The Best of Us

Title: The Best Of Uscover22132-medium
Author: Sarah Pekkanen
ISBN: 9781451673517
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Source: Advance copy from publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: April 9, 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5


Following a once-in-a-lifetime invitation, a group of old college friends leap at the chance to bring their husbands for a week’s vacation at a private villa in Jamaica to celebrate a former classmates’ thirty-fifth birthday. All four women are desperate for a break and this seems like a perfect opportunity. Tina is drowning under the demands of mothering four young children. Allie needs to escape from the shattering news about an illness that runs in her family. Savannah is carrying the secret of her husband’s infidelity. And, finally, there’s Pauline, who spares no expense to throw her husband an unforgettable birthday celebration, hoping it will gloss over the cracks that have already formed in their new marriage. The week begins idyllically, filled with languorous days and late nights of drinking and laughter. But as a hurricane approaches the island, turmoil builds, forcing each woman to re-evaluate everything she’s known about the others—and herself.

My Review:

This is an idyllic novel on the surface of it. Four best friends are on a tropical getaway and for three of them it’s totally free of charge. Tina, Allie, and Savannah are the best of friends. They are very different from one another and very complex characters. Life isn’t easy for them at the moment and each one of them is going through some rough times and thus this getaway seems to be a great idea to sort out their thoughts and life. The trip gives them a chance to confront their problems.

Tina is a stay at home mum who feels she is holding herself together by a thread. The never-ending tasks at home and demands of her kids have taken a toll on her and she never seems to find a quiet moment to herself. I could totally relate to her. Savannah is vivacious and beautiful. Her husband has just left her for a younger woman and instead of confiding in her best friends, she acts up. Allie, on the surface is the most stable of friends, but she has received some devastating news. Instead of sharing it with her husband she keeps it to herself and acts totally out of character during this trip.

These friends deal with some of life’s heavy problems in a frustrating yet realistic manner. This is a light yet complex read.

Daughter of Jesusalem: a novel

Title: Daughter of Jesusalem: a novelcover20948-medium
Author: Joan Wolf
ISBN: 9781936034673
Publisher: Worthy Publisher
Source: Advance copy from publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: April 16, 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5


Daughter of Jerusalem is a fictional story of Mary Magdalene  In this novel, Mary Magdalene is portrayed as an ordinary woman who goes through some very unfortunate events in her life which put her in the path of Jesus.

My Review:

Mary Magdalene is perhaps the most famous woman from the Bible and hers is the most fascinating story. Who was she and what was her relationship with Jesus? Daughter of Jerusalem shows her as an unfortunate woman who tries to make the best of her circumstances. She is kind, generous, intelligent and is perhaps ahead of her time. She is sold into an unhappy marriage when she is in love with another man. We read about her experiences in her own words and you instantly relate to this woman.

We see the world through her eyes, travel with her and learn about her experiences and adventures. She eventually meets Jesus of Nazareth and meeting him changes her life.

This is a work of fiction and I don’t know how accurate this is to facts but nevertheless it is a positive portrayal of Mary who is often depicted negatively. It is an interesting read.

Run To Me

Title: Run to Mecover22416-medium
Author: Diane Hester
ISBN: 9781742756424
Source: Advance copy from publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: March 1, 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5


It’’s been two years since Shyler O’Neil’’s beloved son Jesse was killed –but his final moments are as vivid to her now as they were that dreadful day. Suffering from post-traumatic stress and convinced she did not do enough to protect him, she retreats to an isolated cabin in the woods of northern Maine. Meanwhile, Zack Ballinger –a ten-year-old boy who has never known a mother’’s love – finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. He’’s seen too much and is now running for his life. Fleeing into the woods, Zack soon finds himself at Shyler’’s cabin. He’’ll take whatever help she can give –even though, for some reason, she keeps calling him Jesse . . . With the pursuers hot on their heels, ‘mother’ and ‘son’ go on the run. Protecting Zack may well be Shyler’’s one chance at redemption. Either that, or she is the child’’s greatest threat . . .

My Review:

This is a very well written novel. There is no mystery here but it is suspenseful. The characters are brilliant, especially Shyler. Shyler has been through a lot, the death of her son has scarred her and she has withdrawn from people and reality. Shyler’s character is very well nuanced and Hester does a superb job articulating Shyler’s thoughts and what all goes on in her mind.

Zack is another damaged character due the circumstances he has faced in his short life. Zack has grown up in foster homes and is mature beyond his age, yet there is a small child within him who yearns for a home and mother’s love. So he holds on to Shyler even after knowing that she is a bit unhinged and damaged.

