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.

Book Review: A Banquet of Consequences by Elizabeth George

This is the first year that I’ve not successfully completed the Review Challenge. Given the roller coaster that this year has been, I’ve got to say that I don’t even care. Life takes over, priorities change, hearts are broken, mended, silver linings glimmer in the distance.. and you know that things might never be the same but… But different might not be the end of the world either.

And picking up my virtual pen to review one of those 20 odd books which are screaming for a review might just be the way back to my new normalcy.

The Banquet of Consequences ( Inspector Lynley #19) by Elizabeth George.

I’ve been reading Elizabeth George for about 11 years. It was in 2004 that I read her for the first time and it had me hooked. I can’t remember which one it was but I fell in love with Barbara Havers, the quirky, policewoman. Although these were called Inspector Lynley series, it was all about Barbara for me. So when I saw this book on Netgalley, I had to request it.

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Barbara Havers is under a cloud. She’s not the favourite person of her boss, Isabelle Ardery, at the moment. It could be argued that she never had been, but this time she had gone just too far. She knows that she has to lie low and do everything to get in the good books of Ardery, even if it means changing the way she dresses. The new docile Havers is a sight which her colleagues and friends find tough to stomach. And when a murder happens, Barbara wants to grab the opportunity to throw herself into the work she does best.

Clare Abbott, a well known feminist author is found dead in her hotel room. It was considered a heart attack until investigations revealed that she was actually poisoned. Havers, having run into Abbott a few days ago, is intrigued. Abbott had a rather bossy assistant, Caroline Goldacre. There is something not quite right about Clare and Caroline’s relationship and Havers has her job cut out for her.

An murder mystery, with a selection of characters, some charming, some normal, some totally dysfunctional, George, weaves an interesting story. I’ve always liked the flavour that George imparts to her stories, and she doesn’t disappoint in this one either. Some elements of the book felt forced, I would have been happy to have less of Lynley and more of the colourful Dorothea. 

As a book, I’d recommend it to old fans of the series. It might not work so well as a standalone book if one doesn’t know the background, especially Lynley’s. I think I have missed the last two books in the series, but from what I gather from reviews, I haven’t missed much. So if you are new to the series, I would recommend that you start from the beginning. 

My rating : 3.5/5

About the Author

Susan Elizabeth George is an American author of mystery novels set in Great Britain. Eleven of her novels, featuring her character Inspector Lynley, have been adapted for television by the BBC as The Inspector Lynley Mysteries. She was born in Warren, Ohio, but moved to the San Francisco Bay Area when she was eighteen months old. She was a student of English, receiving a teaching certificate. While teaching English in the public school system, she completed an advanced degree in psychology. Her first published novel was A Great Deliverance in 1988, featuring Thomas Lynley, Lord Asherton, a Scotland Yard inspector of noble birth; Barbara Havers, Lynley’s assistant, from a very working-class background; Lady Helen Clyde, Lynley’s girlfriend and later wife, of noble birth as well; and Lynley’s friends Simon and Deborah St. James. 

Book Review: Girl in the River by Patricia Kullberg

I’ve not been reading or reviewing as much as I normally do. Life has that funny habit of ensuring that some times are so busy that all you want to do at the end of a day is sleep.

I was sent this book ages ago by Mindbuck Media and I feel awful that I took this long to read it.

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Mae Rose has been living with her mother. She had clues that everything wasn’t quite normal in her family when she found herself not being allowed to be friends with other kids. As she grew up, she realised why, her mother was a prostitute. She wanted to be nothing like her mother, but orphaned at 16, life pushes her into her m0ther’s world.

Set in the Portland of 1950s, a city controlled by criminals and crime, Mae Rose’s life reflects the turbulent times that it was. 16 year old Mae Rose, newly orphaned, when her mother dies from a botched abortion, suddenly realises how unsafe the city can be for girls like her. All she wants is some work, but realises all too soon that young girls like her are preyed upon. She ends up learning the hard way, and then decides to play unsafe on her own terms. 

