Book Review : Circe by Madeline Miller

About the Book:

Circe

From the Orange Prize-winning, internationally bestselling author of The Song of Achilles comes the powerful story of the mythological witch Circe, inspired by Homer’s Odyssey

Chosen as must-read book of 2018 by the Guardian, Independent, Mail on Sunday, Sunday Express and Stylist


In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.

When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe’s place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.

There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe’s independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

Breathing life into the ancient world, Madeline Miller weaves an intoxicating tale of gods and heroes, magic and monsters, survival and transformation.

My Thoughts:

This is one of the most talked about books at the moment, trending on every social media site possible. I found out about this book on Instagram and decided to give it a shot. I must say that I was not disappointed.

Circe by Madeline Miller gives us a peek into the lives of the Titans and Olympians as well as that of man. A beautifully written book, the story is told from Circe’s point of view, following her life from birth. In the beginning, the story focuses on the life of the Titans, the pact they have with the Olympians and Circe’s yearning to be accepted and understood. She seems to always be apart from the rest of the household, an enigma.

As time passes, she starts to discover a latent power, sleeping somewhere within her, the power of witchcraft and magic. She discovers that though she is different from her family, she has her own set of strengths. this is a story of self-discovery and along the way we meet a lot of people who help shape how Circe sees herself.

The story is masterfully crafted, introducing us to a number of familiar names at each stage, thus making this story even more enjoyable. It is both heart-warming and heart-wrenching at the same time forcing us to experience the journey with Circe. We are not just reading about her, there are many times when the descriptions are so well done that the reader becomes a part of the story, another character. We meet a whole array of people, most of whom you would have heard before, but who are shown through Circe’s eyes in this book, portraying them in a different light. Many incidents and situations are achingly familiar and we do know how it all ends, but we do not know how Circe fits into the sequence and her reactions to it. This book brings out those connections, including a wonderful introduction to Odysseus and the lasting impression he has on Circe’s life.

The beauty of the plot lies in the simplicity with which the story is written and the complexity of the characters involved. The author passes on to us the message that to love oneself is most important and to understand one’s worth. With a lot of emotions involved, the author captures Circe’s thoughts very well, giving us vivid descriptions and glimpses into the worlds beyond. This book is about Circe’s journey as she searches for love, acceptance and deals with motherhood, the challenges she faces and the joy she finds in small things.

I cannot begin to explain how much this book had me hooked, turning page after page just to see where Circe goes and how she deals with her life. I learnt a lot from her, the way she treated people, the way she interacted with them, and in the end, her understanding of her position in the world and in life.

In conclusion, I strongly recommend this book to all those who enjoy fiction and fantasy steeped in mythology.

Book Review: Heaven Adjacent by Catherine Ryan Hyde

I was provided with an advance reader’s copy of the book via NetGalley by Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

About the Book:

From New York Times bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde comes a bittersweet novel about healing old wounds and finding a new place to call home…

Roseanna Chaldecott spent her life as a high-powered lawyer in Manhattan. But when her best friend and law partner dies suddenly, something snaps. Unsure of her future, Roseanna heads upstate on one tank of gas and with no plans to return.

In the foothills of the Adirondacks, Roseanna discovers the perfect hideout in a ramshackle farm. Its seventy-six acres are rich with possibilities and full of surprises, including a mother and daughter squatting on the property. Although company is the last thing Roseanna wants, she reluctantly lets them stay.

Roseanna and the young girl begin sculpting junk found around the farm into zoo animals, drawing more newcomers—including her estranged son, Lance. He pleads with Roseanna to return to the city, but she’s finally discovered where she belongs. It may not provide the solitude she originally sought, but her heart has found room for much more.

My Thoughts:

I am thankful to once again have been given the chance to read Catherine Ryan Hyde’s next upcoming novel! Heaven Adjacent teaches us to appreciate the small things in life. It teaches us that it is okay to be scared, everyone is scared, but, there is no need to run from it. It teaches us to trust those around us, to open ourselves up to people and to just be happy with the things we have.

Roseanna, our protagonist, makes the sudden split-second decision to just up and run. She wakes up one morning with the urge to get away from the city, her world and the life she leads. Part of her is grieving due to the loss of her best friend/ law partner and the other part of her is trying to reconcile with the fact that life is too short to waste away without enjoying it. As she drives away in her fancy car without a specific destination in mind, Roseanna lands up somewhere near the Adirondacks where she finds a perfectly acceptable farm.

