Check out what Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of bestselling novel turned motion picture, Pay It Forward, has to say about her upcoming novel!

Allie and Bea have both lost everything.
Now they have nothing to lose.

Allie and Bea
by Catherine Ryan Hyde

On Sale: 23rd May 2017

About the Author:

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 32 published books. Her bestselling 1999 novel, Pay It Forward, was adapted into a major Warner Bros. motion picture starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, made the American Library Association’s Best Books for Young Adults list, and has been translated into more than two dozen languages in 30 countries. More than 50 of her short stories have been published in journals, and her short fiction received honorable mention in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest, a second-place win for the Tobias Wolff Award, and nominations for Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have also been cited in Best American Short Stories. Hyde is the founder and former president of the Pay It Forward Foundation. As a professional public speaker, she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with
AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.

A Conversation with the Author: (taken from the official press release).

Q: When readers are first introduced to Bea and Allie, both characters are at a point where they
have lost everything. Bea has fallen prey to a telephone scam and has nothing left but her cat and
her van, while Allie has been forced to live in a juvenile group home after her wealthy parents
are arrested for tax fraud. There is a quote in the book about this that is particularly striking:
“All her life Bea had felt fear, especially fear of the lack that seemed to hide around every
corner, and all her life she’d been ruled by it. But now she had a new secret weapon: nothing to
lose. And that was a freedom the likes of which Bea had never known.” In a way, it isn’t until
they hit their respective rock bottoms that Bea and Allie are truly free. What do they each gain
by losing seemingly everything?
A: It’s an interesting phenomenon, the freedom that comes from losing everything. It remains largely
theoretical because no one wants to test it out if they can possibly avoid it. But I’ve had little glimpses
into the feeling. I think most of us have. Our fear seems to stem from the idea that we have something
that could be lost, and that we are nothing without it. But once we are in that “lack situation,” the one
we once thought was nearly akin to death, we realize we’re still alive and our life goes on. And in
some very basic way we continue to be “okay,” though the definition of that word might shift. I do
think it changes us. Having faced our worst fears, the timidity we carried with us through the world
tends to fall away. It’s one of those odd aspects of the human condition that are a novelist’s life blood.

Q: As the income gap between America’s rich and poor continues to widen, many experts
suggest that we now live in an era of drastic economic inequality. Your novel brings together two
individuals who come from either end of the economic spectrum: Bea, who was already living
from Social Security check to Social Security check, is now penniless, while Allie is a teenager
who is accustomed to a life of affluence and luxury until her parents are arrested. What made
you want to pair these two characters together, and what were you hoping they could learn from
each other?
A: Some of these themes were not as premeditated as people might think. I made Bea economically
strained because the plot needed her to be. I knew I wanted a—well, I hate to say “dishonest” because
I’m not sure that’s true in Bea’s heart of hearts—but let’s say an “honesty challenged” character. Then
I wanted to throw that character together with a scrupulously honest one. Allie I chose to be more
affluent, probably because that helped create the contrasts that make good stories—both between her
experience and Bea’s and between her old life and the one in which she suddenly finds herself. And
the things they (and I) learned from the pairing involved a few interesting surprises.

Q: So many senior citizens are targeted in scams these days. In fact, New York City currently
has an ad campaign running in taxi cabs warning people about phone scams just like the one
that Bea is a victim of. Did you have any real life inspiration for her situation or her character?
A: Well, I live in the world, which I think is my real-life inspiration for everything I write. And while
Bea is not based on anyone I know, I have certainly seen a reflection of her struggles in the real people
all around me. My mother lived with me for the 25 years of her retirement, and I watched her struggle
to understand the technological world in which we now live. I watched her collect her Social Security,
wondering exactly how she would manage to live on such a small monthly payment if she didn’t have
family. I think I’m most aghast at the “scam culture” that seems to have no heart—the catfishers who
prey on the lonely and the financial scams that disproportionately affect the elderly. I don’t understand
how anyone could rob another human being of the one thing they can least afford to lose. And
anything I can’t understand is likely to come up in my novels.

