Book Review: The Secret Daughter by Kelly Rimmer

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I think I picked up this book first by the cover. It just called out to me, and when I read the blurb, I knew I had to read it.

38 year old Sabina is all excited. She has just found out that she is going to become a mother. And she can’t wait to tell her parents, she is sure that they would be just as excited as her. Her parent’s reaction to her pregnancy was one that she had never expected. Shocked at her mother’s reaction, she prodded, until told that she is adopted. It had taken them 38 years to admit this truth. Shocked and blindsided by the revelations, Sabina is completely confused. The only thing she knows is that she want to know more of her birth mother. What made her give her baby up? And why was her parents(adoptive) being so cagey. What were they hiding?

Sabina goes on a journey, finding out more about herself and her parents than she had ever imagined. A beautifully handled story, it had me in tears, had me hoping, had me crying, and had me desolate when I read about Sabina’s birth mother, Lilly’s story. Lilly’s and Sabina’s story progress in parallel, with us the readers gaining an insight into what actually happened all those years ago which resulted in Sabina getting adopted. The mystery of why Sabina’s parents never divulged the fact that she had been adopted bubbles along until close to the end.

The book touched upon the horrors that young unmarried pregnant girls went through in those days where it was all frowned upon. The treatment meted out to them, by the society, and even worse, by their own parents, was heart-breaking to read, to say the least. To think that while this was a fictional account, this could well have been a true account for so many helpless young girls. I can’t even begin to imagine..

The narrative had me from the start. I loved the way it started, had me hooked from the start and as the story progresses, it just got better. The characters felt real, and identifiable. Sabina’s reaction to the bombshell(s) dropped on her feel real. I could feel her pain, her utter confusion at the revelation that changed everything that she knew about herself. To be honest, I can’t even imagine how it must feel, to find out, out of the blue, that the two people you have known as parents, the people with whom you share that unbreakable bond, are actually not your birth parents. In Sabina’s situation, it is even more tough, given that she is pregnant herself, and so far, had been extremely close to her parents. The author has done a brilliant job in bringing out all the emotions that Sabina, Lily and her mum go through. It’s heart-breaking and heartening at the same time. A book I would definitely recommend.

A 4/5 read. A book that I thoroughly enjoyed, and one that I’m sure a lot of my friends would enjoy reading. This was my first Kelly Rimmer read, but having read this one, I’m sure she goes on to my ‘favourites’ list.

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publishers, Bookouture for the review copy of this book.

About the Author
Kelly Rimmer is an Australian Fiction writer. She lives in rural Australia.

This book is available from Amazon(UK).

Book Review: The Sudden Departure of the Frasers by Louise Candlish

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Christy and Joe Davenport can’t believe their luck. They’ve managed to buy a house in the sought-after Lime Park Road. It is another thing that buying the house might mean that they would have to live on milk and bread, but it is their dream home, their ‘forever’ home. Just the perfect place to raise their yet-to-be-born kids. What makes it even better is that the previous owners had renovated it to such high standards that Christy and Joe could just move in. The house is in such a wonderful condition that they are amazed that the previous owners left so quickly. Why would someone sell their house and love away right after they had renovated it to such high standards?

However, something isn’t quite right. Frosty neighbours, and some rather weird conversations, leads Christy to deduce that something had happened on Lime Park Road which made Frasers leave so suddenly. Nobody seems to know where they went, and nobody seems willing to tell her what happened. All she knows is that everybody seemed to love Amber, and yet, nobody would say much more than that. Something had gone terribly wrong and Christy knows she has to find out. It is just too intriguing for her to not find out. Of course, it doesn’t help that she has lost her job and has plenty of time on her hands to go digging.

The story is told from Christy and Amber’s point of view. As we read Christy’s confusion , we read Amber’s time at Lime Park. I loved the way the story is made to progress. You, as a reader, know that tiny bit more that Christy and it is interesting to read how the events unfolded.

This was one of the few books where there was something unknown which I hadn’t managed to guess. A book I thoroughly enjoyed. I loved the way the author created the characters. Amber for instance, sounds amazing at the start and through the story, you see layers being peeled off to reveal the true Amber. Christy, is just a regular, normal person. A person who comes across as quite dull and boring, in comparison to her glamorous and exciting predecessor. Christy’s curiosity is so understandable, and so real. I can quite imagine myself in her situation, wondering and obsessing about Amber, especially when there are little clues littered about. Although I have to say, I would hate to live in a house which is so dominated by my predecessor, where people still refer to the house as ‘Amber’s house’ despite the fact that Amber has sold and left the place months ago. That I guess is the power of the character, who stays on, in people’s minds.