As she settles and tries to make a home here, she allows a mother and daughter to stay on the premises. Slowly, a few more people happen upon her place, all seemingly in search of paradise or peace. At first Roseanna is irritated by the presence of other people, but as time passes, she starts to accept them. This seems to bug her son when he finally finds out where she is, through a news article about her animals sculpted from the junk around, and comes to convince her to go back. He does not understand her sudden decision and as he starts to spend some time with his mother, the two of them discover things about the other that they never knew or understood before. Talking about their lives, their relationships and who they are, a knew sense of peace and acceptance develops.

This story is one of self-discovery and self-acceptance. Roseanna finds a new kind of peace, a new hobby, and learns to accept the people around her. They all have something to teach her about life and her relationship with her son. This is a heart-warming story that is very well-written and pushes the reader towards introspection. It helps the reader understand that it is okay to want to escape, but don’t be rash about it, and be sure to let in the ones you love. It will make a world of difference. Be open about your thoughts and don’t be afraid to speak up. This is how a person can learn and grow into a better human being.

One again, this new and upcoming novel by author Catherine Ryan Hyde is a must read as it touches upon relevant and relatable topics!

Book Review : Drift Stumble Fall by M. Jonathan Lee

I received a copy of this book from Hideaway Fall, a publishing house based out of UK. This is the second book by author M. Jonathan Lee, that I have had the pleasure to read.

About the Book:

Drift Stumble Fall

The author of five novels, M Jonathan Lee is a tireless mental health awareness campaigner, working closely with organisations including Mind, Time to Change and Rethink and blogs regularly for Huffington Post. Having personally experienced anxiety and depression during his life, Jonathan draws on his experiences to inform his writing.

Richard feels trapped in his hectic life of commitment and responsibility. From the daily mayhem of having young children, an exhausted wife and pushy in-laws who frequently outstay their welcome, Richards existence fills him with panic and resentment. The only place he can escape the dark cloud descending upon him is the bathroom, where he hides for hours on end, door locked, wondering how on earth he can escape.

Often staring out of his window, Richard enviously observes the tranquil life of Bill, his neighbour living in the bungalow across the road. From the outside, Bills world appears filled with comfort and peace. Yet underneath the apparent domestic bliss of both lives are lies, secrets, imperfections, sadness and suffering far greater than either could have imagined. Beneath the surface, a family tragedy has left Bill frozen in time and unable to move on. As he waits for a daughter who may never return, Bill watches Richards bustling family life and yearns for the joy it brings. As the two men watch each other from afar, it soon becomes apparent that other peoples lives are not always what they seem.

My Thoughts:

All out lives, we human beings, yearn for what we do not have or what others have. We do not stop to appreciate and be happy with what we already have. This behaviour is one thing that seems to contribute to our general state of mental unhappiness. Drift Stumble Fall introduces to us two men and their families. Spread over the course of a few days, the reader is given a brief glimpse into their pasts, as we follow their present routines and lifestyles. A very well-written novel, this acts as a mirror into our lives today and forces the reader to introspect and think about how we are handling our lives.

We meet Richard, who seems to have it all, a lovely wife, two kids, a steady job, and yet, he feels trapped and suffocated with his current choices. The story is set over a few days when there is heavy snowfall that prevents Richard from going out to his job, adding a little more to his sense of feeling trapped. With the idea to get away and start afresh taking shape in his mind, Richard is forced to endure a few days of being snowed in with his family and in-laws around as he lays out his plans to run away. As he looks out of the window at the neighbour’s house, we see a sense of yearning for the simple stress-free life seemingly led by the old couple in the house across. We also meet Richard’s family, his wife who comes across as annoying but is someone who loves him in her own way, his children and his in-laws.

Similarly, we meet Bill, an old man and his wife, who for the past thirty years have been waiting for news of or a sign from their eldest daughter who simply walked out of the house one night and never returned. The only other person in their life is their youngest daughter’s husband, a charming young man who comes in to keep an eye on them and take care of them. Bill is seen constantly looking out of their living room window, sometimes staring out to Richard’s house, a look of longing for the life he sees there, of children, grandchildren, a house filled with people and life.

Everything is not always as it seems and there is definitely more to every story than meets the eye. These are brought out in this story as each man yearns for the other’s life, assuming that it is better. The story is well developed and the characters are easy to relate to. The story starts out slow, introducing us to Richard and his monotonous life and then pulls you in as it progresses. Be prepared to come face to face with the emotions of the characters which in many ways seem to mirror ours and reflect what most of us have thought at some point. As the snow settles, so does the story, with some sad endings and other happier ones. A realization that not all is happy and great on every side dawns on the characters and mainly Richard as he discovers the truth about his neighbours and their life. He is also forced to re-think his plan of running away as he starts to understand that he may not want to give up this life after all.