Q: In addition to the differences in their economic backgrounds, Allie and Bea must also contend
with the generational divides that separate them. You yourself are closer in age to Bea, although
you write about both characters with a great deal of empathy, nuance, and believability. Was one
character harder to write for than the other, and what are some of the unexpected benefits of
spending time with people who are younger or older than us?
A: Both characters were easy to write for me, probably for the same reason that I am equally
comfortable writing from the point of view of a male or female character. I try to get underneath the
thin veneer of our differences and write from that deeper place in which we are all human. We all want
the same basic things—love, safety, acceptance—and we all have the same basic fears (whether we
admit them or not). Once you find that place, differences such as age or gender begin to seem quite
trivial. Plus, when writing young characters, my own arrested development helps a lot!
As to the benefits of spending time with people of different generations, the more we get over—or
under, or around—what we think of as our differences, the more we see how much we all have in
common. Life can only get better from there.

Q: At certain points in the novel, Bea and Allie are forced to resort to theft and deceit in order
to pay for things like gas and food. Stealing and dishonesty don’t necessarily come naturally to
either Allie or Bea, but the ways in which they wrestle with and justify these seemingly immoral
acts is quite interesting. In what ways do you think fighting for survival can change the nature of
“right” and “wrong”? How did you negotiate that tension as an author?
A: Some of this was unplanned when I began writing the novel. The original idea was that Bea had
turned into a scammer and Allie was honest, and Allie would help Bea see the light. Seems almost
laughably simplistic, looking back. This is not to say honesty is not good. Of course it is. But we have
these seniors (and others) living in poverty. They were promised security if they played by the rules
and paid into their government funds. The rich are getting so much richer, and so many people like Bea
have next to nothing. Many don’t even have what they need to survive. Everybody has the right to
assure his or her own survival, so to say to someone like Bea, “Now, now. No taking what isn’t
yours…” well, it seems downright immoral. Why do we live in a system where the very stuff of
survival is not within her reach? And Allie, she has to learn that it was naïve to be as staunchly pro-honesty as she has been, because until now she has never wanted for anything in her life. As a novelist, these are the situations I thrive on. They refuse to be black and white, no matter how badly we want them to be. So this was a process of discovery for me, a series of happy surprises that sprang up as I
went along.

Q: Allie and Bea’s journey together becomes something of an unconventional road trip. Were
you inspired by any of the classic road narratives from literature while you were writing this
book?
A: The road trip has always been a passion of mine, as long as I’ve been writing. My first novel,
Funerals for Horses, is a road trip. As is Becoming Chloe, Take Me with You, to a smaller extent
Chasing Windmills… and I may even be forgetting one or two. I’m sure I have enjoyed reading classic
road trip novels in the past, but none spring to mind now. What comes up strongly is my own love of
travel. I have driven and camped and hiked through so many of these places, and they have changed
me and become part of me. I guess it was inevitable that they would spill out into the work.

Q: Can you tell readers a little bit about the setting for this novel and what this area of
California means to you?
A: Part of it is my beloved home. I live in Cambria. San Luis Obispo, the place where Allie and Bea
were thrown together, Morro Bay where they first had breakfast, that overnight in Cambria… the
zebras on the Hearst property and the elephant seals just north of town… it’s all my backyard. And
I’ve done quite a bit of traveling along the coast, once with my mother starting at the top of Oregon,
once with just my dog Ella all the way home from the Canadian border. It’s a deeply familiar place for
me, with such striking scenery that it was crying out to be the backdrop for a story.

Q: When they first meet, Allie and Bea are both technically homeless and have no real family to
rely on. In what ways does their time together change their notions of what “home” and “family”
can mean?
A: Family is a concept with a practical necessity. And it’s a concept that comes up again and again in
my novels. We need community, we need the support of others. So what do we do when all of our
“others” fall away, or can’t meet our needs? The answer seems to be that we find what we need in
unexpected places. Allie and Bea are not exactly “made for each other.” Their relationship is a scratchy
one. Then again, isn’t that true with most of our blood family? I think, more than anything else, they
learn that if two people have the other’s best interest at heart, they can fill each other’s needs against
almost any odds.

