Book Review: Own Your Life – Living With Deep Intention, Bold Faith And Generous Love By Sally Clarkson

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” – Galatians 5:25

I stumbled upon sally Clarkson and her beautiful family on Instagram and after a quick investigation about her, I discovered she made weekly podcasts which I am subscribed to. Listening to these conversations and words of wisdom have recently become a part of my life and have added great value to my understanding of God’s word as a wife, mother and everything else that I strive to be.

‘Own Your Life’ is a book that teaches so many things but specifically how to intentionally build your entire life around God and walk according to his purpose. I would never be able to completely express my experience while reading this book and the fulfillment and motivation after in this review but what I am sure of is that I will go back to it again and again to always keep these precious words of wisdom in remembrance.

Sally Clarkson in this book, uses her vast experience as a Christ follower, wife, mother, author, friend, teacher and many other things in-between to encourage women to own their lives by living with bold faith in God and with love. In these 17 chapters, she concentrated on the following areas;

– Barriers to owning your life

– Owning your Priorities

– Owning your True Identity

– Owning your Vision

– Owning God’s Training

– Owning the Mystery of God’s Supremacy

– Owning the Holy Spirit’s Strength Through your Life

– Owning the Spiritual Disciplines

– Owning your Faith

– Owning your Emotional Health

– Owning your Response to Others

– Owning your Integrity

– Owning your Choice to Love

– Owning the Atmosphere of your Home

– Owning your Marriage

– Owning your Motherhood

– Owning the Influence your Life Can Make

Sally is like that older friend that has been through the ups and downs of life and can relate with the difficulties that you face as a young or even older woman. It may sound cliche to say ‘I have been immensely blessed by this book’ but it is what it is!

Parts of the book I found really useful were, Owning the spiritual disciplines, your faith, emotional health, your response to others, your marriage, the atmosphere of your home and your motherhood. I believe that with God’s help I will bear fruit in these areas and much more.

Most importantly, I wish the same for you all, that is why I am highly recommending this book as a must read for all women who need encouragement in their walk with God as we all do. Do get a copy or the audio book which is what I listened to and it was really a fulfilling experience. God bless you all.

Rating: 5 Stars

Published: January 6th, 2015 by Tyndale Momentum

Pages: 224

Genre: Non-Fiction (Christian)

Purchase @ www.amazon.com/ownyourlife and audiobook on Scribd App from Playstore or Applestore

The Author: From working on college campuses, to sharing the Gospel behind the Iron Curtain as a missionary, travelling around the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia to speak on discipleship, Sally Clarkson has tenaciously sought after God’s kingdom, and has used her ministry to encourage others to do the same. From her best-selling books such as Own Your Life, Desperate (with Sarah Mae), and her latest, The Lifegiving Home, Sally has shared from her heart and home about the value of motherhood and the potential for home to cultivate life, love, and faith. In 1995, She and her husband Clay founded Whole Heart Ministries, which has encouraged thousands of families around the world in discipling their children.

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Book review: Still Me by Jojo Moyes

This is the last book in the ‘Me Before You’ trilogy and I am so glad I went through with it. Jojo Moyes has done a pretty good job in stretching a story this far and I must applaud her for this.

However, this was my least favorite out of the three books. Maybe because I had received the satisfaction I yearned for after reading ‘Me Before You’ from ‘After You’ and this book seemed like extra helping which I may or may not have really needed.

Louisa Clark returns again here on a new adventure to New York City to start a new job with the Gopniks, a high class but dysfunctional family with it’s share of drama. Louisa struggles to keep her new relationship with her boyfriend “Ambulance Sam” alive and they face the challenges that come with long distance relationships. In this story, she learns that the Gopniks may have made her believe that she was a friend but not everyone who calls herself your friend is. Louisa eventually discovers her passion and by sheer luck and a payback for her kindness, she is given an opportunity to fulfil her dreams.

This book had a happily ever after kind-of ending and it was supposed to give me some sort of final satisfaction but I finished the book with a feeling of relief. This was mainly because in this book, I simply fell out of love with Sam’s character and was frustrated reading the back and forth of their long distance relationship. I must confess that a bit of it may be personal as I usually get frustrated when you warn men close to you about women who are clearly preying on them and they continue to argue that they are not until they are in too deep and it has ruined their relationships or marriage. Sam was stupid like that but I guess most men are or pretend to be while enjoying the attention.

