Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A House for Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'A House for Happy Mothers ', A Novel by Amulya Malladi.

In A House for Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi we are introduced to two different woman, brought together by need. Pryia lives a life of ease, with everything she ever dreamed of. A loving husband, a job and a beautiful home. Yet she feels unfulfilled without a child. She and her husband have tried numerous times and were unable to carry to term.

Her husband loves her greatly but does not understand her yearning, but is more then willing to accommodate her needs. When they hear of surrogacy available in India, she begins a new journey, one that could lead to hope restored or more heart break.

Asha lives in a Southern Indian village. Her family does not have much. She lives there with her husband and two children barely able to make ends meet and with a home falling down around them. Her husband wants her to become a surrogate in order to move them up in life, there is very good money in the program. Asha does not like the idea but the pressure from her family is great. Her own son is extremely gifted and if their life does not change, he will be unable to get the education that he needs to escape a life of poverty. It is this, and only this, that allows her to make the decision.

Meeting the family is awkward for Pryia as Asha does not particularly like her. They come from different worlds and while Asha is moving forward for need she feels Pryia is only moving forward through want. Yet neither of them know the other, nor what drives them. Continents apart, that is not likely to change.

As Asha moves into full maternity mode, she has to caution herself. She wants so badly to fall in love with the baby. At a certain trimester, the surrogates are moved into a home for care, and Asha has to leave her children till the birth of this new child. This home is known as the House for Happy Mothers. Yet while Asha is beginning to relax, she doesn’t find her new living arrangement to her liking. She misses her home and her family. The other residents are jealous of her because her child’s mother, sends her gifts for both herself and her family. Not everyone has such kind parents for the child they carry.

Malladi takes us into a world that is very different then our own, and gives us characters that have a great deal of inner strength. Each is very determined in their own way to make the most of the situation, and the thread that draws them together becomes a light of goodness and happiness for both.When Asha has a small emergency, Pryia moves herself to India for the rest of the pregnancy, fearing the worst. It is here that they come to understand the other in ways that dissolve the distrust and anger, as well as the feelings of guilt, on both sides.

If you enjoy reading about other cultures and love literary fiction, you will find this to be the perfect work. It is moving and thoughtful as well as full of hope.

This would be a great work for a discussion group creating a great deal of dialogue and discussion.

Rating 4/5

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Bones of Grace by Tahmima Anam

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Bones of Grace,' A Novel by Tahmima Anam.

A serendipitous meeting, a deep seated love, and a clash of cultures are threaded throughout the backdrop of The Bones of Grace by Tahmima Anam. Zubaida Haque is on a quest to find the bones of the walking whale, a fossil that could provide a missing link in evolution. It is during this quest that she has a chance meeting with Elijah during a concert. Elijah is the typical American of the time, and Zubaida is the adopted daughter of a family in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Yet her life is dictated by her upbringing, and at her families insistence, she marries her childhood best friend and resigns herself to live the typical life of the Bangladesh expectation. Giving up her dream of finding her whale and making a decision to forget about Elijah, she finds herself unhappy and feeling confined. A friend offers her an out, when they find a need for her assistance on a documentary film about the beaches of Chittagong where ships are destroyed and then broken down and the pieces sold to the highest bidder.

The locals work this highly dangerous job as the pay helps them to take care of their families. It is here that Zubaida meets Anwar, a man who seems to know the secrets of her past, and how she came to be adopted. Her life is changing, and she now must make a choice, continue with her marriage, making both herself and her husband unhappy, or move forward to the life she had imagined for herself.

Can she move forward and save what she had with Elijah and will she ever fulfill her dream of finding her fossil and her own background. Taking apart ships is dangerous for those involved, but also a way out of their own misery. It is here that Zubaida finds her inner strength once again, and now she must make her hardest decision, one from which she cannot turn back. Is this what she has been looking for all along?

If you enjoy, beauty, romance, and danger, as well as literary fiction this would be a great book for your library. Once started the elements inherent to this type of book will keep you reading. There is a sadness twisting through the story, and yet you find it is just a part of the life of those involved.Anam takes us into a country of beauty and traditions, but also danger and death. She gives us a romance and a hope of renewal in characters that are strong, yet with a depth of feeling. Zubaida is just trying to follow the dictates of her family, which she has never felt part of, but she finds it even more difficult after her chance meeting with Elijah. She follows the dictates of her family because it is what is expected, but Anam also gives Zubaida a core of reserve where she compartmentalizes the hurts and feelings that drive her.

This would be a great book for a reading group or book club with a great deal of interest and creative discussion.