The year that was…

With just 3 more days for the year 2016 to end, I thought it would be great to take a look back at some of the books that I enjoyed immensely throughout this year. It has been a good year where books are concerned. As many of you who may follow me on Goodreads or are my friends there may know, I managed to complete my target of 60 books for the year which is quite a personal achievement.

Read on the know about my favourite books of the year (in no particular order). I have picked out the books which have left a profound impact on me in some way, however minor it may be. All the books mentioned below have been previously reviewed on my blog. I have included a part of the review for each book as well. Click on each title to be directed back to my review of the respective book.

Many of the books I will list are based on real life, and many are just children’s stories. However all of them have inspired me and helped quench my thirst for reading.

Many of the books mentioned below were given to me by the authors in exchange for an honest review, while others I found on Goodreads and jumped at the chance to expand my horizons and tastes. I was certainly enchanted and happy with my choices.

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  • Under the Pong Pong Tree by Hal Levey 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.
  • The minds of Billy Milligan by Daniel Keyes – This book not only chronicles the life of Billy Milligan, it brings out the psychology of the mind in relation to MPD as well as how easy it is for people to brand someone a charlatan or an attention seeker without really understanding them. Moreover, through the eyes of Billy’s personalities, we can form a picture as to why each one came to exist and how they played a part in his life. We are indeed afraid of the unknown and I believe this book gives us great insight into one of the mysteries of the mind.
  • The Ones That Got Away by Suanne Laqueur – This book only adds to the beauty of the story Suanne has crafted and will make the reader love it more. It will no doubt leave the reader with a heavy heart, but it was worth it. The characters and chapters that were created and written but got left behind or removed from the story are well worth the effort of writing them. Sometimes, as Suanne has mentioned, it’s better to just write what you think and then see the usage later on. The bonus insight into Erik’s younger days when his father was still there and after he leaves are wonderful and I hope Suanne uses this in a story sometime in the future. I will say this, everyone should, at some point, read The Man I Love and enjoy this story and world as much as I have.
  • Delbert – The Reluctant Spy (book #1) by Marko Kitti – The story is filled with adventure and lots of humor as we follow Delbert on his journey towards becoming an international secret agent. It is written in Marko’s unique style, something you’d already recognize if you are, like me, a fan of the Jesper Jinx series and the language is simple and easy to follow. Overall this is a new series from Marko that you wouldn’t want to miss out on. It is an easy and entertaining read, even for those who are much older but have perhaps forgotten to grow up, just like me!
  • Ask Him Why by Catherine Ryan Hyde – The story teaches us to ask questions, to seek for the answers before making a judgement call, to think before one acts. This is a wonderfully written book and will tug at your heart strings in more ways than you can imagine. It teaches the reader so many lessons that I highly recommend this book to everyone.
  • Love Warrior : A Memoir by Glennon Doyle Melton – This memoir, teaches us all to be warriors. We can all do it, even when one hits rock bottom, one can only go upwards from there. The writing is wonderful and through this, Glennon expresses deep emotions, sharing a lot of her experiences with us. The memoir will pull the reader into it, making us experience every single emotion that the author did, and at the end, it will spit the reader out, a different person. The entire book will touch you in ways you will not expect and is worth the time spent reading.
  • Broken Angels by Gemma Liviero – To be honest, I had to put up a fight with my sane self (or conscience) to read the book and at times I had to pause for a while to let go of the emotions that were building up while reading. Sometimes the plot sows down, but the author does justice in the way she has described each scene and the setting of the story.
  • The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad by Twinkle Khanna – It is a short book, with exactly 4 stories and can be read rather quickly. It would make a wonderful read while traveling. I think that every person should read this book as there is a lot to take away from the stories. There is much to learn and the author conveys the same without sounding preachy. Focusing on women empowerment and the important role that women play, the author has largely depicted the trials that women face in their everyday lives.
  • An Exaltation of Larks by Suanne Laqueur – Upon reading the summary/synopsis of the story, one can figure out much about the plot and thus I will refrain from explaining more about it for fear of revealing everything. This book is not just a simple story, it is a journey that the reader must prepare themselves to embark on with no chance of return. The story will touch the reader in ways that they would not expect and there will be no chance of putting the book down. Even after finishing it, for a time, the reader will feel as though there is a void inside them and they need time to fill it up again and feel whole. These are the kind of emotions that Suanne inspires in the reader through her writing.

