Book Review: A Sister’s Promise by Renita D’Silva

I had read ‘The Forgotten Daughter’ by Renita D’Silva and had loved her writing, so when I saw ‘A Sister’s Promise’ on Netgalley, I absolutely had to request it.

Got approved for it, read it and then started this review which sat in my drafts for ages. Sigh. End of the year clean up showes me this and a bunch of others which needed completing. This had to be one of the first to be completed and published, given how much I enjoyed the book.

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Puja and Sharda are two sisters, who grew up together in India. With personalities like chalk and cheese, they were different but close while growing up. They promised to be with each other, support each other through life, however life had other plans for them. Circumctances forced them apart, far apart. Sharda is living in India with her daughter Khushi while Puja lives in the UK with her son Raj. She has cut off ties with her family, and her son has never been to India, never met his mother’s family. Puja lead an ordered, controlled life in the UK, where emotions had no place. When she receives a phone call from her sister Sharda, her life is turned upside down. She has to make a decision from which there is no turning back. Will she find it in her to honour the promise she made her sister? Will the bond they shared as children be stong enough to bing them together again?

Set mainly in India, it resonates with flavours and colours of the place and the emotions that the characters go through. I especially loved the descriptions, be it of the food that Sharda cooks or the emotions, you can almost taste the food and you can feel the pain, the sadness and the joys. Their childhood is so beautifully portrayed.

A beautifully narrated story of two sisters, of human emotions that come close to destroying the bond between them, and the strength of emotions and shared lives. I’ve always loved books which transport you to the place where they are set, and this book does that so very beautifully. This is not the first book b Renita D’Silva and will certainly not be the last. I can’t wait to lay my hands on her next book.

My Rating: 4/5.

About the Author

Renita D’Silva is the auther of 4 books, ‘Monsoon Memories’,’The Forgotten Daughter’,’The Stolen Girl’ and ‘A Sister’s Promise’. Her books evoke vivid imagery of India and food and makes for very compelling reads.

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Book Review: Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

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Jodi Picoult has always been one of my favourite authors. I love the way she handles subjects. She has a wonderful style of keeping you in the dark until the very end. Even if you do get an inkling of where the story is going, she manages to pack such a punch, that I find her books irresistible.

Two mini e-books (When There’s Smoke and Larger than Life) were available on Amazon as a prologue to this book. I read When There’s Smoke a while back. I had Larger than life downloaded for ages before I started reading it in December. After reading that book, I couldn’t resist buying Leaving Time and reading it right away.

For over a decade, Jenna Metcalf obsesses on her vanished mom Alice. Jenna searches online, rereads journals of the scientist who studied grief among elephants. Two unlikely allies are Serenity Jones, psychic for missing people who doubts her gift, and Virgil Stanhope, jaded PI who originally investigated cases of Alice and her colleague.

Jenna Metcalf is single-minded in her focus. Having poured over her mother’s journals, she knew with conviction that she would have never abandoned her little girl without a backward glance. She needs to know what happened. She feels that her mother, Alice’s missing status was never investigated properly. Her grandmother, with whom she now lives, never even reported that her daughter was missing. The one person who could tell her, her father, is in a mental institution. He does not even recognize his own daughter. So for him to explain what happened to her mother was a tall order. Her grandmother refused to talk to her about her mother. Jenna finally decides to take matters into her own hands and lands up in Serenity’s living room. Serenity is a psychic, who has lost her gift. She was a celebrity psychic who specialized in missing people, until things went terribly wrong for her. Serenity and Jenna are joined by Virgil Stanhope, the investigator who was part of the original investigation after which Alice went missing.

Do they find Alice? Does Jenna get what she was after? You will have to read to find out.

Interwoven with the story are elephants and their ways of handling grief which was what Alice, Jenna’s mum, as an researcher was studying. I have to say, that was beautifully interwoven with the story. Picoult never fails to impress me with the sheer amount of research she does for her books. This one was no exception. The way she weaves two concepts so beautifully, is just amazing. This book has her typical style of multiple narratives, Jenna’s, Serenity’s, Virgil and excerpts from Alice’s journal. It makes for a fascinating read. Slowly story evolves, each narrative bringing together pieces of the mystery, sometimes making things even more confusing, and kept me turning pages, non-stop.