The story brings underbelly of the city, funded by gangsters hand in hand with the corrupt city officials, it was the girls on the street who bore the brunt of it. The story features two real people from that era, Dr Ruth Barnett, the famous abortionist and Dorothy Lee, the anti-vice crusader who came down heavily on corruption. Mae Rose’s story is woven beautifully with the happenings at that time. 

It was a book that needs to be read. A book with so much insight into those times. A book I would definitely recommend. It also has the most charming and unlikeliest of romances, one I found very sweet, and yet doesn’t detract from the tale being narrated at all, which is far from sweet. A 4.5/5 book for me. A book that will stay with me.

About the author

A doctor and a historical fiction writer, Kullberg brings both areas of her expertise together in her writing. Based out of Portland, This is her first book, with others in the offing.

The book is available from Amazon(UK).

Book Review: The Other Me by Saskia Sarginson

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Eliza Bennett is living the life she’s always dreamt about, doing something she loves with a man she loves. However she’s hiding a terrible secret that could bring her dream life down like a pack of cards. 

For one, she isn’t who everyone thinks she is. She is actually Klaudia Meyer. She’s adopted Eliza Bennett as her new name. Klaudia, she no longer was, in her own mind. And Eliza she would have stayed, until life forced her to face the truth.

Klaudia has had a difficult childhood, being the only daughter of Otto and Gwyn. Otto is the school caretaker, and an object of fun for her school mates. With his German background, the easiest jibe to fling at him was, ‘Nazi’. His obsession with religious carvings don’t help matters. By the time she becomes older, all she wants is to run far far away from her childhood home. Also lurking was the growing suspicion that maybe the school kids weren’t too far off with their jibe of ‘Nazi’. Klaudia knew that she needed to get away, and Leeds seemed far enough. 

When she moves away from home, she chooses a new name for herself, Eliza Bennett, inspired by Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennett. She constructs a new identity for herself and was perfectly happy until life threw everything into disarray.

The story weaves back into the past, with Otto and Ernst’s life in Nazi Germany. Ernst narrates the tale of life in war time Germany. It makes for a heartbreaking read. It is unbearable to read of life in such situations, where people are pitted against people. Neighbours, friends, all forced to turn against each other, and the power of words, campaigns, and slogans which gave people the thrust to do things they would have never done otherwise. Things that would come to haunt them later. 

A moving tale of a girl who doesn’t know the truth of her past, of ghosts of the past haunting not just the people who lived through things, but also  generations which come later. 

A poignant read, one which I will stay with me. A good, haunting read, especially Ernst’s part of the book. A 4/5 read for me. This is the first book I’ve read of this author, and I know that it’s not going to be the last.

Thank you, Netgalley and the publishers for the review copy of the book.

About the Author

Saskia grew up in Suffolk and now lives in London. She is the mother of four children, including identical twin girls. She has a B.A hons in English Literature from Cambridge and an M.A in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway. She’s worked as a Health & Beauty Editor,freelance journalist, ghost-writer and script reader. As well as writing and reading, she loves tango dancing and dog walking.


This book is available at Amazon(UK)

Book Review: The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert

The title hooked me in. There was something about the title. Actually, it’s just that mention of cake, and even the fact that I don’t even like coconut cake didn’t deter me. I love fiction based on food, or even non-fiction, for that matter. As you can see, I’m not too choosy and the blurb sounded interesting, and that was enough to get me to request for this book at Netgalley.

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Lou runs a little French restaurant, Luella’s in Milwaukee. She’s living her dream, she’s finally been able to save money and open her own restaurant. While not wildly popular or anything,they are struggling, just about able to make even, but that doesn’t stop Lou from dreaming big and working hard to reach there. The only person who doesn’t seem to take her seriously is her fiance Devlin. He seems to think that she needs ‘rescuing’ from her ‘hard’ life. As it turned out, Lou certainly didn’t need rescuing by Devlin, and walking in on her fiance unexpectedly had more than one unsavoury outcome.

