Book Review: Dead to Them by Smita Bhattacharya

About the Books:

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Moira Madhwa is the typical young, beautiful and successful urban woman until the day she goes missing. Her friends start looking for her, but quickly realize nothing is as it seems. Moira had kept devastating secrets—secrets that could wreck their lives if revealed. As days roll by, one by one, skeletons tumble out of closets, and each of Moira’s friends’ looks guilty. But did one among them hate her enough to do the worst?

A nail-biting, psychological suspense thriller, Dead to Them weaves a web of deception, lies, and paranoia in the city of Mumbai, where every face hides a dark story and uncovering it can lead to disastrous consequences.

My Thoughts:

Dead to Them is indeed a well-written psychological thriller that follows the life of Moira and the impact she has on the lives of various people. When Moira is found to be missing, there follows a series of events leading to the revelation of secrets, interpretation of lies and people’s interactions with one another take a big turn.

As readers, we are introduced not only to Moira but to a whole group of people, some who are colleagues and some who claim to be friends with her. However as the story develops, one question that pops up frequently in the mind of each character is whether any of them actually knew the real Moira. She was charismatic but also liked to play games and this is something we see through her eyes as well as those of the others.

I think Smita has done a great job in writing this story bringing in plot twists at the right moments. The story is gripping and nerve wracking, making the reader eagerly read on to know what happens next. I honestly did not see some of the twists that came and I enjoyed how each of the characters had a connection with Moira that they thought was unique.

Smita has really worked well to bring this plot to life and this is perhaps one of her best books that I have read. Readers are in for a wonderful journey as secrets surface and no-one is as they seem in the end. I strongly recommend this psychological thriller to all fans of the genre.

Book Review: A Letter From Pearl Harbor by Anna Stuart

About the Book:

58758179Ninety-eight-year-old Ginny McAllister’s last wish is for her granddaughter to complete a treasure hunt containing clues to her past. Clues that reveal her life as one of the first female pilots at Pearl Harbor, and a devastating World War Two secret.

1941, Pearl Harbor: On the morning of December 7th, Ginny is flying her little yellow plane above the sparkling seas when she spots an unknown aircraft closing in on her. She recognises the red symbol of the Japanese fighter planes almost too late. Somehow, she manages to land unscathed but the choices she is forced to make in the terrible hours that follow have tragic consequences…

2019, Pearl Harbor: Heartbroken Robyn Harris is reeling from the death of the strong, determined grandmother who raised her. Her only comfort is a letter written in Ginny’s distinctive hand which details a treasure hunt, just like the ones she used to set for her as a little girl. Except this time, the clues are scattered across the beautiful island of Hawaii. Despite her grief, Robyn finds herself intrigued as she follows the trail of letters, revealing the truth about Ginny’s service during the Second World War.

But Robyn’s whole world is turned upside down when she’s faced with a shocking secret which has the power to change the course of her own life…

Inspired by true events, this is a heartbreaking and unforgettable WW2 novel about love, loss and bravery. Perfect for fans of The Alice Network, The Nightingale and Kathryn Hughes.

My Thoughts:

A Letter From Pearl Harbor is a story of love, loss, learning and second chances no matter the situation. The story is narrated to us in two timelines, one in the current day from Robyn’s point of view and the other through letters and the narration in her grandmother’s point of view set in 1941. Robyn and her sister spend one last night with their grandmother who is on her deathbed. At this point, she tells them that she had a terrible secret and has set up a treasure hunt with clues scattered across Hawaii to tell them her story.

The sisters, Robyn and Ashleigh have their own share of demons to deal with. Ashleigh got into an accident which led to her being confined to a wheelchair and stuck without the use of her legs. Robyn moves to Hawaii (perhaps following in her grandmother’s footsteps) and works there, giving up a sports scholarship that she was not ready to devote time to. The sisters have unresolved feelings of resentment towards one another which are tackled through the story.

As we follow the girls on their hunt for clues, we get to know their grandmother better. Her story is set in the time of WWII when the was had still not come to America, but there was a hint. Then one day, Pearl Harbor is bombed by the Japanese and everything changes. In the midst of this bombing, a lot changes for Ginny and thus her priorities change. Determined and full of purpose, she goes to England in the hope that female pilots will be allowed to be a part of the war efforts.

