Saturday, August 23, 2014

"Secret Daughter: A Novel," by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

"Secret Daughter: A Novel," by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Somer's life is everything she imagined it would be — she's newly married and has started her career as a physician in San Francisco — until she makes the devastating discovery she never will be able to have children.

The same year in India, a poor mother makes the heartbreaking choice to save her newborn daughter's life by giving her away. It is a decision that will haunt Kavita for the rest of her life, and cause a ripple effect that travels across the world and back again.

Asha, adopted out of a Mumbai orphanage, is the child that binds the destinies of these two women. We follow both families, invisibly connected until Asha's journey of self-discovery leads her back to India.

Compulsively readable and deeply touching, SECRET DAUGHTER is a story of the unforeseen ways in which our choices and families affect our lives, and the indelible power of love in all its many forms.

Be warned once you start this book you won't want to put it down, it hooks you right away.  It's a story that you will remember for a long, long time.  My favourite part of the book was when  Ahsa goes to India to work.  The way the author describes everyday life is compelling and so real you can imagine the sounds and smells there.

You feel empathy for both Somer and Kavita as both the adoptive and birth mother.  Kavita especially shows great strength with what she went through.  The book also shows how a hard life women and children can have in India and what a wide gap there is with how much some people have and how little the majority have.  It shows how "valuable" a male baby is over a female baby, and what some people will do when a female baby is born.  The sad thing is things often don't work out as planned and you will read about this in the book.

Stars out of 5 : 5 A super book, well worth the read.  Makes me want to go to India even more now despite the heat and the food; neither which I like.  The Foreign Terms Glossary at the back of the book is a big help.  I was a little surprised at the ending re: Asha and her birth parents.  If you have time do read this book, you will not be disappointed.

P.S. A lot of the names in the book are names of people who I know in real life, so the story felt familiar even though it is a fictional story.

Friday, August 22, 2014

"One Thousand White Women," by Jim Fergus

"One Thousand White Women," by Jim Fergus
One Thousand White Women is the story of May Dodd and a colorful assembly of pioneer women who, under the auspices of the U.S. government, travel to the western prairies in 1875 to intermarry among the Cheyenne Indians. The covert and controversial "Brides for Indians" program, launched by the administration of Ulysses S. Grant, is intended to help assimilate the Indians into the white man's world. Toward that end May and her friends embark upon the adventure of their lifetime. Jim Fergus has so vividly depicted the American West that it is as if these diaries are a capsule in time.

I think my one big regret for this book is it is fiction and therefore Mary Dodd's journal's are not real.  I so wanted Mary and her friends to be actual people who actually lived in the late 1800's, as each one of them felt like "real" people that you would want to know and love.  I enjoyed the way the author brought each character to life, and if I had to chose a favourite it would have to be the English woman Helen Elizabeth Flight.  However each and every one of those women were so strong and courageous it would have been an honour to have known them.

I personally do not know much about the Cheyenne Indians, so this touched upon some things that taught me something.  I would love to read more about this era and this area of the world.  It is suggested in the book that the Cheyenne Indian men treat their women a lot better than other tribes?  Was this true?  Regardless the women worked so hard to keep them all "afloat," during these hard times.  This book also touches on how the American Government promised the Indians one thing then did another.  I know indigenous people all over the world have been through the same situation; glad it was mentioned here.

Stars out of 5 : 5 I loved this book and couldn't put it down.  I had to know what happened next.  If you do decide to read this book; and I hope you do, please read it all including the epilogue, and the Reading Group Gold Selection.  All very interesting what is written there.

"The Memory Keeper's Daughter," by Kim Edwards

"The Memory Keeper's Daughter," by Kim Edwards
Kim Edwards’s stunning novel begins on a winter night in 1964 in Lexington, Kentucky, when a blizzard forces Dr. David Henry to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy, but the doctor immediately recognizes that his daughter has Down syndrome. Rationalizing it as a need to protect Norah, his wife, he makes a split second decision that will alter all of their lives forever. He asks his nurse, Caroline, to take the baby away to an institution and never to reveal the secret. Instead, she disappears into another city to raise the child herself. So begins this beautifully told story that unfolds over a quarter of a century—in which these two families, ignorant of each other, are yet bound by the fateful decision made that winter night long ago.

