Book Review : Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

About the Book:

Eleanor & Park

Eleanor is the new girl in town, and she’s never felt more alone. All mismatched clothes, mad red hair and chaotic home life, she couldn’t stick out more if she tried. Then she takes the seat on the bus next to Park. Quiet, careful and, in Eleanor’s eyes, impossibly cool, Park’s worked out that flying under the radar is the best way to get by. Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mixed tapes, Eleanor and Park fall in love. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you’re 16, and you have nothing and everything to lose .. Set over the course of one school year in 1986, Eleanor and Park is funny, sad, shocking and true – an exquisite nostalgia trip for anyone who has never forgotten their first love.

My Thoughts:

This is a story of friendship, life as a teenager and falling in love for the first time. Eleanor is shy and quiet, forced to deal with a crazy step-father and a mother who no longer tries to take the side of her children. She is also the eldest of four siblings and is constantly under scrutiny from the younger ones. We observe her as she navigates her way as the new girl in town and in school. Her life takes an interesting turn when she sits next to Park on the school bus.

The story then follows these two as they start to interact and discover their common interests while developing newer ones. This story is sweet and nostalgic, just like the author promises. It will remind you of the days of forging new friendships, making memories, sharing books and games. However towards the middle of the story, it gets a little slow mostly due to the repeated routines of our main characters. They only seem to be meeting each other everyday, enjoying silent conversations at school and spending time at Park’s home.

A part of the story that I truly enjoyed was when Park’s parents meet and start to accept Eleanor. They include her for dinner and his mother even tries to give her a makeover of sorts. Towards the end, Park’s father, who up until then seemed to dislike him to some extent, also pitches in to help the children, finally accepting that he is proud of who his son has become. It is indeed a story of self-discovery as well since the characters must break out of their comfort zones and find their way. They take decisions that will change their lives at that point and they love unconditionally and without holding back.

All in all, it is a decent read, rather slow, but if you plough through, you will end up with a smile on your face, possibly reminiscent of your own lives.

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

About the Book:

Fangirl

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair anymore – she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not so easy for Cath. She’s horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she’s experienced in real life.

Without Wren Cath is completely on her own and totally outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

Now Cath has to decide whether she’s ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she’s learning that there’s more to learn about love than she ever thought possible.

My Thoughts:

A well-written coming of age novel, Fangirl follows Cath’s journey as she navigates the world of university and discovers her identity separate from that of her twin. Lost completely in a fictional fantasy world, Cath spends most of her time writing fan-fiction revolving around the fictional characters of Simon Snow and his arch enemy Baz. Having grown up as a twin, Cath is more dependent on Wren, seemingly always in her shadow. The abandonment she feels when her mother leaves them, pushes her towards becoming more of an introvert.

This story not only brings out the contrast between the two girls, but it shows us that the world has a lot to offer if we only let it. Cath learns to find her way, forming a weird bond with her roommate, finding love and facing betrayal from a classmate. Dealing with all this makes her stronger and she learns to open up more. We are shown how the girls are quite similar yet different and the reader will come to love all the characters.

The characters are relatable and quite real, making it easy for the reader to understand them. The emotions are real and the events in the story are such that they could easily happen to any of us. On the whole this story is about getting out of one’s comfort zone and learning to live. Even though the focus is on Cath, we get a glimpse into who her twin is, how their father is coping with life and how they deal with college and growing up.

A wonderful book in the YA genre, Fangirl is worth picking up and giving in to.

Book Review: Her Sister’s Shoes (Sweeney Sisters #1) by Ashley Farley

About the Book:

Her Sister's Shoes (Sweeney Sisters #1)

Set in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Packed with Southern charm and memorable characters

Her Sister’s Shoes is the story of three sisters—Samantha, Jackie, and Faith—who struggle to balance the demands of career and family while remaining true to themselves.

Samantha Sweeney has always been the glue that holds her family together, their go-to girl for love and support. When an ATV accident leaves her teenage son in a wheelchair, she loses her carefully constructed self-control.