This is a heartbreaking story that brings to us the realities of war, the frustrations, but more importantly how loss affects the people who still live. Additionally, as we discover Ginny’s secrets, we find out just how decisions can affect not just your life but that of the others around you and how the goodness of people can go beyond holding grudges and prove to be healing. Through her story, Robyn and her sister also learn to accept who they are, accept each other and form better bonds with each other and those around them.

Though the war is a part of the plot, the main focus is on the women who train to be pilots and participate in the war efforts. Their determinations, achievements and friendships form the backbone of this story. A truly well-written story, this book is worth reading especially for the messages it contains.

Book Review: Before We Grow Old by Clare Swatman

About the Book:

Some people are just made for each other…When seven-year-old Fran first met Will they knew instantly that they were made for each other. For eleven years they were inseparable, but then, at the age of eighteen, Will just upped and disappeared.

Twenty-five years later Will is back.
Is fate trying to give them a second chance?

Still nursing the heart break from all those years ago, Fran is reluctant to give Will the time of day. The price Will must pay is to tell the truth – the truth about why he left, the truth about why he’s back…

And Fran has her own secrets to hide. The time has come to decide what Fran and Will really want from life – before it’s too late.

My Thoughts:

Before We Grow Old is an inspiring story of two people who find each other twenty five years later and realize that they still feel the same way about each other that they did growing up. Fran and Will were very close from the age of seven, first as friends which then grew into something more. When Will went away leaving just a letter behind, Fran was distraught and in a situation that she never expected to be in. Will on the other hand was dealing with the loss of his mother and a grieving father.

The story follows the two of them as they discover their friendship and love twenty five years later. There is a lot that was left unsaid, secrets that were hidden and feelings to rediscover and understand. This is indeed a story of second chances, learning to forgive, understanding a person’s decision and moving on in ways that make everyone all the more happier. This is also a story of seizing the moment, learning to live life to the fullest and dealing with loss.

I truly enjoyed reading about Fran and Will, their families, and friends. The story is beautifully written and fun in places where everyone comes together to try and complete a bucket list that Fran and Will prepared when they were seventeen. The author handles the concept of death rather delicately and I quite liked the way she handled the whole plot. Though sad in the end, there is something so fulfilling and positive in the way Will handles life and Fran steps up to deal with everything. In the end, the bonds of family tie everyone together and we can each learn something from this story.

I truly enjoyed reading this book and I laughed and cried along with the characters. This is definitely worth reading and I definitely recommend this book to all!

Book Review: The Second Life of Mirielle West by Amanda Skenandore

About the Book:

57034524The glamorous world of a silent film star’s wife abruptly crumbles when she’s forcibly quarantined at the Carville Lepers Home in this page-turning story of courage, resilience, and reinvention set in 1920s Louisiana and Los Angeles. Based on little-known history, this timely book will strike a chord with readers of Fiona Davis, Tracey Lange, and Marie Benedict.

Based on the true story of America’s only leper colony, The Second Life of Mirielle West brings vividly to life the Louisiana institution known as Carville, where thousands of people were stripped of their civil rights, branded as lepers, and forcibly quarantined throughout the entire 20th century.

For Mirielle West, a 1920’s socialite married to a silent film star, the isolation and powerlessness of the Louisiana Leper Home is an unimaginable fall from her intoxicatingly chic life of bootlegged champagne and the star-studded parties of Hollywood’s Golden Age. When a doctor notices a pale patch of skin on her hand, she’s immediately branded a leper and carted hundreds of miles from home to Carville, taking a new name to spare her family and famous husband the shame that accompanies the disease.

At first she hopes her exile will be brief, but those sent to Carville are more prisoners than patients and their disease has no cure. Instead she must find community and purpose within its walls, struggling to redefine her self-worth while fighting an unchosen fate.

As a registered nurse, Amanda Skenandore’s medical background adds layers of detail and authenticity to the experiences of patients and medical professionals at Carville – the isolation, stigma, experimental treatments, and disparate community. A tale of repulsion, resilience, and the Roaring ‘20s, The Second Life of Mirielle West is also the story of a health crisis in America’s past, made all the more poignant by the author’s experiences during another, all-too-recent crisis.

My Thoughts:

The Second Life of Mirielle West is a historical fiction set in the time of the 1920s. Mirielle West is a socialite who only knows the world of comfort, glamor and parties. When a chance diagnosis by her doctor forces her to go away, everything as she knows it changes. The author delicately weaves a story around the Louisiana Leper Home known as Carville which housed so many people who were forcibly quarantined there. 