Rating 4/5

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Return to the Isle of the Lost by Melissa De La Cruz

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Return to the Isle of the Lost', A Descendants Novel by Melissa De La Cruz

In Return to the Isle of the Lost
by Melissa De La Cruz, we once again return to Auradon, to find that Mal as well as her other friends have received messages telling them to return home. Life has been good and much of their own evil ways are behind them. Mal is the girlfriend of King Ben, and she often even treats those around her good.
She is surprised that someone has the gall to push her around. Yet it makes her curious, why must they all return home. What is happening in the Isle of the Lost. Her friend Evie looks into her Magic Mirror and is only further bewildered.

King Ben is on his own quest to find the reason behind the stories of a dragon on the loose, and Mal worries that it could have something to do with her mother. But even as she follows up by looking in to her fears, she finds that Maleficent is still just as she left her, just a small lizard laying in a cage.

 Emboldened by the encouragement of her friends, they decide they must find out what is behind the summons. They have left both family and friends behind, and they need know if the rumors of a dragon have anything to do with Mal’s mom and the other parents from the Island.  They must sneak back in and see if the danger in Auradon is part of the evil lurking in their own home.

Can they find the plot, for they know there must be one, before it has a chance to destroy the peaceful Kingdom of Auradon, and thrust them back into the evil they left behind?

De La Cruz takes us back into the magical world of the Descendants, and gives us another adventure from the bold and brave children of the evil villains. She gives us a fun and dangerous quest to challenge our crew, and she keeps the adventure alive as they make their way one more time to the place they left behind. Can they steer clear of the danger that may be waiting for them?

This is a great follow up and tale of adventure to the Isle of the Lost. A great read for the young adult as well as those to remain young at heart. With the summer upon us this is a wonderful read for those lazy days as well as a great way to pass the time during travel or even lying on the beach. De La Cruz will keep you entertained.

Rating 4/5

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Kowloon Bay, An Abby Kane Thriller by Ty Hutchinson

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Kowloon Bay', An Abby Kane Thriller by Ty Hutchinson.

In Kowloon Bay by Ty Hutchinson we catch up to Abby Kane one more time as she  continues her work with the FBI. Having lost her husband, and moving her family to San Francisco, to start over, she has finally settled into a routine. Three years have passed and she feels that she has found an even keel.

Returning to her homeland for a holiday, and to help her children learn more about their own Chinese heritage and their father, she is pulled into a consult with the agent who took her place when she left.  They have found a body when renovating a building and as Abby learns more of the history behind the building, she finds her deceased husband's family may well be entwined in the background and that they may well have a secret that makes her question everything she thought she knew.

Now even her Mother-in- Law, who she has finally become close too is acting in a strange and secretive way, and Abby is concerned. Is there a possibility that her own family is somehow involved in covering up a murder?  Abby must find a way to unearth the secrets and lock down the real stories and motives to a murder that occurred in the past.

Can she find the truth behind the dead body before it affect her own family. She know that sometimes the truth is not always acceptable, but could her judgement of human nature be so off, could her deceased husband be responsible for something as reprehensible as murder. She doesn’t believe so, but with her Mother-In-Law acting in such a strange manner she is no longer sure of her own beliefs.

Will she find the truth of the matter and with that truth set her free. Can she save the reputation of the man she loved, and the family that is now her own?

Hutchinson delivers another mystery, and Abby is as strong as usual. She is not as sure of herself now thought, as the outcome of her sleuthing could well be the end of her family’s reputation. Through Abby’s exploration of facts and her travels we see China as she sees it, a place of beauty and mystery, but capable as any of danger and brutality.

If you enjoy mystery and thrillers, you will find Abby Kane a strong character. This would be a good book for your library and have you searching for more of her exploits.

Rating 4/5

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Chair, Exploring Damages by Emma Jayne Gray

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Chair, Exploring The Damages,' by Emma Jayne Gray.

The Chair, Exploring the Damages by Emma Jayne Gray is a self-help work that gives you insight and ideas to help you become who you want to be.  Using the venue of the Chair, something so normal and easy to visualize she takes you into thought and ideas of change, using the shape and patterns of the chair as a point to help us to visualize how by changing the colors or patterns on the chair the changes emerge as we create that understanding.

She then ties in numerous other techniques and ideas, differing ways to change disappointment, or sadness, and a variety options to change the toxicity of hurt and anger, as well as depression as it tries to keep you from living a life more fulfilling.

Using the chair as a means of describing our ego or personality, she gives that solid item that is recognizable to all, but that is also different and changeable to reflect our own personal spaces. It is often difficult to move forward with depression, and while we can share the feeling, the thoughts are often confusing. No one else has the ability to see or feel the pain and insecurities inside us. Even if they were to understand, they cannot change what is within, only you are able to affect that change.

Gray takes some of her own experiences and gives us insight as to what she found works, and feels that each individual is capable of being more then what they are. She believes that if one can just turn on their internal light, that they will receive incredible rewards.  She discusses the de- dramatization and the use of perspective, using meditation, yoga and Tai Chi, as well as spirituality and physical movement and exercise. 

