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: 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 Best Kept Secret by Tawna Fenske

About the Book:

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Nurse Nyla Franklin knows three things to be true. Taking care of others brings more joy than a basket full of kittens. A triple-fudge sundae can cure just about anything. And no good ever comes from keeping a secret… So when her best friend spills his biggest one ever, Nyla knows she’s not just holding a secret. She’s holding a ticking time bomb.

Mr. Always Does the Right Thing Leo Sayre knows three things to be true. Piloting smokejumpers over burning forests is the best job in the world. His best friend Nyla is the smartest, funniest, and okay, sexiest woman ever. And pain meds are apparently his truth serum. Now his post-surgery confession has everything flipped upside down and turned inside out… including his relationship with Nyla.

Secrets have a way of piling up, and it’s just a matter of time before someone lights a match. Because while the truth can set you free, it can also burn completely out of control…

Each book in the Where There’s Smoke series is STANDALONE:
* The Two-Date Rule
* Just a Little Bet
* The Best Kept Secret

My Thoughts:

Note: I received an eARC through NetGalley. The review reflects my honest opinion.

The Best Kept Secret is a romance between Nyla and Leo, who come together as a result of an unexpected secret that is revealed by Leo. Nyla has difficulties keeping secrets and usually ends up revealing everything. The book is a part of a series but can also be read as a stand alone. This is the first book that I am reading by the author.

This book then follows the after effects of the “big secret” which Leo reveals to Nyla which leads to a whole lot of dragged out family drama. I did not fully enjoy this part of the book and also how the characters react when the secret(s) are revealed. I felt that a lot of the plot points fell into place too easily and this also made me think that characters were rather two dimensional.

I did enjoy the relationship that Nyla and her older sister, Leo’s ex-wife, share. I also liked how Nyla got along with her nephew. These were well depicted by the author. I felt a little awkward about the relationship that develops between Nyla and Leo, but eventually it does fall into place.

Overall this is a decent one time read especially for those who enjoy lots of family drama and a whole lot of romance.

Book Review: The Perfect Daughter by Alex Stone

About the Book:

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The perfect daughter…

Jess Harper has spent her whole life trying to make her mum, Abigail happy and proud. And everything Jess does, from the clothes she wears, the job she has, the men she dates, are all approved by Abigail first.

The perfect boyfriend…

So when Jess announces that she has a new man in her life – plumber Adam – Abigail is less than impressed. ‘A plumber? Really, Jessica….’ Adam encourages Jess to break free from her mum’s manipulation, can’t she see what’s happening?

The perfect mother….

But Abigail is only doing these things to keep Jess safe, to protect her from getting hurt again…isn’t she?

Or the perfect liar?

Jess, caught in the middle, doesn’t know who to believe or trust. And then Adam vanishes without trace.

Now Jess is the police’s prime suspect and they want to know if Jess really is as perfect as she seems….

My Thoughts:

The Perfect Daughter is a gripping thriller that follows the relationship between Jess and her mother. Jess tries to live up to her mother’s expectations and is always in touch with her or around her. When she starts a relationship with Adam, a plumber, she also has to deal with her mother’s disregard for him. As she tries to maintain and nurture the new relationship and keep her mother happy, she finds herself sandwiched in between, trying to reconcile who she is and who she wants to be.

I found Jess’s character to be quite interesting. The author has done a good job in trying to portray her thoughts and feelings. The first half of the story goes back and forth between the past and present day where Adam is missing and presumed dead. As the police investigate, we follow Jess as she deals with the on-going police investigation and tries to come to terms with everything. In parallel, we also get to know how she met Adam, the nature of their relationship and the role her mother has always played in her life under the pretext of protecting her.

I found the first half of the story to be a little repetitive in the thoughts and feelings that were portrayed. However, as you progress to the second part of the story, the plot intensifies and takes a huge turn. The author has done a wonderful job with the story here, bringing to us many twists and key characters who change the course of the story. Though the story focuses mainly on Jess, her mother and Adam, there are some characters who feature in the story to shape it’s course. I appreciate how the author brought them in and handled their roles in the story very well.