Mirielle doesn’t know what to expect and is under the impression that she can go home as soon as the misunderstanding is cleared. With each test and a confirmed diagnosis, she has to reconcile herself to her new surroundings and find a place among the people there. This is truly a book of second chances and new beginnings as we follow Mirielle who grows from a spoiled high and mighty socialite to a caring woman who takes up new responsibilities and tries to bring joy to those around her. She is separated from her family, her children and is still dealing with the grief of losing one child. All this has also led to distance with her husband and adds to her emotional turmoil.

Being separated from one’s family is not easy and being isolated is even worse when your family does not want to see you. This was the fate of so many of the people who lived here due to the disease which had no cure. The author has painted a vivid picture bringing to us a well woven story based on so many true accounts. It is heart-breaking to read about the circumstances of the people but the best part is the bonds that are formed. The love, compassion and kinship that arises from shared circumstances leads to found family and a new kind of acceptance in life.

Mirielle and all the other characters in the book are brilliant and worth knowing. This is a story with characters that will stay with you even after finishing the book. The experiences and life of the people, the difficulties they faced and how they were treated is eye opening. Though difficult to read about at times and quite emotional, it is worth the read!

Book Review: Rise of the Wild Moon by Nina Walker and Kimberly Loth

Rise of the Wild Moon is Book 3 in the New World Shifters series by Nina Walker and Kimberly Loth. The book will be released on 18.01.2021.

I was provided with an eARC of the book in exchange for my honest review. Read on to know what I thought about this book.

(Hint: I loved this book and I love the series! The authors have done a magical job!)

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My Thoughts:
I must admit that with each book, the plot only gets better and better! This book picks up where Book 2 left off after the Lycans attack at the festival. Poppy escapes with help from Ryne who also sends Knox with her to take care of her. Having been bitten, Poppy is yet to discover how it will affect her.

In this book, we meet more of the shifters and get to know them better. We get to spend time among the Lycans as Poppy and Knox end up among a group of them. They have their own ways, but seem to be more concerned about the humans and about saving them (or so they say!). Can you truly ever trust anyone and assume that they do not have a secret agenda? This forms the crux of the plot as the story progresses.

As Poppy navigates her way with the Lycans, she ends up with the resistance and meets many of the players involved. We also learn more about the Lycans as Poppy learns to handle the transitions every Moon cycle. Thus ensues a journey to rescue someone and exact revenge while also trying to save the humans from their fate among the werewolves. I enjoyed reading about the various characters and I like how the authors have worked to develop them. They are well rounded and believable. I also like how Poppy grows as a character reaching a point where she takes strong decisions and initiative while also assuming the role of a leader. She is caring and compassionate and this turns out to be the best part of who she is.

I devoured this book in one night, enjoying the story completely and now eagerly waiting for the next book in the series. This is indeed a wonderfully written book with a new spin on the supernatural with a dash of romance that will have the reader hoping for more!

Book Review: The Orphans of Mersea House by Marty Wingate

About the Book:


In the tradition of Kristin Harmel and Elise Hooper, USA Today bestseller Marty Wingate transports us to postwar England’s Suffolk coast in a rich historical drama about love lost—and promise found.

England, 1957. Olive Kersey’s only love never returned from World War II, and now, she’s alone and penniless. Then, the last person she ever expected to see again returns to Southwold. Olive’s childhood friend, Margery Paxton, arrives to claim her inheritance: Mersea House, a stately old home she plans to turn into the town’s only lodging. Olive’s life takes a sunny turn when Margery hires her to run the establishment. But Mersea House holds its own mysteries—and its own dangers.

First, rumors begin to fly when two enigmatic lodgers move in: Hugh Hodson, manager of the town cinema, and Mrs. Abigail Claypool, a recluse and war widow. And then, the completely unexpected: Margery is informed she has a new ward, eleven-year-old Juniper Wyckes, the orphaned daughter of Margery’s first love. Mrs. Lucie Pagett, Children’s Officer at the local authority, informs Margery that Juniper was severely stricken with polio as a child, and makes clear that she could be taken away if her welfare is in jeopardy.

Olive fears Juniper is being bullied at school because of her disability, even as the girl begins to thrive at home. But the past is never far behind for the inhabitants of Mersea House, and looming secrets may destroy these friendships they’ve created.