    Life is an unpredictable roller-coaster ride and all we can do is choose the paths we want to take at each cross-road and then live with our decisions.

  • The Magician’s Workshop, Volume One & Two by Christopher Hansen and J.R. Fehr – This book continues on in chapters from where the previous left off. The authors flawlessly craft the story to take us further and draw us in. They maintain the playfulness and style of expression which is quite refreshing and enhance the concepts and story. It is easy to experience everything with the characters and this is one of the main things that drew my attention.The style of writing, the description about each projection only add to the soaring imagination of the reader. A wonderful feat achieved successfully by the authors. Kudos to the work they have done and the time they have spent in creating this world.It has been a while since reading Harry Potter, that a series in this genre has kept me hooked. I will say it again and again that this is one mega awesome read! Keep projecting and I hope that the next book comes out soon.

Please do share your thoughts and book recommendations for the next year are definitely welcome.

Moving on from that, I look forward to 2017 being a much better year for books. I hope that you all continue to support me and give me the same love that you have shown this year.

Thank you all for your wonderful support and trust.

Happy New Year in advance!

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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.

 

 

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Book Review: Meant to be Mine by Becky Wade

Meant to Be Mine
(A Porter Family Novel #2)
by Becky Wade
Christian Romance
May 2014 by Bethany House Publishers

Ty Porter has always been irresistible to Celia Park. All through high school—irresistible. When their paths cross again after college—still irresistible. This time, though, Ty seems to feel exactly the same way about Celia. Their whirlwind romance deposits them at a street-corner Las Vegas wedding chapel.

The next morning they wake to a marriage certificate and a dose of cold reality. Celia’s ready to be Ty’s wife, but Ty’s not ready to be her husband. He’s a professional bull rider, he lives on the road, and he’s long planned to settle down with the hometown girl he’s known since childhood.

Five and a half years pass. Celia’s buried her dreams so that she can afford to raise her daughter. Ty’s achieved all of his goals. Or thought he had, until he looks again into the eyes of the woman he couldn’t forget and into the face of the child he never knew he had.

How much will Ty sacrifice to win back Celia’s trust and prove to her that their spontaneous marriage can still become the love of a lifetime?

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Book Depository

About the Author

During her childhood in California, Becky Wade frequently produced homemade plays starring her sisters, friends, and cousins. These plays almost always featured a heroine, a prince, and a love story with a happy ending. She’s been a fan of all things romantic ever since.

Becky and her husband lived overseas in the Caribbean and Australia before settling in Dallas, Texas. It was during her years abroad that Becky’s passion for reading turned into a passion for writing. She published three historical romances for the general market, put her career on hold for many years to care for her kids, and eventually returned to writing sheerly for the love of it. She’s delighted to be penning warm, wry, and heartwarming contemporary romances for the Christian market. Her CBA debut, My Stubborn Heart, was a finalist in both the RITA and INSPY awards. Undeniably Yours kicked off her Texas-set Porter Family series. Her newest contemporary romance, Meant to Be Mine, has just hit shelves!

These days Becky can be found failing but trying to keep up with her housework, sweating at the gym, carting her kids around town, playing tennis, hunched over her computer, eating chocolate, or collapsed on the sofa watching TV with her husband.