What intrigued me was Jess’s mother’s nature and her thought process. I found her actions and thoughts to be interesting and I think the author handled the mother-daughter dynamics very well. As you read, the questions of what it means to be perfect and what can a person believe are raised in the minds of the reader. When secrets are revealed and lies are caught, the plot takes a big turn. This is indeed a roller-coaster of a read taking us through some pretty twisted minds and toxic relationships, but coming together very neatly in the end with a well thought out conclusion.

This book is definitely worth the read for all fans of a good thriller or mystery with a psychological angle filled with a few unexpected twists!

Book Review: The Billionaire’s Revenge by Margarette Grey

About the Book:

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Brandon is back with a vengeance in a bolder, sexier story, filled with dark secrets and passion for Alayna that you’ll never forget…

I died a long time ago. I was broken, lost, and damaged by my past. That is until I met Alayna—the most determined, impossibly passionate woman alive.

She plucked me out of the dark, unbound me from my worst fears, and showed me that life is more than just surviving.

She is my saving grace.

But I destroyed that too by abandoning her when she needed me the most. Now she can’t bring herself to look at me, even without the mask I hid behind.

I am the reason why we fell apart.

Nevertheless, my plans to destroy my enemies will save us both. In the search for the truth about our intertwined pasts, we will find a way back to each other.

What Alayna and I had shouldn’t have ended this way.
But since it did, my revenge begins…

My Thoughts:

This is the second book in The Mask series by author Margarette Grey and continues on from where Book 1 ended. Alayna managed to bring Brandon out of his shell and instill confidence in him to accept how he is. However, having disappeared for an year now, Brandon is back and there is tension in the air. Add to this love mixes, secrets, mysteries and Alayna’s life in danger and we have a great plot line.

The author has done a wonderful job in taking the story forward, keeping it fast-paced and to the point. There is a lot happening and many of our favorite characters are back and even better than they were in the first book. This story is deeper and is even better than the previous book.

I truly enjoyed reading about Alayna and Brandon’s journey as they navigate their circumstances and fight their love for all the wrong reasons. It seems inevitable for them to be together, but I guess life is just not that simple. This series is definitely worth reading and I am looking forward to reading more about their journey!

Book Review: The Christmas House by Victoria James

About the Book:

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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Victoria James is back with a heartwarming story about three generations of women trying to reconcile for the holidays.

It’s Christmas in the small town of Silver Springs which is bursting with holiday spirit. The downtown shops boast twinkling lights, and the town square features an enormous Christmas tree. Every Christmas Eve for the past fifty years, Ruby Harris, the owner of the historic B&B, The Christmas House, has opened her doors to strangers in need, showing them the compassion once denied to her.

When Ruby invites her family home for the holidays, including her two adult grandchildren, Charlotte and Olivia, she hopes they will be able to put the past behind them. However, her plans for reconciliation implode as the women unravel secrets from the past that force them to confront the impact they’ve had on their dysfunctional family. As Charlotte grows closer to Wyatt, the neighbor next door and a friend from the past, old memories resurface that the women would rather forget. they’re reminded of a man they want to forget.

As the clock inches closer to the New Year, can the magic of the season bring the family closer? Or will a surprise guest threaten their tentative truce and test newly formed bonds?

This light-hearted Christmas tale draws inspiration from Victoria James’s own historical fixer-upper, offering plenty of warmth and holiday cheer.

My Thoughts:

The Christmas House is a lovely story of a dysfunctional family, with a whole lot of secrets who come together for Christmas. This is a story of second chances, unraveling the truth and finding your peace with the past. 

The reader is introduced to Ruby, the current owner of The Christmas House and the matriarch of the family. We are told her story as flashbacks interspersed with Charlotte’s story. Charlotte and her younger sister Olivia have dealt with their father leaving (without any explanation), being left at their grandmother’s doorstep and hardly any contact with their mother. The characters are wonderful and each one has a story to tell that we discover as the story progresses.

Charlotte has grown up resenting her parents and confused about everything that has happened. In addition, she feels the loss of the one friend she has in Wyatt when he suddenly disappears from school. In the present, she turns up at her grandmother’s place only to discover that Wyatt lives here with his teenage daughter. As sparks fly, old emotions and memories surface and Charlotte has to confront her feelings. Additionally, she has to deal with the recent fallout with her younger sister and try to find middle ground to reconcile.

