Review: The Rise of Sivagami by Anand Neelakantan

About the Book:

The Rise of Sivagami (Baahubali: Before the Beginning, Book 1)

Blessed by the sacred Gauriparvat, Mahishmathi is an empire of abundance. The powerful kingdom is flourishing under its king, who enjoys the support and loyalty of his subjects, down to his lowly slaves. But is everything really as it appears, or is the empire hiding its own dirty secret?

Orphaned at a young age and wrenched away from her foster family, Sivagami is waiting for the day she can avenge the death of her beloved father, cruelly branded a traitor. Her enemy? None other than the king of Mahishmathi. With unflinching belief in her father’s innocence, the fiery young orphan is driven to clear his name and destroy the empire of Mahishmathi against all odds. How far can she go in her audacious journey?

From the pen of masterful storyteller and bestselling author Anand Neelakantan, comes The Rise of Sivagami, the first book in the series Baahubali: Before the Beginning. A tale of intrigue and power, revenge and betrayal, the revelations in The Rise of Sivagami will grip the reader and not let go.

My Thoughts:

I am sure all of you out there have watched Baahubali 1 and 2. Most of us have come to love the characters but as with most movies, we do not get to know some of the characters well. In this case, with the focus of the movie plot on Baahubali (first the father and then the son – who share the same second name), we are introduced to some very strong and compelling characters about whom we don’t know much.

This book, the first in a trilogy, seeks to close the gaps and give us an insight into those characters who definitely need to be explained. The major questions of – Who are they? Where are they from? How did they get to where they are today? – are brought up and the author seeks to give us the answers.

Sivagami, the strong-willed lady, who is ruthless with her decisions, is a woman who brings out the curiosity in people. Since the movies do not give us anything about her or how she came to be the Queen, this book tells us her story. A girl from humble beginnings, with a thirst for revenge, Sivagami is portrayed as head strong and determined. She takes her time to plot and plan, showing us the strength and cunning in her nature while at the same time, we are shown how much she cares for her friends and can go to any length to protect them.

The book also talks about Kattappa in his youth, at a time when he is just starting out, along with intricate details about his life, his father and brother. It is a completely different person that we are shown, which might take you by surprise, but remember, he is still an unsure youth, trying to understand and find his place in the world. His part of the story, running parallel, talks about his struggle to accept the way the world is.

This prequel has a lot of subplots and twists, bringing out the darkness of the times and the conspiracies and corruption behind the doors of the kingdom. Everyone has an agenda and something to hide. The characters are all portrayed in shades of grey, making us believe that they aren’t as bad as they actually are. Though the story is well written, there are many times when many of the characters introduced do not inspire empathy, in-spite of the dire circumstances. There is so much that seems to be cluttered together into this first part. It feels more like a rant on the system than a portrayal of emotions that arise due to the circumstances, with the nobles and the slaves, and then those who take advantage of and abuse their power!

Pushing these flaws to the side, the story has immense potential and brings out a feeling of nostalgia and a slight sense of satisfaction of knowing who these characters are. Of course, this is just the beginning, there is more to come!

 

Bernie and the Wizards by Steve LeBel – Releasing soon!

The mail just brought in my very own signed copy of Bernie and the Wizards (sequel to The Universe Builders – Bernie and The Putty), written by Steve LeBel!

It was an honor to be a part of his Beta reading program which was an interesting experience.

About the Book:

Gods vs. Wizards ~ an epic struggle for survival

Bernie fixes broken universes for a living. Unlike other gods, who tend to take a hell-fire-and-brimstone approach to problem-solving, Bernie prefers a more gentle approach.

Bernie’s job is to restore production on the planet Photox, but he soon discovers a world caught up in a civil war. With a hard-to-please boss breathing down his neck and a personal life in desperate need of relationship advice, Bernie’s chances of success are dwindling fast. The gods on Bernie’s world are no help. If he fails to restore production, they will destroy Photox’s entire population.

Bernie is desperate to keep this from happening, even if the murderous wizard causing all the problems is powerful enough to hurt a god…

 

Find out more on the website

Look out for my review of the book which will be posted soon!

In the meantime, do check out my reviews for The Universe Builders – Bernie and the Putty and Bernie and the Lost Girl.

 

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.

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.