A family drama, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter explores every mother's silent fear: What would happen if you lost your child and she grew up without you? It is also an astonishing tale of love and how the mysterious ties that hold a family together help us survive the heartache that occurs when long-buried secrets are finally uncovered.


I found I had more questions than answers when reading this book.  Granted it starts in 1964 and the medical world wasn't advanced as it is now, couldn't they figure out it was twins before the birth?  Also from a legal point of view this wouldn't/shouldn't have been possible to hand over a child to someone else just like that?  Or is it?

Anyhow, one of the good things after reading this book, is Down Syndrome is more understood and better tolerated nowadays than back in the 60's.  I found both David and Norah to be selfish character's, each wrapped up in their own little worlds, together but so far apart.  Even Caroline's decision to raise Phoebe (the Down Syndrome baby) herself is quite selfish; as how did she know that Norah wouldn't want to raise the child herself?  Granted Caroline gave Phoebe a terrific home and upbringing, but it wasn't her decision to make.  Also from Norah's point of view, she didn't have closure on the "death" of her child and that is something all parents would need to my mind?

Stars out of 5 : 4 The book kept me interested, but it was missing something.  With it skipping back and forward between the two families, I feel as though we missed parts of their lives.  Am I glad I read this book; yes it was enjoyable and it made you think.  It is well worth the read for that reason alone in my opinion.

Monday, August 18, 2014

"No Time For Goodbye," by Linwood Barclay

"No Time For Goodbye," by Linwood Barclay


Fourteen-year-old Cynthia Bigge woke one morning to discover that her entire family–mother, father,brother–had vanished. No note, no trace, no return. Ever.  Now, twenty-five years later, she’ll learn the devastating truth.

Sometimes it’s better not to know. . . .

Cynthia is happily married with a young daughter, a new family. But the story of her old family isn’t over. A strange car in the neighborhood, untraceable phone calls, ominous “gifts”–someone has returned to her hometown to finish what was started twenty-five years ago. And no one’s innocence is guaranteed, not even her own. By the time Cynthia discovers her killer’s shocking identity, it will again be too late . . . even for goodbye.


This is our book for our September book club meeting.  I normally read the book a few days before the meeting, but decided to read this earlier for some reason.  I have never read any books by Linwood Barclay before so didn't know what to expect.  It's called "a thriller," which I found confusing, a murder, mystery would have been a better sub-title I think, but what do I know?

There was plenty of action in the book and with the twists and turns it kept you interested.  I found the character Cynthia hard work for some reason, but I guess unless you had been through the same thing as she had, who knows what you would turn out like?  I did guess a couple of the things in the book, but the one thing; I never saw coming at all.  You could have knocked me over with a feather when that situation unfolded.  I can't say what but it does involve the name/character Connie.

Stars out of 5 : 5 Had me hooked right away.  Wish the character Vince Fleming was featured more, I liked him.  It's a "meaty" book and one you need to pay attention to while you're reading it.  It took me a few days to read it.  I will definitely be checking out his other books.  Well worth you time reading this book.

Friday, August 15, 2014

"Surviving Henry," by Erin Taylor Young

"Surviving Henry," by Erin Taylor Young


Sometimes you seek out love. And sometimes it broadsides you.
You don't always know what you're getting into when you bring home a puppy. You hope for laughs and cuddles, long walks and a wagging tail. And sometimes you get . . . Henry.

Henry is a boxer who suffers from Supreme Dictator of the Universe Syndrome. He vandalizes his obedience school, leaps through windows, cheats death at every turn, and generally causes his long-suffering owner Erin Taylor Young to wonder what on earth she did wrong that God would send this dog to derail her life.