An interesting, and quite a different story, with a little unknown until the very end. A book I would definitely recommend. A 4/5 read for me. A great book for a quick, pacy and intriguing read. This is the first book that I’ve read of this author, and I know it wouldn’t be the last.

Thank you Netgalley and the publishers, Penguin UK – Michael Joseph for the ARC of this book.

About the Author
Louise Candlish is a bestselling author of nine novels, including two 2013 releases, The Disappearance of Emily Marr (a moody emotional mystery) and The Island Hideaway (an intense shot of Sicilian sunshine).

This book is available from Amazon(UK).

Book Review: Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde

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August Shroeder is out for the summer. He is a burned out teacher, who has lost his passion for teaching, an alcoholic who has not touched alcohol since his 19-year-old son died. He is on his way to Yellowstone National Park, when his vehicle breaks down. In his carefully budgeted life, he doesn’t have much manoeuver for unexpected expenses like a broken down vehicle. As he gets hold of a mechanic to fix his RV, the only concern is that he shouldn’t be ripped off. Little does he realise that his life is about to change more than he could ever imagine.

Before he knows it, he is touring around with two little boys, the mechanic’s sons. That summer turns out to be a summer that he or the boys would never forget. A summer they will cherish, a summer that gives them the hope that things are not all bleak, the summer which carries them through the rest of their lives, the summer that charted the course of the rest of their lives, in many ways.

A beautifully written book. I struggle for words to describe it. A book about flawed characters, not bad, or evil, just flawed characters, desperate situations, just life, which is so difficult to predict, control or change and the way people react to life and the challenges it throws them. The aftermaths and consequences of decisions, lifestyles that have an everlasting impact on those around them. A story that will touch your soul. It isn’t a path breaking one or even a story with a great twist or anything, but it is a story that will definitely stay with me. August’s loneliness and heartbreak, the boys’ with their defiant self reliance, or their father with his stubborn refusal to see the things right in front of him. A story that makes you wish people would see how they let their lives go. I particularly loved the way it ended, the hope that it ended on.

This book, in my opinion, is a perfect Book Club book. One which you could analyse from so many angles, one which gives you so much food for thought. It is the sort of book, I wished I could discuss with friends. Just the sort of book I like. I can’t believe that I hadn’t come across this author so far, but an author, I’m sure to be picking up more of.

An inspiring, thought provoking, sensitive story. A story that will stay with me. A 4.5/5 read for me.

Thank you Netgalley and the publishers for the ARC of this book.

About the Author
Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of about 28 published books such as The Language of Hoofbeats, Take Me With You , Where We Belong, Walk Me Home, Subway Dancer and Other Stories, When You Were Older, Don’t Let Me Go, When I Found You, Second Hand Heart, The Long, Steep Path: Everyday Inspiration From the Author of Pay It Forward, Always Chloe and Other Stories, and 365 Days of Gratitude: Photos from a Beautiful World.

This book is available to pre-order at Amazon(UK).

Book Review: Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

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Jess Moran, running away from her abusive boyfriend, on cold February evening stumbles into an abandoned house. All she wants is shelter and a place to hide until the next day. She gets drawn into a pair of lover’s star crossed lives when she ends up reading a letter that comes in the next day. A letter to a Mrs S Thorne, from Dan.

She soon finds a stack of letters from Dan to Stella. As Jess reads through the old letters, Stella and Dan’s life plays out in front of her eyes.

Stella meets Dan in 1942. Stella, in a loveless, convenience marriage with Charles, a vicar, had been leading a blameless, dutiful life when she was dragged into town by her feisty friend, Nancy. She runs into Dan, an American pilot and there is an instant connection between them.

Before she knows it, Jess had almost forgotten her own troubles and had an almost single minded determination to find out if Stella was still alive. She knows she has to, Stella and Dan’s love, feels so powerful, so unique that she feels propelled to do what she can. Dan’s love for Stella shows her what love is and just how powerful it can be.

She finds an unlikely ally in Will Holt, who worked with a probate research firm. They made their money finding heirs of people who have died and claiming a portion of their inheritance. Will had been tracking a Miss N. Price’s relatives when he runs across Jess, who had inadvertently squatted at Miss Price’s old residence.

What is the connection between Stella Thorne and N. Price and do they eventually find her? You’ll have to read it to find out.