I know that a lot of you don’t enjoy Picoult’s writing. I, on the other hand, adore her style. I love what she picks up as subjects and the way she handles them. I’ve heard people say that her books are ‘formulaic’, but I find them anything but. Her books are un-put-downable for me. They make me question things, they bring out aspects I might have missed otherwise and even with characters I don’t like, she makes me see all sides of the story. That, for me, is testament to the author’s skill.

In this case, the story grips you, and the ending, while totally unexpected (for me) and unusual, was very, very good. Suddenly it all just falls together. While I really liked the ending, I have a feeling that a lot of people might not, especially with some of the concepts that Picoult has explored. But then, I like books like this, those that stretch boundaries, that pick up topics that are unusual, to say the least.

It is a 4.5/5 book for me. If you have read it, do tell me what you thought of it? I particularly want to know because this is a book based on such a different premise.

About the Author
Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty-two novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers The Storyteller, Lone Wolf, Between the Lines, Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle with Care, Change of Heart, Nineteen Minutes, and My Sister’s Keeper. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.

This book is available on Amazon(UK).

Book Review: Pause to Rewind by Aimee Alexander

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Jenny Dempsey has exchanged life in the fast lane for freelance journalism and being a mum. She doesn’t look back. Why would she? A broken engagement to her fiancé Dave. A falling-out with her parents. And a night in a hotel room best forgotten. Life is simple now. Jenny’s little boy, Charlie, is starting school, beginning to build a life independent from her. She needs to get her own back.

Life, though, has other plans. When Charlie is diagnosed with leukaemia, Jenny is forced to confront her past and all that she has turned from. But she will do anything for Charlie.

The blurb had me hooked. I came across this book when I was trying out Kindle Unlimited. It was quite annoying that most of the books available on Kindle Unlimited were just not appealing to me. This one, however, sounded interesting, that of course, meant nothing. Many a time an interesting sounding book has ended up being boring, or just not strong enough to keep my interest. So I approached this book with trepidation.

I needn’t have worried. This was a book that I enjoyed immensely. Narrated jn first person by Jenny, she takes us through the emotional roller coaster that she is on. The life that she had carefully made for herself and her little boy had just been upturned, and she is now being forced to face up to the past that she had been running away from, the past that looked like it would come back to haunt her. As a mother, whose first priority is her son, Jenny is left with very little choice. A story that had me reading with tears running down my cheeks. The end was predictable but I still found it interesting.

A book I would wholeheartedly recommend. It’s a book I would go for, armed with a box of tissues. A 4.5/5 read for me.

About The Author
Aimee Alexander is the pen name of bestselling Irish author, Denise Deegan. Denise writes contemporary teenage fiction under her own name. As Aimee Alexander, she writes contemporary adult fiction that focuses, largely, on family and relationships.

This book is available on Amazon(UK).

Book Review: Eight Minutes by Lori Reisenbichler

I got this book from NetGalley in exchange of a fair and honest review.

EightMinutes

On the night that Shelly Buckner finally became a mother, she very nearly became a widow.

While Shelly was in the hospital, in labour, Eric, her husband has a near fatal accident, on his way to the hospital. For 8 minutes, he was dead, before he was revived and rescued by the rescue team.

Three years have passed since that near fatal accident and the joyous birth of their son, Toby. Eric and Shelly have gone through and survived some difficult times, as he went through the process of recovering from his horrific experience. They have managed to put away their ordeal, apart from the changes that have come about in Eric. His accident has changed him in some ways. While Shelly understands that such a horrific experience can change anybody, she still misses the sensitive husband of hers who was emotionally present for her whenever she needed him.

She misses him most when Toby suddenly brings home an imaginary friend, John Robberson. According to Toby, John is a Fighter pilot and all of Toby’s games suddenly change to violent plane crashes which end with a broken leg. Shelly is initially alarmed that a grown man seems to have befriended Toby, while Eric was looking after him. However as Toby reveals more details about John, Shelly’s fears escalate. She turns to Eric and she finds that Eric is dismissive of her worries. ‘The old Eric would have never done that’ is Shelly’s first thought.