In the after-gloom of her dreaded fiftieth birthday and the discovery of her husband’s infidelity, Jackie realizes she must reconnect with her former self to find the happiness she needs to move forward.

Faith lacks the courage to stand up to her abusive husband. She turns to her sisters for help, placing all their lives at risk.

In the midst of their individual challenges, the Sweeney sisters must cope with their mother’s mental decline. Is Lovie in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, or is her odd behavior?

My Thoughts:

My Sister’s Shoes focuses on the lives and relationships of three sisters and their mother. A story about love, family, secrets and trust, the three sisters are forced to be true to themselves and each other as they try to balance their careers and families. They learn to lean on each other and connect with each other like they never did before. As we encounter the problems each one of them face, we come to know a little more behind some of the carefully constructed masks. We learn to love and hate the characters, as we connect with them a little.

Added to the mix is their mother who seems to be a little odd. As they start noticing, each of the sisters refuse to take responsibility claiming that their life is more important. As time passes, they are all forced to accept that something is wrong, but none are willing to take proper decisions, and if someone does, the others do not agree. Amidst the bickering that is normal among siblings, the sisters learn to trust each other and lean on each other for support. Not everything is perfect and the whole idea that each one builds up in their mind about the other is re-constructed and a they learn to see things in a new light.

A story of togetherness and family, there are some strong messages in this story. Sometimes it feels as though it is all over the place, with the focus always shifting from one to the other, but as the story progresses, a lot of plot points come together. The story is decently written, and while i would not call it awesome, I do think that it is a compelling read and it touches upon some relevant topics.

Book Review: The Family Gathering by Robyn Carr

I was provided with a review copy by Little Bird Publicity in exchange for an honest review. Read on to know what I thought of the book.

About the Book:

The Family Gathering (Sullivan's Crossing #3)

Having left the military, Dakota Jones is at a crossroads in his life. With his elder brother and youngest sister happily settled in Sullivan’s Crossing, he shows up hoping to clear his head before moving on to his next adventure. But, like every visitor to the Crossing, he’s immediately drawn to the down-to-earth people and the seemingly simple way of life.

Dakota is unprepared for how quickly things get complicated. As a newcomer, he is on everyone’s radar—especially the single women in town. While he enjoys the attention at first, he’s really only attracted to the one woman who isn’t interested. And spending quality time with his siblings is eye-opening. As he gets to know them, he also gets to know himself and what he truly wants.

When all the Jones siblings gather for a family wedding, the four adults are drawn together for the first time in a way they never were as children. As they struggle to accept each other, warts and all, the true nature and strength of their bond is tested. But all of them come to realize that your family are the people who see you for who you really are and love you anyway. And for Dakota, that truth allows him to find the home and family he’s always wanted.

My Thoughts:

The Family Gathering is the third book in the Sullivan’s Crossing series. It focuses on Dakota, bringing out his story and relationship with his siblings. As complicated as his life has been, we are given glimpses into the past of the siblings’ which helps us understand their personalities. The romance that develops slowly between Dakota and Sid, seems to change both of them slowly, forcing Sid to start trusting again.

The story consists of a number of mini plots, focussing on each of the siblings and their lives at that moment. This takes away the focus from the main plot and reduces the impact of the whole story. Though the characters are developed, some of their personality traits come off as annoying, like how Dakota is initially rather cocky and arrogant and then miraculously he changes. Though the story is a decent read in the romance genre, there seems to be too much happening with no specific plot line being given more importance. Somewhere along the way, we find that Dakota is on a path of self-discovery and understanding, developing a better relationship with his siblings and making the effort to understand them and just be there for them.

I found the book to be alright, not exceptional, but a light read that helps to pass the time.

Book Release: Love in C Minor by Mindy Michele

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Seventeen-year-old Reagan seems like the perfect small-town girl. Dubbed a saint by her older brother, Lincoln, she serves the community, makes straight A’s, attends church, spends her summers working with special needs children, and is a piano playing prodigy.