But this rogue torpedo of a dog wasn't sent to torment his owner--well, not just to torment her. Through all the hair-pulling and questioning of her own sanity, Erin learns something very powerful from Henry, a dog who brings new meaning to the concept of unconditional love.

Through his laugh-out-loud antics and jaw-dropping escapades, Henry will careen into your life and steal your heart. 


The first two sentences of this book are: "Our dog has special needs, the greatest being the need for a lobotomy.  After that, he could use a good dose of Prozac."  You know when you have read that this book is going to be fun.  It is a laugh out loud, tears rolling down your face fun, but it does have a more serious side to it at times as well.  You can't help but love Henry, and his antics well lets just say, Erin and her family have endless patience!!

I love Henry's relationship with Angel; I guess that's why Angel does what he does for a living.  If you are an animal lover you will adore this book.  This book would make a perfect gift.  Henry is one in a million that's for sure.

Stars out of 5 : 5 Pets are more than pets they are mini children and you love them as much as any member of the family, regardless of what they get up to.  This book shows you that in spades.  I can't say enough good things about this book.  Would I want to be Henry's owner, heck no, but I wouldn't mind being his adopted Grandparent!!!

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Available at your favourite booksel
ler from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Thursday, August 14, 2014

"Blind Trust," by Sandra Orchard

"Blind Trust," by Sandra Orchard
Kate's not sure how deep this deception goes--but she'll do whatever it takes to find out.
Kate Adams had no idea she was carrying counterfeit money and can't believe that it came from her sweet elderly neighbor. Or that it has landed her in the middle of another of Detective Tom Parker's investigations. Determined to prove her neighbor's innocence, Kate stumbles into a pit of intrigue far deeper than a two-bit counterfeit operation--and one that strikes too close to home for comfort.

As family secrets come to light, her world--and her budding romance with Tom--begin to crumble. To Kate, it's clear that she won't be safe until she uncovers all of Port Aster's secrets. But then will it be too late for her and Tom?


If you haven't already, I do feel you need to read the first book in this series Deadly Devotion  It will be easier to understand what has happened prior to reading Blind Trust.  This book takes a while to get going in my opinion. Once it does get going though it will hook you as there are plenty of twists and turns and some interesting things that turn up.  It will keep you thinking and wondering.

Stars out of 5 : 4 I hated the ending and I can't tell you why without giving it away.  It took me a number of days to read, which is unusual for me and is generally an indicator of how much I like/dislike a book.  Once things "heat" up in the book, it is a page turner.  I am looking forward to reading the next in the series though as there is plenty of more stories to be told.  Well worth your time reading it.  Also nice Sandra is a "local" author.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Available at your favourite booksel
ler from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Sunday, August 10, 2014

"A Place in His Heart," by Rebecca DeMarino

"A Place in His Heart," by Rebecca DeMarino
Anglican Mary Langton longs to marry for love. Left at the altar and disgraced in her small hamlet, she is being pressured to marry the eligible son of the London milliner. Puritan Barnabas Horton still grieves the loss of his beloved wife, but he knows his two young sons need a mother.

With tender hearts, Mary and Barnabas take a leap of faith and wed. But when Barnabas's secret plans to move his family to the New World to escape persecution come to light, Mary's world is upended. How could she possibly leave her papa and her dear sister?

And will she ever reach the secret places of her husband's broken heart?


I really enjoyed this book.  It's from a period of history we learned about at school.  Saying that this book covered a lot more of the religious aspect that I don't remember learning about.

The lead characters Mary and Barnabas as well suited for one another and Mary especially, a very brave and adventurous soul.  I liked how the character Joseph was portrayed as a young boy who so missed his mother and felt he would betray her if he called Mary, mother.  It made the story even more believable.

I thoroughly enjoyed the everyday life occasions that were written about in the book.  It made you feel as though you were there.  They had a very hard life with many up and downs that's for sure.