Website * Goodreads * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest

 

My Thoughts:

This is a sweet story full of romance and a touch of religion and belief in God. I really enjoyed this story as it is a light read and will definitely make you relax and smile. The story is about how Ty and Celia get married but go their separate ways until Ty comes searching for Celia only to realize he has a four year old daughter named Addie. The story follows his relationship with his daughter and the relationship he tries to establish with Celia.

Both Celia and Ty are running from their true thoughts and feelings and neither one wants to admit the truth about their feelings for each other. As the story progresses it is easy to fall in love with the characters including Ty’s family which is a wonderful example of how a family comes together to help their own. Celia, determined and strong is a wonderful character and the author truly brings out the strength of a woman through her. Ty on the other hand is the perfect man with all the good looks and money but what draws the reader to him is his warm heart and good nature. He is a simple man at heart.

This is truly a fun read and the simpleness of the story is beautiful. The author has also brought out the strong belief people have in God and in the end how that can shape or change a person’s life if you just believe. This is a beautiful story of love, understanding and trust,  the lengths to which people can go to protect the ones they love or to gain the trust of the people they love.

Book review: Kiss me, I’m Irish by Bella Street

Synopsis:

kiss me i''m irish

Book One in the Tennessee Waltz Series.

Emily Musgrave is heading a direction she never wanted to go in Regency England–namely a convent to turn her from her waywardness. But it’s more loneliness than rebellion that motivates her to escape her certain fate.

Liam Jackson is going nowhere fast in modern-day Tennessee. Playing his Dobro in seedy bars and backward dives along with his fiddling sister, Tinker, is doing nothing for his music career–and even less for the dark places in his soul.

Pixie mischief can not only change time-lines, it can change hearts. Because sometimes a girl just needs a little magic in her life.

About the Author:

Living so close to Nashville has provoked Bella to take up fiddle lessons. Until her tunes no longer sound like amorous alley cats, she writes weird romance (which includes Gothic romance, science fiction romance, apocalypse, time travel, paranormal, fantasy romance–and possibly sasquatch).

Visit her at her website http://www.bellastreetwrites.com and her blog for fun contests and giveaways and of course, weirdness.

My Thoughts:

This book is a Time Travel Romance. Emily Musgrave, the heroine of the story lives in Regency England, a period when the society was into art and architecture. Emily, a rule breaker to some extent is not happy where she is and when she is being sent off to the convent, she tries to escape thus falling into darkness and waking up to the modern day world. She is found by Tinker who fins her because of her love for all things sparkly and gold. Tinker is accompanied by her brother Liam who is a musician trying to make his way in the industry and get recognition.

Tinker and Liam take Emily in until she gets her bearings. The story then follows their journey from one place to another as Emily tries to cope with the truth of time travel and deal with adjusting to a modern day world. The focus then shifts to the chemistry between Liam and Emily and the feelings they develop for each other with Tinker playing the moderator.

As the story progresses however, we come to know some truths about Tinker and the reason for her being where she is.  depicts the the relationship between the key characters and how Emily accepts her fate and supports Liam as she finds out about his past. The author beautifully This story is a lovely romantic novel and will touch the reader’s heart many times. It is a light pleasing read and will keep the reader smiling all through. With Emily’s attraction to Irishmen, the reader gets a good laugh and it is easy to sympathize with the characters. A reader’s belief in magic and love will be strengthened by reading this story.

I really enjoyed reading this book as it gave me a chance to unwind and enjoy a light read. I recommend this book for all romantic out there! It’s worth it.