Louisa however, was still a delightful and interesting character to read. Someone you would always keep as your fictional friend. Also her sister’s big reveal in this book added some spice to it and it was quite a surprise. Louisa’s parents continued to crack me up and the update on the lives of the Traynors was also a welcome addition. Some of the new characters are forgettable although Agnes Gopnik stood out of the pack.

I would recommend this book to every one as it was witty and quite interesting however, it gets the lowest rating out of the three books in this series.

P.s. This book is the 2018 Goodreads Choice Awards Winner for Fiction so my rating may not count much.

Rating: 3.9 Stars

Published: October 23, 2018 by Penguin Books (First published January 30, 2018)

Pages: 469

Genre: Fiction

Purchase @ www.amazon.com/stillme

The Author: Jojo Moyes is a British novelist. Moyes studied at Royal Holloway, University of London. She won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to study journalism at City University and subsequently worked for The Independent for 10 years. In 2001 she became a full time novelist. Moyes’ novel Foreign Fruit won the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) Romantic Novel of the Year in 2004. She is married to journalist Charles Arthur and has three children.

Author Interview: Olunosen Louisa Ibhaze “The Aproko Storyteller”

Olunosen Louisa Ibhaze is a Nigerian author who is known for her upbeat and witty storytelling style. Her novel ‘Authentic Mama’ which I read earlier in this year (Follow the link to read my review – https://rovingbookwormng.com/2019/03/18/book-review-authentic-mama-by-olunosen-louisa-ibhaze/) with it’s colorful characters is one that has stayed with me for a while. I have been curious to know more about this author and was elated when she honored my request to have this interview.

Ibhaze has answered 10 questions that gives us an insight into her life as an author/storyteller. I hope you will enjoy reading about her as much as I did.

louisa 2Bio: Olunosen Louisa Ibhaze was born and raised in Nigeria. She holds B.Sc in Sociology and Anthropology from the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Anambra State. She has an MSc in Medical Sociology from the Royal Holloway University of London and another MSc in Globalization and Development from the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, London. Her writing is influenced by her spirituality, women’s experiences and her passion for her local cultures and tradition. Some of her earlier publications have appeared on the World Pulse Project, Naija Stories and the Voices Project, She enjoys travelling and photography.

1. WHY DO YOU WRITE?
Answer: There are “Aproko” stories that need to be told and if I can’t find such unique stories or genres on the bookshelves in stores, I believe it is my duty to write them! This is why I like to refer to myself as the Aproko story teller. I enjoy writing about the people often overlooked and unapologetically judged , the mistresses, the low-lives, the transactional sex worker, the zobo seller, the money lender and all kinds of interesting characters that are staples in every society.

2. IF YOU DIDN’T WRITE, WHAT OTHER CREATIVE THING WOULD YOU DO?
Answer: Photography
3. HAS PUBLISHING YOUR FIRST BOOK CHANGED YOUR STYLE OF WRITING? IF YES, WHY?
Answer: Yes and No. Yes because it’s helped me understand that the is a niche for the “Aproko Storytelling style” and there are people interested in reading about the realities of the society’s lower crust and No because it’s a style that comes easily to me and that’s my voice.
4. IF YOU COULD SPEND TIME WITH A CHARACTER FROM YOUR BOOK (AUTHENTIC MAMA), WHOM WOULD IT BE?
Answer: Iye Baby of course. She is a kind woman with a good heart who is hilariously imperfect and beautifully flawed.
5. DO YOU TRY TO BE MORE ORIGINAL OR DELIVER TO READERS WHAT THEY WANT?
Answer: Nothing beats originality. I am as “authentic” as we all come and I have long come to terms with the fact some writing styles don’t appeal to all readers and that’s okay. What important to me is that my work finds its way into the hands of the “right” readers.
6. DOES WRITING ENERGISE OR EXHAUST YOU?
Answer: 50/50. Writing is a lonely activity, there are those days I am so full of inspiration and can write for hours and then there are days , I just want to take a break especially when I get stuck with an idea or creating a flow. I am my worst critic when it comes to developing my manuscript, I read it silently and then I read it aloud !

7. WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF YOUR ARTISTIC PROCESS?
Answer: Separating my emotions from my writing. When I have a lot on my mind, I feel I am not in my element to write.
8. WHAT ONE THING WILL YOU GIVE UP TO BECOME A BETTER WRITER?
Answer: Procrastination.
9. WHAT ARE THE COMMON TRAPS FOR ASPIRING WRITERS AND WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO THEM?
Answer: The expectation of overnight fame and making money! My advice to aspiring writers is , write from the heart because you love writing and it is a passion. Write what you know about or do proper research because this gives your story authenticity. Also, do not expect to become famous or make money over night. When Authentic Mama officially came out, I thought my biggest supporters would be only my family and friends , but to m surprise I got support from people I didn’t even think of. What is important is having the right support and the right audience. Just trust the process.

10. DO YOU HAVE ANY BOOK COOKING IN THE OVEN FOR YOUR FANS? IF YES, WHEN WILL IT BE PUBLISHED?
Answer: Oh yes I do and It was due last year but I have had an interesting year and just trying to finish up the manuscript now. My publisher has been extremely patient and understanding.

One Year…….. a Poem by Biyai Garricks

One year!

From fear to tears,

Dust to dust

A white box

Carries what we’ve lost.

A queen? No doubt you were much more…

Your shoes, no one can fill.

Even as we feel the emptiness of your absence

With all our senses,

We cry,

We hear our cries,

We look in the mirror and see the sorrow,

in our tear-filled eyes,

We taste our salty tears

which make our skin wet and we remember your sweat.

with your bare hands, you built up men, women, children and dreams,

And they speak of your love,

Your compassion, your generosity and your prayers.

One year!

No calls, No words!

Have you eaten?

Are you well?

Are you happy?

No words!

The silence is deafening,

like in our dreams,

we wait for it to end,

we wait for your voice,

It was never our choice,

To stand here without you,

But instead speak of you,

In past tense,

She used to say,

She loved to wear,

and these conversations,

are wearing me out,

because in one year,

we have been forced to live without you,

like caged animals,

we struggle to accept the fact,

that you have been set free,

and we are still here,

left behind to feel the pain,

to feel the emptiness of a home,

of a queen’s empty throne,

of a child without a mother,

of a man without his wife,

of a friend without her own.

One Year!

How time flies,

Time they say is a healer,

but what is time without you,

Just a clock on the wall,

An empty space,

A measure of how long it has been since you left.

One Year!

And we still miss you

And we still love you,

One Year!

And we still miss you

And we still love you.

We remember you,

Still!

Your face, your laughter, your smile, your gait of movement, your love

We remember you,

Still!

October 2019: Top 10 New Books To Read!

Another month is here with it’s promises to engage and entertain us with the best of the best.

These are my Top 10 must-read books coming out this October. There’s Non-Fiction. Historical Fiction, Fantasy and some regular fiction. Check them out and have a fabulous bookish month!

1.Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyesgiver of stars

Expected Publication date: October 8th, 2019 by Pamela Dorman Books

Pages: 400

Genre: Historical Fiction

Purchase @ www.amazon.com/thegiverofstars

Publisher’s Blurb: When Alice Wright agrees to marry handsome American Bennett Van Cleve and leave behind her stifling life in England for a new adventure in Kentucky, she’s soon disenchanted by her newlywed status and overbearing father-in-law, owner of the local coal mine. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically. The leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is Margery, the smart-talking, self-sufficient daughter of a notorious local criminal, a woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. Alice finds Margery as bracing and courageous as anyone she’s ever met–and comes to rely on her, especially as her marriage starts to fail. They will be joined by three diverse women and become known as the Horseback Librarians of Kentucky. What happens to these women–and to the men they love–becomes a classic drama of loyalty, justice, humanity and passion. Though they face all kinds of dangers–from moonshiners to snakes, from mountains to floods–and social disapproval to boot. But they believe deeply in their work bringing books to people who had never had any, expanding horizons and arming them with facts that will change their lives. Based on a true story rooted in America’s past, the storytelling itself here is enthralling–the pages fly, and the book is unparalleled in its scope and its epic breadth. Funny, heartbreaking, and rewarding, it is a rich novel of women’s friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond.