Toby, in the meanwhile starts showing personality changes, which has Shelly completely worried. As she struggles to understand what her son is going through, she and Eric grow further apart. Shelly doesn’t understand what exactly is happening, but instinctively knows that John Robberson needs to go from their lives for things to go back to normal. I wish I could tell you more, but you are going to have to read it to find out what happens next, but I can assure you that it is a nail-biting read. I had an inkling of what was coming, but the way it ended – I loved that.

I really liked the characters, believable and real. I liked the premise of the story. It was well thought out. Shelly’s desperation comes through so well, and her motivation. As well as her loneliness, the loneliness of being in a situation where the person closest to you is the farthest from you, emotionally. And even worse, when you know that the true nature of that person is so different. Shelly’s state of mind is beautifully explored.

I also liked the way the book explored other belief systems, the way some beliefs are accepted in such a different way in different cultures. I would love to say more, but would hate to spoil it for you guys, if you do plan to read it.

A 3.5/5 read for me.

About the Author
Lori Reisenbichler has always loved a good story, but she did a lot of other things before she got serious about writing. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University and has told stories onstage at The Moth and and the Dallas-based storytelling series, Oral Fixation. Her debut novel, Eight Minutes, will be available in February 2015.

Lori was born in Moore, Oklahoma and grew up near Kansas City, Missouri. She now lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband. Thankfully, their three grown children live close enough to enjoy, and are grown enough that she has time to sit in coffee shops and make things up. She’s hard at work on her second novel.

This book is available from Amazon(UK).

Book Review: Before I go by Colleen Oakley

This was another one of the NetGalley books. I can’t say how much fun I have on the site, browsing through, looking for books to request for, and the joy, when they get approved. Of course, I feel awful when I get declined, but that gets forgotten in minutes.
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27-year-old Daisy has almost completed three cancer free years. She and her husband Jack are about to celebrate their ‘cancerversary’ when she is told that her cancer is back, and this time she might not be as lucky as the last time, it’s a stage four diagnosis. Daisy has just months to live.

Daisy is worried, not for herself but for her husband. Jack is a brilliant, very intelligent person but completely useless when it comes to house hold stuff. Stuff which Daisy manages for him completely. She knows that he is going to struggle without her. As she obsesses about her death she comes to the conclusion that there is only one thing that she can do in the time she has on her hands – find a wife for Jack.

Does she succeed in finding Jack a new wife? You’ll have to read it to find out. All I will say is that it makes for an interesting read.

What could have been an intense and sad read turns out to be a light, and yet insightful read. We go on a journey with Daisy as she goes around finding a wife, not just any wife, the perfect wife for Jack. She leaves no stone unturned, giving us a lot of hilarious moments which are at the same time, heart-breaking, given Daisy’s circumstances. Some moments which has you laughing, others where she has you in tears. The emotional turmoil that Daisy goes through is brought out well. I liked the fact that the book also explored Daisy’s relationship with her mother and her close friend. The way she reacts to the diagnosis is very well written. How do you react when you’ve been told that you have just 4-6 months to live? When you are so young that everything in life is still ahead of you. Suddenly that degree that you are pursuing holds no meaning. All the things you looked forward to, like becoming a mother or redoing your house is suddenly not even a distant possibility. Hope, that thing which keeps people going is suddenly gone. Daisy’s reaction to her diagnosis has all these elements covered, and your heart goes out to her.

As I said before, it is an interesting read. A 3.5 read for me. The only things that took away from the book was that I couldn’t relate to Daisy in her quest at times. It mad me at her sometimes, it felt unrealistic at times. Having said that, I still felt that it was a worthy read.

About the Author
Colleen Oakley’s articles, essays, and interviews have been featured in The New York Times, Ladies’ Home Journal, Marie Claire, Women’s Health, Redbook and Martha Stewart Weddings. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, two painfully cute kids and a huge lapdog named Bailey. Before I Go is her debut novel.

This book is available for pre-ordering from Amazon(UK).

