Book Review: The Way We Were by Sinéad Moriarty

I was approved a copy of the book via NetGalley. Read on to know what I thought of it.

About the Book:

The Way We Were

Being a good mother is doing the right thing. But sometimes the right thing is not so clear.

When Alice’s husband Ben dies suddenly, her world falls apart. They shared twenty years and two daughters and life without him is unimaginable.

Having lost her parents while young, Alice understands her girls’ pain. At fifteen, Jools is at that awkward age and only Ben could get through to her. And eleven-year-old Holly looks for the answer to everything in books but this time she’s drawing a blank. Alice realizes that for their sakes she must summon up superhuman reserves of strength.

Somehow all three of them come through the dark days. In time, it’s even possible for Alice to consider marrying again, with the girls’ blessing. So when Ben turns up after three years, her world is again turned upside-down. The girls assume that their family can go back to the way they were. Alice is not so sure.

Once more Alice has to find the strength to be the mother her daughters need her to be. But this time what that means is far from clear …

My thoughts:

The Way We Were, is the story of a mother, a wife, a woman, as she strives to make everyone around her happy, to do the right thing as she sees it. Alice, our protagonist is juggling life as a General Practitioner and a mother. She has the support of her brother and throughout the book, it is wonderful to see how close the siblings are. Her relationship with Ben is just normal, the way most couples are, until it seems as though Ben is going through a mid-life crisis.

The author starts off by introducing the characters to us, describing their lives from day to day to give us a sense of who they are. Then slowly, the plot thickens with Ben taking an assignment to operate in Africa. He takes this as his opportunity to find meaning in his work and to do something more. Alice, having gone through the trauma of losing her parents, lives in constant fear of losing those close to her. The author manages to bring out the emotions and thoughts of the characters through this period and highlights the decisions they are forced to take. The children, Jools and Holly are polar opposites, and we follow their journey of understanding, acceptance and growth in this book as well.

As the story progresses, Alice receives a call that leaves the whole family in shock and mourning. Ben is dead. It is an unimaginable situation for the characters and the reader can feel their pain and emotions. The shock and horror of the situation and the need for Alice to stay strong for her children are key parts of the plot. The author describes the situations and how the children react. How they slowly come together as a family to support each other. How each one deals with the grief of losing a loved one. As time progresses, they slowly accept and move a little forward with their lives, to the extent that Alice starts seeing someone and the girls really like him.

Now imagine the characters’ shock when on the day of announcing her engagement again, Alice receives a call from Ben, her supposedly dead husband saying that he is alive and coming back, after three whole years. Is it possible to go back to the way things were? Is it possible to accept that things have changed, the people have changed and still live together? So many questions arise and form the crux of the later part of the book. The fact that Alice is willing to try everything to keep her marriage together, mainly for the sake of her children shows a deep sense of character. Though there were many times I wondered why something was happening, it all came together in the end. Ben’s way of wooing his wife and showing her what she was missing felt a little over the top and too easy for me.

The issues brought out are something many people can relate to (with respect to mid-life crisis and teenage years). The love between two people and the effort needed to keep a relationship alive, the sacrifices and compromises are portrayed well. The journey towards acceptance and healing is a long one, but is worth it in the end, if the effort is spent by all.

The story is well written and worth a read.

Love Warrior : A Memoir by Glennon Doyle Melton

About the Book:

The highly anticipated new memoir by bestselling author Glennon Doyle Melton tells the story of her journey of self-discovery after the implosion of her marriage.

Just when Glennon Doyle Melton was beginning to feel she had it all figured out—three happy children, a doting spouse, and a writing career so successful that her first book catapulted to the top of the New York Times bestseller list—her husband revealed his infidelity and she was forced to realize that nothing was as it seemed. A recovering alcoholic and bulimic, Glennon found that rock bottom was a familiar place. In the midst of crisis, she knew to hold on to what she discovered in recovery: that her deepest pain has always held within it an invitation to a richer life.

Love Warrior is the story of one marriage, but it is also the story of the healing that is possible for any of us when we refuse to settle for good enough and begin to face pain and love head-on. This astonishing memoir reveals how our ideals of masculinity and femininity can make it impossible for a man and a woman to truly know one another – and it captures the beauty that unfolds when one couple commits to unlearning everything they’ve been taught so that they can finally, after thirteen years of marriage, fall in love.

Love Warrior is a gorgeous and inspiring account of how we are born to be warriors: strong, powerful, and brave; able to confront the pain and claim the love that exists for us all. This chronicle of a beautiful, brutal journey speaks to anyone who yearns for deeper, truer relationships and a more abundant, authentic life.

