Book Review: About Last Night by Adele Parks

A book that I picked up on a whim. I clearly go through phases with books. Some times I meticulously check out books on Goodreads before picking them up, or the spate of ordering from Amazon kindle books, or when I just go and pick up a book from the library, just because. This was one of those books, picked up on the lunch time run to the library.

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‘I need you to say that I was with you last night’

This was the last thing Pip expected to hear from Stephanie. Stephanie needed Pip to lie to the police about her whereabouts.

Two best friends, inseparable friends right from childhood, friends who have been around for each through the ups and downs of life. Stephanie is strong, unflappable one. Always dependable, sensible and never puts a foot wrong. Stephanie is living the life that could easily be the envy of many. Comfortable, married to the perfect man, with three wonderful children, she wants for nothing. Pip, on the other hand, is a single mother who has to try hard to work out decent life for her young daughter and herself. Stephanie is Pip’s biggest champion. She has been the rock for Pip, always there when Pip needs her. Pip, the scatty, muddle headed one is who always ends up asking for Stephanie for help, although admittedly never to lie to the police. What had Stephanie done that she needed Pip to lie for her? Why was the police after her?

How far would you go for a friend? Would you lie for your best friend? Especially one who is always there for you? A friend who has been through thick and thin with you? And if so where would you draw the line. What is that line that you cannot cross? The book is built on this premise and does a great job of building up to it. The characters are real and interesting although Stephanie’s character did run the risk, initially of being just too good to be true. Thankfully that was soon rectified.

An interesting book, starts well, and keeps the interest going till the very end. I like the author’s style and the pace of the book over all. A page turner, and a quick, interesting read. A perfect holiday read, perhaps. A 3.5/5 book for me.

About the Author
Adele Parks was born in Teesside, NE England. She studied English Language and Literature, at Leicester University. She published her first novel, Playing Away, in 2000; that year the Evening Standard identified Adele as one of London’s ‘Twenty Faces to Watch.’ Indeed Playing Away was the debut bestseller of 2000.

This book is available from Amazon(UK).

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Book Review: Tender Hooks by Moni Mohsin

I’ve read Moni Mohsin before and loved her books. The first of hers that I read was , ‘The End of Innocence’, a beautifully narrated, heart wrenching story. The second one was a hilarious take on society ladies in Pakistan. Such completely different books, and yet both so beautifully handled. Just goes to show the calibre of the author, is all I can say. Needless to say, when I saw another book by Moni Mohsin, I knew I had to grab it.

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Our protagonist is a wealthy socialite in Lahore, married to a man, Janoo, who has rather different interests from her, and a fifteen year old son, Kulchoo. She’s got a problem though, her aunt Pussy, yes, you read that right, has asked her to find a ‘suitable girl from a good bagground’.

Thanks God, my bore-but-rich cousin Jonkers has been dumped by his wife – a low-class, slutty, secretary. My aunts is so happy you can’t even imagine. Now she wants her darling son to marry again, and quickly. But this to a suitable girl from an old family. Only problem is, she wants me to find her.

A deliciously wicked book about how she finds herself riding a roller coaster ride finding her cousin a wife. Of course she comes across all sorts of hassles, starting from her husband who wants her to leave Jonkers alone and let him find his own wife, and other things like maids who choose to go to Abu Dhabi rather than work for her, or the Taliban who prevent her from having luxurious facials, the life of a busy socialite is so much tougher than we could have ever imagined!

As I said before, a wicked book. I absolutely loved the satire. A book that had me chuckling away, snorting with laughter every now and again. A book that I would have finished in one sitting if only I didn’t have other things like work and life coming in the way. An absolutely delight of a book, one it would definitely recommend. Pick it up and laugh away.

About the Author
Moni Mohsin is a Pakistani writer based partly in the United Kingdom.

This book is available from Amazon. It has been subsequently published as ‘Duty Free’.

Book Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

A book that just jumped off the library shelf at me. I just picked it up because the blurb at the back sounded interesting. For some time, I’ve been checking books on Goodreads before I pick them up. That’s all very good, but I’ve missed the spontaneity of picking up a book just by the blurb.

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It is a coming of age novel about Francie Nolan. Francie lives in an impoverished neighbourhood of Brooklyn with her mother, an ambitious woman, a loving father, who is drunk, more often than not and a her little brother Neely, with who she shares a special bond. She grows with the knowledge that she is not her mother’s favourite child. In more ways than one, Francis’ grew up knowing that she had to look out for herself as well as her brother. Despite her mother’s preferential treatment, she harbors no ill will towards her little brother. Francie doesn’t have much in her life to look forward to but her visits to the local library where the books provide the escape from reality. It is fascinating to read about her love of learning. Francie’s mother Katie is determined for her children to better themselves, and does all that she can do, starting from reading them Shakespeare and the Bible as bed time reading to managing to wrangle music lessons for them. She will do anything to ensure that her children have a better life than she did.