Book Review: The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel

I’ve been only reading on the Kindle these days thanks to a combination of not having any time for a library run and managing to get hold of some interesting e-books. I had never thought I would go for so long without picking up a real book. Well, never say never seems to be the theme around here, these days. I did manage to go to the library this week, finally, but it was a quick 10 minute stop, so have had to grab what I found. This is another Netgalley book that I got approved for. Have I said how thankful I am for having discovered Netgalley?

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Katie has just got engaged a wonderful man, Dan. A man who everyone thinks is perfect for her. All her friends and family are delighted, but something is nagging at Katie.

Katie’s husband, Patrick, had died over 10 years ago. She had been mourning for him since then. Her family had been worried that she isn’t letting go and moving on until she got engaged to Dan. Something however isn’t quite right.

Katie starts having vivid dreams about Patrick. She gets transported into a different world where Patrick is still alive and they have a daughter. A life that she doesn’t want to leave. A life that she yearns for. The life she should have had. The life where the love of her life doesn’t die. The life where things are the way she wants them to be. The dreams leave Katie confused and purposeful at the same time. Convinced that Patrick is sending her messages, Katie follows her heart to go on the most unexpected and yet the most fulfilling journey possible. Katie discovers a world unknown to her, people who she gets involved with who move her in ways that she never imagined.

A book that had me in tears, which had me wanting to flip to the end just because I so wanted to know how it all ends up. A heart-wrenching tale that has your heart go out to Katie. A beautiful read. One that I would go for, armed with tissues.

The book also deals with the a lot of difficult topics like living with the loss of a loved one, the life of a hard of hearing person and foster care of children. All these have been handled so sensitively and beautifully. I love books like these which open up a perspective which I had never come across before. A beautiful book. The first I’ve read of this author, but having read this one, I’m sure it won’t be the last.

A 4.5/5 read for me and one that I would wholeheartedly recommend.

This book can be ordered from Amazon.

Book Review: One Step Closer to You by Alice Peterson

I’ve enjoyed Alice Peterson’s books previously (reviewed here and here). Needless to say, I was very excited to lay my hands on One Step Closer to You courtesy Netgalley. 48790_One Step Closer To You_PB.indd

Polly is a young single mother. Her only focus is her young son Louis. She had a troubled relationship with Louis’ dad and wants to put it all behind her. She is also an alcoholic who is determined to stay clean for the sake of her son.

Ben’s sister died and he ended up becoming his niece’s guardian. Ben is clueless about children, and between coping with his own grief at losing his beloved sister, and looking after a five-year old, he is struggling. His little niece, Emily, isn’t talking, or eating properly and he doesn’t know what to do. Ben is also an alcoholic.

Ben and Polly come across each other and turn into good friends. Life is perfect for Polly, her life with Louis and her friendship with Ben are enough for her.

Everything seems perfect until Louis’ dad who had disappeared, suddenly turns up. Polly’s ordered little world is turned upside down and she is forced to confront the demons of her past. A beautiful story. One that had me hooked from the word go. Narrated by Polly, the book has flashbacks to Polly’s past, giving us glimpses into her life, the reasons why she is so complicated and troubled. Polly’s story is a heart-breaking one, one which you empathise with, one which has you rooting for her, hoping for her to find her way out of the mess she gets into, cheering for her when she does the right things.

The story also gives us a perspective into the life of an alcoholic, of how easily things can go wrong. Of how tough it can be for an alcoholic. The author also explores the possibility of alcoholism being genetic in nature.

It was shocking in places, had me in tears in places. I loved Polly’s character,her strengths and her weaknesses, and her brother Hugo. If anything I loved Hugo even more than Polly. I was enraged at times by the way she took him for granted, and despite all that, the strong, unbreakable bond between them was so beautifully portrayed.

All the characters had depth, and felt very real. I had an inkling of one of the revelations that came towards the end, but even that did not detract from the book.

A book I would strongly recommend. A 4.5/5 read for me.

About the Author
At the age of eighteen Alice had been awarded a tennis scholarship to America when she experienced pain in her right hand. It was rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and she hasn’t picked up a tennis racket since, a sadness that shall always be with her. The theme of disability features in her fiction, but there is nothing gloomy about Alice or her work. Rather this gives her fiction the added dimension of true poignancy.

This book is available from Amazon(UK).