective who becomes self-aware. He realizes that his actions are controlled by a narrator. He starts to communicate with the narrator and enters the real world. The story follows his journey in the real world as he struggles to get used to alien concepts such as liberty, and unrestrained human emotion.

The writing is lucid and is often crisp with a distinct lack of desire to be descriptive and verbose. While this makes the story relatively easy to follow, the relative minimalism in the work is hampered by significant flaws. At several points in the narrative, the first word which springs to mind is ‘superficial’. The lack of character development makes the driving motives of several characters extremely sketchy. The narrator in the story, rather ironically comes across as a rather unimaginative, incompetent author who conveniently swing from compassion to abject selfishness on an ad hoc basis.

His monolithic plot lines seem to leave no space for normal emotional interactions, which conveniently places Robert Gladstone in a position where he is forced to confront unrestrained human emotion for the first time. Even if this were overlooked, the subsequent experiments with human emotion come across as wooden and forced. At several points, there are missed opportunities to develop incidents into a thoughtful exploration of the issues covered. The point at which Gladstone confronts the narrator, threatening to kill him if he doesn’t reflect and the subsequent reconciliation take place over the course of a mere paragraph or two, merely highlighting the superficiality of the narrative, rather than the minimalist approach.

The latter half of the book seeks to incorporate issues related to immigrant rights, and the plot shifts to an election cycle where the legal status of Robert becomes the most significant issue. This portion largely suffers from the superficiality which carries over from the previous half and comes across as a half-hearted attempt to incorporate a pressing real-world issue into the narrative. The author deals with the sensitive issues of the partisan divide and immigrant rights in a highly reductionist manner, playing up traditional dichotomies without ever furthering the plot convincingly.

A Character in Reality struggles with a lucid narrative that fails to adequately capture the essence of self-awareness. There are several interesting plot lines, which aren’t developed. It largely feels like a missed opportunity. A little more character development coupled with a coherent plot line would have gone a long way towards making Nicholas Bridgman’s book an excellent read.

Review: The Vegetarian – Han Kang

Written by Han Kang, The Vegetarian has been translated into English by Deborah Smith.

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Before my wife became a vegetarian, I’d always thought of her as completely unremarkable in every way.

This is how Han Kang’s second work available in English begins. The Vegetarian, a tale in three parts, follows Yeong Hye’s decision to become a vegetarian following a recurring dream. Each part is narrated from a different first person perspective. What starts off as a seemingly innocuous transition in dietary habits slowly evolves into a frightening tale of deprivation.

The first part, ‘The Vegetarian’ is narrated from the perspective of Mr. Cheong, Yeong Hye’s husband, a laid back person with a predilection for an unremarkable lifestyle. This part of the story traces his struggle to reconcile his dormant wife’s rapid transition from a docile housewife to a strong, aloof vegetarian who refuses to consume meat. He makes multiple attempts to try to restore normalcy, first through subtle coercion and then by involving her family.

I think that this part stands out because of Kang’s ability to subtly bring out the characteristics of a patriarchal society and its inability to deal with concepts such as mental health. This is epitomized in Cheong’s reaction to his wife’s deteriorating physical state as her paranoia becomes worse. He comments, in two separate instances,

“In any other case, it was nothing but sheer obstinacy for a wife to go against her husband’s wishes as mine had done”

“I resisted the temptation to indulge in introspection. This strange situation had nothing to do with me”

The ability of these simple sentences to paint a clear picture of a typical self-centred patriarch should not be underestimated. To deal with an issue which is often the subject of verbose description with pleasing brevity that doesn’t eschew clarity is something anyone reading this book should look out for. Towards the end of this part, Yeong-Hye attempts to commit suicide following her father’s attempt to feed her meat forcefully.

 The second part, ‘Mongolian Mark’ is written from the perspective of Yeong-Hye’s sister’s husband. He is an artist, largely dependent on his successful wife’s business. This section of the book is arguably the best portion of Kang’s work. The narrative starts off after Yeong-Hye’s suicide attempt and her subsequent divorce from her husband. ‘Mongolian Mark’ sees Yeong-Hye eschew other facets of ‘normal life’ as she continues to be haunted by dreams which she attributes to her life as a non-vegetarian.