My Thoughts:

I came across this book on the Oprah’s Book Club group on Goodreads. The synopsis was compelling and being someone’s true life story, I felt the need to pick this book up and read it. I was into it from the moment I started reading and didn’t put it down until I completed reading it.

Glennon talks about finding herself when she hits rock bottom, how at each stage she is pulled down and tries to come up. She speaks so openly about her thoughts and emotions. She talks about finding God and how she keeps the faith. A raw approach to everything she has faced, written down so openly, it puts a lot of things in perspective. This book is not only for married couples, but for everyone who feel that they have lost their way. Through Glennon’s journey we learn of loving oneself, trusting in oneself and then learning to be comfortable with who we are.

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.

Bottom-line: Stay strong and stay positive. Things will work out in the end.

A Miracle! – A Poem

Once again this is something I had written a long time ago and I thought that it was time to share it on the blog. Hope you all like it! 🙂

x———————————————————x

Pain coursed through his body,
Like the aftershocks of an earthquake,
He lost all hope,
And the will to fight.
Death, he welcomed with open arms,
An air of calm acceptance,
Death was inevitable he thought,
The alternatives not considered.
Her frustration grew,
As she searched for flaws,
In life’s plan for him.
She knew there was hope,
She believed and trusted,
But the wait killed something inside her,
Letting lose her tears,
Which soothed his pain like a balm,
And brought him back from limbo.
She’d saved him!
With her love came trust
And his will to live….
A miracle!

Book Review: Here to Stay by Suanne Laqueur

Here to Stay is the sequel to The Man I Love. The book is set for release in January 2016. I was provide with an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. I have also had the pleasure of reading The Man I love and it’s parallel narrative in Daisy’s POV: Give me your answer true.

Here to Stay (The Fish Tales, #3)

About the Book:

“You can’t sort of do this, Fish. Draw a line and get on one side or the other…”

Love is never so sweet as when it receives a second chance. In the sequel to the award-winning novel The Man I Love, Suanne Laqueur continues the story of Erik Fiskare’s romance with Daisy Bianco. Though separated for twelve years, the extraordinary bond they forged in their youth has endured. Now reconciled and committed as adults, they begin to create a new life together.

Laqueur crafts a new journey that stretches into both the future and the past. Erik’s passionate, soulful love for Daisy continues to evolve and be tested. His friendship with Will Kaeger grows deeper and more complex. And unexpected contact with his Fiskare cousins offers insight to the cruel childhood desertion that shaped Erik as an adult. With Daisy at his side, he travels back to his hometown to explore fragile memories, meet his people and learn about the charms on his signature, heirloom necklace.

All these relationships will prove invaluable when Erik faces his greatest challenge as a son, a husband and a father. Once he walked away from everything he loved. But now he is here to stay.

My Thoughts:

*Spoiler alert*

For those of you who have not read the first book, some things mentioned throughout the review may be treated as small spoilers, but I promise to avoid any direct references to events in this story.

Here to Stay continues where The Man I Love left off. Erik finally returns to face his past and apologises to Daisy. They start working on their relationship and Erik also focuses on his relationship with his friends and family. Many references are made to the past and all the events that led up to the current situation. Thus it is indeed necessary to read The Man I Love before reading this. Note: It is not necessary but is a plus if Give Me Your Answer True is also read before this.

The story is filled with strong, raw emotion expressed beautifully in a style that one will understand and associate with Suanne. The reader will be drawn in as the journey continues and there will not come a moment when the reader will want to stop.

Though this story goes at a slightly slower pace than the first one, it gives the feeling that everything has settled down and hence the pace of the story also seems to be in tune with the tone.

This entire story is an emotional roller-coaster that portrays a deep romance that some say is the kind that are meant to be or the made for each other stuff. I know it can be hard to believe or digest but the author convinces us that fairy-tales can be true and that we can all have our stories as long as there is belief and trust.

A lot can be learnt about relationships and how fragile they are as well as the thin line between trust and betrayal. The focus is on finding oneself even after everything that happens and learning to forgive and move on.

A great story and a wonderfully written book that will tear at your heartstrings and move you to tears! This is for all the romantics out there showing that this kind of love does exist. This is also a must read for every person, to understand that there will be a lot of ups and downs in life, but the most important thing is to hold on to your family and friends and open up about one’s thoughts and feelings.

I would like to end my review here. If I continue writing I will just keep going on and on like a broken record, trying to stress on how much I have enjoyed this sequel. I hope you all decide to read these books too.

A Prayer Series by Samreen Ahsan

About the Books:

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Adam Gibson is a young and powerful Toronto millionaire. Despite his many blessings, he is an atheist, though he has an altruistic soul. He denies there is a God—until he meets a beautiful stranger in a place that does not exist for anyone but him.