The story goes back and forth to her parents’ life before they got married and to the present day world of Francie and Neeley. Knowing her parents’ story gave me a context, to understand what made both of them behave the way they did. It is a touching story of resilience and aspiration. Francie is that tree that grew in Brooklyn – against all odds.

I was amazed that I’ve missed coming by this book for so long. Published in 1943, it’s as timeless as ever. It moved me to tears, it made me laugh, it made me admire people’s resilience. The attitude you would probably find anywhere across the world where people living through hardships try hard to better themselves and make a better life for their children.

I loved the characterization. I have to say though, that I felt Katie got the hard treatment. She ends up shouldering her family’s responsibility, given her husband’s alcoholism, and ends up hard and sometimes unfeeling. She is biased towards Francie, but some part of me, felt for her. Here she was, doing so much, while having so little, and yet she comes across as the cruel one. In circumstances like hers, I suppose one could turn that way. Francie’s weak and yet loveable father, her incorrigible aunt, who was as kind and large-hearted as she was crazy. The narrative so good that you are transported into those slums, feeling the hunger, the pain and the joys…

A wonderful, wonderful book, that will stay with me. And a book that I could re-read again and again. A 5/5 book, for me.

About the Author
Born in Brooklyn, New York to German immigrants, she grew up poor in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. These experiences served as the framework to her first novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1943).

This book is available on Amazon(UK).

Daughter Reviews :)

So finally Daughter has joined the bandwagon. Her first review is up on Indian Moms Connect , thanks to RM🙂 on the #imcbookweek2014.

Please do hop over, and while you are there, you’ve got to check out the amazing stuff that’s been happening over the last week. It’s book week special, right from book reviews, parenting advise, book related recipes and amazing book recommendations. They even had a fantastic book chat on Twitter which I missed, sadly, but you can read all about it here.

Go on, hop over and have a fun, book filled Sunday!

Book Review: Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

This was one of TGND recoed books. She had recommended this book to me ages ago. I had downloaded it on my Kindle and somehow had completely forgotten about it. It remained at the bottom of my pile of books on my Kindle. Until a couple of weeks ago, when I was browsing through my to-reads on Goodreads and realized that I had forgotten about Nefertiti waiting to be read.

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The book is through the eyes of Mutnodjmet, Nefertiti’s step sister. Nefertiti and Mutnodjmet belong to one of the most powerful families of Egypt. The family that has provided the queens of Egypt. Their aunt Tiye is the current queen of Egypt and she is on the look out for a wife for her son. Her son Amunhotep, is a wilful prince. They need a wife to rein him in, and change his rather different views, especially his religious views. The prince is very different from his father, and will go to any extent to prove it. The queen wants to choose a wife for him who will do what she wants and change Amunhotep’s views and ideas. Nefertiti’s father convinces his sister, Queen Tiye, that Nefertiti is the perfect person to reign in and control Amunhotep. The fact that Nefertiti is stunningly beautiful and charismatic helps.

Soon Nefertiti is married to Amunhotep and Mutnodjmet and her parents move to Thebes. Nefertiti’s family quickly realise that charismatic as she was, Nefertiti was quite unlikely to do anything to anger her husband. Instead of controlling the prince, she encourages him, as she would do anything to prevent him from making his older wife, the ‘Chief Wife’. Wrought by worry and knowing that the only way, she can survive is by not doing anything to earn the pharaoh’s anger or displeasure, Nefertiti does things that change life not just for her, but also for the rest of her country.

Encouraged by her support Amunhotep turns against the ancient gods and the powerful priests of temples and sets up a new god, Aten, for Egypt to worship. While Amunhotep’s seemingly boundless generosity did make the people happy, it was at the cost of other important things like keeping Egypt’s borders safe. And the Pharaoh and his Chief wife had made plenty of enemies who were just waiting for a chance to strike. The glamour and power of her life has made Nefertiti blind to the obvious. In Nefertiti’s circle, there was just one person who was honest and yet loyal to her – Mutnodjmet.

The book is chronicled through Mutnodjmet’s eyes. It is not just the story of Nefertiti and her life, but also the story of Egypt as well as Mudnodjmet. Full of intrigue and the games that the powerful play, it is an interesting take on what must have been royal life in those days. The role of religion and how integral a part it was, of life in those times. A tale that brings a queen from long ago, alive for us. A fascinating book I would definitely recommend, if you like historical fiction. As usual, it made me browse the net in an effort to learn a little more about those times, and found out that my daughter knew more about Ancient Egypt than I did! Anyway. A 4/5 from me.

About the Author

Michelle Moran is a native of southern California. She attended Pomona College, then earned a Masters Degree from the Claremont Graduate University. During her six years as a public high school teacher, Michelle used her summers to travel around the world, and it was her experiences as a volunteer on archaeological digs that inspired her to write historical fiction.

This book is available from Amazon(UK).