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.

Book Review: Operation Superstar by Yamini Pustake Bhalerao

I have been quite fortunate to get a chance to connect with and collaborate with Juggernaut.

I was given a free copy of this book, published by them in exchange for an honest review. Read on to know my thoughts.

About the Book:

(Taken from the blurb mentioned on the app)

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Bollywood superstar Junaid Kapoor is in deep trouble. Ex-wife Neha is not happy with the alimony settlement. She is threatening to release photographs of JK with his mystery lover.

Operation Superstar by Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is exclusively available on www.juggernaut.in

My Thoughts:

This book is around 60 pages and is a very quick read. The story revolves around Junaid Kapoor, a Bollywood superstar, recently divorced and trying to ensure that his wife doesn’t release some photographs that she has of him with his mystery lover. The story jumps right in with Junaid meeting our protagonist, the lady who will make all this go away and ensure that his ex-wife has nothing to threaten him with.

The story is written in the typical style of a Bollywood film, but is lacking in substance. For a short story, it is thorough, but there is not enough information anywhere about any of the characters. The author’s style of writing is good and flows well, but the characters are not developed enough. Everything just seems to happen and fall into place so easily. Quite frankly, however good you are, things are not this easy in reality. This put me off the book a little and was the reason that I did not enjoy it a lot.

Overall, this can be read while taking a break from work or having a bite to eat. It has some elements of entertainment that will keep the reader momentarily entertained.

Book Review: Everyone Has A Story by Savi Sharma

About the Book:

Everyone Has A Story

Everyone has a story.
Meera, a fledgling writer who is in search of a story that can touch millions of lives.
Vivaan, assistant branch manager at Citibank, who dreams of travelling the world.
Kabir, a café manager who desires something of his own. Nisha, the despondent café customer who keeps secrets of her own.
Everyone has their own story, but what happens when these four lives are woven together?
Pull up a chair in Kafe Kabir and watch them explore friendship and love, writing their own pages of life from the cosy café to the ends of the world.

My Thoughts:

I had picked up this book because it seems to have garnered a good amount of popularity. The title of the story is interesting and based on that, I unfortunately jumped into the book with healthy amounts of expectation, just like I would any other book.

The story starts at a cafe, with Meera, the protagonist, sitting there, pondering, trying to find a story to write. In a slightly cliched addition to the story is Kabir, the manager of the cafe who eventually becomes Meera’s friend. As Meera seeks to find a reason to write, she meets Vivaan. Captivated by his desire to travel, and seeking out a story, Meera approaches him and they become friends. All this forms the basis and premise of the story. It seemed to me to be cliched and something out of a Bollywood film.

The author’s style of writing also confused me. The chapters were divided up into points of view, covering Meera’s and Vivaan’s. This was good to some extent as the author tried to give us some insight into the minds and thoughts of the main characters. This worked to some extent, but this being a very short book, there did not seem to be focus on developing the characters. Also, after spending only a little time, Meera falls in love and Vivaan later comes and shares his heart breaking love story.

Apart from a vague introduction to their pasts, there was not much about their current situation, living conditions, family. These are things that tend to add more perspective and dimensions to characters. Also, in our country, the parents do play some role and in the story, when Meera is in the hospital, in critical condition we still don’t see any family coming to be with her. Moreover, Vivaan just runs away, with the need to pursue his dream of traveling the world leaving his friends behind and ends up on a journey of self-realization.

There is quite a bit of philosophy thrown into the mix along with the constant repetition of the phrase – “follow your dreams”. Sometimes, in the practical world that today is, such things are not possible. One thing that stood out was the ending. Though the plot is simple, the author stuck to her point and brought Meera to a certain place in life, having accomplished something that she had set out to do. Reading this part made up for the lack of detail in the rest of the story.

Overall, it’s not a bad story, but it’s way too cliched and a bit difficult to digest. Everything seems to happen too soon and too easily with characters who are nice but not very developed. However, you can give the book a read. It is decent for a first book and I am sure that the author’s stories will get better and better as she writes more! 🙂

Welcoming the New Year!

This is a poem I wrote way back at the end of 2011 while ushering in the new year! I think it is apt for this New Year’s Eve and each that follows!

I hope you all have a great New Year with lots of happiness and a tonne of books!

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Welcoming the New Year!