Rania Ahmed strongly believes in God, but has lost hope she will ever find her soul mate. Endowed with hypnotic beauty and cursed by a brutal past, Rania has no idea she has cast a spell on Adam, who has never received more from a woman than physical pleasure. As Adam slowly discovers the true meaning of love from Rania, he begins to face his demons and reconsider his beliefs. He learns to love, forgive and repent. But as Adam grows closer to Rania, a series of strange, unexplained events threatens to drive them apart. To keep her from being destroyed by her past, he must persuade her to trust him with her deepest secrets.

In this spiritual romance, an atheist embarks on a path of enlightenment with a tormented soul who may just have the power to change everything he has ever believed to be true.

 

My Thoughts:

This series is a most compelling read. Once started, it is difficult to put down even for a second. A story of love and religion and belief, this series is full of twists. Set against the backdrop of the modern day, the reader is drawn into a story with supernatural  occurrences and strong beliefs. The protagonist, Rania is a strong believer in God and assumes that everything that happens is for a reason. She believes that all you need to do is have faith and pray and that at some point God will answer those prayers. Adam on the other hand is the true definition of an atheist. His experiences since childhood have moulded him that way and rendered him heartless.

Rania brings faith into his life as he learns to love and face his demons. The reader is given insights into the Islamic culture but the overall message is the same, have faith and believe. Rania on the other hand learns to trust Adam and allows him to slowly break through her defenses. Every situation in this story is a result of some circumstance or someone’s reactions. A lot of insight is given into each of the characters in this story and they are built up well.

Rania and Adam develop a relationship and as it progresses, she learns to trust him enough to share her secrets and he learns to be patient. Being a very wealthy man, Adam tries to shower Rania with gifts but all she wants is his heart and soul. This story focuses on how each character is ultimately forced to face their demons and come to terms with their relationships, be it Adam with his mother or Rania with her father. Some amount of supernatural existence is brought into the story with demons and angels and jinn as explained by Rania. The author shows us that there is more to religion than just blind faith. There is a lot of understanding and patience as well as some amount of trust. Everything happens for a reason and that is reinforced in so many ways throughtout the series.

The stories are split into chapters which tell the story from different points of view. It is sometimes from Rania’s and at other times from Adam’s point of view giving us an insight into the thoughts and feelings of each of the principal characters.

The readers are also reminded that relationships built on trust and faith last longer. I would not say that atheists are wrong, it is just how they think, but reading this story will ensure the reader will stop and re-evaluate their ideas and beliefs. All this has been rendered without the author sounding preachy. A wonderfully written series, this is a brilliant set of books to read which will keep the reader hooked till the end. I am afraid that if I continue raving I will end up letting out most of the story. To avoid that I strongly suggest that everyone should grab copies of the books and bury themselves in the story.

A WALK TO REMEMBER by Nicholas Sparks

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This was among the first of the author’s books I read. The moment I read this I fell in love with the author’s style of writing and his way of storytelling. This is a love story that touches you to the depths of your soul. It is heartwarming and heart wrenching, happy and sad all wrapped up in on.

The story revolves around the lives of two youngsters, a girl, Jamie, who has a rare form of leukemia which no one knows about, and a boy, Landon, who is the popular guy at school. Jamie is loving, caring, and a true believer in god while Landon is troubled, rebellious and resents his father for leaving him and his mother. Due to certain circumstances, Landon is forced to be a part of the school Christmas play as punishment for his bad behavior. He spends time with Jamie while working on the play and develops feelings for her in spite of her warning him against it. He stands up for her against his friends and soon his priorities in life undergo a huge change. Once he discovers the existence of her bucket list, he sets out to help her fulfill it. When she finally confesses the truth about her illness, after her father reproaches her for hiding it, Landon though hurt and unhappy that she had not told him before, remains with her and makes her happy. When Jamie’s health takes a turn for the worse, Landon makes up his mind to fulfill her number one on her bucket list, to marry someone she loves in the same church where her parents got married. She gives him her mother’s bible which she used to carry everywhere with her and in it are marked all her favourite passages. Jamie’s father, the pastor walks his daughter down the aisle and presides over the beautiful ceremony. A while after this Jamie dies, having changed Landon life forever. Landon describes that as the perfect summer of his life. As a result of his relationship with Jamie, and through her encouragement before she passes away, he finally goes on to fulfill his dreams and gets an acceptance to medical school. Jamie changed his life forever and showed him how he could be a better person.

The story is written beautifully, the feelings expressed so well that they touched me and left a huge impression on me. I was able to relate with the characters and experience every feeling of theirs. I strongly recommend this book as it is a beautiful story about love, friendship, forgiveness and trust.

– Dark Warrior