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.

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!

Check out Serenity Harbor: A Haven Point Novel by RaeAnne Thayne

About the Book:

Serenity Harbor

Computer-tech millionaire Bowie Callahan is about the last person that schoolteacher Katrina Bailey wants to work for. As far as she can see, he’s arrogant, entitled, and not up to the task of caring for his young half brother, Milo. But Kat is, especially if it brings her closer to her goal of adopting an orphaned little girl. And as her kindness and patience work wonders with Milo, she realizes there’s more to sexy, wary Bo than she’d ever realized. Bo never imagined he’d be tasked with caring for a sibling he didn’t know existed. Then again, he never pictured himself impulsively kissing vibrant, compassionate Katrina in the moonlight. Now he’s ready to make her dream of family come true … and hoping there’s room in it for him, too …

My Thoughts:

This is a light hearted romance novel, which brings out the importance of understanding and love. The story follows Katrina, a school teacher who is fighting her own battles to adopt an orphaned girl. In the meantime, she meets Bowie and his younger brother Milo, and the child takes a special liking to her. She takes on a job as his nanny temporarily as she waits for the adoption to fall through. As the story progresses, we get to know more about the principal characters and their lives, who they are, and how they came to be where they are at present.

The plot is simple enough and the characters are pleasing to read about. The story moves quickly and as expected, Katrina and Bowie develop feelings for each other. However, what is different, is how they handle it and react. It’s beautiful to read about characters who put their goals and their people first, showing us their strength and state of mind. The best part of the book is how the author handles Milo and how the child grows into a more open and confident individual.

The story may get a little cliche in some places, but it is to be expected and frankly can be enjoyed as it is! A quick and simple read in the romance genre that most people will enjoy especially as a holiday romance read!

Dark and sad, Paige Dearth brings out a part of life that many don’t see, in her book When Smiles Fade!

About the Book:

When Smiles Fade

Emma’s father’s coldblooded beatings and the ultimate abuse to which he subjects her, lays the foundation of the person she becomes. As she matures into a resourceful teenager, she is unwilling and unable to stifle her desire for revenge. Reaching her breaking point she can no longer control the impulse to fight back and finally takes matters into her own hands.

Having learned the art of hatred from her father and the mastery of manipulation from her mother, young Emma now sets out to make a better life for herself, leaving the memory of the abused child she had once been behind her. Hardened by the heartless brutality she encounters and the dangerous situations she must overcome in the course of her journey, she faces every challenge that comes her way in her quest for a normal life for herself and for those she loves.

Finally a person emerges from within that guides her toward a better life until she learns of a secret that sets her on the path of ultimate redemption.

 My Thoughts:

What would you do if your only option to survive is to do anything? Would you resort to killing the people who hurt you to protect the ones you love? What does it mean to be hated and hurt? How do you live in a family devoid of the basic emotion that connects them, love and trust? How does your upbringing shape who you ultimately become?

These are the kind of questions that this book raises and answers in some ways. There cannot be a right answer, it’s more of a perspective which the author brings out in a gentle manner. This is required when dealing with topics of abuse and hurt. Paige Dearth introduces us to Emma and her younger sister, who are subject to severe abuse from their father, with a mother who turns the other way through all this. To be frank, it is expected that the children will be traumatized, and that is putting it mildly. These experiences can change a person and the author portrays the same through the protagonist, Emma. She is strong-willed and resourceful while at the same time has a pleasing personality. It becomes difficult to dislike her or condemn her actions when she is after all doing her best to survive.

The people the sisters encounter along the way leave profound impacts on their lives. Some help them and end up becoming life long friends while the others end up somewhere in a ditch, and that’s putting it mildly. Everyone craves normalcy and a mundane life at times and the sisters are no different. However, tragedy seems to strike  so many times, it’s a wonder that they still find reasons to smile. In the end, Emma has the last laugh, but it was worth it all.

The author’s writing is bold and to the point and she doesn’t hold back on her descriptions. There is no stone left unturned in the journey of the sisters and Emma finally learns that you move on – “When smiles fade”! The title is apt and the reader understands this eventually. The story has a lot of smaller plot lines, with each encounter giving us a different glimpse into the characters who support this story and take it forward. The characters are well developed and clearly defined, giving the reader a clear idea of their personalities and at the same time helping us understand how they fit in.

The final question of “Will she find redemption and be happy?” is answered and I really enjoyed the way the story ended. It proved that Emma is a survivor and this is an inspiring thought. There is a lot to learn and understand in this book and I strongly recommend the same to all.

Book Review: The Lost Daughter of India by Sharon Maas

About the Book:

One woman. One impossible choice. Her daughter or her happiness …

When Caroline meets Kamal the attraction is instant. He’s enchanting, charismatic and she can’t wait to set up a new life with him in India. Both their families are against the union but Caroline is convinced they’ll come round, especially when she gives birth to a beautiful daughter, Asha.