Cover Reveal: Sandcastle Kisses: A Billionaire Love Story by Krista Lakes

BOOK INFO:

Sandcastle Kisses

Sandcastle Kisses: A Billionaire Love Story by Krista Lakes (The Kisses Series #5)

Publication date: April 17th 2014

Genres: New Adult, Romance

Synopsis:

When Isabel Baker signed up to work the bar at a private party, she never imagined she’d get anything more than tips. However, on this resort island, nothing was ever that simple. When she arrived, she found herself paired up with a deliciously handsome bartender who was flown in for the special occasion. Noah had a quick wit, a charming smile, and eyes that she could drown herself in. At the end of the night, she barely managed to turn him away from coming home with her. Noah had only come to the island for one of Jack Saunders’ famous parties, but now that he had met Izzy, he couldn’t just leave. After a steamy night together, he knew that he would do anything to keep her. Izzy had promised herself that she wouldn’t fall for another tourist, but Noah was one of a kind. When she shared her passion for marine life with him, he took to it so easily that it seemed like he belonged in her world. It would have been an easy love story, complete with the happily ever after, except for one thing: Noah refused to tell Izzy his profession or that he was worth billions. When his company and her marine research project collided, their entire relationship crumbled into the sand. Will they be able to rebuild their beautiful sandcastle together, or will it simply wash away into the ocean as just a memory?

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21633049-sandcastle-kisses

AUTHOR BIO

Krista

Krista Lakes is a newly turned 30 year old who recently rediscovered her passion for writing. She loves aquatic life and running marathons. She is living happily ever after with her Prince Charming and her bouncing baby boy.

Author links:

http://kristalakes.com/

https://www.facebook.com/KristaLakesRomance?ref=hl

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6885309.Krista_Lakes

The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks

thelongestridecover-680x1020Synopsis:

Ira Levinson is in trouble.  At ninety-one years old, in poor health and alone in the world, he finds himself stranded on an isolated embankment after a car crash.   Suffering multiple injuries, he struggles to retain consciousness until a blurry image materializes and comes into focus beside him:  his beloved wife Ruth, who passed away nine years ago.  Urging him to hang on, she forces him to remain alert by recounting the stories of their lifetime together – how they met, the precious paintings they collected together, the dark days of WWII and its effect on them and their families.  Ira knows that Ruth can’t possibly be in the car with him, but he clings to her words and his memories, reliving the sorrows and everyday joys that defined their marriage.

A few miles away, at a local bull-riding event, a Wake Forest College senior’s life is about to change.  Recovering from a recent break-up, Sophia Danko meets a young cowboy named Luke, who bears little resemblance to the privileged frat boys she has encountered at school.  Through Luke, Sophia is introduced to a world in which the stakes of survival and success, ruin and reward — even life and death – loom large in everyday life.  As she and Luke fall in love, Sophia finds herself imagining a future far removed from her plans —  a future that Luke has the power to rewrite . . . if the secret he’s keeping doesn’t destroy it first.

Ira and Ruth.  Sophia and Luke. Two couples who have little in common, and who are separated by years and experience. Yet their lives will converge with unexpected poignancy, reminding us all that even the most difficult decisions can yield extraordinary journeys: beyond despair, beyond death, to the farthest reaches of the human heart.

My Thoughts:

This is the latest book that came out September 17, 2013. The story follows the lives of two couples; one that demonstrates a love that lasts till old age and the other a young couple who have just discovered love.

Nicholas Sparks has the ability to make everyone believe that there is magic and that love is magical. There is a certain charm and intensity in the way he writes that touches a person to the depths of their soul. Romance is a concept handled in many ways by different people, but Nicholas Sparks will take you on a magical journey that you never want to end.

This story starts with an old man, Ira who is in an accident, his car has gone off the side of a cliff and he is stuck inside for a duration that is unthinkable. He was on his way to visit a place that was both dear to him and his late wife. He survives for 2 days in the crash with broken bones and everything only with thoughts of his late wife. He relives their memories together and imagines her to be there beside him encouraging him to stay alive as help would come.

In parallel we are introduced to a young couple who realise that they like each other after a series of events. Initially we are shown the two different couples and their story is described separately. Later on we see how fates intertwine and the young couple end up finding the old man Ira in the car wreck. A letter they find on him touches them to the depths of their soul as they realise a special kind of love. The climax and ending of this story will take any reader’s breath away at the sheer beauty of the situation.

