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.

Review: One Night in Tehran by Luana Ehrlich

About the Book:

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Read the first novel in a new series of thrillers featuring intelligence officer Titus Ray.

Trained in lies, a covert agent learns the truth

Veteran CIA officer, Titus Ray–on the run from the Iranian secret police–finds shelter with a group of Iranian Christians in Tehran. While urging Titus to become a believer in Jesus Christ, they manage to smuggle him out of Iran to freedom in Turkey.

Will it help him deal with his past?

Returning to the States, he discovers his Iranian mission failed because of political infighting within the Agency. In a hot-tempered outburst, he delivers a scathing indictment against the Deputy Director of Operations, and, as a result, the deputy forces Titus to take a year’s medical leave in Oklahoma.

How will it change his future?

Before leaving Langley, Virginia, Titus learns he’s been targeted by a Hezbollah assassin hired by the Iranians. Now, while trying to figure out what it means to be a follower of Christ, he must decide if the Iranian couple he meets in Norman, Oklahoma has ties to the man who’s trying to kill him, and if Nikki Saxon, a local detective with an intriguing past, can be trusted with his secrets.

My Thoughts:

Wow! I truly enjoyed reading this book to the extent that as soon as it was completed, I got the next book in the series and started reading it.

Titus Ray, a veteran CIA officer, is suddenly made aware of the meaning of religion and faith due to various circumstances. This in some ways slowly brings about changes in him. In parallel, he is forced to deal with the bureaucracy of his higher officials, which may have resulted in the failure of his mission. Titus is forced into taking medical leave due to an outburst, resulting in him moving away and facing his thoughts as well as living in a small town.

We are introduced to Nikki Saxon, a local detective, who is serious about her job and determined to see her job through. An encounter between Titus and Nikki leads to something more, something that would make Titus re-consider trusting a person. Titus also turns to faith and meets an Iranian couple at his church. A series of events are set off, bringing him and Nikki together and eventually leading to the abrupt end of his medical leave. All it took was one night, one experience, one mistake to change the course of Titus’ life.

A well- written novel, this is truly enjoyable and will take the reader on a wonderful journey. The characters are well developed and the plot is well thought out. This book ends with a strong lead to the next and will ensure that the reader will want to pick up the next and continue the journey.

I strongly recommend this book and the rest in the series. I will be writing a separate review for the next book in the series quite soon! Until then, please like, comment and share your thoughts if any.

A Prayer Series by Samreen Ahsan

About the Books:

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Adam Gibson is a young and powerful Toronto millionaire. Despite his many blessings, he is an atheist, though he has an altruistic soul. He denies there is a God—until he meets a beautiful stranger in a place that does not exist for anyone but him.

Rania Ahmed strongly believes in God, but has lost hope she will ever find her soul mate. Endowed with hypnotic beauty and cursed by a brutal past, Rania has no idea she has cast a spell on Adam, who has never received more from a woman than physical pleasure. As Adam slowly discovers the true meaning of love from Rania, he begins to face his demons and reconsider his beliefs. He learns to love, forgive and repent. But as Adam grows closer to Rania, a series of strange, unexplained events threatens to drive them apart. To keep her from being destroyed by her past, he must persuade her to trust him with her deepest secrets.

In this spiritual romance, an atheist embarks on a path of enlightenment with a tormented soul who may just have the power to change everything he has ever believed to be true.

 

My Thoughts:

This series is a most compelling read. Once started, it is difficult to put down even for a second. A story of love and religion and belief, this series is full of twists. Set against the backdrop of the modern day, the reader is drawn into a story with supernatural  occurrences and strong beliefs. The protagonist, Rania is a strong believer in God and assumes that everything that happens is for a reason. She believes that all you need to do is have faith and pray and that at some point God will answer those prayers. Adam on the other hand is the true definition of an atheist. His experiences since childhood have moulded him that way and rendered him heartless.

Rania brings faith into his life as he learns to love and face his demons. The reader is given insights into the Islamic culture but the overall message is the same, have faith and believe. Rania on the other hand learns to trust Adam and allows him to slowly break through her defenses. Every situation in this story is a result of some circumstance or someone’s reactions. A lot of insight is given into each of the characters in this story and they are built up well.

Rania and Adam develop a relationship and as it progresses, she learns to trust him enough to share her secrets and he learns to be patient. Being a very wealthy man, Adam tries to shower Rania with gifts but all she wants is his heart and soul. This story focuses on how each character is ultimately forced to face their demons and come to terms with their relationships, be it Adam with his mother or Rania with her father. Some amount of supernatural existence is brought into the story with demons and angels and jinn as explained by Rania. The author shows us that there is more to religion than just blind faith. There is a lot of understanding and patience as well as some amount of trust. Everything happens for a reason and that is reinforced in so many ways throughtout the series.

The stories are split into chapters which tell the story from different points of view. It is sometimes from Rania’s and at other times from Adam’s point of view giving us an insight into the thoughts and feelings of each of the principal characters.

The readers are also reminded that relationships built on trust and faith last longer. I would not say that atheists are wrong, it is just how they think, but reading this story will ensure the reader will stop and re-evaluate their ideas and beliefs. All this has been rendered without the author sounding preachy. A wonderfully written series, this is a brilliant set of books to read which will keep the reader hooked till the end. I am afraid that if I continue raving I will end up letting out most of the story. To avoid that I strongly suggest that everyone should grab copies of the books and bury themselves in the story.