When you’re the daughter of the mayor and the police chief in a sleepy Kansas town, toeing the line is easier than the alternative.

That is, until her brother’s best friend changes the rules.

Reagan’s been subject to Ridley’s antics her entire life. Growing up, he tormented and teased her, but he kept his distance—until now. When Ridley breaks a promise, late night phone calls and secret rendezvous in the haystacks quickly transform into a reckless, all-consuming love.

Some promises are meant to be broken. Some secrets will not be contained, and sometimes the consequences we render are more than we can bear.

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We’re pretty awesome! We both write books. We both live in the Carolina’s (Mindy in South, Michele in North). We like singing in the car, eating white cheddar popcorn, and going on road trips together. You’ll find us sharing a table at a few book signings each year. We have a love of romance, New York, anything sweet, and great books.

Together we’ve written four novels and one novella, with many more in the works. We’re currently working on the Backroads Duet.

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Book Review: The Good Mother by Sinéad Moriarty

About the Book:

The Good Mother

Kate has been through the fire with her three children …

Having been left devastated and homeless after her husband’s affair and the break-up of their family, somehow she has pulled through. Though times are still tough, she’s beginning to see the start of a new life.

But when twelve-year-old Jesssica is diagnosed with cancer, Kate’s resilience is put to the ultimate test. She has an eighteen-year-old son consumed with hatred of his father, a seven-year-old who is bewildered and acting up and an ex-husband who won’t face up to his responsibilities. And in the middle of it a beloved child who is trying to be brave but is getting sicker by the day.

Kate knows she must put to one side her own fear and heartbreak and do right by her children, particularly Jessica. But maybe doing the right thing means doing the unthinkable?

My Thoughts:

Sinéad Moriarty brings us a thought provoking and heart wrenching story of love, loss and family. Kate, mother of three, is forced to deal with the break-up of her marriage. Her husband had an affair and moved out, deciding to marry the other woman. The first part of the story shows us how Kate and the children cope with this, the impact this has on the children, and how they all pull together to support one another.

The bonds between the siblings is very strong, and even though they act out in different ways, they come together to support their mother through this time. Jessica, the middle child of the three and the only girl brings a childish charm and a level of maturity that is common among children who are forced to grow up too soon. However, in her, this just makes her more likeable, and everyone’s rock. Her older brother has a more difficult time dealing with the family break-up, as he looked up to his father more than anyone else. His support system are his sister and his girlfriend, who becomes a very integral part of the family and the story. The youngest, hardly knows his father, and is confused most of the time, acting out in any way that only children can.

The beauty of the plot is that the author portrays her characters in shades of grey. There is no right or wrong in this, things just happen, and after a point, you accept that and try to move on. Forgive, learn and move on, but it is not necessary to forget. The story moves at a steady place initially, painting a picture of Kate’s life, her coping mechanisms, and the support she gets from her father. The plot thickens when Jessica, who is absolutely healthy, suddenly takes a turn for the worse, and is later diagnosed with cancer.

In reality, unless you have had to deal with such a situation by yourself, it is not easy to relate to the shock, pain and horror of someone having cancer. The author has brought out the feelings and emotions very well, making sure that the reader is able to understand them. We are taken on an emotional roller-coaster afterwards, as we follow Kate and her family as they deal with the cancer. The way it affects everyone and how Jessica deals with it form the crux of the later half of the story. There is a lot to learn from Jessica, who though a child, has an “old soul” and wisdom that goes beyond her years.

The final question that this book prompts is this: Would you love someone enough to let them go? and, if you do, can you live with the truth? These questions are food for thought and this well-written story is a gripping read to the end.

The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

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

About the Book:

The Summer That Made Us

My Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

Book Review: Henry and the Hidden Treasure by B.C.R. Fegan

About the Book:

Henry and the Hidden Treasure

Henry and the Hidden Treasure is an imaginative adventure a young child has in defending his pocket money against his little sister. Henry constructs elaborate defensive measures that he is sure will stand up to the clever ambitions of Lucy. Little does he know, Lucy has a few tricks of her own.