Drift Stumble Fall is worth every moment spent reading it and in my opinion, it is a must read. It is confusing and sad, with moments of happiness sprinkled about, it is realistic and it brings out the true nature of our minds and our ways of life.

Book Review: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

About the Book:

The Light Between Oceans

AFTER FOUR HARROWING YEARS ON THE WESTERN FRONT, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel.

Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby. Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God,” and against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

My Thoughts:

Both heart-warming and heart-wrenching, The Light Between Oceans tells a tale of love, hope, sorrow and how decisions taken affect lives. The story follows Tom Sherbourne’s life as he spends time as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, an island off the coast. Having given up any hope of finding love and peace, Tom is pleasantly surprised to find that Isabel is not only interested in him, but would love to marry him and move to Janus Rock with him.

As the story unfolds, we are first introduced to life on Janus, away from the rest of the world. The beauty of the place and the peace are something to only be wondered about. At first I found it a little difficult to get into the book, but as it progressed, I became engrossed in the lives of our characters and their journey. The author describes in detail the anguish that wrenches through Isabel during her miscarriages, and the emptiness she feels at this loss. This sets the path towards understanding what drives the couple to take certain decisions. At the base of it all is unconditional and deep love.

The child, Lucy/Grace is lively and charming, bringing light to the world and lives of the people she touches. She finds herself torn between the parents who adopt her and her own mother. The strength of the child and how she grows are wonderful to read about. The questions of right and wrong come up as the story unfolds and the truth behind who Lucy’s parents are comes to light. It is all a grey area and the author brings out the actions of people in desperate situations, and shows us how grief comes in many forms. For Isabel it is a result of her miscarriages and stillbirth. For Hannah, it is the loss of her husband and child with no idea of whether they are dead or alive. For Tom, it is the horrors of the war that he has seen that are never far from his mind. Everyone’s idea of redemption is different and we see how each person’s decision affects so many other lives.

As the story progresses, it becomes darker and darker, forcing the reader on an emotional roller coaster until the very end. Who will stand by your side in times of need and who will turn their backs to you? What is the meaning of family. A must read, this story shows us the nature of people when forced into situations and how they act even against people they once knew very well. This story is compelling and gripping until the very last page and I would not be surprised if the reader sheds a tear at some point.

Book Blitz: Preordained by David L. Wallace

 New Release
~ Preordained by David L. Wallace ~
 
About the Book:
In the vein of Seven & The Devil’s Advocate, Art Somers is a detective tracking a serial killer in Murrells Inlet, S.C., a small-town, coastal community with deeply held spiritual and supernatural belief systems. He
discovers while chasing down clues to ID the culprit that the killer has always had his family on his target list.

 Things begin to unravel and materialize around and within him, calling into question his long held religious and paranormal beliefs. On the verge of apprehending the killer, he learns an irrefutable truth: Abraham,
the father of faith, had to choose to either sacrifice his son or disobey a direct order from God; he must now make a choice – sacrifice his soul to save his son.

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon * Kobo * Barnes & Noble * iTunes
Early Reviews:
“An expertly plotted and executed mystery, shot through with the supernatural…builds suspense effortlessly, hurtling towards a riveting conclusion.” – Clarion Review
“Original and engaging…full of plot twists, surprises, and a substantial dash of the supernatural.” – Publisher’s Weekly BookLife Prize in Fiction
“A gripping detective story with biblical undertones…aptly blends the horror and crime genres.” – Kirkus Reviews