Further you can connect on social media at:

facebook

twitter

instagram

pinterest

A fast-paced thriller, high on adrenaline and abundant in bio-chemistry, Vector: Tradecraft: Phase Zero has it all!

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

About the Book:

Vector: Tradecraft: Phase Zero

When researcher Jawad Khattib gasps his last breath on the Massachusetts General Hospital floor, the Department of Homeland Security wants answers—especially after a preliminary autopsy suggests he died of radiation poisoning. What exactly was Khattib working on? And who was he working for? DHS Agent Lee Jansen is rushed to Boston and paired with expert toxicologist Dr. Emma Hess to crack the case. All evidence points to the creation of a dirty bomb, but the clues seem too clean, too obvious. During the course of their investigation, they discover the horrible truth. This new weapon is far more deadly than anyone had expected. It isn’t just capable of killing hundreds—it’s capable of killing hundreds of thousands. Can they stop what’s been set in motion by a madman with a dangerous secret before it’s too late?

About the Author:

Picture

Michael Shusko, MD, MPH, FAAFP, FACOEM, was raised in Long Branch, NJ. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1985 after graduating high school.

Dr. Shusko cut his teeth in the military in the mid-1980s and early 1990s. As his first assignment, he attended the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, CA, where he studied Arabic. Upon completing his language training, he worked on intelligence and medical missions across the globe. He spent time in Liberia, served as a Marine during the first Gulf War, and worked for several years with the Defense Attaché’s office at the US Embassy in Kuwait.

After returning to the States in 1995, Dr. Shusko focused his attention on earning his bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern studies from Rutgers University while studying Persian-Farsi at Princeton. He then transferred to the Navy Medical Corps and enrolled in medical school at Wake Forest University, obtaining his Medical Degree in 2002. He also studied at Harvard University, earning his Master’s of Public Health degree in 2013.

Dr. Shusko is a family medicine physician, an occupational medicine physician, and a preventive medicine physician. His Middle Eastern experience and language skills coupled with his background in special operations and intelligence keep him busy deploying around the world. He has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Asia, and has been awarded the Bronze Star twice for service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He currently lives in Japan with his wife and 17-year-old triplet sons.

My Thoughts:

Vector: Tradecraft: Phase Zero is a compelling fast-paced thriller that deals with the idea of a bio-chemical weapon that can end the life of hundreds of people easily. The plot is well thought out and right from the beginning, the foundation is set for an entertaining read. The reader is drawn into a web of secrets and deceit without ever knowing who is really involved and who isn’t.

Starting with the suspicious death of researcher Jawad Khattib, to the meeting of some brilliant minds, the author has created some wonderful characters with whom we can relate. Each one has their own story that has shaped who they turn out to be. The experience and expertise of the author in this genre and area are clearly distinguishable through his writing. The author has included a lot of technical information, be it medical, bio-chemical or even military but it is easy for the reader to understand this.

The protagonist is a strong character, though he has been dealt some serious blows in life and is trying to deal with it. Dr. Emma Hess on the other hand was a winner for me, along with Dr Sue. They are women with in-depth knowledge of their field of work and among the foremost. It was a pleasure to read about them and their role in this story.

This book has all the elements for a good action-packed entertainer and will certainly ensure that the reader gets pulled in for the ride. Who can be trusted and who cannot is one part of the major plot with some serious twists at the end, giving us a hint that there is more to this story.

Check out what Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of bestselling novel turned motion picture, Pay It Forward, has to say about her upcoming novel!

Allie and Bea have both lost everything.
Now they have nothing to lose.

Allie and Bea
by Catherine Ryan Hyde

On Sale: 23rd May 2017

About the Author:

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 32 published books. Her bestselling 1999 novel, Pay It Forward, was adapted into a major Warner Bros. motion picture starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, made the American Library Association’s Best Books for Young Adults list, and has been translated into more than two dozen languages in 30 countries. More than 50 of her short stories have been published in journals, and her short fiction received honorable mention in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest, a second-place win for the Tobias Wolff Award, and nominations for Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have also been cited in Best American Short Stories. Hyde is the founder and former president of the Pay It Forward Foundation. As a professional public speaker, she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with
AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.

A Conversation with the Author: (taken from the official press release).