A beautifully written book, with emotions well captured, be it Stella’s situation with her husband Charles, or Jess’s struggle for survival, or Will’s unhappy life of being a ‘second best’ or Stella and Dan’s star crossed lives. The author has done an amazing job with this story, spanning decades. The frugal life of the wartime, runs parallel to Jess’s situation of almost being forced to forage to survive. I’ve always enjoyed books with parallel narratives, and this one does that very well indeed. Each thread of narrative, intertwining seamlessly.

A book that grips you right from the word go. An un-put-downable book, that had me captive until the very end. A beautiful romantic story beautifully narrated, an emotional roller coaster ride that keeps the reader’s interest right till the end. A 4.5/5 book for me.

Thank you, Netgalley, and the publishers for the review copy of this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

This book is available to pre-order from Amazon(UK).

Book Review: The Day We Disappeared by Lucy Robinson

image Annie Mulholland has a past which continues to haunt her. Everything she does is affected by her past, the past which we, the readers know nothing about. She suddenly finds herself in luck. Unbelievable, fantastic luck. So amazing that it’s difficult to come to terms with, especially for her long time friends and sister, who, much to her surprise, seem reluctant to share her happiness.

Kate Brady has run away from her life, abandoning her career in Google in Dublin and has chosen to live and work in an equestrian yard for no salary. What made her run away from her former, glamorous life?

The book alternates between Annie and Kate’s narrative. Their stories unfold in parallel. Annie and Kate are old friends. Both of them are happy with their lives, different as it might be to what they are used to. Annie with her new-found job and happiness with a new man, and Kate, with her solitude and her new life in the equestrian yard. Both of them have secrets, which we as the readers are tantalised with mentions which allude to something that is coming our way.

I wish I could say more, but I’m trying hard here to not give away too much. It is a book, I read without any context and I loved it. It was a great book. This was the first book of Lucy Robinson that I have read and I have to say that her style has me hooked. I am definitely going to pick up other books by the author.It was such a brilliant, compelling read. Totally ‘unputdownable’. She keeps the tension going, she reveals just enough to keep us gasping for more.

The Blurb said

A gripping and unpredictable story of two young women running from their pasts. We defy you to guess the twist.

It absolutely was. It was a great story, narrated beautifully, with the right amount of suspense and humour and completely gripping. A 4/5 read for me. A book I will definitely recommend. Do give it a try.

Thank you Netgalley and the publishers for a ARC of this book, in exchange of a fair and unbiased review.

About the Author

The Day We Disappeared is Lucy Robinson’s fourth novel, following hot on the heels of the widely-acclaimed The Unfinished Symphony of You and Me – a Book of 2014 for several online and print media publications.

Lucy worked in theatre and then television documentaries before starting a blog for Marie Claire about her laughably unsuccessful foray into the world of online dating. She did not meet a man during this time but she did become a novelist: every cloud has a silver lining. She now lives in Bristol with her partner, The Man, whom she met when she took off to Buenos Aires to become a bohemian writer in 2010. She still works in television when time permits and does a lot of walking and strange healthy cooking, which you can laugh at via her social media channels

This book is available to pre-order from Amazon(UK).

Book Review: Fragile Lies by Laura Elliot.

Much thanks to Nergalley and the publisher Bookouture for the review copy.

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His name is Michael Carmody. 
He is a writer and a father. 
His son is lying in a coma, fighting for his life. 

Her name is Lorraine Cheevers. 
She is an artist and mother. 
An illicit affair has destroyed her marriage. 

Michael is desperate to find the couple who left his son for dead, a victim of a hit and run. 

Lorraine is desperate to start a new life for her and her daughter. 

Michael and Lorraine are about to cross paths – damaged souls, drawn to one another. 

They don’t know that their lives are already connected. 

They don’t know the web of lies surrounding them. 

They are each searching for the truth. But when they find it, it could destroy them both.

The book had me engrossed from word go. The prologue made for a great start to the book. It gave just enough to get me intrigued and gasping for more.

Lorraine Cheevers is an artist who is recovering from her broken marriage. Running away from her former life, she has bought a property in a little village of which she has fond childhood memories. It is her refuge, a place where she hopes she can find peace. Her teenage daughter Emily is certainly not finding her mother’s childhood haven all that enticing. She is upset about being uprooted from her comfortable life.

Michael Carmody’s son is in a coma after being in an accident. All he wants is to get his son back and for the people who hit and ran to get tracked down. He can’t understand what kind of people could leave a person to die and drive off.

When he does find out, Michael finds that he may have got more than he bargained for.