My Thoughts:

The Orphans of Mersea House follows the lives of Olive, Margery and Juniper, an eleven year old, as they all come together at the Mersea House. Olive and Margery grew up together for a time and lost touch when Margery went to London. Olive has dealt with her fair share of love, loss and choices made in life.

Set in the time post World War II, we come across people who have lost loved ones and who are trying to move on with their lives. The author gives us a glimpse into the lives of the people but with a slightly less focus on the historical aspect. The story is purely one of friendship, love and honoring promises. It’s of strong bonds and family that is made among friends who learn to accept one another for who they really are.

The book has a diverse set of characters, each as different from the other but bringing so much to the table. I adore Hugh and Mrs C. I also liked reading about Billy and the impact he has on Juniper’s life. More than anything, I love how the author has handled a character dealing with the after effects of polio with delicacy providing enough information to us as a reader. In addition, the author has shown us that having polio does not make one any different from the rest, the person/people can lead normal lives just like anyone else (while taking into account the constraints).

I enjoyed reading about Olive and Margery’s friendship and their antics when they were children. Perhaps the best part of the book is the bond that forms between Olive and Juniper (even though she is officially Margery’s ward). Juniper is a delightful child who ends up bringing out the best in everyone around her at Mersea House while carving a place for herself. As secrets have a way of coming out people have a choice with respect to how they react to them and this is also portrayed in this story.

This is a beautifully written story that reminds us what it means to have friends and family, the importance of friendship, acceptance and the joy of being in love. A truly remarkable and enjoyable read, I would recommend this book to everyone!

Book Review: The Wedding Setup by Sonali Dev

About the Book:

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From USA Today bestselling author Sonali Dev comes a heartfelt short story about one woman’s journey of self-discovery and what it means to be happy.

Ayesha Shetty lost her brother seven years ago, the same time she lost everything else important to her: her dreams, her fierce independence, and the man she loved. Not wanting to see her mother hurt anymore, she put her wild self away and became the dutiful daughter her mother needed and took on her brother’s role in the family business.

Now her best friend’s big, fat Indian wedding is a chance to get away from her endless duties at the restaurant and maybe even have some fun (if she remembers how). But a setup arranged by her mother, with a doctor no less, is the last thing she needs. The fact that he checks all her mother’s boxes just makes everything better…and worse.

Then Emmitt Hughes shows up. Her brother’s best friend. The love she once chose over family duties and her responsibilities. The one she asked to leave, and who did. The one who knows the real Ayesha. Torn between a love from the past that could cost her the only person she has left and her sense of obligation to her mother, will Ayesha find the strength to stop thinking about what everyone else wants and finally put herself first? Or is the old Ayesha truly gone for good?

My Thoughts:

The Wedding Setup is a short story that reads in the style of a Bollywood movie. It is a quick and interesting read considering the theme that is handled by the author. Ayesha suppresses her dreams and stays to help her mother at their family restaurant after her brother dies. She calms down and becomes the opposite of who she used to be. In an attempt to keep her mother happy, she starts to accept and agree with her without question.

The author handles the storyline very well and in this short story brings out a ton of emotions. The mother-daughter relationship, how it changed, Ayesha’s friendships, past love and the current arranged marriage setup. With the prospect of an arranged match and her ex turning up at her best friend’s wedding, Ayesha is torn between choosing what she wants and what would make her mother happy.

I enjoyed reading this book and I admire how the author has handled both the plot and her characters. Overall this is definitely a book that I would recommend for those who love second chance romances and an overload of different emotions!

Round Up: Top 5 books read in 2021

Hello to all my wonderful readers!
I hope that you and your loved ones are safe and the holidays are treating you well.
This is my first Round Up post for the year. I would like to highlight my favorite books of the year which honestly were 5 star reads and beyond for me!

I am listing the books in no particular order, but they really made a difference to my choice of books to read and authors to follow this year!

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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The author has done a brilliant job and the story is gripping until the very end! There are so many twists and turns that it is impossible to stop reading once you start! This book is a must read!

The Wrath of the Hellfires (Book 4 in the Vikramaditya Veeragatha series) by Shatrujeet Nath

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In conclusion, this book is worth the read as is the entire series! The Vikramaditya Veergatha proves to be a treasure trove of mystery keeping the reader guessing until the very end! The readers are in for a treat and eventually arrive at a conclusion that will satisfy everyone with strong characters fighting to save humanity against all odds!