With a focus on introducing children to the use of ordinal numbers, Henry and the Hidden Treasure also draws out some important qualities of being a kid – such as creativity, the value of listening to parental advice, and of course, being nice to your sister.

My Thoughts:

A simple enough children’s story, this book seeks to enlighten children about the importance of listening to your parents and of having an imagination and not shying away from it. It also subtly brings out the concept of ordinal numbers and thus proves to be a useful way of teaching a mathematical concept to children.

The story is imaginative and Henry’s ideas are highly amusing. However, though it is a short story, it felt very abrupt and incomplete, as though the whole point of the plot is not yet conveyed. Looking at this from a child’s point of view however, it proves to be enjoyable and just enough to perhaps keep their attention.

This is a good story to use for both fun reading and as a teaching aid with it’s wonderful illustrations.

Dark and sad, Paige Dearth brings out a part of life that many don’t see, in her book When Smiles Fade!

About the Book:

When Smiles Fade

Emma’s father’s coldblooded beatings and the ultimate abuse to which he subjects her, lays the foundation of the person she becomes. As she matures into a resourceful teenager, she is unwilling and unable to stifle her desire for revenge. Reaching her breaking point she can no longer control the impulse to fight back and finally takes matters into her own hands.

Having learned the art of hatred from her father and the mastery of manipulation from her mother, young Emma now sets out to make a better life for herself, leaving the memory of the abused child she had once been behind her. Hardened by the heartless brutality she encounters and the dangerous situations she must overcome in the course of her journey, she faces every challenge that comes her way in her quest for a normal life for herself and for those she loves.

Finally a person emerges from within that guides her toward a better life until she learns of a secret that sets her on the path of ultimate redemption.

 My Thoughts:

What would you do if your only option to survive is to do anything? Would you resort to killing the people who hurt you to protect the ones you love? What does it mean to be hated and hurt? How do you live in a family devoid of the basic emotion that connects them, love and trust? How does your upbringing shape who you ultimately become?

These are the kind of questions that this book raises and answers in some ways. There cannot be a right answer, it’s more of a perspective which the author brings out in a gentle manner. This is required when dealing with topics of abuse and hurt. Paige Dearth introduces us to Emma and her younger sister, who are subject to severe abuse from their father, with a mother who turns the other way through all this. To be frank, it is expected that the children will be traumatized, and that is putting it mildly. These experiences can change a person and the author portrays the same through the protagonist, Emma. She is strong-willed and resourceful while at the same time has a pleasing personality. It becomes difficult to dislike her or condemn her actions when she is after all doing her best to survive.

The people the sisters encounter along the way leave profound impacts on their lives. Some help them and end up becoming life long friends while the others end up somewhere in a ditch, and that’s putting it mildly. Everyone craves normalcy and a mundane life at times and the sisters are no different. However, tragedy seems to strike  so many times, it’s a wonder that they still find reasons to smile. In the end, Emma has the last laugh, but it was worth it all.

The author’s writing is bold and to the point and she doesn’t hold back on her descriptions. There is no stone left unturned in the journey of the sisters and Emma finally learns that you move on – “When smiles fade”! The title is apt and the reader understands this eventually. The story has a lot of smaller plot lines, with each encounter giving us a different glimpse into the characters who support this story and take it forward. The characters are well developed and clearly defined, giving the reader a clear idea of their personalities and at the same time helping us understand how they fit in.

The final question of “Will she find redemption and be happy?” is answered and I really enjoyed the way the story ended. It proved that Emma is a survivor and this is an inspiring thought. There is a lot to learn and understand in this book and I strongly recommend the same to all.

Book Review: A Way Back Into Love (Love, #1) by Veronica Thatcher

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Title: A Way Back into Love

Author: Veronica Thatcher

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Notion Press

 Blurb:

Nothing is perfect. Life is messy. Relationships are complex. Outcomes, uncertain. People, irrational. But love…well, that makes everything complicated. And when you are caught in a tangled web of secrets, lies, and complex affairs, someone is bound to get burned.