 

2. Messengers: Who We Listen To And Who We Don’t And Why by Steven Martin & Joseph MarksThe messangers

Expected Publication date: October 15th, 2019 by Publicaffairs

Pages: 352

Genre: Non-Fiction

Purchase @ www.amazon.com/messengers

Publisher’s Blurb: We live in a world where proven facts and verifiable data are freely and widely available. Why, then, are self-confident ignoramuses so often believed over thoughtful experts? And why do details such as a person’s height, relative wealth, or Facebook photo influence whether or not we trust what they are saying? In this revelatory book, Stephen Martin and Joseph Marks explain how in our uncertain and ambiguous world, the messenger is the message. We frequently fail to separate the idea being communicated from the person conveying it, they argue: the status or connectedness of the messenger become more important than the message itself. Through memorable storytelling, we see how messengers influence business, politics, local communities, and our broader society. And we come to understand the forces behind the most infuriating phenomena of our modern era: why fake news is so readily believed, how presidents can hawk misinformation and flagrant lies yet remain influential, and why 17 million UK citizens were convinced by the overconfident claims of a group of self-interested Brexit campaigners.

 

3. Cilka’s Journey By Heather MorrisCilka's journey

Expected Publication date: October 1st, 2019 by Saint Martin’s Press

Pages: 362

Genre: Historical Fiction

Purchase @ www.amazon.com/cilkas’sjourney

Publisher’s Blurb: Cilka is just sixteen years old when she is taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, in 1942. The Commandant at Birkenau, Schwarzhuber, notices her long beautiful hair, and forces her separation from the other women prisoners. Cilka learns quickly that power, even unwillingly given, equals survival. After liberation, Cilka is charged as a collaborator for sleeping with the enemy and sent to Siberia. But what choice did she have? And where did the lines of morality lie for Cilka, who was sent to Auschwitz when still a child? In a Siberian prison camp, Cilka faces challenges both new and horribly familiar, including the unwanted attention of the guards. But when she makes an impression on a woman doctor, Cilka is taken under her wing. Cilka begins to tend to the ill in the camp, struggling to care for them under brutal conditions. Cilka finds endless resources within herself as she daily confronts death and faces terror. And when she nurses a man called Ivan, Cilka finds that despite everything that has happened to her, there is room in her heart for love. 

 

4. Olive, Again by Elizabeth StroutOlive again

Expected Publication date: October 15th, 2019 by Random House

Pages: 304

Genre: Fiction

Purchase @ www.amazon.com/oliveagain

Publisher’s Blurb: Prickly, wry, resistant to change yet ruthlessly honest and deeply empathetic, Olive Kitteridge is “a compelling life force” (San Francisco Chronicle). The New Yorker has said that Elizabeth Strout “animates the ordinary with an astonishing force,” and she has never done so more clearly than in these pages, where the iconic Olive struggles to understand not only herself and her own life but the lives of those around her in the town of Crosby, Maine. Whether with a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her father, a young woman about to give birth during a hilariously inopportune moment, a nurse who confesses a secret high school crush, or a lawyer who struggles with an inheritance she does not want to accept, the unforgettable Olive will continue to startle us, to move us, and to inspire moments of transcendent grace.

 

5. Nothing To See Here by Kevin WilsonNothing to see here

Expected Publication date: October 29th, 2019 by Ecco

Pages: 272

Genre: Fiction

Purchase @ www.amazon.com/nothingtoseehere

Publisher’s Blurb: Lillian and Madison were unlikely roommates and yet inseparable friends at their elite boarding school. But then Lillian had to leave the school unexpectedly in the wake of a scandal and they’ve barely spoken since. Until now, when Lillian gets a letter from Madison pleading for her help. Madison’s twin stepkids are moving in with her family and she wants Lillian to be their caretaker. However, there’s a catch: the twins spontaneously combust when they get agitated, flames igniting from their skin in a startling but beautiful way. Lillian is convinced Madison is pulling her leg, but it’s the truth. Thinking of her dead-end life at home, the life that has consistently disappointed her, Lillian figures she has nothing to lose. Over the course of one humid, demanding summer, Lillian and the twins learn to trust each other—and stay cool—while also staying out of the way of Madison’s buttoned-up politician husband. Surprised by her own ingenuity yet unused to the intense feelings of protectiveness she feels for them, Lillian ultimately begins to accept that she needs these strange children as much as they need her—urgently and fiercely. Couldn’t this be the start of the amazing life she’d always hoped for? With white-hot wit and a big, tender heart, Kevin Wilson has written his best book yet—a most unusual story of parental love.