 Chapter 1

From his crouched position in the woods of rural Georgetown County, South Carolina, and under the echo of his heavy breathing in the night air, he watched his favorite family’s movements inside their small brown home.
After much thought about the impression his outfit would make, he’d decided it was festive enough for the occasion. The complete ensemble consisted of a red and black head mask, aligned perfectly to the holes for his eyes, nose, and mouth and a form-fitting, black bodysuit with white wings painted on the back.
For years, he’d contemplated a befitting name for himself and finally settled on Star of David killer. He liked the way the alias reverberated in his head. It revealed a lot. It concealed everything. It hinted at his purpose and yet – it withheld the true essence of his aspirations, keeping them covered in a shroud of secrecy. He hoped an insightful reporter would have an epiphany and bestow that nickname on him. It was far more interesting than the one his parents had given him at birth. He breathed deep and exhaled slowly, taking in the ambience of the moment. He flexed his muscles. It was time to initiate the events that would lead everyone to recognize him by his self-appointed moniker.
He clenched and released his toes on each of his hospital footie–covered feet. Through the sheer curtains of the dimly lit dwelling, he watched the boy pick up the used plates from the table, which signaled the parents and their twelve-year-old son had finished their dinner. He knew them well. He’d cased their dwelling for years, observing every nuance of their behavior. He sat flushed as he watched them for the last time, shivering from time to time from the thrill of the thought of what he was about to do.
The music of the bullfrogs kept him company, along with the thought that all he’d longed for, all that he was meant to be, was about to be on full display on the world stage in a matter of hours. Like Heinz ketchup, he’d been waiting in anticipation for a long time for this moment.
He glanced at the scavengers in the clear sky above him, each casting its shadow across the moon as it circled. They were his favorite creatures—the redheaded, black-feathered, and partially white-winged turkey vultures of the Carolina skies. His outfit mimicked theirs. The birds squawked in the sky, seeming to know his plan for that evening. They’d followed his vehicle from his home until he’d parked, and now they circled directly above him. He could feel their hunger and impatience.
The boy walked outside his home and scraped the remains of their dinner plates into a slop bucket on the back porch. He picked up the hog’s food and headed out to the pigpen, which was located near the backend of their yard.
The Star of David killer watched the boy make his evening trek on pigeon-toed feet that turned inward with each step. Ever since the infant pigs were born, the boy fed the adult male hog an extra feeding at night to prevent him from dining on his offspring. That’s right, the daddy hog actually ate his own children. What a disgusting breed of animal. The overhead undertakers began to shriek and shrill as the boy moved across his lawn, their voices echoing in the night.
The boy jumped at their sound and looked to the skies. He stared into the woods directly below them.
The Star of David killer remained as still as a stone as the kid’s gaze seemed to linger on him for a moment. The last thing he needed was for  he boy to detect his presence and yell out for his daddy. The papa of the family had an itchy twelve-gauge finger that he didn’t want to deal  with that evening.
Seemingly satisfied, the boy stopped searching the woods and continued his walk. The Star of David Killer glanced overhead at the vultures,  angry with them for almost giving away his position. For their carelessness, they wouldn’t be feeding on his handiwork that evening, and if they didn’t atone for their misstep, they wouldn’t partake in any of the festivities on his planned itinerary.
This was the first night—the evening of his coming-out party and the kickoff of his personal pilgrimage. It was the acknowledgment that the presence within him, who had compelled him to plan and now execute the initial steps of his mission, had chosen the right vehicle for the job.
He felt something biting him on his lower legs. Glancing down, he saw by the light of the rear porch that ants were advancing up his calves. He remained silent and didn’t move, not wanting to sound the alarm that he was out there in the dark. A small green garden snake slithered out of the brush toward him. He stepped on it and crushed its head.
The grunting male hog reveled in the slop the boy had dumped into his pen. The female hog stood to the side with her five remaining piglets cowering under her.
The killer frowned at the stench of the hogs. It wasn’t the last smell he wanted on his mind before he began his body of work. To get past it, he closed his eyes and thought of the fragrances inside the boy’s family home, smells that he knew all too well. He’d spent many nights there while they slept, enjoying their scents, with his favorites being the individual smell of each of their worn clothing. The laundry room was a treasure trove of delights. Each of the family members left their own unique and enjoyable stains in their underwear. He’d gotten to know
the other families in just as much detail, meticulously taking in their routines and schedules, getting to know every nuance of each of them.
He removed his bladefrom his waistband and watched Rueben, his first victim, as he rinsed out the slop bucket with a water hose attached to the rear of his home. He squeezed the black-handled blade. The paring knife felt perfect in his hand, after having gone through an exhaustive testing process to find the right cutting instrument—one with just the right shape and size for optimal carving control against a moving body. He’d practiced his skills with it for many hours, initially on cantaloupes, cucumbers, and other fruits and vegetables, until he’d graduated to successful tests on small gerbils, kittens, and puppies he’d purchased at various pet stores.
Finally, the lights went out in the shack. It was time. As usual, Rueben’s parents were more than likely already fast asleep. Rueben, on the other hand, should be wide-awake in his darkened room, surfing Internet porn sites by the light of his laptop. The little fella loved to look at online pussy, but he wouldn’t live long enough to enjoy any.
As the final step of his preparation process, he extracted a bottle of removable glue from the front waistband of his outfit and placed another coat over his hands. It was an additional layer to guard against him leaving fingerprints behind, but he knew he didn’t need to worry on that score. Over the past year, he’d used razor blades every month to remove the top layer of skin on each of his fingertips, making them as smooth as a baby’s ass.
He had no fingerprints.
He could’ve easily used gloves, but he wanted to touch them, to feel his prey with his bare hands. He blew on the glue until it dried. Satisfied, he stood, stretched his legs and approached Rueben’s home on silent feet.
He hadn’t troubled himself to brush the ants from his lower torso. The stinging sensation of their bites would serve as a reminder that before that evening, he was once human.
 
