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.

Beautiful Scars: A Life Redefined by Kilee Brookbank and Lori Highlander

About the Book:

Kilee Brookbank was a typical sixteen-year-old, thinking about school, soccer, her friends, and her boyfriend. But her last ordinary day erupted in an explosion that consumed her house, burning over 45 percent of her body and sending her to the very brink of death. After thirty-eight days of surgeries, skin grafts, perpetual physical therapy, and excruciating pain, she had to discover how to live again.

When Kilee returned home, she had to find a new “normal,” relearning how to tie her shoes, put on her makeup, and even turn a doorknob. In each moment of her long journey back to everyday life, she had to make choices that would define who she was and who she would become.

With unwavering support from her mom, Lori, and the rest of her family, Kilee faced her journey with determination, strength, and a positive attitude that inspired not only her community, but people around the world.

Told together by Kilee and Lori, Beautiful Scars is a story of recovery, healing, and hope, reminding us all that we’re never powerless, never alone, and that each challenge we face helps make us the people we are meant to be.

My Thoughts:

This story of 16 year old, Kilee Brookbank’s experience with skin burns and her positive outlook to fight back and live a fulfilling life is encouraging and inspiring. The idea to get her story out there, to teach people to love themselves in spite of how they look or the scars they bear is wonderful and I applaud Kilee for the same!

This book brings out the sequence of events from both Kilee’s POV and her mother, Lori’s POV, thus helping us to understand all sides of the story and the feelings of everyone involved. It is a scary thing that happened, but the way in which it was approached and dealt with, made a huge difference to the recovery.

How do you recover from the pain and shock of the burns to living a normal life again? How does someone accept that they no longer look the way they used to, they are different in many ways? All this is covered and shared in great detail. The strength and support of the family and the people around them is wonderful and this story of hope and healing tells us that we are not alone, as long as we do not hesitate to ask for help. There is always someone out there who has gone through what you are going through and there are support groups and help if we seek it out. This is a story of growth and healing of not only of Kilee but also of her family and her mother who stood by her and supported her. They treated her as a normal person, in spite of her burns and the difficulties she faced initially. She had to re-learn to do all the everyday things by herself and I think Lori deserves a huge amount of credit for her unwavering faith and support. The idea to help people deal with the trauma of burns and healing makes Kilee’s story worth a read!

Book Review: Christmas at Mistletoe Cove (Hope Island #3) by Holly Martin

About the Book:

Christmas at Mistletoe Cove

Growing up on Hope Island, Eden Lancaster always believed that if you wished hard enough for something, dreams really could come true. But Eden’s greatest wish is also her biggest secret: she has been completely in love with her childhood friend, the charming and attractive Dougie Harrison, for as long as she can remember. And he has no idea.

When Dougie leaves his successful life in New York to return home to Hope Island for good, Eden can’t escape her feelings. Her heart is full of hope that her romantic dreams are finally, at long last, going to come true…

This Christmas could change everything. But can a lifelong friendship really turn into the perfect romance? And will Eden get the happily ever after she’s always wished for?

My Thoughts:

 Christmas at Mistletoe Cove is the story of childhood friends Eden and Dougie, who have always loved each other but don’t realize that the other has the same feelings until much later. They both shy away from telling the other about their feelings which seems quite clear to everyone else around them. As much as I enjoyed the concept of magic and hope at the time of the holidays, the romance did not do much for me. It all felt rushed and sudden and then quite over the top. All of a sudden everything just works out and is perfect with a lot of over the top gestures to prove that dreams can come true. It seemed a bit too easy for me and thus I ended up skimming through some parts of the story that didn’t hold my attention. The characters are nice, but everyone seems to be rather perfect in how they are and their lives.

The concept of a happily ever after and finding love at the time of Christmas is wonderful and I am sure that fans of romance will enjoy this story!

Book Review: The Wake Up by Catherine Ryan Hyde

About the Book:

The Wake Up

From New York Times bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde comes a hauntingly emotional novel of how one man’s life changes forever when he rediscovers his ability to feel the pain of others.

Something has been asleep in forty-year-old cattle rancher Aiden Delacorte for a long time. It all comes back in a rush during a hunting trip, when he’s suddenly attuned to the animals around him, feeling their pain and fear as if it were his own. But the newfound sensitivity of Aiden’s “wake up” has its price. He can no longer sleepwalk through life, holding everyone at arm’s length. As he struggles to cope with a trait he’s buried since childhood, Aiden falls in love with Gwen, a single mother whose young son bears a burden of his own.