A gripping story of love, betrayal, treacherous secrets and revenge. The characters beautifully etched, some you feel for, you empathize with. others who you detest, all rounded and well detailed characters. Michael’s story had me in tears, it made me wish, hope for a happy ending for him. If I had to chose a character that spoke to me the most, it would be Michael.

A book I would definitely recommend. A 4/5 read. An absolute page turner, one that had me engrossed from word go till the very end.

What did you think of the cover? I really liked it. It conveyed the emotions of the book very well, thought.

About the Author

Laura Elliot is the author of three novels, Stolen Child and The Prodigal Sister,published by Avon HarperCollins. Her novel, Fragile Lies, will be published in February 2015 by Bookouture. Her books have been widely translated and she has collaborated on a number of high-profile non-fiction books.

Aka June Considine, she is an author of twelve books for children and young adults. Her children’s short stories have been broadcast and have appeared in a number of teenage anthologies.She gives regular workshops on creative writing.She has also worked as a freelance journalist and magazine editor but is now engaged full time in creative writing.

She lives in Malahide, Co Dublin, Ireland.

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

Book Review: Shards of Sunlight by Anand Nair

Thank you Netgalley and the publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.

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Seven year old Indu is living a comfortable carefree life in a small town called Thalassery in Pre-Independence India.

The only thing missing in her life is her mother, who died when Indu was a toddler. She lived with her dad and extended family consisting of his unmarried sister, Devi, and nieces Shinnu and Mani. Mani is his elder brother’s daughter, who is a doctor, caught in the Japanese invasion of Singapore. That is family for Indu. Loved and not lacking much. Indu’s life changes drastically when her father, Gopalan is jailed for being a freedom fighter.

Gopalan was a lawyer, so his income was good enough for the whole household. Being jailed, everything changes. It falls on to Devi, Gopalan’s sister to manage things to the best of her ability. As a woman of her times, she is clueless about how to go about things, she is after all, proficient at only the things that are expected out of women. All Gopalan had said to his sister was to make she pays Indu and Mani’s school fees.

That emphasis on education stays with her. As story progresses, we see her making choices that would have been unthinkable otherwise, especially of the time when this story is set. Her life is different from other women of her times, as is shown by the different circumstances that Shinnu lives under. Her father had not just left her with a legacy of education, but also independence and the encouragement of thinking for herself, of never considering herself inferior because she was a woman. Her father had gifted her with the most precious of gifts, confidence in herself, something that was rare in the women of her era.

For me, this book was more about the little cultural (and political) references that added the flavour to the story. Be it the life in Thalassery or Indu’s life in Colombo, it was rich with the flavour of the place, of the time. The food they ate, the circumstances they lived in, and how quickly things changed, especially when the income generator is just one person in a household (that could be true even today, couldn’t it?). The writing did transport me to the place where the narrative was taking place. I could feel Indu’s pride as she defended her father’s role as a freedom fighter , I could feel the desperation of Indians caught in the unrest in Sri Lanka.I could understand Devi’s feeling of helplessness, and clinging to the culture and situations that she is comfortable in. The story itself is just follows Indu’s life but it managed to keep my interest going with all this.

Indu’s bond with the various people in her life is really well depicted. Her closeness to cousin Mani, the desolation she feels when Mani’s parents come back to get her. Her own relationship with her Uncle and Aunt, and finally with the man she falls in love with.

It could have done with better editing. There some contradictory statements. Initially Indu is shown to have a flair for numbers and asking her father to teach her Maths, further down the line she is shown as opting to do ‘boring Maths’. Devi, Indu’s aunt is called ‘Ammamma’ by Indu and Mani. Ammamma means grandma and it feels a little when they also refer to Devi as ‘Devi’ in conversation among themselves. It just didn’t sit right. Not that it is a huge issue, but just inconsistency that better editing could have easily gotten rid of.

An interesting read. A 3.5/5 read for me. Don’t go looking for a twist in the tale but is well worth a read if you like sagas which tell a story of places, and countries along with the protagonist’s life.

About the Author

Anand Nair is from Thalassery, a coastal town in Kerala. Though she has lived in many countries since, she says her instincts are still those of a small-town woman. Now she lives in England but travels to India and Africa frequently.

She was trained as a Mathematics teacher and worked in many African countries as a Mathematics Adviser for the British Council. But it is the English language that inspires her. That and memories of the India she left behind decades ago.

She believes that the majority of Indian women are disadvantaged because they are women. The urban few have got away but India is 90% villages.

She loves gardening and cats.

Her second novel Shards of Sunlight, published in January, 2014, is about this old India that is now gone.

This book is available on Amazon(UK).