Al is a brutal restaurant reviewer who is known for his harsh take downs of the restaurants he reviews. Originally from Britain, he is just about tolerating Milkwaukee and writes under a psuedonym. He gets an anonymous invite to review Luella’s, and lands up there on a day when Lou was at her worst. Needless to say, Al’s review was nothing to write home about. The review drives Lou to the pub to drown her sorrows where she runs into Al. A dare ends up with Lou offering to show Al the culinary delights of Milwaukee which involved some really delicious sounding food (the descriptions had me drooling). During this time, Lou’s restaurant is facing closure, while Al’s column is gaining in popularity.

So what happens when Lou finds out who Al really is? You have to read to find out.

A charming, cute story. One that you know the outcome of, and yet want to read on, just because the writing is so captivating, the characters so engaging, that you want to read on, you want to know what happens next, knowing fully well, that there is little that will surprise you. I loved the characters, particularly Lou’s protective friends.

A simple story, but really well narrated. A book that made me want to taste all that Lou shows Al, made me want to visit Milwaukee, and made me want to know how it all ended – even though I could easily predict the ending, but the journey to get there was absolutely delicious! The author even did the near-impossible, she made me want to try a slice of coconut cake!

A book I would definitely recommend. Great for a holiday read, a quick, easy and fun read. A 4/5 read for me. I know I would love to read other books by this author.

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

About The Author
Amy Reichert earned her MA in Literature from Marquette University, and honed her writing and editing skills as a technical writer (which is exactly as exciting as it sounds). As a newly minted member of the local library board, she loves helping readers find new books to love. She’s a life-long Wisconsin resident with (allegedly) a very noticeable accent, a patient husband, and two too-smart-for-their-own-good kids. When time allows, she loves to read, collect more cookbooks than she could possibly use, and test the limits of her DVR.

This book is available from Amazon(UK).

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 Third Wife by Lisa Jewell

  

Adrian lived a perfect life. Two ex-wives, one wife and a five children. All living in perfect harmony. Everybody loves each other. Maya’s Adrian’s wife babysits for Adrian’s ex-wife Caroline. They even go on holiday together. Life is as perfect as could be.

Perfect until Adrian’s wife died. She stumbles onto the path of a bus, drunk. Was it suicide or was it an accident. Either way, it changed Adrian’s life in a way he had never imagined possible. Forced to confront the reality that he had hid himself from, Adrian now needs to introspect and think.

We come across Adrian’s ‘The Third Wife’, only after her death. As the story unfolds, we get to hear Maya’s story as well as Adrian, his ex-wives and children. An interesting take of a blended family. A family that looks perfect on the surface but digging a little reveals secrets of all sorts. The book does a great job analysing the impacts of a broken family on all the members involved. Even the seemingly fine ones, may have deep secrets hidden. I particularly liked the characters. Each of the characters were vividly portrayed. One may or may not like them, but they felt real, like people around us. I couldn’t stand Adrian, but could understand him and his motivations. The story could be happening around us, may be there are families just like these. I really enjoy books like these where characters have shades of grey, who may not be likable and yet you want to know what happened to them and why.

I haven’t enjoyed all of Lisa Jewell’s books, but this one worked for me. It was an interesting read. I’m not entirely sure of the ending. I’m not sure if I completely bought it, however, it was as good as an ending as any. A 3.5/5 read for me. One that I would still recommend, for the story and the treatment of the story.

Have you read this book? If so, how did you find it?

Thank you, Netgalley and the publishers for the review copy of this book.

About the Author
Lisa Jewell (born 19th July 1968, Middlesex, London) is a popular British author of chick lit fiction. Her books include Ralph’s Party, Thirtynothing and most recently 31 Dream Street. She lives in Swiss Cottage, London with her husband Jascha and daughters Amelie Mae (born 2003) and Evie Scarlett (born 2007).

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: Don’t Turn Around by Caroline Mitchell

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DC Jennifer Knight had been investigating a routine stabbing in Haven, a quiet, relatively crime free town, when she gets what sounds like a personal message from the grave, referencing her dead mother, Elizabeth.