Sullen and broken from his experiences with an abusive father, Milo has turned to acting out in violent and rebellious ways. Aiden can feel the boy’s pain, as well as that of his victims. Now he and Milo must sift through their pasts to find empathy with the innocent as well as the guilty, to come to terms with their deepest fears, and to finally discover the compassionate heart of a family.

My Thoughts:

I would like to thank Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for a copy of this novel. Slated to release this December, Catherine Ryan Hyde’s upcoming novel will pull you into a world of horses, cattle and people. Filled with heavy emotions, this story is as different from her others as it can be. Having red and reviewed Allie and Bea earlier this year, I am impressed at the diversity in the plots and the way the author writes. It is a pleasure to read her stories and there is always something to learn out of them.

The story revolves around Aiden, a man in his forties, who experiences something he refers to as “The Wake-up”, the title of this story. All of sudden he is able to feel the emotions – fear, happiness, sadness, desperation, etc of animals around him. Being a cattle rancher, there is a lot to deal with and the decision to stop scares not only Aiden, but people around him who have known him for a very long time. This concept is a lot to take in and deal with.

As the story progresses, Aiden is left alone by his neighbours and girlfriend, mostly due to his sudden change in behaviour which nobody understands or wants to. During this time, he meets Gwen, a single mother and her two children Elizabeth and Milo. Gwen is like a ray of sunshine in Aidden’s life, giving him the hope that he will be alright. Elizabeth is mature for her age and a very understanding child, the perfect child that every parent would want.

Milo on the other hand has been a victim of abuse at the hands of his father and acts out in a lot of harmful ways, especially towards animals. It is difficult to talk to him, to understand him and he doesn’t get along with Aiden. Here starts the story, the journey of healing and acceptance. As Aiden starts to seek help, his therapy sessions bring out a lot about his childhood and helps the reader understand who he is and how he came to be this way, including how his own step-father took a chance on him. This inspires him to try to help Milo, to earn his trust and to show him that he is worthy of love no matter what he has gone through.

The story also shows us how if you place your trust in a person and show them that they can achieve things in their life, it will change them. The story comes full circle with a horse birthing, that being the moment which changed young Aiden’s life and later something that helps Milo. As the truth unfolds, it is shocking to discover the abuse Milo has dealt with as well as the kind of dysfunctional family Aiden lived in until his step-father came into his life and helped him.

The reader will marvel at the subtle hints the author drops about the issues raised and how the simplest gesture can hold more meaning than a big grand one. A story of trust, acceptance and learning, ‘The Wake Up’ will leave the reader with a lot to think about and maybe the concept of being sensitive to other people’s feelings if not other beings.

Travel 200 years into the past with Cross Stitch (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon

About the Book:

Cross Stitch (Outlander, #1)

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

My Thoughts:

I picked up this book after watching Season 1 of the TV show Outlander on Netflix. The series caught my attention and kept me hooked and yearning for more. Once my interest was piqued, I had to give the book a try more out of curiosity to see how close to the story the series was.

The story itself interested me to some extent. The concept of traveling back into the past and getting caught up in a time much different and more primitive compared to the one you live in is indeed an adventure. For Clarie however, it started off as a nightmare. The moment she stepped through the stones at Craigh na Dun, she found herself 200 years in the past, and in the sight of her husband’s ancestor, Captain Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall. Thus starts a story of discovery, love and friendship set in the time of the Jacobite rising. Armed with knowledge from the future, Claire is forced to bide her time until she can return to the stones and find her way home. In an ideal world, things should have worked out that way, but her encounter with Jack Randall also brings her in contact with Scottish Highlanders and Jamie Fraser.

What do you do when you have to marry a handsome highlander to save your life from the English soldiers? How do you reconcile with the fact that you are already married, 200 years in the future? Is it alright to make a life in the time where you are now? What do you do with the knowledge you have of the past when you end up in the past?

With the above questions arising, Claire is faced with a much bigger challenge, starting with acceptance from the Highlander Clans as well as  the fact that she might not go back to see Frank. She is forced to accept her fate and in time falls in love with Jamie, thus further tearing her apart, torn between her vows to Frank and her current marriage to Jamie. Not one to be very superstitious or believe in magic, Claire finds herself in an unimaginable situation, where her skills as a nurse come into action to help.

A well-written story, this first book in the series will keep the reader hooked until the very end and leave them yearning for more. The characters are well crafted and wonderfully portrayed with the plot moving at a steady pace. It is possible to believe in love and magic and this is made more evident through the love that blossoms between Jamie and Claire as they understand and accept each other. The decisions Claire makes, and the path she takes, the people she meets, all seek to set the course of this story!