 
About the Author:
 
 
Before publishing his debut novel in 2016, he served over 27 years as an information technology professional working initially for the US Navy, and then the Department of the Navy and various fortune companies. He’s a UCLA writing program alumnus who writes mystery thrillers and children stories. He has three wonderful kids who he enjoys immensely. Writing is his passion and his goal with each story is to capture the imagination in the opening pages and keep it engaged to the story’s riveting conclusion.
 

 

Contact the Author:
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Book Review: Everything She Lost by Alessandra Harris

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

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

About the Book:

Everything She Lost

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

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

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

My Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

Book Review: The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

About the Book:

The Husband's Secret

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

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

Book Review: The Good Mother by Sinéad Moriarty

About the Book:

The Good Mother

Kate has been through the fire with her three children …

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

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

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

My Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

Book Review: The Way We Were by Sinéad Moriarty

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

About the Book:

The Way We Were

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

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

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

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

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

My thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

The story is well written and worth a read.

Book Spotlight: Mamá Graciela’s Secret by Mayra Calvani

Mamá Graciela’s Secret

Publication date: October 10, 2017

Written by Mayra Calvani

Illustrated by Sheila Fein

MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing

http://www.maclaren-cochranepublishing.com

36 pages, 3-7 year olds

Reading guide at: www.MayrasSecretBookcase.com

Description:

Mamá Graciela’s TENDER, CRUNCHY, SPICY bacalaítos fritos are the best in town…

Local customers (including stray cats!) come from all over the island to enjoy her secret recipe. But when the Inspector discovers that Mamá secretly caters to so many cats and he threatens to close her tiny restaurant, Mamá must come up with a plan to save it—and all of the animals she loves.

About the author:

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her children’s picture book, Frederico the Mouse Violinist was a finalist in the 2011 International Book Awards; her anthology Latina Authors and Their Muses was a First Place winner at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards; her nonfiction book, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, was a Foreword Best Book of the Year winner. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications like The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, Bloomsbury Review, and others.

She lives in Belgium with her husband of 30+ years, two wonderful kids, and her three beloved pets. When she’s not writing, editing, reading or reviewing, she enjoys walking with her dog, traveling, and spending time with her family. www.MayrasSecretBookcase.com

About the illustrator:

Born in Queens, New York and living in Los Angeles since 1987, Sheila Fein has always been inspired by the changing world around her. Earning her BA in Design from Buffalo State College of New York, her concentration was on drawing, painting, printmaking, and photography. Sheila’s education as an artist has taken her everywhere from Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia to Bath University in England. Today, Sheila Fein runs two figurative workshops, Imaginings Sketch in LA and People Sketchers in Thousand Oaks. She has been featured in numerous collections, magazines, books, solo and group exhibitions. Her paintings and drawings reside in public and private collections. Sheila loves to make the imagination of others a reality and has done so through her commissioned Fein Fantasy Portraits and Interactive Paintings. In addition to being a fine artist Sheila works as an illustrator. She just completed the book “Mama Graciela’s Secret” for Maclaren-Cochrane Publishing.

Book info:

ISBN:
HC 978-1-365-86153-6

SC 978-1-365-86155-0

ISBN Dyslexic Font Version:

DY HC 978-1-365-86154-3 DY SC 978-1-365-86156-7

**This book also has version printed in the Dyslexic font, the typeface for people with dyslexia. Go to http://www.dyslexiefont.com to find out more about the typeface.

Suggested Retail Price – 17.99 Hardcover & 13.99 Softcover 40 % Discounted Price – 10.80 Hardcover & 8.40 Softcover

Available through – Ingram – Discount 40% Returnable – Yes

MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing

Discount 40%

Orders@maclaren-cochranepublishing.com Returnable – Yes

Publishing company

Contact Info: MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing 1024 Iron Point Rd

100-1478 Folsom CA 95630

916-897-1670

Tannya@Maclaren-cochranepublishing.com

http://www.maclaren-cochranepublishing.com

MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing

620 Buchanan Way, Folsom, CA 95630 916-897-1670

http://www.maclaren-cochranepublishing.com