With everyone’s emotions running high, there are so many decisions to be taken and chances to be considered. It is not everyday that one gets to rekindle an old love which could just be the one. The story is a roller-coaster of emotions and it will make you laugh, cry and eventually be happy. New bonds are formed, old ones are renewed and a family comes together for Christmas in the hopes of reconciliation. This is definitely worth a read especially for those who believe in second chances and strong family bonds and it is happening at The Christmas House!

Book Review: The Lily Garden by Barbara Josselsohn

About the Book:

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She held the letter that she had found in the garden, and noticed the distinctive curls of her father’s handwriting etched on the worn paper. Her life had already been turned upside down by one family secret, would his last words force her to leave her childhood home forever?

When Caroline left Lake Summers thirty years ago, she thought she’d never go back to the place where she lost her parents. But when she finds out that the town’s lily garden lovingly built by her mother is going to be destroyed, she knows she must return from Chicago to save it.

Caroline and her daughter Lee are welcomed home by the warm smile of her mother’s best friend Maxine, and piles of pancakes at her cozy little restaurant in town. And Caroline soon learns that she isn’t the only person invested in saving her mother’s legacy, when she meets handsome historian Aaron. As she gets to know him, strolling along the sparkling lakeshore, she can’t imagine anywhere else she’d rather be.

But then Caroline learns a terrible secret about the day her mother died. And soon the real reason Aaron is in Lake Summers comes to light. Will the truth about the people she loves force her to give up a future with Aaron, and the beautiful town that has always been in her heart?

About the Author:

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Barbara Josselsohn is an award-winning writer who loves crafting stories about strong protagonists facing a fork in the road. Her novels include The Bluebell Girls, The Lilac House, The Last Dreamer, and her newest release, The Lily Garden. She has published hundreds of articles about family, home and relationships in national and regional publications, and also teaches novel writing at the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. She lives just north of New York City and enjoys escaping to the beach or the mountains whenever she can. Other than writing, her biggest passion is her family: her husband, her three kids, and her indefatigable shih-poo! Visit her online at http://www.BarbaraSolomonJosselsohn.com, @Barbara_Josselsohn_Author (Instagram), @BarbaraJoss (twitter) or Facebook.com/BarbaraSolomonJosselsohnAuthor

Amazon link: https://bit.ly/39PgndH

My Thoughts:

This is a wonderful story of re-connecting with people, unravelling secrets and forging new bonds. Caroline comes back to Lake Summers with her daughter in the hope of saving the garden behind the library. This is the garden which her mother built up rather lovingly and took care of it until she passed away at a rather young age. Caroline was taken in by her mother’s best friend Maxine until her great aunt came and took her away.

Caroline is nursing a slight hatred towards her great aunt for having kept her away from Lake Summers, but as time passes, she starts to find out the truth about what really happened and all the secrets her family has kept. Reconnecting with people from her childhood, especially ones who love her and took care of her gives us a feleing of finally coming home. As Caroline and her daughter explore this place and discover their passion, the reader is taken along on a sweet journey towards a wonderful end.

The characters are well thought out and pleasant. I loved reading about Maxine and her family, the love and connection people had with the Garden and the place, Lake Summers. It is a pleasant setting that made me feel happy to be a part of it through Caroline in the end. The cherry on the top is the chance to find love and move beyond all the secrets and what ifs towards new beginnings. The author addresses these quite well in this book.

This is a pleasant read that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a romance and family story.

Note: Thanks to Bookouture for having me on the blog tour!

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WWW WEDNESDAY – 24/03/2021

This is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

All you need to do is answer the following three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Also, do follow the host and other bloggers who participate!

It is wonderful to know what everyone is reading and recommendations are always welcome!

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What are you currently reading?

My current reads are more focused on feel good romances. I am taking a small break from reading serious and emotionally heavy books!

 

What did you recently finish reading?

My Mother's Secret

Max and the Spice Thieves

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

       There are too many books on the TBR. This is my usual statement, but I am planning to see where my mood takes me! I will pick my next reads based on that! 😀

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Do stop by to share your thoughts or posts!

Book Review: My Mother’s Secret by Julia Roberts

About the Book:

My Mother's Secret

‘They told me he died, but I never believed them. I’d have known,’ she says, her voice little more than a whisper and her eyes searching mine. ‘A mother would know if her child died, wouldn’t she?’

The phone call comes in the middle of the night, rousing Danni from her safe, warm bed. The police have found her mother Diana wandering along the main road, miles from her house, confused and lost.