The book is well worth a read and the series is equally worth watching!

Book Review: Roller Coaster in Tehran by Y. I. LATZ

About the Book:

Roller Coaster in Tehran

Imagine being sent to spy on your country’s worst enemy!

Dr. Amalia Tavori is a mother of three and an expert rollercoaster engineer with a short fuse and an insatiable appetite for adventure. She is forced to join the Israeli Mossad to save her husband from economic collapse. Amalia is sent under false identity to Tehran, the capital of Israel’s worst enemy, to help the Iranians build a grandiose amusement park.

Every day could be Amalia’s last!

Roller Coaster in Tehran reveals an intimate picture of the exceedingly dangerous daily life of an Israeli spy in Tehran. Amalia knows no boundaries and has no shame. She fools both her enemies and her operators from the Mossad, working out of her own deep inner convictions.

Can Amalia complete her mission without losing her life?

When a grave disaster befalls her family in Israel, it becomes even more difficult for her to perform her secret mission. This book redefines the concepts of loyalty, betrayal, enemies, and compassion. The image of an ordinary woman emerges – one who yearns for true love but who has been forced to become larger than life itself. She is prepared to sacrifice herself for her country, but not to sacrifice her life for an existence without love.

My Thoughts:

Meet Dr. Amalia Tavori an Israeli spy for the Mossad and an expert rollercoaster engineer. She is sent to Tehran on mission, under the ruse of helping the Iranians build a huge amusement park. Being a part of this world and the work, doesn’t deter Amalia from enjoying the thrill of it all. The exhileration she feels when she travels on missions seem to have made her crave danger more, taking her away from her family. A mother of three, Amalia finds that her relationship with her husband has sunk, mostly due to how he dealt with the loss of their money, forcing her to join the Mossad in the first place, to save him and their family. Having gotten accustomed to a certain lifestyle, it is rather difficult to perceive any other way of life.

While on mission in Tehran, Amalia is forced to reconnect with her old friend, to renew old ties as she continues to get closer to her friend in order to get to her husband. Through all this, we see the compassionate side of our protagonist as she struggles to deal with some of the facts presented to her, which seem to contradict the nature of the people she sees everyday. As the story progresses, we see a more sinister plan in place and a stronger character in Amalia as she decides to fight for what is right was well as a life filled with love.

A heart wrenching and deeply moving story, the author brings to us the trials and tribulations of a mother and her love for her children, her country and herself. We follow her as she navigates through heart ache, desire, and hurt among other emotions. We meet some interesting characters, central to the plot and who add a lot of substance to it. This story teaches us about making choices and the consequences each choice may have.

Book Review: Another’s Child by Einat Danon

About the Book:

Another's Child

Imagine inheriting a child that you don’t even know!

One morning, Yael and Arik Katz are startled by a surprise inheritance: Noa, the ten-year-old daughter of Canadian friends with whom they had made a long-forgotten will-exchange agreement, is delivered to their doorstep with no warning. Why did her parents decide that she should grow up with acquaintances rather than family? How do you raise a girl you do not even know?

Secrets and lies are revealed and everything starts to get complicated

Noa does not find her place in Israel. Yael takes her back to Toronto to look for a more suitable adoptive home. The search reveals answers to questions that have not even been asked about parenthood, marital relations, love, one’s home, and the fragility of life.

Can life ever be the same again?

As Yael delves into Noa’s past to better understand her, she discovers some unflattering things about her own partner and that the connection between her family and Noa is deeper than it had seemed. These shocking revelations leave Yael with a serious dilemma about her own family relationships.

My Thoughts:

An intriguing tale of how a tragedy can change the lives of various people, Another’s Child deals with responsibilities, secrets and a little girl caught up in the middle of everything.

How would you feel if your normal routine and life is disrupted one day by the news that you have inherited a child?

Shocked! That is exactly how Yael felt when she opened the door one morning to a lawyer and little Noa. Noa’s parents had died in a car accident and as per their will, Yael and Arik Katz were to take care of the little girl. This story shows how certain decisions made in the spur of the moment can have bigger consequences later on in life.

As Yael struggles to accept the new child into her life, she decides to make it easier for everyone and takes her back to Canada to find a family willing to adopt her and keep her there. Through this journey, she learns things about Noa, while at the same time opens a can of worms that cannot be closed. Once she takes a peak, she is caught up in the web of lies that threaten to turn her world up-side down. She is forced to rethink her life and her opinions about her Husband, the love of her life.