Stars out of 5 : 4.5  I was hooked on the book right away, which is always a good sign.  I did find the love story of Mary and Barnabas a bit drawn out.  Lesser characters would have thrown in the towel I think at the way things progressed there.  I am looking forward to the next book in "The Southold Chronicles," as I need to know what will happen next.  Well worth your time reading this book, I read it in a day.

(Nothing to do with the story, but don't you think the woman on the front of the book reminds you of Nicole Kidman?)


"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Available at your favourite booksel
ler from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Thursday, August 7, 2014

"With Every Breath," by Elizabeth Camden

"With Every Breath," by Elizabeth Camden
In the shadow of the nation's capital, Kate Livingston's respectable life as a government worker is disrupted by an encounter with the insufferable Trevor McDonough, the one man she'd hoped never to see again. A Harvard-trained physician, Trevor never showed the tiniest flicker of interest in Kate, and business is the only reason he has sought her out now.

Despite her misgivings, Kate agrees to Trevor's risky proposal to join him in his work to find a cure for tuberculosis. As Kate begins to unlock the mysteries of Trevor's past, his hidden depths fascinate her. However, a shadowy enemy lies in wait and Trevor's closely guarded secrets are darker than she ever suspected.

As revelations from the past threaten to destroy their careers, their dreams, and even their lives, Trevor and Kate find themselves in a painfully impossible situation. With everything to lose, they must find the strength to trust that hope and love can prevail over all.


This book had me hooked right from the start.  The two main characters Kate and Trevor, were so different but so much like one another at the same time with their competitive streak.  The way they spoke to one another; you knew sparks were flying between them.

The mystery element of the story was really good as well.  I never did guess who was behind all the threats and incidents.  When it was revealed it was a surprise.

Finally the medical and history side of the story was really quite fascinating and you had to admire the staff's dedication, especially Trevor's to the danger they put themselves in.  It made me think of the Ebola outbreak at the moment and what the scientists and doctors must be going through trying to find a cure for it.  So although this story was set in the late 1800's it is a very relevant story for today.

Stars out of 5 : 5 A solid 5, I read it in a day as I couldn't put it down.  I had to know what happened next.  Really well worth the read.


"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 

Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

"Miracle in a Dry Season," by Sarah Loudin Thomas

"Miracle in a Dry Season," by Sarah Loudin Thomas

It's 1954 and Perla Long's arrival in the sleepy town of Wise, West Virginia, was supposed to go unnoticed. She just wants a quiet, safe place for her and her daughter, Sadie, where the mistakes of her past can stay hidden. But then drought comes to Wise, and Perla is pulled into the turmoil of a town desperately in need of a miracle.

Casewell Phillips has resigned himself to life as a bachelor...until he meets Perla. She's everything he's sought in a woman, but he can't get past the sense that she's hiding something. As the drought worsens, Perla's unique gift divides the town in two, bringing both gratitude and condemnation, and placing the pair in the middle of a storm of anger and forgiveness, fear and faith.


What a wonderful book this is.  It reminds me of the story from the Bible,  feeding the 5000.  However it is a more modern story and one which shows how much kindness people can give and show in times of sorrow and despair.  It also highlights how people can and do forgive when they are the ones who are being wronged in the first place.

Perla is a truly special lady and once Casewell begins to know her, he sees that too.  The town of Wise is a unique place and I hope Sarah writes more books about this town as there are certainly many more tales to be told.  This is Sarah's debut book and she is an author I will be certainly looking forward to reading.

The way she writes her books, makes for an easy read and the descriptions make everything and everyone come to life.

Stars out of 5 : 5 I was hooked right away and I didn't want to put the book down as I wanted to know what happened next.  Well worth reading.


"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 

Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

"Truth Be Told," by Carol Cox

"Truth Be Told," by Carol Cox
When Amelia Wagner takes over her father's newspaper in 1893 Granite Springs, Arizona, she vows to carry on the paper's commitment to reporting only the truth. But Amelia soon learns that even the truth can have serious consequences. Her father's revealing articles about the Great Western Investment Company have caught the attention of the wrong people, and pressure mounts for Amelia to retract her father's statements.