As the year comes to a close,
There is a slight confusion,
Whether to be happy about it,
Or to be sad,
Look back at the year that’s past,
Take a decision,
Make a resolution,
To move forward,
Welcome the new year gracefully,
Open your heart,
And your mind,
Ready yourselves to begin,
A brand new chapter in your life,
Put aside the past,
Embrace the future,
Here’s to wishing all,
A Happy New Year!!!!

 

Review: All the Breaking Waves by Kerry Lonsdale

I was provided with a free copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

About the Book:

All the Breaking Waves

From the bestselling author of Everything We Keep comes a gripping tale of long-buried secrets, the strength of forgiveness, and the healing power of returning home for good.

After a harrowing accident tore her family apart, Molly Brennan fled from the man she loved and the tragic mistake she made.

Twelve years later, Molly has created a new life for herself and her eight-year-old daughter, Cassie. The art history professor crafts jewelry as unique and weathered as the surf-tumbled sea glass she collects, while raising her daughter in a safe and loving environment—something Molly never had. But when Cassie is plagued by horrific visions and debilitating nightmares, Molly is forced to return to the one place she swore she’d never move back to—home to Pacific Grove.

A riveting exploration of love, secrets, and motherhood, All the Breaking Waves is the poignant story of a woman who discovers she must confront her past, let go of her guilt, and summon everything in her power to save her daughter.

My Thoughts:

A heartfelt novel, All the Breaking Waves brings together a mixture of psychic abilities and family drama. The main focus is on the bonds of family and the importance to forgive and move on. The protagonist, Molly, has hidden within her a secret for twelve years. This has caused her to run away from her home and from her grandmother. When her daughter turns out to have terrible visions and nightmares, she is forced to return to the very house she had run from to seek her grandmother’s help. Forced to face the demons of her past, she doesn’t expect to come face to face with the man she had loved so many years ago and still did. She also had to deal with some revelations about her grandmother and eventually her past.

The author has written the story really well, beautifully blending these various aspects of the plot. She gives her characters a rather magical look and adds the same touch to her style of writing. The concept of sea glass and jewellery making with it is intriguing. Also, the author alternates between the present time and narration of events in the past and this flow happens flawlessly, making it easier for the reader to understand the events that have crafted our characters and made them who they were. Our protagonist is also forced to deal with her abilities, apart from those of her daughter’s and to accept that she can do more good than harm if she just tried.

A wonderful story, this teaches us the importance of family and the necessity to stick together and talk things out always. Throw in some romance a charming little girl and we have a great mix! A good read, strongly recommended for those who enjoy a good romance with a character who has an interesting psychic ability.

Book Review: What Jennifer Knows by Wendy Janes

About the Book:

What Jennifer Knows

A vital member of her Surrey community, Jennifer Jacobs is dedicated to her job as a dance therapist, helping children with special needs to express themselves through movement. Wife of a successful though reclusive sculptor, Gerald, she is known for having a deep sense of empathy, making her a trusted confidante. So when two very different friends, Freya and Abi, both share information with her that at first seems to be an awkward coincidence, she doesn’t tell them. But as the weeks roll by, the link revealed between the two women begins to escalate into a full-blown moral dilemma – and also brings to the surface a painful memory Jennifer believed she had long since forgotten. What is the right thing to do? Should she speak out or is the truth better left unsaid?

My Thoughts:

 An interesting read overall, this book has its set of ups and downs. There are many things that will appeal to the reader and a few which may deter them. But persevering on will ensure that the reader comes away satisfied by the reading experience. On some level, it is a little daunting to read about Jennifer and Gerald, who seem to be role models for the perfect life and couple. However, as we progress through the story, we come to know that not everything is as perfect as it seems.

Jennifer struggles with her relationship with her daughter as well as her friendships with Freya and Abi. The main question of morality comes down to whether a friend should share the truth about something they know or withhold it and wait. There is never a right answer or reaction to this and each can have different ends. A trial of relationships, both on the personal front as well as with friends raises a dilemma in Jennifer’s mind which forms the crux of this story. The author’s style of writing is simple and flows well.

The supporting characters are nice and developed to some extent. I believe that there could have been more depth added to the story and the characters, making it a bit more complex. However, on the whole the story works. It is a decent read and a different kind of plot that ultimately forces the reader to think about certain moral ideas.

Book Review: Ask Him Why by Catherine Ryan Hyde

About the Book:

Ask Him Why by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Ruth and her little brother, Aubrey, are just teenagers when their older brother ships off to Iraq. When Joseph returns, uninjured, only three and a half months later, Ruth is happy he is safe but also deeply worried. How can it be that her courageous big brother has been dishonorably discharged for refusing to go out on duty? Aubrey can’t believe that his hero doesn’t have very good reasons.

