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.

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.