Q: When readers are first introduced to Bea and Allie, both characters are at a point where they
have lost everything. Bea has fallen prey to a telephone scam and has nothing left but her cat and
her van, while Allie has been forced to live in a juvenile group home after her wealthy parents
are arrested for tax fraud. There is a quote in the book about this that is particularly striking:
“All her life Bea had felt fear, especially fear of the lack that seemed to hide around every
corner, and all her life she’d been ruled by it. But now she had a new secret weapon: nothing to
lose. And that was a freedom the likes of which Bea had never known.” In a way, it isn’t until
they hit their respective rock bottoms that Bea and Allie are truly free. What do they each gain
by losing seemingly everything?
A: It’s an interesting phenomenon, the freedom that comes from losing everything. It remains largely
theoretical because no one wants to test it out if they can possibly avoid it. But I’ve had little glimpses
into the feeling. I think most of us have. Our fear seems to stem from the idea that we have something
that could be lost, and that we are nothing without it. But once we are in that “lack situation,” the one
we once thought was nearly akin to death, we realize we’re still alive and our life goes on. And in
some very basic way we continue to be “okay,” though the definition of that word might shift. I do
think it changes us. Having faced our worst fears, the timidity we carried with us through the world
tends to fall away. It’s one of those odd aspects of the human condition that are a novelist’s life blood.

Q: As the income gap between America’s rich and poor continues to widen, many experts
suggest that we now live in an era of drastic economic inequality. Your novel brings together two
individuals who come from either end of the economic spectrum: Bea, who was already living
from Social Security check to Social Security check, is now penniless, while Allie is a teenager
who is accustomed to a life of affluence and luxury until her parents are arrested. What made
you want to pair these two characters together, and what were you hoping they could learn from
each other?
A: Some of these themes were not as premeditated as people might think. I made Bea economically
strained because the plot needed her to be. I knew I wanted a—well, I hate to say “dishonest” because
I’m not sure that’s true in Bea’s heart of hearts—but let’s say an “honesty challenged” character. Then
I wanted to throw that character together with a scrupulously honest one. Allie I chose to be more
affluent, probably because that helped create the contrasts that make good stories—both between her
experience and Bea’s and between her old life and the one in which she suddenly finds herself. And
the things they (and I) learned from the pairing involved a few interesting surprises.

Q: So many senior citizens are targeted in scams these days. In fact, New York City currently
has an ad campaign running in taxi cabs warning people about phone scams just like the one
that Bea is a victim of. Did you have any real life inspiration for her situation or her character?
A: Well, I live in the world, which I think is my real-life inspiration for everything I write. And while
Bea is not based on anyone I know, I have certainly seen a reflection of her struggles in the real people
all around me. My mother lived with me for the 25 years of her retirement, and I watched her struggle
to understand the technological world in which we now live. I watched her collect her Social Security,
wondering exactly how she would manage to live on such a small monthly payment if she didn’t have
family. I think I’m most aghast at the “scam culture” that seems to have no heart—the catfishers who
prey on the lonely and the financial scams that disproportionately affect the elderly. I don’t understand
how anyone could rob another human being of the one thing they can least afford to lose. And
anything I can’t understand is likely to come up in my novels.

Q: In addition to the differences in their economic backgrounds, Allie and Bea must also contend
with the generational divides that separate them. You yourself are closer in age to Bea, although
you write about both characters with a great deal of empathy, nuance, and believability. Was one
character harder to write for than the other, and what are some of the unexpected benefits of
spending time with people who are younger or older than us?
A: Both characters were easy to write for me, probably for the same reason that I am equally
comfortable writing from the point of view of a male or female character. I try to get underneath the
thin veneer of our differences and write from that deeper place in which we are all human. We all want
the same basic things—love, safety, acceptance—and we all have the same basic fears (whether we
admit them or not). Once you find that place, differences such as age or gender begin to seem quite
trivial. Plus, when writing young characters, my own arrested development helps a lot!
As to the benefits of spending time with people of different generations, the more we get over—or
under, or around—what we think of as our differences, the more we see how much we all have in
common. Life can only get better from there.