The novel is written from the perspectives of Shyler, Zack and Dr. Chase Hadley. I couldn’t help but smile at that name! While Zack and Shyler are dealing with their own hells, Dr. Hadley is stuck in between them and offers to help. I loved the dialogues between Dr. Hadley and his father. There are parellel stories going on in this novel and yet it all comes together in a suspenseful climax. Do read this one! Highly recommended.

1st To Die–Book Review

Women’s Murder Club – 1

By James Patterson

After trying different genres I don’t usually read or enjoy, I caught hold of my favourite genre – detective. Rather, 2 of my favourite genres combined – detective and chick lit. Now, whether the combination worked well or not, I will talk about that a bit later.

Homicide Inspector Lindsay Boxer works with San Francisco Police Department. Even strong Boxer is unable to face the gruesome murders of brides and bridegrooms happening all over US. A mad serial killer is on the loose. He attacks couples on their wedding nights, kills them brutally, steals their wedding bands and leaves their murdered bodies in outrageous positions. The sexual sadist killer makes Boxer’s blood boil but however desperate she is to catch the killer, she is helpless at the hands of her own critical illness. 6 murders one after the other takes a toll on Boxer’s peace of mind and health. Then there is a major distraction by the name of Chris Raleigh. Soon, Lindsay is unable to ignore the growing chemistry between the two. Both divorcees; heartbroken & tough. How far do they go? What happens to their chemistry by the end of the book? Ah. The story of their relation is to be read on your own.

With the killer still on the run, Lindsay realizes she needs moral support more than skills. And that’s when she forms the Women’s Murder Club consisting of herself, Claire (a medical examiner), Cindy Thomas (a reporter with Chronicle) and Jill Bernhardt (assistant D.A.). They do all it takes to keep their guts and sanity together when suspicion falls on celebrity novelist, Nicholas Jenks.

Through rapid twists and turns, they nail down the killer.

I enjoyed reading a light crime story after ages (I must stick to such kinds and not venture into literature, like I try to, once in a while). Some may find the plot childish and the writing, amateur. I felt that too. At times, I wanted the characters to move fast, talk lesser hollow stuff and just get real.

Putting in a love story appeared interesting in the beginning (who doesn’t like some spice amidst any serious theme) but later on, ‘chick lit romance’ & girly drama (Boxer’s illness) just did not gel well with ‘hard-core murder detective’. Sometimes, the narration gave a feel of Mills & Boons. Creepy.

This book has also been made into a movie. I thought of watching it. But I remembered the detailed descriptions of murders in the book. Gross; cannot watch them on screen.

I was hooked on to this book, I confess. However immature a murder mystery may be, once suspense is created, you just have to finish it to know who the killer is. It was like that. Once I was mid-way (and mind you, the book isn’t very fast paced), I sneaked into the book during class, while travelling, while eating – I could not keep away from it. And the climax did throw me off track but many could guess it mid-way.

If you want to go in for a light, casual read, this is a good one.

I rate it 3 on 5.


…by Nikita Lalwani.

14 year old Rumi Vasi is a maths prodigy. Living in Cardiff in the 1980s with her parents Mahesh and Shreene and her younger brother Nibu, she faces the challenges that most children of migrant parents do: caught between two worlds. Rumi though has the added pressure of being gifted in maths and consequently, has been pressured to do well academically since a young age by her parents. After years of putting up with her father’s regimented tutoring, Rumi finally begins to crack. She starts to long what most teenagers do: a life beyond numbers and academics. But unfortunately for her, longing and desire have no place in the Vasi household.

I really enjoyed this book. My heart went out to poor Rumi who had to put up with the pressures of parental expectations and being a first generation migrant. She tries to find herself and her own identity without much help from her family. A father who is rigid and aloof and whose only role is to push Rumi to succeed acadenically on all accounts is probably not uncommon in Indian households. Shreene though was an interesting character in that she is traditional and a prude and yet, at some level, you wonder whether she wanted Rumi at all. She pushes too but it’s her punishments and cruel words that cut through you as a reader. What I liked about the book was that unlike other books by Indian authors that portray the west as being negative or that the rebellious Indian girl eventually finds that all things Indian are the only right things in life, this was balanced. Yes, the parents are deeply rooted in Indian tradition and see the west as being a negative influence. But Rumi…while she enjoys Bollywood and feels a connection with India, also seems to realise that independence and a life of one’s own is just as important. I think because I see a lot of clients like Rumi, I was able to identify with her a whole lot more. And kept rooting for her. Nikita Lalwani has done a wonderful job in portraying her characters as well as unveiling the story.