 

6. The Body: A Guide For Occupants by Bill BrysonThe body

Expected Publication date: October 15th 2019 by Doubleday

Pages: 400

Genre: Non-Fiction

Purchase @ www.amazon.com/thebody

Publisher’s Blurb: In the bestselling, prize-winning A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson achieved the seemingly impossible by making the science of our world both understandable and entertaining to millions of people around the globe. Now he turns his attention inwards to explore the human body, how it functions and its remarkable ability to heal itself. Full of extraordinary facts and astonishing stories, The Body: A Guide for Occupants is a brilliant, often very funny attempt to understand the miracle of our physical and neurological make up. A wonderful successor to A Short History of Nearly Everything, this book will have you marveling at the form you occupy, and celebrating the genius of your existence, time and time again.

 

7. The Dressmaker’s Gift by Fiona ValpyThe dressmaker's gift

Expected Publication date: October 1st, 2019 by Lake Publishing

Pages: 286

Genre: Historical Fiction

Purchase @ www.amazon.com/thedressmakersgift

Publisher’s Blurb: Paris, 1940. With the city occupied by the Nazis, three young seamstresses go about their normal lives as best they can. But all three are hiding secrets. War-scarred Mireille is fighting with the Resistance; Claire has been seduced by a German officer; and Vivienne’s involvement is something she can’t reveal to either of them. Two generations later, Claire’s English granddaughter Harriet arrives in Paris, rootless and adrift, desperate to find a connection with her past. Living and working in the same building on the Rue Cardinale, she learns the truth about her grandmother – and herself – and unravels a family history that is darker and more painful than she ever imagined. In wartime, the three seamstresses face impossible choices when their secret activities put them in grave danger. Brought together by loyalty, threatened by betrayal, can they survive history’s darkest era without being torn apart?

 

8. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugoninth lie

Expected Publication date: October 8th, 2019 by Flatiron Books

Pages: 480

Genre: Fantasy

Purchase @ www.amazon.com

Publisher’s Blurb: Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her? Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

 

 

9. The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetysthe fountains of silence

Expected Publication date: October 1st, 2019 by Philomel Books

Pages: 512

Genre: Historical Fiction

Purchase @ www.amazon.com/thefountainsofsilence

Publisher’s Blurb: Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming guise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of a Texas oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother’s birth through the lens of his camera. Photography–and fate–introduce him to Ana, whose family’s interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War–as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel’s photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city. Master storyteller Ruta Sepetys once again shines light into one of history’s darkest corners in this epic, heart-wrenching novel about identity, unforgettable love, repercussions of war, and the hidden violence of silence–inspired by the true post-war struggles of Spain

 

 

10. The Grace Year By Kim LiggettThe grace year

Expected Publication date: October 8th by Wednesday Books

Pages: 416

Genre: Fantasy

Purchase @ www.amazon.com/thegraceyear

Publisher’s Blurb: Survive the year. No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive. Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other. With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

 

Book Review: After You By Jojo Moyes

 After reading ‘Me Before You’ (the first book in this series- follow the link to check out my review –www.rovingbookwormng.com/mebeforeyoureview ), I literally needed some time to heal from the story before I moved on to this one and I am glad that the author wrote a sequel to it as I wasn’t satisfied with the way it all ended.

‘After You’ is what I would call a “Solid” or “Good” story. It touched me on so many levels that I may not be able to fully express in this review and I totally related to it more than any story I have read this year. It may not have the strong emotional punch ‘Me Before You’ gives but in its own way, it satisfies you, at least it did it for me.

The story follows Louisa Clark after Will dies and how she copes with the grief you experience when someone close to you passed away. It also came with a twist (SPOILER ALERT!!!) as Will apparently had a teenage daughter (Lily) he didn’t know existed when he was alive but showed up at Louisa’s front door.

As someone who is still recovering from the loss of both my closest aunt ( mum’s sister and bestie) and my mother one month apart last year, it was like meeting people who understood what I have been going through these past months. Louisa’s meetings with the “Moving On Circle” club where she met other people at different stages of grief was very therapeutic for me. It justified a lot of my feelings and seemed like it was perfect timing for me to read this book.

