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!

Guest Post by Andrew Joyce author of Yellow Hair

It has indeed been a while since I have featured a guest post on my blog, so when Andrew asked me for the opportunity, I jumped at it. He has recently released his new book titled Yellow Hair, and in the post below, he talks about the inspiration behind writing this book. Read on to know what he has to say.

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About the Author:

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Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and fifty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, YELLOW HAIR. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, MICK REILLY.

Guest Post:

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Namrata has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to talk about my latest, Yellow Hair.

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Through no fault of his own, a young man is thrust into a new culture just at the time that culture is undergoing massive changes. It is losing its identity, its lands, and its dignity. He not only adapts, he perseveres and, over time, becomes a leader—and on occasion, the hand of vengeance against those who would destroy his adopted people.

Yellow Hair documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. Every death, murder, battle, and outrage depicted actually took place—from the first to the last. The historical figures that play a role in my story were real people and I used their real names. I conjured up my protagonist only to weave together the various events conveyed in my fact-based tale of fiction. Yellow Hair is an epic tale of adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th century. It is American history.

End of commercial. Now what I really want to talk about:

The inspiration for the book came to me when I was reading a short article and it made reference to the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862. It also mentioned that the outcome involved the largest mass execution in the history of the United States. That piqued my interest.

When I started my research into the incident, one thing led to another and before I knew it, I was documenting the entire history of the Sioux, who are also known as the Dakota, vis-à-vis the relationship between them and the United States.

Because the book exists only because I read the phrase, “the largest mass execution in the history of the United States,” I’ll tell you a little about that. What follows is an extremely abbreviated version of events.

The Dakota signed their first treaty with the United States in 1805 when they sold a small portion of their land to the Americans for the purpose of building forts. It was right after the Louisiana Purchase and President Jefferson wanted a presence in the West. At the time, “the West” was anything on the western side of the Mississippi River.

In the treaty of 1805, the Dakota sold 100,000 acres to the Americans. The agreed-upon price was $2.00 per acre. But when the treaty came up before the Senate for ratification, the amount was changed to two cents per acre. That was to be a precursor for all future treaties with the Americans. There were subsequent treaties in 1815, 1825, 1832, 1837, and 1851, and basically the same thing happened with all those treaties.

In 1837, the Americans wanted an additional five million acres of Dakota land. Knowing it would be a hard sell after the way they failed to live up to the letter or spirit of the previous treaties, the government brought twenty-six Dakota chiefs to Washington to show them the might and majesty that was The United States of America.

The government proposed paying one million dollars for the acreage in installments over a twenty-year period. Part of the payment was to be in the form of farm equipment, medicine, and livestock. Intimidated, the Indians signed the treaty and went home. The United States immediately laid claim to the lands—the first payment did not arrive for a year.

The significance of the 1837 treaty lies in the fact that it was the first time “traders” were allowed to lay claim to the Indians’ payments without any proof that money was owed . . . and without consulting the Indians. Monies were subtracted from the imbursements and paid directly to the traders.

By 1851, the Americans wanted to purchase all of the Dakota’s remaining lands—twenty-five million acres. The Sioux did not want to sell, but were forced to do so with threats that the army could be sent in to take the land from them at the point of a gun if they refused the American’s offer.

“If we sell our land, where will we live?” asked the Dakota chief.

“We will set aside land for the Dakota only. It is called a reservation and it will be along both banks of the Minnesota River, twenty miles wide, ten on each side and seventy miles long. It will be yours until the grasses no longer grow,” answered the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

The Dakota were offered six cents an acre for land that was worth at least a dollar an acre. The payment would be stretched out over a twenty year period and was to be made in the form of gold coins. One year later, in 1852, the Americans took half the reservation, the seventy miles on the north side of the river. The Dakota were now reduced from a nation of fierce, independent people to a people dependent on hand-outs from the ones who stole not only their land, but also their dignity.

The Dakota were forced to buy their food from the traders who ran trading posts at the Indian Agency the U.S. Government had set up on the reservation. All year long the Dakota would charge what they needed. When the yearly payment for their land arrived, the traders would take what they said was owed them. Subsequently, there was very little gold left for the Dakota.