It’s the kind of book I would have loved to write. My rating: 4

Until next time,


***This review originally appeared on my personal blog***

Sisters of Mercy

…by Caroline Overington.

Snow Delaney is in prison. And from prison, she communicates with journalist Jack Fawcett who followed her case as she thinks he was biased. Snow was born miles away and years apart from her sister Agnes. A sister whose existence she didn’t know about until her father’s death where Snow finds out that she is not the only beneficiary to her father’s large estate. Agnes though is now missing. A day after she visited Snow and possibly having disappeared in the red dust that blanketed Sydney on 23rd September 2009. As Snow protests her innocence through her letters to Jack, his research just might reveal something more than what Snow tells.

Is Snow responsible for the disappearance of her sister?

Why is Snow in prison?

Has she been unfairly judged? 

Was it trial by media or did she get a fair trial? 

To answer some of these questions, you need to read the book.

This book was a bit different from most books in that while it started with the premise of Agnes’ disappearance, it takes us to a whole different level in terms of Snow’s actions that lead her to be arrested. The chapters are in the form of letters from Snow and Jack’s own research. The truth in the end, is to the reader’s discretion based on all the information provided. Overington once again explores social issues including disabilities and foster care in our society. She also explores how the media can sometimes be quick to judge someone and how they possibly exaggerate stories. And yet, amidst all this, we, the bystanders, need to come to our own conclusions. The ending is probably not what you expect and leaves you wanting more. Initially I was a bit stunned at the way it ended — I felt like I didn’t have closure. But as I sat back and thought about it, I felt like it did its job. It’s not a fluke that Caroline Overington is one of my favourite Australian authors. I like her style of writing and her themes. There were several instances while reading I had to remind myself that it was a piece of fiction…because it felt so real! And any author who manages to do that is great at their craft.

My rating is 4.

Until next time,


Note: This review was originally posted on my personal blog.  

The Thirteenth Tale – Book Review

Author: Diane Setterfield

The Angelfield family is weird. First there were siblings Charlie and Isabelle and then Isabelle’s strange twins Emmeline and Adeline. The twins love violence. Pain is like candy for them. And they speak in a language no one else can understand. Their ignored, run down house is told to be haunted and no one likes approaching it. People die, things are vandalized and no one knows who does them. One of the twins? Or the ghost? Eventually, the mansion is burnt down to ashes and takes with it its secrets and the real story.

Fast forward to another part of the world at another time, Margaret Lea is a quiet book lover who helps her father run a book store. She receives a sudden letter from mysterious author Ms. Vida Winter to write her biography. Ms. Winter has hidden her past from the world and many journalists have failed to get her story. But one man in brown suit tempts Ms. Winter to tell the world her story with his statement – Tell me the truth.

Margaret travels to Ms. Winter’s secluded, secretive house and finally gets to meet the author face to face. The spine tingling story telling sessions happen in the grand library while Margaret spends rest of her time locked in her room. She is advised not to venture out in the rest of the house. But she does. When she hears humming from the maze of the garden. When she hears scraping sounds in the rain.

What is Ms. Winter’s story? How is she related to the Angelfield house? Who was the man in the brown suit? What happened to the twins? Is Ms. Winter’s story really the truth or is it another misleading yarn? How does Margaret come to terms with her own pain?

Diane Setterfield has woven a mildly gothic tale. The book is written in a very poetic manner, sometimes overly dramatic. All characters have an element of mystery, vagueness and anonymity. Even normal things seem peculiar.

This book is not just about thrill, it is also about love of books. Most of the narration happens in the book store or library. Margaret lovingly describes the book store that seems to be every book lover’s delight. Several analogies have been made for books, stories, authors and dead people who become biographies and stay alive. Every time there is a threat to books, the protagonist burns with regret and frustration. Those who love books and treat them like their most prized possessions will relate to this.

While I was reading the book, I visualized pale, white, cold faces of characters who stared at everyone with blank eyes. The mansion was grey and always wet. There was always a dark, depressing humming music in the background. This was the movie in my mind. For a person like me who cannot withstand horror, this much degree of suspense was just right.

The story picks up in the second half. Many may find the climax a bit let down but I was just relieved when the suspense was out!

Definitely a onetime read. I would rate it a 3 on 5.