Also, being the mother of a teenage daughter, Lily’s part of the story was also an important learning curve especially her relationship with her mother. Teenagers can be very difficult to deal with and it is usually easy for people on the outside to judge how a mother should be or what she should have done better. I am in no way excusing her mother’s excesses but I understood some of her choices. This part of the story also helped readers to understand other characters especially as Will’s mother  and it was a delight to see her in a different light.

Louisa still stands as my favorite character. Despite her grief, she was still the same funny and animated character. It was also interesting to read how her relationship with her love interest Sam, developed. I am interested to see which way this affaire will go as I am not so big on Sam so keeping my fingers crossed.  The story ended with Loiusa’s decision to go out and live her dreams as Will had advised her. I am keeping my fingers crossed to see how all this will pan out in the next /final book in this series.

I really enjoyed reading this book because it was important for me to see how Louisa’s life turned out after Will’s death and I can say it was satisfying. The author did a good job in creating a realistic story here and I am really now a fan.

I highly recommend this book to every one and now I will move on to the next book and will be here again to tell you how it all ended.

Rating: 4.2 Stars

Published: July 19th, 2016 by Penguin Books

Pages: 352

Genre: Fiction

Purchase @ www.amazon.com/afteryou

The Author: Jojo Moyes is a British novelist. Moyes studied at Royal Holloway, University of London. She won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to study journalism at City University and subsequently worked for The Independent for 10 years. In 2001 she became a full time novelist. Moyes’ novel Foreign Fruit won the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) Romantic Novel of the Year in 2004. She is married to journalist Charles Arthur and has three children.

Book Review: Tidelands (Fairmile #1) by Philippa Gregory

 I have been reading books by Philippa Gregory for over fifteen years now and she still stands out as my favourite historical fiction author. This time she has come out with a new series starting with ‘Tidelands’ as the first book and I am excited to go on this new journey with her.

As usual, this turned out to be an excellent read. In her usual style, the author has crafted another captivating and provocative tale that ends with a beginning as this is the first book in this series.

Set at a very crucial time in English history where monarchy and parliament fight for supremacy, Alinor is a poor woman who is without a husband and is left with two children not because she is widowed or divorced but because her husband has been missing for over a year. Tucked away in the Tidelands, she struggles to survive as a midwife and herbalist. Some whisper that she is a wise woman who uses dark arts and magic as her mother and grandmother before her but Alinor denies that she has any extraordinary powers especially in these times of the new Church where you can be sent to the stakes if called a witch.

On a fateful night, she risks her life to save a stranger and this encounter changes her life for good and for bad. Her children are presented with opportunities that will alleviate them from poverty as her son Rob, is given a scholarship to study as an apprentice and her daughter, Alys is now betrothed to the Eligible Richard Stoney. However, Alinor has fallen for James, the stranger she helped and he is also smitten by her but things get complicated as Alinor discovers she is with child and this secret threatens all the good fortune that has fallen on her family.

 Laced with suspense and intrigue, Philippa Gregory has woven a complicated but yet realistic tale that would hold you bound till the end. I admire her continuous commitment to writing stories about women in history, throwing light on their contributions, courage and struggles. Giving women who were previously ignored in the history books a voice and their proper place in past times.

My favourite character is Alinor as she stands to represent a woman who gives her all for those she loves but yet is strong enough to stand in the face of adversity even when threatened with death. She also showed a rare quality to stand for what she believed though it meant she would lose the opportunity to step up in class. My least favourite character was Alys her daughter because she struck me as a selfish girl who was ready to throw everyone under the bus to achieve her ambition. Though she tries to redeem herself in the end but the harm has already been done. I was also slightly disappointed in James who professed his love for Alinor and probably was in love with her but when this “love” was tested could not step up to the plate as expected.

This book was well paced and even with it’s 455 pages, I read through it quite quickly. The end was shocking and will leave you yearning for more and I am hungry for the rest of the story. I highly recommend this book to everyone especially historical fiction lovers. You will enjoy the read!