Q: At certain points in the novel, Bea and Allie are forced to resort to theft and deceit in order
to pay for things like gas and food. Stealing and dishonesty don’t necessarily come naturally to
either Allie or Bea, but the ways in which they wrestle with and justify these seemingly immoral
acts is quite interesting. In what ways do you think fighting for survival can change the nature of
“right” and “wrong”? How did you negotiate that tension as an author?
A: Some of this was unplanned when I began writing the novel. The original idea was that Bea had
turned into a scammer and Allie was honest, and Allie would help Bea see the light. Seems almost
laughably simplistic, looking back. This is not to say honesty is not good. Of course it is. But we have
these seniors (and others) living in poverty. They were promised security if they played by the rules
and paid into their government funds. The rich are getting so much richer, and so many people like Bea
have next to nothing. Many don’t even have what they need to survive. Everybody has the right to
assure his or her own survival, so to say to someone like Bea, “Now, now. No taking what isn’t
yours…” well, it seems downright immoral. Why do we live in a system where the very stuff of
survival is not within her reach? And Allie, she has to learn that it was naïve to be as staunchly pro-honesty as she has been, because until now she has never wanted for anything in her life. As a novelist, these are the situations I thrive on. They refuse to be black and white, no matter how badly we want them to be. So this was a process of discovery for me, a series of happy surprises that sprang up as I
went along.

Q: Allie and Bea’s journey together becomes something of an unconventional road trip. Were
you inspired by any of the classic road narratives from literature while you were writing this
book?
A: The road trip has always been a passion of mine, as long as I’ve been writing. My first novel,
Funerals for Horses, is a road trip. As is Becoming Chloe, Take Me with You, to a smaller extent
Chasing Windmills… and I may even be forgetting one or two. I’m sure I have enjoyed reading classic
road trip novels in the past, but none spring to mind now. What comes up strongly is my own love of
travel. I have driven and camped and hiked through so many of these places, and they have changed
me and become part of me. I guess it was inevitable that they would spill out into the work.

Q: Can you tell readers a little bit about the setting for this novel and what this area of
California means to you?
A: Part of it is my beloved home. I live in Cambria. San Luis Obispo, the place where Allie and Bea
were thrown together, Morro Bay where they first had breakfast, that overnight in Cambria… the
zebras on the Hearst property and the elephant seals just north of town… it’s all my backyard. And
I’ve done quite a bit of traveling along the coast, once with my mother starting at the top of Oregon,
once with just my dog Ella all the way home from the Canadian border. It’s a deeply familiar place for
me, with such striking scenery that it was crying out to be the backdrop for a story.

Q: When they first meet, Allie and Bea are both technically homeless and have no real family to
rely on. In what ways does their time together change their notions of what “home” and “family”
can mean?
A: Family is a concept with a practical necessity. And it’s a concept that comes up again and again in
my novels. We need community, we need the support of others. So what do we do when all of our
“others” fall away, or can’t meet our needs? The answer seems to be that we find what we need in
unexpected places. Allie and Bea are not exactly “made for each other.” Their relationship is a scratchy
one. Then again, isn’t that true with most of our blood family? I think, more than anything else, they
learn that if two people have the other’s best interest at heart, they can fill each other’s needs against
almost any odds.

Book Review: A Way Back Into Love (Love, #1) by Veronica Thatcher

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Title: A Way Back into Love

Author: Veronica Thatcher

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Notion Press

 Blurb:

Nothing is perfect. Life is messy. Relationships are complex. Outcomes, uncertain. People, irrational. But love…well, that makes everything complicated. And when you are caught in a tangled web of secrets, lies, and complex affairs, someone is bound to get burned.

 Emily Stevens is a spunky, spirited college girl whose life gets turned upside-down when she realizes she’s in love with her best friend of fifteen years, Derek Thorpe. As Emily prepares to confess her feelings to Derek, something happens one night which changes her life forever. Five years later, Emily finds herself in Boston, alone and heartbroken. Will she ever be able to forget the past? And what will she find when she returns home…to the man she left behind?

 Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32998245-a-way-back-into-love

 Buy links: Paperback – http://www.amazon.in/Way-Back-Into-Love/dp/1946641170/

                                                https://www.amazon.com/dp/1946641170/

                             eBooks – https://www.amazon.in/dp/B06WRR5FN3

                                                https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06WRR5FN3/

Author Bio:

Veronica Thatcher is an exciting new contemporary romance author. Ever since she was very young, she’s dreamed of becoming a doctor when she grew up. While still forging ahead with that, majoring in pre-med in college, she unwittingly stumbled upon a new dream—becoming a published author. Some may call her an introvert or a wallflower, but she has always found she could express herself better in written, rather than spoken, words. However, never in her wildest dreams had she envisioned she would pursue writing as a prospective career, not just a hobby. Her love for writing goes hand-in-hand with her love for a good romance novel—whether it be a feel-good, sweet romance or a dark, suspenseful one. When she’s not studying, reading, or writing, she is usually found blasting her favourite songs, sometimes singing and dancing along to them.  She dabbles in a number of activities, including painting, karate, singing and dancing. She is a huge chocoholic – probably the biggest – and she is an ice-cream junkie too. She considers herself technologically handicapped forever and has no shame in admitting that. She also deems chocolates her boyfriend, Patrick Dempsey the love of her life, and Friends her life!

 Her first book, A Way Back Into Love, is slated for release in February 2017, and she hopes readers will enjoy it as much as she enjoyed writing it. You can reach Veronica through Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Wattpad and Gmail.

 Author Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorthatcher/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/merderlover1

Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/merder32

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16087807.Veronica_Thatcher

  Excerpt:

 Emily stepped back from him and shook her head. “Oh, you know damn well what I mean. You know what, Derek? I’m done having this conversation with you. I’m so done with this conversation and I’m so done with you,” Emily spat out angrily before brushing past him.

 “Emily, wait,” Derek said, catching her by her arm. “Where are you going?”

 Emily spun around and gave him a bitter look before looking down at his hand gripping her arm. “Leave my arm,” she said in a low yet threatening voice, “And why do you care where I’m going? It’s none of your business.”

 Derek didn’t leave her arm in spite of her warning and said, “Em, you’ve had too many drinks. You can’t drive in this condition. I’ll drop you home.”

 Emily jerked her arm free from his grasp and replied in a bitter voice, “Thank you, but no. I’m perfectly capable of getting myself home on my own. I don’t need you to drop me home. Do you get it, Derek Thorpe? I DON’T NEED YOU!” Emily yelled the last words, causing a few people to look their way.

My Thoughts:

A Way Back Into Love is a story of finding yourself and standing up for what you want. Step forward and ask, talk, otherwise you can lose it forever. This is what the protagonist, Emily, realizes, after she gets her heart broken. However, the plot runs on the basis of a series of events, which result due to what seem to be minor misunderstandings, until they finally get together and blow up at once.

The characters are likeable, though sometimes I felt like putting my hands Emily and giving her a shake! She could get rather annoying with her thoughts flying all around the place. But, the strength that she has to walk away, to try to live a life in a different place, change her and shape her into a better person. Also, the support from family and friends counts a lot and we can see how this affects the characters!

I enjoyed the concept of self-discovery, and this story is something that most people can relate to. The author’s style of writing is simple and though the concept is a tiny bit cliched, it is a rather enjoyable read.

Book Review: Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde

About the Book:

Say Goodbye for Now

On an isolated Texas ranch, Dr. Lucy cares for abandoned animals. The solitude allows her to avoid the people and places that remind her of the past. Not that any of the townsfolk care. In 1959, no one is interested in a woman doctor. Nor are they welcoming Calvin and Justin Bell, a newly arrived African American father and son.

When Pete Solomon, a neglected twelve-year-old boy, and Justin bring a wounded wolf-dog hybrid to Dr. Lucy, the outcasts soon find refuge in one another. Lucy never thought she’d make connections again, never mind fall in love. Pete never imagined he’d find friends as loyal as Justin and the dog. But these four people aren’t allowed to be friends, much less a family, when the whole town turns violently against them.

With heavy hearts, Dr. Lucy and Pete say goodbye to Calvin and Justin. But through the years they keep hope alive…waiting for the world to catch up with them.

My Thoughts:

The phrase, ‘Say goodbye for now’, also the title of the book, is a recurring point throughout the book. It is a wonderful thing that the title of a book has been incorporated throughout the plot and brings out the overall theme or point of the story.

I picked up this book after reading ‘Ask Him Why’. I really enjoyed the author’s style of writing and couldn’t wait to read more. I was most surprised when upon starting this story, I found that the style of writing, the tone and pace of the story were different! This made me enjoy the book all the more apart from the wonderful plot.