Asha is an adorable child but Caroline, homesick and beginning to hate the remote Indian village they live in, struggles with motherhood. Kamal is hardly ever there and she feels more and more isolated. In the grips of severe depression Caroline flees back to America, leaving Asha behind.

Ten years later …

Caroline recovered from her illness, is consumed by thoughts of the daughter she abandoned. Desperate to find Asha, she reunites with Kamal, intent on tracking her down. Will they ever be able to find their lost daughter? If they have any chance, they must confront the painful truths of the past and a terrible secret that has been kept for many years, until now.

A heart-breaking and beautifully written story of loss, secrets and the strength of a mother’s love against all odds. If you enjoyed Diane Chamberlain and Lucinda Riley then this book will find its way into your heart and stay there. 

My Thoughts:

The main premise of the book, child trafficking and prostitution, is rather relevant and important for everyone to be aware of. The story focuses on that when Asha is kidnapped and sold away. Well, going back a little, the story starts of by introducing us to Kamal and Caroline, going back and forth in time to give us insights into them and Asha, their in the present time. The story also consists of some other very important characters, one of them being Janiki, Asha’s foster sister and a kind of mother figure.

The author has brought out the plot decently, but there is a lot of repetition and this forced me to lose interest in the book a little. Once a point is emphasised, there is no need to keep talking about it again and again. This was a major deterrent. Other than this, the characters were well developed with a good amount of depth. All the players had a role to play and the author has done some amount of justice in her description of India. On one side she has shown us the glamorous parts, or what people assume it to be, and on the other she has brought out the underlying truth behind most of the glamour surrounding the country. It is not as exotic as most foreigners seem to think and this is emphasised through Caroline’s character who has a love-hate relationship with the country, starting off with a romanticised notion since her childhood.

The story progresses to focus on Asha’s life after her parents leave her to grow up with her foster parents (though foster isn’t exactly the right word. They are a family who take her in and love her as much as her parents, sometimes even more). Set in Madras and Bombay, the author brings out some harsh realities, forcing the reader to pause and think. Some of the scenes have been described very well and the attention to detail in them makes up for the negative points. It is also clear that a good amount of research has gone into this book and that makes the information more authentic and believable.

The story is filled with heart-break but brings out the importance of family and the lengths to which people will go to rescue the ones they love. It also shows us the ways a persons ideas can affect and influence their decisions. I recommend this book mainly for the plot line and idea that the author is trying to portray and make us aware of.

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Book Review: Chameleon by Zoe Kalo

CHAMELEON

By

Zoe Kalo

4019c-chameleon

Genre: YA/Gothic/Ghost/Multicultural

Word count: 55,000

Release date: February 2017

Premise:

Kicked out of school, 17-year old Paloma finds herself in an isolated convent in the tropical forests of 1970s Puerto Rico, where she must overcome her psychosis in order to help a spirit and unveil a killer.

Blurb:

An isolated convent, a supernatural presence, a dark secret…

17-year-old Paloma only wanted to hold a séance to contact her dead father. She never thought she would be kicked out of school and end up in an isolated convent. Now, all she wants is to be left alone. But slowly, she develops a bond with a group of girls: kind-hearted Maria, insolent Silvy, pathological liar Adelita, and their charismatic leader Rubia. When, yet again, Paloma holds a séance in the hope of contacting her father, she awakens an entity that has been dormant for years. And then, the body count begins. Someone doesn’t want the secret out…

Are the ghost and Paloma’s suspicions real—or only part of her growing paranoia and delusions?

My Thoughts:

A dark psychological thriller, this story has just the right amount of paranormal and psychosis to spook the reader a little. The story emphasizes on the bonds people form in life and how each one affects the person. Keeping secrets, guarding them at the expense of others’ lives also plays a major role in the plot line. The story is well written and will send chills down your spine at some places. It is easy to relate to some of the characters, their feelings and thoughts.

The author has a unique style of expression which is evident across all her works and is quite pronounced in this story. She has ensured that this book is as different from the others and that the reader will be hooked until the end. There is no stopping once you take the first step into the story.

As Paloma tries to deal with the death of her father, she encounters a group of girls who share strange bonds with each other at an isolated convent. She is sent there by her mother and step-father, with the intent of reform. Little does she know that she will stumble upon some well kept secrets that threaten to come out once she is there. Who knows to what extent a person will go to protect the ones they love and their secrets? The author also highlights the power of suggestion and how trust plays a major role in a persons life. As dark and tragic as this book may be, it has a lot of lessons that are relevant. Though a little slow on the uptake, give the story a chance and pursue it.

A wonderful read, with well developed characters, the right amount of darkness associated with them and the plot, this is worth a read!

An Exaltation of Larks is on sale! Grab it soon!

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An Exaltation of Larks

by

Suanne Laqueur

Synopsis

The paths of a married couple and a male escort cross in Suanne Laqueur’s fifth novel about the price of love.

“We’re so alike, you and I. It’s no wonder we kept finding each other.”