Yet as the horrifying details of the incident emerge, Joseph disappears. In their attempts to find him, Ruth and Aubrey discover he has a past far darker than either of them could imagine. But even as they learn more about their brother, important questions remain unanswered—why did he betray his unit, his country, and now his family? Joseph’s refusal to speak ignites a fire in young Aubrey that results in a disastrous, and public, act of rebellion.

The impact of Joseph’s fateful decision one night in Baghdad will echo for years to come, with his siblings caught between their love for him and the media’s engulfing frenzy of judgment. Will their family ever make their way back to each other and find a way to forgive?

My Thoughts:

I found this book on Amazon as a recommendation based on my previous search history. To be very frank, the synopsis caught my attention and I must admit, upon completing the book, I was simply blown away. This is an amazingly written book highlighting the bonds between siblings, the horrors faced in a war and the kind of scars left behind.

First off I will start with the style of writing. IT IS AMAZING. This is a moving, emotional roller coaster of a story. Joseph, the eldest of three is shipped off to Iraq and returns only months later. Ruth and her little brother Aubrey, still early teenagers at this stage struggle to understand the situation. Brought up in a family where one cannot ask questions, and nothing is discussed, they learn to keep shut. They do not know the importance of communication and sharing what is on their mind. This is something the children come to learn in time.

The parents are dealing with the repercussion of Joseph’s return, the press is sensationalizing the story, and the world has already decided his fate. He is due for a dishonorable discharge, but this turns into something far worse due to the deaths of two of his former squad mates. His choices set in motion a series of events that tugs apart at the very thin thread that binds his family together.

As the story progresses, Joseph turns himself in and goes to prison. His siblings are left wondering what happened and questioning his courage. His younger brother Aubrey, feels betrayed that his brother does not even want to see him and speaks out against him in public. The lack of communication allows a monster of hate to grow inside him which he carries for the next 9 -10 years. Ruth and Aubrey reach out to their aunt for help in trying to understand what’s happening. In all this, we meet Hamish, a wonderful person, who helps put things in perspective.

The story follows the siblings as they learn to deal with their feelings, confront each other, talk and thus find each other. 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. Thank you Catherine for writing this wonderful story.

 

Cross Kill by James Patterson

I was provided with a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Find below my thoughts on this book and this new format.

About the Book:

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My Thoughts:

As mentioned above, this book was provided as a free copy in exchange for an honest review. I am planning to break this review into two parts – one about the format, and the other about the actual plot.

The BookShots format:  As you all may already know, or if not read on anyway, BookShots is a new venture where the book written will be a complete story in under 150 pages. I must admit that the idea is interesting and after reading the book in under 2 hours, it was a hit with me. I love the fact that the story is short and the book small enough to be carried in your handbag! 😛

As for the plot, the famous Alex Cross is back in a short, fast paced adventure where he has to confront a villain from his past, someone he thought to be dead. The story is well written and the author does not once deviate from the main plot. It is clear that the characters are known and not much background details are provided. Short, crisp and to the point are words I would use to describe this story. What was most pleasing as that the pace never wavered and the author managed to ensure that the reader is in for a roller-coaster ride.

In keeping with the new format, I have decided to keep my review short as well. There’s not much else to say without revealing the entire story itself. Read on and do share your thoughts with us.

Book Review: The Ones That Got Away by Suanne Laqueur

I was provided with an ARC of Suanne Laqueur’s upcoming book in the Fish Tales series. Read on to know my take on the book. The book will be available on Amazon on July 7th.

Please note that the review may contain some spoilers, but for those who have already read the book, there aren’t too many surprises.

About the Book:

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Plenty of fish in the sea. But none like the ones that got away.

Author Suanne Laqueur gives her readers an intimate, guided tour of the award-winning novel, The Man I Love. From the embryonic chapters written over twenty years ago to scenes cut from the final draft, you’ll witness the crafting of an emotional journey and the evolution of the beloved characters within The Fish Tales.

Includes never-before-seen material and an excerpt from Laqueur’s next novel, An Exaltation of Larks.

My Thoughts:

Suanne Laqueur is back with yet another book and this time it is not a story per se, but an insight into the making of one of the stories we have read and loved, The Fish Tales. It is the story of the journey, the behind the scenes, the creation of Erik and all the other people whom we love and mourn. In a simple and slightly humorous manner, Suanne has shared excerpts from her early writing interspersed with quirky thoughts/comments that she has added now, almost 20 years after she first penned those words.