Rating: 4.2 Stars

Published: August 19, 2019 by Simon and Schuster UK

Pages: 455

Genre: Historical Fiction

Purchase @ www.amazon.com/tidelands

www.booksamillion.com/tidelands

www.indiebound.com/tidelands

www.barnesandnoble.com/tidelands

The Author: Philippa Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the novel The Other Boleyn Girl, which was made into a TV drama and a major film. Published in 2009, the bestselling The White Queen, the story of Elizabeth Woodville, ushered in a new series involving The Cousins’ War (now known as The War of the Roses) and a new era for the acclaimed author. Gregory lives with her family on a small farm in Yorkshire, where she keeps horses, hens and ducks. Visitors to her site, www.PhilippaGregory.com become addicted to the updates of historical research, as well as the progress of her ducklings.
Her other great interest is the charity she founded nearly twenty years ago; Gardens for The Gambia. She has raised funds and paid for 140 wells in the primary schools of the dry, poverty stricken African country. Thousands of school children have learned market gardening, and drunk the fresh water in the school gardens around the wells.
A former student of Sussex University, and a PhD and Alumna of the Year 2009 of Edinburgh University, her love for history and her commitment to historical accuracy are the hallmarks of her writing. She also reviews for US and UK newspapers, and is a regular broadcaster on television, radio, and webcasts from her website.

Book Review: The Voice Under Silence by Abhijit Sarmah

Poetry

is a subconcious echo,

of a concious voice, against

a superconcious mind.

– The Voice Under Silence

‘The Voice Under Silence’ is an anthology of twenty seven vivid, provocative and captivating poems. The collection is an expression of the author’s reflection on different aspects of  life’s realities such as love, pain, regret, death, war, politics, poverty and our daily struggles. As a poet, reading this piece is a breathe of fresh air and an encouragement to continue to strive towards using poetry as a tool to teach, to rage, to love and to inspire. Abhijit Sarmah with his unique voice has succeeded in telling many stories in very few words and that, I believe is the essence of poetry.

I was particularly drawn to poems like ‘Poetry’, ‘It Ends For G.D’, ‘An Unfinished Bottle of Scottish Rum’, ‘Death Be There When It’s Morning’, ‘Posthumous’ & ‘Bury, Sleep and Forget. These poems resonated with me in various ways, leaving me full of thoughts and questions.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading and reflecting on the poems in this collection and I recommend it to all poetry lovers.

Rating : 4 Stars

Published: February 10th, 2016 by Self Published

Pages: 50

Genre: Poetry (Anthology)

Purchase @ www.amazon.com/thevoiceundersilence

The Author: Abhijit Sarmah is a writer, poet and screenwriter from the North-east Indian state of Assam. He has one chapbook of poetry, The Voice Under Silence (February 2016), to his credit. He has contributed to various print and online journals, including South 85 Journal, Salmon Creek Journal, Not Very Quiet and others.

Book Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

I read ‘The Bride Test’ by this author last month and really enjoyed it. It happened to be the second title in the series so I decided to go back and read the first book before proceeding to the third. Also, this book won the Goodreads 2018 award for best romance novel so my expectations were high.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the same experience as I had with ‘The Bride Test’. Being a debut, it is forgivable especially as her second book shows so much growth in the writing style and character development.

‘The Kiss Quotient’ is about Stella Lane who is Autistic and doesn’t have any luck with dating or sex. She then decides to hire a male escort, Michael who is to teach her how to be a better lover. Michael and Stella begin what is supposed to be a contractual arrangement but end up with feelings for each other.

I found the first 50-100 pages interesting and entertaining but totally found myself rolling my eyes frequently after that. Many parts of this story were unrealistic. The way that Stella kept on changing her mind on what she wanted Michael to do, the fact that Michael turned out to be almost like an antidote to her autism and the way they communicated with quite a lot of profanity especially during their sexual encounters didn’t seem natural to me. I disliked Michael’s evident low self esteem and their constant misinterpretation of each other’s actions and reactions especially for things that were very clear. Also at the end, Michael sudden success after only three months of starting his fashion business with an additional four stores was so unrealistic.

Another aspect of the book I didn’t like were the sexual scenes. At the beginning, it was bearable but as the book progressed it became downright annoying, too graphic and in my opinion “too much”!

On the flip side, I am all for the #ownvoices novels and this one educated me once again about people who are autistic. The author has given a voice to people with this syndrome in the romance genre and hopefully will be a source of encouragement towards self acceptance especially as she is also autistic.