As usual Nicholas Sparks delivers a heart-warming story that will make every reader laugh and cry and go through so many different emotions all at once.

Necessary Sacrifices by Zoe Cannon

necessary sacrifice

Book Blurb:

A year and a half ago, Becca Dalcourt joined the resistance. Three months ago, she started working undercover inside Internal Defense. A year from now, she’ll probably be dead. She knows the odds. She’s seen how the life of a double agent ends.

All she wants is a chance to do something with what little time she has left. Something big. Something meaningful. But the resistance doesn’t trust her, and her job transcribing torture sessions hasn’t given her anything but the names of dissidents whose lives, according to her resistance contact, aren’t worth saving.

So when she discovers a secret government program designed to brainwash dissidents into loyal citizens, she resolves to shut it down, no matter the cost. Even if her plan puts everyone she loves in danger. Even if the most experienced resistance fighters say it can’t be done. Even if it means betraying the only person who sees past the mask she wears every day.

Even if she has to do it alone.

The sequel to THE TORTURER’S DAUGHTER, which has been praised for its dark realism, NECESSARY SACRIFICES asks how you fight an enemy that can’t be defeated… and what sacrifices are worth making along the way.

 

My thoughts:

If you have read the Torturer’s Daughter then it is definitely a must to read the sequel. If you haven’t read the first book then I think it’s time to pick up the book and read it. I’d say it is definitely worth it. The books come under the genre of Dystopian Fiction and are much like The Hunger Games in that the government functions a certain way and there are people who support it and who do not. True to the meaning of dystopia, this story revolves around the way the government controls everything that happens and how people are labelled rebels and punished for crimes they may not have even committed.

Necessary Sacrifices is the sequel to The Torturer’s Daughter. The story follows Becca as she starts supporting the resistance and tries to make a difference while having joined Internal (the government). Though she doesn’t like what her mother has done, she still loves her the same. Her job is to transcribe the interviews conducted with people who have been caught for dissident activity.

The story progresses well and provides a better insight into how the people are trying to retaliate against Internal. We gain more insight into the functioning of the resistance and Becca’s association with them. Though the daughter of the most powerful lady in Internal, Becca realises that she is a dissident at heart and nothing can change that. She realises she can relate to their point of view as she thinks the same way. A more mature side of her is portrayed in this story.

The well developed character sketches and the twists in the plot keep the reader hooked on to the book. The book is definitely worth reading and is a wonderful sequel to the first. For all the fans of Dystopian fiction or just the Hunger Games, this series is definitely worth a read.

Sirens spell danger

This is a novel which consists of 3 stories written by 3 different people. The is an anthology of crime novellas and are centered on murder, mystery, and crime. The authors: Suresh C, Karthik L and Radha Sawana brought together their love for reading and their passion for writing in their stories, Femme Fatale, Bellary and Bella Donna.

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I read this book at the request of the author and with the promise of an honest review. So here goes. As an avid reader myself, I found this novel an interesting opportunity to explore new authors. I can frankly admit I was mind blown. I have observed that it is very easy to write a conventional 300 pages or more novel, but to write a story, to put out everything you want to say in about 100 pages and still convey everything you want to is an art and takes a lot of practice. Most authors may find this difficult, but the authors of this novel have tackled this with ease.

I am going to share my thoughts on each story separately.

Femme Fatale:

This is a story that kept me hooked till the end. The story follows the protagonist Vicky as he is mistaken for a secret agent and gets dragged into the middle of a plot which may mean the end of Bangalore. The character is portrayed beautifully and in a realistic manner with hardly any exaggeration. The story is well written and told in such a manner so as to keep the reader sitting on tenterhooks waiting to know what happens next. For a short story, this gets straight to the point and the author keeps true to his story line with no deviation. This story is full of twists and the ending is surprising and very well rendered.