Unable to understand what to make of this, Jennifer continues her normal routine when more killings take place. Jennifer knows, instinctively that there is more than meets the eye. Her own premonitions tell her to dig further. She soon discovers that there is indeed a link. The spate of murders mirrored those of the notorious serial killer who called himself ‘The Grim Reaper’. Her mother Elizabeth had been part of the team which convicted him, and now it looked as if a copycat Grim Reaper was back. Jennifer knew in her bones that it was more than a copycat, this was someone who had a connection to her.

The author does a brilliant job, setting the atmosphere. I felt Jennifer’s terror. I found myself wondering if I could hear footsteps in a house where I knew everyone else was asleep. A book that gripped me completely. The character are brought to life beautifully. Jennifer’s troubled, neglected childhood, her relationship with her sister, Amy, her memories of her mother. Frank’s childhood which scarred him for life, little aspects have been explored and well thought out. The characters felt real. I could empathise with what Jennifer was going through. The author has also brought out beautifully how some things are so different from what we perceive from our row of seats in life. For years, Jennifer has an understanding of her mother which was quite different from reality. The extents to which people go, for various reasons, some because of their sick minds, some because they will do everything to save their loved ones. The book, for a paranormal crime thriller, it was so much more than just a thriller, which is the reason I enjoyed this book so much.

One of those books, whose blurb I hadn’t read in quite as much detail as I should have. However, I have to say, I’m glad that it didn’t disappoint me at all. If anything, it made the book even better for me. A book I would recommend, but if you are wary of paranormal books, then be warned, this one has plenty of it. Having said that, in normal circumstances, I’m not too fond of paranormal books, but this book was one I would recommend. First in the series, I’m quite looking forward to reading the next one, when it comes along.

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

So, have you read this already? How did you find it?

About the Author
Caroline Mitchell is the author of Amazon best selling true story ‘Paranormal Intruder’, and her recent debut crime novel ‘Don’t Turn Around’.
Originally from Ireland, she now lives with her husband, four children and two dogs in a pretty village on the coast of Essex.

This book is available on Amazon(UK).

Book Review: Disclaimer by Renée Knight

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What would you do if you picked up a book and realised as you read that it was your story? What if, not only was it your story, it was also a part of your life that you had never told anyone? Something that no one knew.

That was exactly what happened to documentary maker Catherine. Catherine had been living a charmed life. Successful in her career, a loving husband, only her not so successful son being the slight blip in her life. She chances upon a book and as she reads, realises to her horror that it was telling her story. A part of her life that was a deeply buried secret, an explosive secret which could rip apart her life. An incident from years ago that she had tried hard to forget. The standard disclaimer about any resemblance to persons dead or alive is struck off, in red. Clearly some one cares enough to do this to her, some one who is out to get her. Why? How? And why now? So many years after the incident. You can only find out as you read the book. 

In parallel to Catherine’s story is the narrative of a lonely man, a retired teacher, mourning the death of his wife. His life now revolves around clearing his wife’s clothes and living with her memories. What is the connection to Catherine and her horror?

An absolute page turner that had me hooked right from the start. A psychological thriller, that has you psyched, it got to me. I felt Catherine’s fear. The feeling that every move of hers was being watched, someone was waiting to pounce, just waiting for the right time. Perhaps waiting to push Catherine over the brink? Catherine transforms from the confident woman that she was, to a shell of her former self. A worried, scared woman, always looking over her shoulder for her stalker. Who was this and why did they care so much? What did Catherine do? What is this big secret, that she is hiding ? The characters are relatable, real.

I wish I could say more, but that would kill the book for you. It is such a powerful, fascinating book. The author reels you in, builds up the story, builds up the tension so very masterfully. A brilliant book. A 4/5 read, one I would definitely recommend wholeheartedly.

About the Author

Renée Knight worked for the BBC directing arts documentaries before turning to writing. She has had TV and film scripts commissioned by the BBC, Channel Four and Capital Films. In April 2013 she graduated from the Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course. She lives in London with her husband and two children.

This book is available from Amazon(UK).