The story focuses on two young boys, in their early teens, who meet by chance and decide that due to their way of thinking, that they should be friends. It was rather unfortunate that the times they lived in frowned upon friendship between them. With a town set against the newly arrived African American father and son duo, a lady doctor who cares for abandoned and hurt animals, and a young American boy who seeks her out when he finds a hurt wolf-dog lying by the side of the highway, there is a lot that can happen when we bring these four people together.

The author takes her time to bring out the personalities of each of these principal characters, as well as their backgrounds. She helps us understand what makes them tick and how they became the way they are in the present time. The author elaborates a little on the town and it’s mindset and perception of these main characters. Nothing is simple in the lives of these four people and the author takes her time in making things right. The story is told alternatively from the points of view of Pete and Dr. Lucy. The reader will get to know them very well and will feel as though even they are friends with them. As pleasing and simple as they are, they are not perfect and have their dark moments.

Pete is thoughtful and advanced in the way his mind thinks and instead of being shushed by the adults he comes to know, they encourage and nurture his inquisitive mind. His relationship with all the characters and his thoughts and feelings help to shape the direction the story moves in. Justin though different, understand Pete and plays his part in this story to perfection. The simple chemistry between Dr. Lucy and Calvin is shown with understated simplicity. It just happens, and there is no confusion or apology. The characters take all situations in their stride, including the fact that a time will come when they can be together and until then, they just have to keep living on.

The simple tones and calm manner in which things are dealt with make this story all that more pleasing. This was a wonderful read and I fell in love with every aspect of this story. The title, used extensively as demanded by the plot, will help the reader see that there is no need to end a relationship of any kind, there are times when it can just be postponed, with some understanding, care and love.

Just say Goodbye for Now!

Book Review: Ascendant (book 1) and Midheaven (book 2) by Rebecca Taylor

About the Books:

Ascendant (book 1):

Ascendant by Rebecca Taylor

When I was twelve, my mother disappeared. I was the first person to never find her. I’m sixteen now and she has never been found, alive or dead. I’m not the girl I should have been.

When Charlotte Stevens, bright but failing, is sent to stay at her mother’s childhood home in Somerset England her life is changed forever. While exploring the lavish family manor, Gaersum Aern, Charlotte discovers a stone puzzle box that contains a pentagram necklace and a note from her mother-clues to her family’s strange past and her mother’s disappearance.

Charlotte must try to solve the puzzle box, decipher her mother’s old journals, and figure out who is working to derail her efforts-and why. The family manor contains many secrets and hidden histories, keys to the elegant mystery Charlotte called mom and hopefully, a trail to finding her.

Midheaven (book 2):

Midheaven (Ascendant Trilogy, #2)

As Above, So Below

As the direct descendant of Francis Bacon (aka Shakespeare) Charlotte is the next Ascendant. She is destined to teach mankind the secret mysteries of alchemy.

If only she knew what those were.

With her father’s stone box, and her mother’s first key, Charlotte will quest around the world to solve the puzzle and reveal its secret.

Unless Emerick gets her first.

My Thoughts:

Since I read these books continuously, one after the other, I decided to post a combined review. In general, I enjoyed the premise of the story and the events that occurred to take it forward. The story is written decently and will ensure the reader continues on until the end. The author manages to build up some amount of mystery and intrigue.

However, the protagonist is decent at best, but she gets rather whiny and annoying. Her attentions are directed towards the two guys showering her with attention and she is torn between them in the usual cliched style. At times she comes across as shallow, and at others, someone with a strong mind. She sets out to find the meaning to the clues left behind by her parents. As the story unfolds, the reader is drawn into a world of drama, secrets, betrayal.

The story lacked in precise character development and a deeper premise than was there. It was easy to figure out what might happen next and the books did not make me want to keep turning the pages. Having said this, there are parts that are interesting and had potential. A stronger focus on the characters, creating complex personalities and a more interesting twist to the plot would have made it gripping. Though there was some adventure and mystery thrown in, it just made the story more confusing. It was just another book in the usual style of having a clue and trying to decipher it while also trying to keep it away from the bad guys.

Bottom-line: Read the book. You may or may not like it, but you can form an opinion by yourself.