I rate it a 2.5 stars because I struggled to finish this one. I honestly can’t give any recommendations unless you are a sucker for romance novels no matter how boring they cant get.

Published: June 5th, 2018 by Berkely

Pages:333

Genre: Fiction (Romance)

Purchase @ http://www.amazon.com

The Author: Helen Hoang is that shy person who never talks. Until she does. And the worst things fly out of her mouth. She read her first romance novel in eighth grade and has been addicted ever since. In 2016, she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in line with what was previously known as Asperger’s Syndrome. Her journey inspired THE KISS QUOTIENT. She currently lives in San Diego, California with her husband, two kids, and pet fish.

Book Review: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

“Much of life is timing and circumstance, I see that now.” – An American Marriage

A lot of people had raved about this book when it was published last year but I wasn’t sure if it was based on the fact that it was an Oprah book club pick. However, when it recently won the Women’s Prize for Fiction this year, I decided to put it on my TBR and finally got around to read it this month.

An American Marriage is a story about newly weds Roy Jnr. and Celestial, an African American couple living in Atlanta, Georgia. They are only married for a little over a year when Roy is falsely accused of a crime he didn’t commit and is sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. The story is told from different perspectives; Roy, Celestial and Andre (Celestial’s best friend) and also through letters written between Celestial and Roy in prison. Their sudden predicament throws the young marriage in turmoil and when Roy is released five years later, the world has shifted far from where he left it and his marriage is not what he hoped it would be. This book is about racism, the justice system in the United States, the difficulties in marriage especially when a couple is torn apart either by their own choices or those made for them.

Tayari Jones has woven a beautifully written, thought provoking, captivating sad tale that will stay in my mind for a long time. It isn’t one that is filled with action or romance yet it puts you on the edge and gets you thinking hard about the dynamics of relationships, the true meaning of “love” and our commitment to the vows we take before we get married.

Most of the characters in this book where not likable but my favorite character would be Roy snr, a father to a son that was not his biological child, a good husband and a loyal person.  If I was to pick my least favorite, it would be Celestial. She was portrayed to be an independent successful black woman which she was to an extent with respect to her career but it doesn’t describe The totality of who and what she represents. She was strong when it was easy and it pleased her and took a weak disposition when it didn’t. I saw her as a privileged and entitled woman who didn’t stay when things went bad. Some people may argue that she continued to care for Roy financially when he was in prison even when she had moved on from the marriage but my response to that is “money isn’t everything”. Yes, I may not know how it feels to be without a husband for five long years, and after a mere one year of marriage where in most cases, is when the marriage has just begun, but Celestial took vows before God to stand with Roy, in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer, till death do them part. Those vows she took, she broke, without looking back and with who for God’s sake???? The very person who introduced them. This story has confirmed my beliefs on why many people go into relationships and marriage. They do this not necessarily because of love, but because that other person fits a profile they have created for themselves, or that person is available to them at the time, or rich enough or beautiful enough. This is a story will cause you to question our choices, loyalties and commitment in the face of adversity. To think deeply whenever we say ‘I love you’ to “the one” and consider the thousand things that means and entails.

‘Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth, it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

This book ended well for me. Most of it wasn’t too far fetched and it seemed fair to all the characters. What can I say? Reality Bites!

I rate this book a 4 stars and I highly recommend it.

P.s. The audio book on Scribed is awesome. I think it made my experience much better than reading a paper version.

 

Published: February 6th, 2018 by Algonquin books

Pages: 308

Genre: Fiction

Purchase @ www.amazon.com/anamericanmarriage ; 

www.barnesandnoble/anamericanmarriage

www.ebay.com/anamericanmarriage

The Author: Tayari Jones is the author of the novels Leaving Atlanta, The Untelling, Silver Sparrow, and An American Marriage (Algonquin Books, February 2018). Her writing has appeared in Tin House, The Believer, The New York Times, and Callaloo. A member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, she has also been a recipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, Lifetime Achievement Award in Fine Arts from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, United States Artist Fellowship, NEA Fellowship and Radcliffe Institute Bunting Fellowship. Silver Sparrow was named a #1 Indie Next Pick by booksellers in 2011, and the NEA added it to its Big Read Library of classics in 2016. Jones is a graduate of Spelman College, University of Iowa, and Arizona State University. She is currently an Associate Professor in the MFA program at Rutgers-Newark University.