You will find this an interesting read, and even find some great ideas that would be instructive in numerous situations.

If you like self-help, and would like some ideas or direction to move forward, you would find this full of differing ideas. Self- help books seem all the rage these days, and I believe that Emma Jayne Gray has given us something just a bit different.

Rating 4/5

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Last Woman Standing, A Novel of Mrs. Wyatt Earp by Thelma Adams

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Last Woman Standing,' A Novel of Mrs. Wyatt Earp by Thelma Adams.

As America settled and people made their way to the west for the lure of gold and land available to begin new lives, some of those people began to make names for themselves.  In Last Woman Standing by Thelma Adams, we meet the woman behind one of the most famous of men.  Josephine Marcus is an amazing woman, one that others either disliked intensely or wanted to emulate.

She did not come about marrying in the normal way; she is the cosseted daughter of Jewish immigrants but with a mind of her own. Running away with a friend, she met a lawman, one who has decided she is what he needs in his life. After returning home, she is enticed by the offer of marriage to this famous lawman, Johnny Behan.  Yet his schemes are nefarious as is his way with women, and as she leaves the shelter of her family, and moves to Arizona to get married, she finds she is just another of his women.

Angry and hurt she is much to humiliated to let her family know that they were right all along. Trying everything in her power, she attempts to solidify the relationship and move the marriage forward. Yet at the same time while waiting for this long awaited marriage, she finds herself drawn to another man.  Wyatt Earp is another strong young man and a colleague of Johnny’s. There is something about this man that draws her. Is it his intensity, or the way he looks at her? She tries to put him out of her mind and focus on what she is after and that is marriage to the man of her dreams.  Soon though she begins the see the real many behind her dream, he is not what she thought.  However, by now it no longer concerns her heart, as while her lawman played his games, her heart drew her to the only man for her.

This is the story of how Josephine Marcus became Mrs. Wyatt Earp and her own story of the life of Wyatt Earp and his brothers as she too helped to shape the history of the west.  She is amazing and her reminisces are strong and exciting, leaving you with that longing of having missed something very important.

Adams takes us into history with the unlikely vessel of a woman’s memories. She brings you a woman with flawed thinking, but brave and strong convictions. She wraps the history throughout the work and captures your imagination with the strength and bravado required of the time.  She gives us both the good and the bad, leaving you hurt and angry at the situations at times, but also helps you to understand the making of the legend of the Earp’s.

If you enjoy history and romance, danger and deceit, you will find this is a terrific book for your library. Learning more of the past through such a venue keeps you reading and searching to the very end. She has given us a strong and passionate story filled with historical facts, and you will find it hard to put this book down.

This would be a great book for a reading or discussion group, with a great deal of interest to them both.

Rating 5/5

Monday, June 13, 2016

Pearl by Deirdre Riordan Hall

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Pearl' A Novel by Deirdre Riordan Hall. 

In Pearl by Deirdre Riordan Hall, we follow the life and exploits of Pearl Jaeger, a young woman who is on her own and homeless at a time most are dreaming of their first prom. Pearl has grown up with the privilege of having a rock star as a mother, but JJ has become the product of her life. Drugs and poverty are more her mainstream and Pearl is not interested in following her path.  Angry and hurt Pearl has learned a lesson in trust. For her she has learned she has to look out for herself, and any happiness is only fleeting, for danger and drugs are always just around the corner.

When her Mother passes, her Uncle who has never had a good thing to say about her mom, becomes her guardian, he sends her to an elite boarding school. She is ready to shift her life and uses this challenge as a way to move forward.

Her sanity seems to come in the form of an art teacher who seems as messed up as she is, and when she has to face her own demons, she finds that what she thought was important isn’t  as simple as she imagined.

Through friendships at the school, especially one with a boy named Grant, she finds she has the tools to trust, but can she just rely on these new skills or will her future be forged by her mother’s past. Will Pearl be courageous, as she dreams of, or will the past catch up and take her back into the morass of drugs and failure?

Hall has given us a glimpse into the life that we sometimes hear of, and she gives us characters that are both flawed and human. JJ wants nothing more than to be famous again, yet she continues on a path that drags her further and further into pain. Pearl tries hard to hold her life together, but she too is being pulled into the spiral that draws her mother.  You find yourself rooting for Pearl as she searches for her own courage to beat the demons that destroyed her mother.

If you enjoy literary fiction with a depth of emotion and the creation of hope and courage you will find Pearl to be just the work.  This would be a great find for your library and a great summer read.

Book clubs or reading groups would find this a great find for their discussion groups as it will add a great deal of dialogue for their inspection.

Rating 3/5