Danni races to her mother’s side, but when she arrives, as always, her mother doesn’t seem to care. ‘Go away, Danni,’ she says. ‘I don’t want you.’

When she was a child, Danni would lie awake at night wondering what she had done to make her mother so cold. Now she is determined to put the past behind them and make Diana as happy as she can in the time they have left.

But as some of Diana’s memories are slipping away, others are forcing their way to the surface. One night Diana breaks down in tears and reveals her heartbreaking secret. Years before Danni was born, there was another baby who never got to see the world. Now there is one last thing Danni can do for her mother. She will find her brother’s resting place, and bring Diana some peace.

But good intentions can have unexpected consequences, and soon Danni’s life will be changed forever. Are some secrets best left buried?

A completely heartbreaking and compelling story of families, secrets, and the fierce love between mothers and children. Fans of Amanda Prowse, Ali Mercer and Jodi Picoult will smile through their tears.

 

My Thoughts:

My Mother’s Secret is the story of a mother’s journey and her relationship with her children. This is a story that shows us how a bad situation can shape a persons entire life, physically, mentally and emotionally. The story follows Danni as she tries to help her mother who discovers that she has Dementia and later on breast cancer. Her mother never wanted her around and did not hide the fact in the way she always talked to her. She focused more on Danni’s younger brother Adam who was the apple of her eye.

As Danni struggles to help her mother, she also reflects on how she treats her two daughters and her relationship with her husband. Through this story, the author brings out contrasts in relationships, view points and how different things shape people into who they are today. As Danni’s mother’s dementia starts to get worse, her mutterings and revelations sow the seed in Danni’s mind to seek out the truth. The author handles the health problems in a subtle way and brings out the effects very well making us go through all the emotions that the characters are feeling.

Sometimes, it is best to let some secrets rest, but what happens when one goes looking for the truth? It can have quite an impact on a whole lot of people. I truly enjoyed reading about Danni’s family, her support system and how she handles her mother in spite of how she has been treated her whole life. Sometimes there are opportunities for a second chance and perhaps this is Danni’s.

As tragedy strikes and secrets come out, Danni is racing against the clock to take care of her mother and her family without hurting anyone badly in the process. This is truly a heat-wrenching read with so many unexpected twists! The author has done a wonderful job with the plot and even though there is tragedy, she brings out the beauty of relationships and love in the end, making this book totally worth the read!

Book Review – Alessia in Atlantis: The Forbidden Vial by Nathalie Laine

About the Book:

A fantasy adventure perfect for fans of Keeper of the Lost Cities and His Dark Materials

It’s not unusual for twelve-year-old Alessia to lose control of her emotions and create a scene at school. It is unusual for her to be attacked by a giant frog monster and plunged into the underwater realm of Atlantis in an overturned boat.

On arriving in Atlantis, she learns that her long-lost father may have been from there. Determined to investigate, she stays and enrolls in Atlantide school: The Octopus’s Garden.

But uncovering the truth is not easy when the tyrannical Atlantide Emperor forbids asking about missing people. With the help of her newfound school friends, Alessia will have to steal evidence from a grumpy teacher, escape from rebel merfolk and make rhymes with menacing blue people of Minch to discover the key to her past.

Meanwhile, someone knows exactly who she’s the daughter of, and is ready to kill her for it.

My Thoughts:

I was approved a copy of this book via NetGalley.

I am so grateful to have gotten the chance to read this book! Alessia in Atlantis is a wonderfully written middle grade fantasy fiction that takes the reader into the depths of Atlantis. We are introduced to Alessia, a twelve year old who doesn’t seem to always have control over her emotions and who finds it difficult to make friends. When she hears a sirens call (quite unusual for humans) and ends up in Atlantis, she makes the decision to stay in hopes of finding out more about her father.

I loved reading about the lost city and the creatures who inhabit it. The author has done a wonderful job with the descriptions and paints a lovely picture. The characters in the book are fun to read about and I love how Alessia’s friends move in to help her in her search. As the story progresses, the reader is taken on a journey through Atlantis as secrets are revealed and all is not as it seems!

The book is gripping and absolutely worth the read. This book though aimed at middle grades, is a wonderful read even for adults! I do hope to read more by the author about Alessia’s adventures.