By 1862, the Dakota were starving. That year’s payment was months late in arriving because of the Civil War. The traders were afraid that because of the war there would be no payment that year and cut off the Dakota’s credit. The Indian Agent had the power to force the traders to release some of the food stocks, but refused when asked to do so by the Dakota.

After they had eaten their ponies and dogs, and their babies cried out in the night from hunger, the Dakota went to war against the United States of America.

They attacked the agency first and liberated the food stock from the warehouse, killing many white people who lived there. Then bands of braves set out to loot the farms in the surrounding countryside.

Many whites were killed in the ensuing weeks. However, not all of the Dakota went to war. Many stayed on the reservation and did not pick up arms against their white neighbors. Some saved the lives of white settlers. Still, over 700 hundred whites lost their lives before the rebellion was put down.

When the dust settled, all of the Dakota—including women and children, and those people who had saved settlers’ lives—were made prisoners of war.

Three hundred and ninety-six men were singled out to stand trial before a military commission. They were each tried separately in trials that lasted only minutes. In the end, three hundred and three men were sentenced to death.

Even though he was occupied with the war, President Lincoln got involved. He reviewed all three hundred and three cases and pardoned all but thirty-eight of the prisoners.

On a gray and overcast December morning in 1862, the scaffold stood high. Thirty-eight nooses hung from its crossbeams. The mechanism for springing the thirty-eight trap doors had been tested and retested until it worked perfectly. At exactly noon, a signal was given, a lever pulled, and the largest mass execution to ever take place in the United States of America became part of our history.

Find the book and connect with the author at the following sites:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Kobo

Smashwords

Andrewjoyce.com

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Book Review: Under the Pong Pong Tree by Hal Levey

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

About the Book:

Under the Pong Pong Tree

“Nothing can prepare the Chinese residents of Singapore for the tyranny that is ahead when the Japanese invade Singapore during World War II.

They get a sense of their new reality when Col. Kosaka stands in the shade of a Pong Pong tree—a tree that bears poisonous fruit—and orders the beheading of Mr. Tan, owner of a rubber plantation.

Li Lian Goh, a beautiful, sixteen-year-old girl, survives the carnage that follows, but her family is torn apart—like so many others that come under the iron fist of the Japanese.

She’s consigned to a military brothel where she is impregnated by a cruel Japanese officer. Desperate to survive and protect her unborn daughter, she manages to escape and gives birth in a Malay village to a baby girl she names Maimunah.

Capt. Mike Cagle, an American fighter pilot in Vietnam, meets Maimunah in her home village many years later, and he’s dazzled by her beauty. But their blossoming romance seems doomed when a missile locks onto Cagle’s F-4.

Love and the brutality of war are woven together in a beautiful, heart-wrenching tapestry in Under the Pong Pong Tree.”

My thoughts:

The story brings out the truth behind what people faced during the WWII when the Japanese invaded Singapore. It is  both horrifying and brutally honest. The author does not hesitate describe the events in great detail with no sugar coating to make it seem less horrific.

The story told from the perspective of a female protagonist is strong and highlights her life and what she has faced. the story is phased out in two parts; the first from Li Lian’s childhood until she takes over the rubber plantations and the second is when her daughter Maimunah comes back into her life along with the introduction of Mike Cagle, an american who only seems to add to the charm of the various characters present.

There are a lot of characters involved in the story, but the beauty lies in the way they all come together at the end. Each one has a specific role to play and they each bring with them a part of the story. The strength of the story lies in the plot and the style of narration.

The author intersperses the deeper relationships of friendship and family along with the more superficial ones. He brings out the feelings of misery, hatred as well as love amidst the backdrop of the war. The underlying message is that of trust and loyalty as well as to stick to one’s beliefs.