In-Hye’s husband develops a strong attraction to the idea of using Yeong-Hye as a subject in his artistic work. The narrative entices the reader with several sexual overtones, coupled with an insight into an artist’s obsessive, consuming drive to consummate the ideas which float in their head. Readers should look out for this conflict between propriety, sexual desire, and artistic drive. A portion which stands out for me is the short incident of marital rape which occurs, when In-Hye’s husband, driven by visions of his desire for Yeong-Hye forces his wife to have sex with him, even as she cries.

“She might have lain there sobbing for hours in the darkness. He didn’t know”

“But the next morning, she hadn’t acted any different from usual”

The questions this part raises, about the validity of consent from individuals who are struggling with disabilities and marital rape are not only relevant questions but are dealt with in a manner which seems driven towards introspection, as opposed to impact. In my opinion, this is what truly makes ‘The Vegetarian’ a riveting read.

If this is not enough of an endorsement of Han Kang’s work, the promise of an equally excellent third part ‘Flaming Trees’, told from the perspective of In-Hye should appeal to you. In-Hye, the woman who seems to epitomize the catch phrase that ‘women can have it all’ goes through a gamut of emotions as she deals with her divorce and Yeong-Hye’s deterioration in an institution.

What stands out about ‘The Vegetarian’, is the ability to use a relatively terse storyline to effectively tell a compelling story and illustrate pertinent social issues, thus making it a book that should grace your bookshelf.

A glimpse into SWEEK, a mobile platform whose motto is that stories never end!

Nowadays, people are moving more towards ebooks instead of investing in a physical copy of books. This is proving to be quite useful in many ways, making it easier to carry books around. With Sweek, reading books on mobile devices is made easier and more user friendly. An interesting concept, read on to know more about the app and how it came to be.

About Sweek:

Sweek is a mobile platform which allows anyone to read, write and share stories. All over the world. In an instant. For free.

It allows the user to read from a number of options, write or publish their own work and reach a large reader base, as well as share their favourite stories with friends via the various social media platforms.

Sweek’s mission statement:

‘Sweek stimulates community based writing and reading on a global scale by enabling everybody to easily publish, read and share stories with the world at no cost. By providing mobile and online reading, Sweek contributes to a more sustainable future.’

History of Sweek:

Sweek was incubated by Mybestseller, the European market leader in self-publishing. The founders of Mybestseller saw an opportunity in the rising trend of mobile publishing. Key were changing reading habits, serialization of content and short stories. After some research and deliberation, the Sweek concept was born!

In September 2015, Sweek was formally established. Since then the team grew considerably  and now consists of 14 members.

Now, since June 2016, Sweek has been available to the public on both Android and iOS platforms!

Publishing perspectives:

By introducing Sweek, Mybestseller offers publishers a comprehensive proposition and innovative tools for self-publishing and mobile publishing that can be easily integrated in their strategy in the fast changing publishing world. The focus is on creating synergies between traditional, mobile and self-publishing.

Benefits for publishers

Next to directly increasing sales via the marketing tool, publishers can benefit in other ways from using Sweek. Big data is very important to publishers, as it gives insight in reading behavior and trends, and in the reader demographics of their writers. Publishers can also use Sweek to scout upcoming writers with a large online follower base, who have already proven themselves: the new rockstars of writing will arise from mobile publishing.

Sweek self-publishing

Next to the Sweek mobile publishing platform, users are offered the opportunity to publish their paperbacks or e­-books via Sweek self­-publishing. For free. The state-of-the-art publishing platform enables any author to easily publish, promote and sell books. All relevant sales channels and a variety of additional services are available to the user. The best thing is, there are no costs upfront and authors receive a royalty per sold copy. Even though stories are available for free on Sweek, the team is convinced that fans would love to have an e-book or a printed copy.

Connect with Sweek:

If you want to read more about the Sweek story and the team, just check out the Sweek blog.

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