The story behind the story, this gives us an insight into how the characters were born, how they developed and became the people we came to meet and know so well. As Suanne mentioned at the beginning. This is definitely along the lines of fan fiction and some may even point out that it is inclined towards obsession. However, those who have read TMIL, will completely understand this as they, like me, have taken this journey with Erik and Daisy, not just at a superficial level, but also at the emotional level. The stories will strike your emotional chord and through this book, Suanne keeps the thoughts, emotions and memories alive.

This book brings a sense of nostalgia with it as well as a sense of belonging. It is interesting to see how Suanne first pictured Erik and Daisy and how they grew from there to become who they are now. Somehow, it is clear that some of the basic ideas of the plot never changed. We are also introduced to some people she created, but they never made an appearance in the final story. It is wonderful to meet them however, and knowing how Suanne pictured them fitting into the lives of the characters we know sheds a great deal of light into her way of thinking and her style of writing. The glimpses she provides into some of her written material show us how raw and real her writing is. The style never changes and the emotions are there, no matter what she writes about.

Suanne provides insights into two of the most wonderful people of these stories, Will Kreager and Lucia Dare. She brings us parts of the story from their perspective, mainly from Will’s and shows us how the various events that occur affect them. She clearly brings out Will’s interest in Lucky, Daisy and Erik, his relationship with James and his feelings throughout the story. Seeing everything from his perspective, will bring the reader closer to him than before. As endearing as he was previously, this insight gives new meaning to his existence.

Reading this book feels as though we are sitting with an old friend and taking a stroll down memory lane.

Suanne also expands on how the trauma of the shooting affected not just Daisy and Erik, which we have already seen in TMIL and GMYAT, but also Will and Lucky. She expands on what they feel, how they react, how their relationship develops, breaks and then returns, stronger than ever. She also brings out how Will’s actions eventually lead to the shooting and all events that led to it and that happened after. Even though it cannot be said that everything that happened is his fault, he was a part of what set everything in motion. One decision changes all.

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.

Unfortunately, it is difficult for me to summarize my thoughts about this book in a nutshell, and given a chance, I will keep talking about it. This is the first time I have written so much about a book and it has made me experience emotions so deeply that it is slightly difficult to come back to reality. However, 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.

Finally, Suanne gives us a glimpse of her upcoming novel, An Exaltation of Larks which is definitely much awaited for by fans of her books.

 

Guest Post : The Cyclist and an Inspiration by Fredrik Nath

We have the pleasure of hosting Fredrik Nath on our blog. He would like to share some of his thoughts and has shared the following post with us. Read on to know what he has to say. Readers can find more information about the author at his website: http://www.frednath.com/

The Cyclist and an Inspiration

Fredrik Nath

The early morning sunlight flickered from behind the high clouds and reflected golden and crisp from the monument in Bergerac’s market square. Around me, shoppers bustled and in the roadway a car beeped its horn. The grey stone pillar rose fifteen feet above me, its shadow pointing away towards the elm trees that line the roadway. A smell of garlic wafted as I read those brave words that showed the strength of the French and France’s indomitable leaders. The monument was a reminder of the valour and sacrifice of those brave local partisans who gave up their lives in the struggle against the occupying Nazi forces all those years ago.

Yes, it is moving. Surely there’s a story here.

In my head a story began to form. What would it have been like to have to make the choices needed to protect oneself and one’s family yet still remain French? The main character would need to do something admirable. He would need to depart from the norm. If you became a partisan you would endanger the people nearest you. What if you were caught?

I began to think of how it would be to be the one who is rounding up the local Jewish people. Would you hate it? Of course you would, even if you were forced to it for fear of endangering your family. For a religious man it would be even harder. Surely one would do anything to avoid such ‘duties’ if you had a conscience?

The story began to form. A Vichy French policeman, a man of conscience, a family man working with evil Nazis whom he secretly hated. I created Auguste Ran, a good policeman, but in essence weak, until a certain event tips him over the edge and slowly he begins to fight back.

That’s where THE CYCLIST came from and it was my springboard for the other books in my French resistance books. Each take a character and makes life hard for them, allowing them to become. In the end, THE CYCLIST sold 30,000 copies. It was Editor’s choice in the Historical Novel Review in 2011.

You can catch the Books on Amazon – all six books: a policeman, a teacher, an artist, a chef, a philosopher and in THE PROMISE a medical student.

If you like drama and character-based plots check them out!