Li Lian may have been through a lot in the story as well as done a lot, however we are shown that she was human. She was not always right and even she accepted it. She meets a lot of people in her journey, many who help her and many who don’t and she forms bonds that remain for life. This is the beauty of the narration and character sketches. The characters are very well developed and have various shades to them some even coming across as vibrant. A peep into our history in a fresh way is a good way to describe this book.

If I continue typing I may just give away the entire story as it is still fresh in my mind. To prevent that, I will stop with my raving and say that I strongly recommend this book to all bookworms out there. This is a refreshing read and a breath taking, heart  stopping account of life faced during the WWII, and a look at a smaller war that most would not comment on.

Buy links to the book on Amazon:

Review: God is a Gamer by Ravi Subramanian

About the Book:

god is a gamer

Imagine a scenario where you cross this powerful virtual currency with a Gamer, Banker, Politician and a Terrorist. The result is GOD IS A GAMER – the worlds first Bitcoin Thriller.

A thriller which moves from Washington’s Congress to Delhi’s finance ministry, the beaches of Goa to the corporate boardrooms of Mumbai. A thriller set in a world where money means nothing, martyrs are villains, predators are prey, assassination is taught by the ancient Greeks, and nothing is as it seems.

God is a Gamer is author’s personal favourite. A lot of effort has gone into researching the minor details to make sure that you enjoy every page of this thriller. As they say, a good thriller is one where the page turns by itself. Hope the pages of God is a Gamer turn by themselves and the book stays in your hand imploring you to finish it before you put it down.

About the Author:

Ravi Subramanian is India’s numero uno thriller writer, having written six bestselling books. An alumnus of Indian Institute of Management (Bangalore), he is currently head of a leading financial institution. A career banker and financial services professional, Ravi has worked with various multinational banks (Citibank, ANZ Grindlays Bank and HSBC) for over eighteen years. As a result of his extensive background in foreign banks, writing about banking comes quite naturally to Ravi. Each one of his books thus far have been set in the backdrop of a foreign bank.

 My Thoughts:

I received this book via Blod adda in exchange for an honest review and I really enjoyed this book from the moment I started reading it. This is the second book I have read by Ravi Subramanian and I believe this book is as different from the previous as it is wonderful to read.

God is a Gamer is a story of revenge, a story that touches upon the various emotions of betrayal, trust, lies, love and family. The story starts off with the murder of a high profile person in America. The prologue introduces us to a discussion between the President of Mastercard International and the CEO of Visa International followed later by the emergence of Wikileaks and its impact on the US Government. The author then talks about the existence of virtual money called bitcoins, slated to be the future of money and thus is formed a plot that will turn the world upside down. An explosion that kills an American Bureaucrat has the FBI running around trying to solve the case as soon as possible.

In India, a prominent banker, Malvika dies by falling off a rooftop at a party held in her house which raises quite a few doubts. Aditya Rao owns a small gaming company that suddenly becomes well known all around the world once Varun joins the team. There is a lot of internal politics that arises within the Bank where Malvika worked and the author has drawn this out beautifully. The concept of virtual money turns out to be a part of a darker plot and the internet doesn’t seem to be such a safe place anymore.

Ravi Subramanian has woven a master plot that will keep you hooked till the end. Throughout the story, he will keep the reader guessing, wondering what is going to happen next. The author manages to keep the suspense till the very end when the entire plot unravels in a brilliant ending. This story is as much an expose on how various agencies around the world function as it is an in depth analysis on how people think. The base plot is strong and the sub-plots help in strengthening it.

The style of writing is wonderful and the author keeps up a good pace throughout the story without losing track. I particularly enjoyed all the information he has incorporated regarding Bitcoins which shows just how much research has gone into writing this story. I love the characters he has created and the way each one has an important role to play. In the end every loose thread is tied up and the whole plot is laid as the author ends the story in style.

All this boils down to a fast paced thriller that will have the reader on the edge of their seat reading until the very end without a moment’s pause. The reader will keep turning the pages of the book just to know what happens next. The way the author has indirectly said that God is indeed a gamer and we are all just a part of his game is a brilliant take on how this world functions This is a must read for all fans of thrillers and mysteries.

 

 

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