The author deals with topics of trust, relationships, family, secrets and lies. The story is well-written and will draw you in, ensuring that you experience all the emotions of the various characters. Noa is a smart child, who senses the underlying tones of distrust, but yearns to be accepted by the family even though she acts out and against Yael. Arik is strong and gentle at the same time, connecting with Noa in a way that no-one can, easily understanding her moods. Yael is colorful, sometimes happy, sometimes angry and even sad, but still trying to do the right thing. At times she does come off as annoying and her reactions are very childish, but it will not make the reader hate her. The journey Yael taks through this story is not only one down memory lane, but also one that looks at her life and helps her rediscover herself, gaining confidence once more. The relationship that develops between Yael and Noa is beautiful to see as it goes from hatred to grudging respect to acceptance. It is difficult to hate a child even when you hate her mother!

The story ended quite abruptly for me, it seemed to just fall into place eventually, after all the drama and heartbreak. This was confusing and made the book seem incomplete to me. However, the entire plot and story were good and worth the read! The author did a good job with the portrayal of emotions and in keeping the reader engaged!

 

 

The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

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

About the Book:

The Summer That Made Us

My Thoughts:

The Summer That Made Us is a story spread across three generations of women, bringing them together once more in an attempt to make everything right again. The story introduces us to women who are mothers, daughters, sisters and even cousins. The tragedy that broke them apart, the lives they led before and after, and a journey towards healing.

What started off as tradition between two families (two sisters married two brothers) and their children, soon becomes a rather intriguing story as the truth of the past comes out into the open. When Meg, who is suffering from cancer, wants to open up the Lake house one more time, she sets into motion a series of events that finally shape the lives of her sisters, cousins, her aunt and mother. So much has changed and happened, but the voices of the past never keep quiet.

The Lake house brings out memories and secrets buried deep, and though the plan is met with resistance initially, it proves to be better than expected. Meg’s elder sister sets out to make the house livable again, while Meg invites the family. The best part of this story is when one by one, each woman finds her peace with her past and her present, finding ways to open up and move on. The journey of healing begins with frank conversations and open discussions. This is made clear by the author, who ensures that the reader is hooked until the end. You will laugh and cry with these women, you will love them and hate them and eventually, as things start to become right, you just know that this story was worth knowing and needs to be passed on.

This story is filled with people whom we can easily relate to, their troubles become our troubles and their pain is ours too. Such is the beauty of the author’s story telling. This book is worth a read for all the lessons it brings out and the life experiences along with the bonds between people. Even though people change in life, their journey shapes them, some bonds are forever and family is always there by your side no matter how bad it gets! That’s a message every reader will take away from this book!

Book review: Olivia MacAllister, Who Are You? by Celine Rose Mariotti

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

Olivia MacAllister, Who Are You?: A Ghost Mystery Set in Maine

New Children’s Book from Dreaming Big Publications
Author: Celine Rose Mariotti
Illustrator: Bob Veon
Available in Paperback and Ebook
Page Count: 80 pages

Amazon Link:
https://www.amazon.com/Olivia-MacAllister-Who-Are-You/dp/1548809780/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1502775150&sr=8-1&keywords=olivia+who+are+you

Publisher Website: Dreamingbigpublications.com
Email: Dreamingbigpublications@outlook.com

About the Book:
Bobby MacAllister and Noel Simpson are cousins, who visit their Uncle Eb in Maine for the summer. There they embark on an adventure to discover the story of their ancestors and the secrets of the ghost, Olivia, who stays in the house. Together, with family friends and partners from the town, they uncover the truth of a long lost love story. Olivia MacAllister, Who Are You? is a fun fiction chapter book for children aged 7 to 10. Will you be inspired to learn about your ancestors’ past like Bobby and Noel?

My Thoughts:

This is a simply written, quick read with an interesting plot line. The main characters, cousins, Bobby and Noel come to visit their Uncle for the summer. With highly inquisitive natures, they start exploring the house and try to discover it’s secrets. Along with some history about the family, we are introduced to the ghost of one of their ancestors, Olivia MacAllister, who seems to still be tied to the house.

As the story unfolds, we learn of her tragic death and her lost love. The mystery behind all this, the tiny adventures that the children go off on and the old house with its secret doors makes for a fun read. It is wonderful to read about how the children bond with their uncle and share a sense of interest in all things mysterious and supernatural.

The story ends abruptly, with some questions left unanswered. It feels hurried and short and at times as though everything is just falling into place very easily. But, this does not take away from the rest of the plot which is actually quite good. Overall, this is a decent read and will ensure that children enjoy themselves.