The Last Queen by Chitra Baneerjee Divakaruni

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This book is well-researched and very well-written. The author brings to us a story that is long forgotten, but one that should be known. It shows us what a woman can do and how much she is capable of dealing with, both physically and emotionally.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

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This is a wonderful story that is told in a manner that will leave the reader spellbound. The author casts a wonderful web of magic on reader that carries them along until the end. I loved reading this book and am looking forward to reading the next book in this series!

The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games #2) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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I am yet to post my review for this book but I thoroughly enjoyed the duology and the concept of the book. I highly recommend this series to everyone!

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Do share your best books of the year or any book recommendations for me for next year!

Book Review: Fable by Adrienne Young

About the Book:

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Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.

As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

My Thoughts:

I absolutely adored this book and couldn’t put it down once I started reading it! Fable is one of the most talked about books this year and I must admit to being quite intrigued by it. So many people were reading it and talking about it and I finally decided that I had to know why. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I liked the book and the plot and the characters.

Fable is strong willed and with a unique set of skills that sets her apart. We follow her as she tries to navigate the island where her father left her after her mother died and their ship sank. No-one knows who she really is and she has made a promise to keep it that way. As she works for a chance to get off the island, we are given a glimpse into her life and the world around her.

With a plan to get off the island and reach her father’s place, Fable enlists the help of West and by extension his crew on the ship. This leads to a fast paced adventure filled with secrets, villains, dangers of the sea, trust issues and eventually fast friendships that mean more than anything. I would also like to mention the budding romance that adds more flavor to the plot making it worth reading.

All the characters have their own story to tell and their own agenda, but when brought together, it feels as though the story is complete. The author has a wonderful way with words painting a picture of the seas and islands that the characters visit. It is also easy to imagine the scenes as they unfold and this is the kind of story telling that reminds me of reading Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings all over again. The story is rich in detail and brings to us a new plot and world that any reader would be pulled into.

I was invested in the book and highly recommend it for all fans of fantasy fiction out there! This is worth it! I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts on the second book too!

Book Review: Greece Actually by Sue Roberts

About the Book:

Small, shy, safe. That’s how Becky lives ever since her last romantic calamity landed her in hospital. Her comfort zone is as confining as her tiny bank balance, and fiercely guarded by her totally over-the-top mum. But the news that her ex is back sniffing round is the final straw. In a very un-Becky move, she packs her bags for the Greek island of Skiathos. Maybe the setting of her favourite ABBA movie will be just the break from reality Becky needs…

Stepping aboard the Mamma Mia! boat tour, Becky leaves her fear in the port as she sings… out loud… in public, and cries Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! to everything the Greek life has to offer. She befriends locals young, old, and absolutely perfect (hello, sizzling hot restaurant-owner Kyros!), dines on freshly baked bread drizzled in golden olive oil on a starlit date, and walks barefoot along silky sandy beaches.

When Kyros asks her to stay longer, Becky is stunned. Could she really create a new life for herself here, and trust her heart with this smooth-talking charmer? But just as she’s thinking about putting down roots, her troublesome ex makes a dramatic return, begging for her back. Will she go back to playing it safe, or will she take a chance on Greece and embrace her true dancing queen?

My Thoughts:

Greece Actually is a light hearted summer or beach read that follows Becky as she goes to Greece with her two best friends. Having just come out of an abusive relationship and living a relatively low-key life, she jumps at the chance to house-sit for her uncle while he goes sailing. The story takes us on a journey around the Greek island of Skiathos and the surrounding places. We discover places to visit and some of the local food while also meeting people who live there.

The book blurb teases a Mamma Mia themed story or a love for the movie or even a love for ABBA songs. However, I did not find this translated into the story as Becky embraces the holiday with her friends. There is not a lot of backstory provided into the characters and thus they felt quite one-dimensional. Though I enjoyed reading about the bond between the friends, I felt that not enough attention was given to them and their lives.

This is a romance set in Greece and even the romance part was a little bit of a let down. We also do not see much of ‘the ex’ until almost the very end and it is not as dramatic as it was portrayed. I was not as invested in the characters as I had hoped to be while reading the book blurb. The highlight of the book is the setting and the beauty of the Greek islands. Overall this book can be read once, but I am sure that it would still be enjoyed by many.