 Emily Stevens is a spunky, spirited college girl whose life gets turned upside-down when she realizes she’s in love with her best friend of fifteen years, Derek Thorpe. As Emily prepares to confess her feelings to Derek, something happens one night which changes her life forever. Five years later, Emily finds herself in Boston, alone and heartbroken. Will she ever be able to forget the past? And what will she find when she returns home…to the man she left behind?

 Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32998245-a-way-back-into-love

 Buy links: Paperback – http://www.amazon.in/Way-Back-Into-Love/dp/1946641170/

                                                https://www.amazon.com/dp/1946641170/

                             eBooks – https://www.amazon.in/dp/B06WRR5FN3

                                                https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06WRR5FN3/

Author Bio:

Veronica Thatcher is an exciting new contemporary romance author. Ever since she was very young, she’s dreamed of becoming a doctor when she grew up. While still forging ahead with that, majoring in pre-med in college, she unwittingly stumbled upon a new dream—becoming a published author. Some may call her an introvert or a wallflower, but she has always found she could express herself better in written, rather than spoken, words. However, never in her wildest dreams had she envisioned she would pursue writing as a prospective career, not just a hobby. Her love for writing goes hand-in-hand with her love for a good romance novel—whether it be a feel-good, sweet romance or a dark, suspenseful one. When she’s not studying, reading, or writing, she is usually found blasting her favourite songs, sometimes singing and dancing along to them.  She dabbles in a number of activities, including painting, karate, singing and dancing. She is a huge chocoholic – probably the biggest – and she is an ice-cream junkie too. She considers herself technologically handicapped forever and has no shame in admitting that. She also deems chocolates her boyfriend, Patrick Dempsey the love of her life, and Friends her life!

 Her first book, A Way Back Into Love, is slated for release in February 2017, and she hopes readers will enjoy it as much as she enjoyed writing it. You can reach Veronica through Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Wattpad and Gmail.

 Author Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorthatcher/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/merderlover1

Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/merder32

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16087807.Veronica_Thatcher

  Excerpt:

 Emily stepped back from him and shook her head. “Oh, you know damn well what I mean. You know what, Derek? I’m done having this conversation with you. I’m so done with this conversation and I’m so done with you,” Emily spat out angrily before brushing past him.

 “Emily, wait,” Derek said, catching her by her arm. “Where are you going?”

 Emily spun around and gave him a bitter look before looking down at his hand gripping her arm. “Leave my arm,” she said in a low yet threatening voice, “And why do you care where I’m going? It’s none of your business.”

 Derek didn’t leave her arm in spite of her warning and said, “Em, you’ve had too many drinks. You can’t drive in this condition. I’ll drop you home.”

 Emily jerked her arm free from his grasp and replied in a bitter voice, “Thank you, but no. I’m perfectly capable of getting myself home on my own. I don’t need you to drop me home. Do you get it, Derek Thorpe? I DON’T NEED YOU!” Emily yelled the last words, causing a few people to look their way.

My Thoughts:

A Way Back Into Love is a story of finding yourself and standing up for what you want. Step forward and ask, talk, otherwise you can lose it forever. This is what the protagonist, Emily, realizes, after she gets her heart broken. However, the plot runs on the basis of a series of events, which result due to what seem to be minor misunderstandings, until they finally get together and blow up at once.

The characters are likeable, though sometimes I felt like putting my hands Emily and giving her a shake! She could get rather annoying with her thoughts flying all around the place. But, the strength that she has to walk away, to try to live a life in a different place, change her and shape her into a better person. Also, the support from family and friends counts a lot and we can see how this affects the characters!

I enjoyed the concept of self-discovery, and this story is something that most people can relate to. The author’s style of writing is simple and though the concept is a tiny bit cliched, it is a rather enjoyable read.