Determined to find out the real story, Amelia begins her own investigation. She's joined by Benjamin Stone, a Great Western employee who's been assigned to keep tabs on her for the good of the company, a man Amelia finds both perplexing and intriguing.

What they uncover stuns them both--and has far-reaching implications for not only Ben and Amelia but all of Granite Springs. Can they reveal the truth before the enemy finds a way to silence them for good?


This book is a light hearted read that doesn't take much out of you.  Amelia is a go getter and not your usual demure woman of the late 1800's.  Ben is a match for her and between them they make a perfect pair.  There is a little mystery involved in this book, but it's pretty straight forward working out who is who, and what is what.  

Will I remember this book in a month or two; probably not, but it was an enjoyable book to read.  It was one of my books I can read and carry on thinking about other things, type of books!

Stars out of 5 : 4 A good book to while away a few hours and you get to learn a little something about early newspaper publishing.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 

Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Monday, August 4, 2014

"A Complicated Kindness," by Miriam Toews

"A Complicated Kindness," by Miriam Toews
Sixteen-year-old Nomi Nickel longs to hang out with Lou Reed and Marianne Faithfull in New York City’s East Village. Instead she’s trapped in East Village, Manitoba, a small town whose population is Mennonite: “the most embarrassing sub-sect of people to belong to if you’re a teenager.” East Village is a town with no train and no bar whose job prospects consist of slaughtering chickens at the Happy Family Farms abattoir or churning butter for tourists at the pioneer village. Ministered with an iron fist by Nomi’s uncle Hans, a.k.a. The Mouth of Darkness, East Village is a town that’s tall on rules and short on fun: no dancing, drinking, rock ’n’ roll, recreational sex, swimming, make-up, jewellery, playing pool, going to cities or staying up past nine o’clock.

As the novel begins, Nomi struggles to cope with the back-to-back departures three years earlier of Tash, her beautiful and mouthy sister, and Trudie, her warm and spirited mother. She lives with her father, Ray, a sweet yet hapless schoolteacher whose love is unconditional but whose parenting skills amount to benign neglect. Father and daughter deal with their losses in very different ways. Ray, a committed elder of the church, seeks to create an artificial sense of order by reorganizing the city dump late at night. Nomi, on the other hand, favours chaos as she tries to blunt her pain through “drugs and imagination.” Together they live in a limbo of unanswered questions.

Nomi’s first person narrative shifts effortlessly between the present and the past. Within the present, Nomi goes through the motions of finishing high school while flagrantly rebelling against Mennonite tradition. She hangs out on Suicide Hill, hooks up with a boy named Travis, goes on the Pill, wanders around town, skips class and cranks Led Zeppelin. But the past is never far from her mind as she remembers happy times with her mother and sister — as well as the painful events that led them to flee town. Throughout, in a voice both defiant and vulnerable, she offers hilarious and heartbreaking reflections on life, death, family, faith and love.

Eventually Nomi’s grief — and a growing sense of hypocrisy — cause her to spiral ever downward to a climax that seems at once startling and inevitable. But even when one more loss is heaped on her piles of losses, Nomi maintains hope and finds the imagination and willingness to envision what lies beyond.


I read this book as it is August's choice for our book club.  If I love a book I normally read it in a day or so, this one took me a week.  That's not to say I hated it, I just found it a tad drawn out.  There were moments where I laughed out loud, but overall it was pretty depressing.

By the last few chapters you begin to wonder if Nomi will actually live.  You don't know right away why her mother and her sister left, but as the book progresses it becomes obvious why.  Nomi's one more loss comes as a surprise and not something I would have guessed.  

I found the ending strange and felt there was more to tell of this story.

Stars out of 5 : 3 Nomi talks to fast......I know I can read the book as slow as I want...LOL  You do get caught up with the narrative and you can imagine Nomi's character no problem at all.  If you like books about teenage angst, this is the one for you.  Me.....not so much.