September 11, 1973: Eleven-year-old Alejandro Penda watches from his apartment window as Santiago, Chile falls to a military coup, destroying his family and his childhood. Arriving alone in America, he’s taken in by the Larks: a prominent family in the town of Guelisten. Though burdened by unresolved grief for his disappeared parents, he becomes fiercely loyal to the Larks, eventually marrying one of their daughters, Valerie.

September 11, 2001: Javier Landes watches from his apartment window as New York City falls to terrorism. As one of Manhattan’s top-paid male escorts, this professional lover has never lacked for company and is loyal only to himself. But in the wake of 9/11, Jav is named guardian for an orphaned nephew in Guelisten and must open his carefully-guarded heart to pain he’s long suppressed.

Alex, Valerie and Jav meet first in their twenties, with a sudden attraction each finds strange and compelling. When they meet again in their forties, they discover not only is their bond still strong, but their life experiences are strangely similar. All have been shaped by separate 9/11’s, and their unfinished business from the past will change everything they know about love, loyalty and friendship.

“Life has rules. You cannot come in the middle of the night and take what we agreed isn’t yours.”

Across three decades and two continents, An Exaltation of Larks explores the unpredictability of sexual attraction, how family ties are forged, torn and mended, and how love’s downfall can turn to exaltation.

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Author Bio

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Suanne Laqueur’s debut novel The Man I Love and its follow-up, Give Me Your Answer True, won gold medals in the 2015 and 2016 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. Both were finalists in the 2015 and 2016 Kindle Book Awards, and Laqueur was named a gold medal Debut Author with Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Laqueur graduated from Alfred University with a double major in dance and theater, and taught at the Carol Bierman School of Ballet Arts in Croton-on-Hudson for ten years. An avid reader, cook and gardener, she started her blog EatsReadsThinks in 2010. She lives in Westchester County, New York with her husband and two children.

With her Fish Tales series, Laqueur has gone from choreographing dancers to choreographing words. Her goal is to create a new kind of emotionally-intelligent romance that appeals to all readers, crossing gender, age and genre. Visit her at http://suannelaqueurwrites.com. All feels welcome. And she always has coffee.

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Book Review: Ask Him Why by Catherine Ryan Hyde

About the Book:

Ask Him Why by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Ruth and her little brother, Aubrey, are just teenagers when their older brother ships off to Iraq. When Joseph returns, uninjured, only three and a half months later, Ruth is happy he is safe but also deeply worried. How can it be that her courageous big brother has been dishonorably discharged for refusing to go out on duty? Aubrey can’t believe that his hero doesn’t have very good reasons.

Yet as the horrifying details of the incident emerge, Joseph disappears. In their attempts to find him, Ruth and Aubrey discover he has a past far darker than either of them could imagine. But even as they learn more about their brother, important questions remain unanswered—why did he betray his unit, his country, and now his family? Joseph’s refusal to speak ignites a fire in young Aubrey that results in a disastrous, and public, act of rebellion.

The impact of Joseph’s fateful decision one night in Baghdad will echo for years to come, with his siblings caught between their love for him and the media’s engulfing frenzy of judgment. Will their family ever make their way back to each other and find a way to forgive?

My Thoughts:

I found this book on Amazon as a recommendation based on my previous search history. To be very frank, the synopsis caught my attention and I must admit, upon completing the book, I was simply blown away. This is an amazingly written book highlighting the bonds between siblings, the horrors faced in a war and the kind of scars left behind.

First off I will start with the style of writing. IT IS AMAZING. This is a moving, emotional roller coaster of a story. Joseph, the eldest of three is shipped off to Iraq and returns only months later. Ruth and her little brother Aubrey, still early teenagers at this stage struggle to understand the situation. Brought up in a family where one cannot ask questions, and nothing is discussed, they learn to keep shut. They do not know the importance of communication and sharing what is on their mind. This is something the children come to learn in time.

The parents are dealing with the repercussion of Joseph’s return, the press is sensationalizing the story, and the world has already decided his fate. He is due for a dishonorable discharge, but this turns into something far worse due to the deaths of two of his former squad mates. His choices set in motion a series of events that tugs apart at the very thin thread that binds his family together.

As the story progresses, Joseph turns himself in and goes to prison. His siblings are left wondering what happened and questioning his courage. His younger brother Aubrey, feels betrayed that his brother does not even want to see him and speaks out against him in public. The lack of communication allows a monster of hate to grow inside him which he carries for the next 9 -10 years. Ruth and Aubrey reach out to their aunt for help in trying to understand what’s happening. In all this, we meet Hamish, a wonderful person, who helps put things in perspective.

The story follows the siblings as they learn to deal with their feelings, confront each other, talk and thus find each other. The story teaches us to ask questions, to seek for the answers before making a judgement call, to think before one acts. This is a wonderfully written book and will tug at your heart strings in more ways than you can imagine. It teaches the reader so many lessons that I highly recommend this book to everyone. Thank you Catherine for writing this wonderful story.