Bella Donna:

Keeping true to her background, author Radha has used her expertise in the field of chemistry to write a beautiful story full of mystery, murder and intrigue. The story is well crafted and beautifully written. The plot is intriguing and  has been well tackled. The details of the deaths and how the bodies are placed when found and forensic evidence is interesting and a lot of research seems to have gone into writing these.The suspense is built up really well and twist at the end is brilliant. The few lines before every chapter that are dedicated to what the killer thinks are well written introspection’s and a good insight into the character’s mind. The characters are well thought out and well placed throughout the story and this makes it much easier to relate to them.

Bellary:

This story taps into mythology and the world or demons and is a good read. It is delivered precisely with no deviation from the plot whatsoever. A supernatural occurrence and all things supernatural are sometimes hard to comprehend and relate to, but the author handles it effortlessly and delivers a wonderful story that will keep the reader turning the pages. The plot is fast paced and all questions that may arise throughout in the readers mind are answered by the end. The characters are brought into the plot as required and the details necessary are presented neatly and concisely. I really enjoyed this story as it was handled differently from the conventional murder mysteries and crime stories that come out.

Sirens Spell Danger: An overall view

Overall, I loved this book. Each story made me feel like I was a part of the story and that I was also experiencing what the protagonist or any other character was. The situations and setting of each scene were so aptly described that it was easy to draw parallels in my imagination. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves reading stories from this genre.

An Incurable Insanity by Simi K Rao

Book Blurb:
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Her heart fluttered when she heard the sound of the key turn in the lock. She quickly adjusted her maroon silk sari with the yellow border, the one that had caught his eye, and waited eagerly for his footsteps. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven… Yes, exactly seven steps before he stopped, hesitated for a few moments, then removed his shoes one by one and arranged them neatly side by side on the shoe rack. She smiled. He had been mindful of taking his shoes off every day now. “I am not used to it, but I will if you want me to. It’s probably a good thing to do anyway.” As he settled down, he would pick up the TV remote and, without looking at her, would say in his smooth baritone, “So how did you spend your day, anything interesting?” Shaan Ahuja found himself bowing to tradition and agreeing to an arranged marriage to the beautiful Ruhi Sharma. He went through the motions but had no intention of carrying through on his vows. His last foray into matters of the heart with an American girl had left him scarred and unwilling to try again. Thoroughly disillusioned and disgruntled he wasted no time in making his intentions clear to Ruhi on their wedding night. But, he was completely unprepared for what his new wife had in mind.
About the Author:
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Simi K. Rao was born in India and has been living in the United States for several years. Her contemporary romance novel An Incurable Insanity, published by Tate Publishing, was released on October 8, 2013. An Incurable Insanity is her first foray into writing. The inspiration for the story came from what she has seen transpire among and within the immigrant community. Some of the experiences included are her own; some have been garnered from friends and casual conversations with acquaintances. She also writes poetry, is an avid photographer, loves to travel, and is a practicing physician. She currently lives in Denver with her family.
My Thoughts:
I found this book to be a refreshing reprieve from reading serious mystery or thriller novels. This is a light-hearted love story that deals with a topic that is very much relevant to life today. It deals with relationships and the bond of trust that forms between two people and holds them together through thick and thin.
Nowadays when most people discount the concept of arranged marriage or frown upon it, this story manages to convey how an arranged marriage can turn into something beautiful and how love can blossom between two people through this.
I really liked Ruhi’s character and the spirit she shows and the strength she has to hold her own is indeed an inspiration for most women. We can take Ruhi as an example of how to hold on to what is yours while at the same time holding on to your dignity and self-respect. Shaan’s character is an interesting mix and it’s easy to appreciate him once he starts realising his mistakes and makes an effort to correct them. The characters are wonderful and Sunshine’s character is perhaps the best as she helps bring the two together.
Overall this is a well written story that doesn’t at any point deviate from the plot and it will definitely get you thinking about your thoughts and ideas of marriage and how it should be. I strongly recommend this book for everyone.
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