Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Stolen Girl – Renita D’Silva

Contemporary Fiction 4*'s
Contemporary Fiction
4*’s

Ever since reading Renita D’Silva’s debut novel Monsoon Memories I have been a firm follower of this author with her tales across the Indian and English cultures.

The Stolen Girl has progressed the delightful and well-structured storytelling to another level due to the huge mystery at the heart of this novel. Diya is a teenage girl, living in England with her mother Vani who works in the local Indian restaurant bringing back the smells of the spices and oils as she returns home every night. One night she tells Diya they have to move, again. Diya is far from keen having made her first proper friend but that night everything changes when Vani is accused of abducting Diya from her real mother, Aarti, as a baby.

I really enjoyed this story told from the viewpoints of Diya in the present day, Vani by letters reminiscing over her past in India and Aarti as she lays claim to the daughter she lost thirteen years before. These three narrators all build up a picture of what life was like for the two women before Diya’s birth with lavish descriptions of houses and smells, of the different ways parents express their love for their children as well as an interesting insight into how your background is critical in hierarchical India. One of the things I love about this author’s writing is that on the whole she allows her readers to infer the messages, despite Vani’s life being very different to mine, I could ‘put myself in her shoes’ not because I was told how to wear them, but rather because a picture was painted using subtle tones allowing me to empathise with the choices she made.

The plotting is superb with the pace carefully controlled with well-timed revelations from the two women placed against the confusion of young Diya who struggles to comprehend the deceptions that led her to live in England within a close-knit relationship of two with her mother. With the issue of the effects of eating disorders covered too this novel could easily have slipped into a dispiriting read with so much misery but the thread of hope that all would turn out well for Diya along with some great supporting characters meant that this was avoided.

Having now had the pleasure of reading three excellent books by this author I can’t wait to see what Renita D’Silva produces next. I’d like to thank the publishers Bookouture for the copy of this book to read in return for this honest review. The Stolen Girl was published on 12 September 2014.

Other books by Renita D’Silva
click the book covers to see my reviews.
Monsoon Memories

The Forgotten Daughter

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (September 10)

WWW Wednesday green

Hosted by Miz B at Should be Reading

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading The Stolen Girl by Renita D’Silva who writes great novels which are all based upon a mixture of Indian and English heritage.

The Stolen Girl

Blurb

For as long as thirteen-year-old Diya can remember, it’s always been just her and her mum, Vani. Despite never staying in one place long enough to call it home, with her mother by her side, Diya has never needed anything else. Then, in an instant, Diya’s fragile world is shattered. Her mother is arrested, accused of abducting Diya when she was a baby…
Vani has spent a lifetime looking over her shoulder, determined to make the best possible life for her daughter. Now she must fight for her child, re-opening the door to her childhood in India and the woman who was once as close to her as a sister.
Told through the eyes of Diya, Vani and Aarti, this is a heart-breaking story of friendship and betrayal, love and motherhood, which asks the question; how far would you go to protect your only child? NetGalley

I have just finished reading A Trick of the Mind by Penny Hancock
click on the book cover to read my review

A Trick of the Mind

Next I am going to read Trust in Me by Sophie McKenzie

Trust in Me

Blurb

Julia has always been the friend that Livy turns to when life is difficult. United fifteen years ago by grief at the brutal murder of Livy’s sister, Kara, they’ve always told each other everything.
Or so Livy thought.
So when Julia is found dead in her home, Livy cannot come to terms with the news that she chose to end her own life. The Julia that Livy knew was vibrant and vivacious, a far cry from the selfish neurotic that her family seem determined to paint her as.
Troubled by doubt but alone in her suspicions, Livy sets out to prove that Julia was in fact murdered. But little does she realise that digging into her best friend’s private life will cause her to question everything she thought she knew about Julia. And the truth that Livy discovers will tear the very fabric of her own life apart. NetGalley

What are you reading this week? Share with me in the comments below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Tuesday Teaser (September 9)

Tuesday Teaser

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

My teaser this week is from The Stolen Girl by Renita D’Silva

The Stolen Girl

Blurb

For as long as thirteen-year-old Diya can remember, it’s always been just her and her mum, Vani. Despite never staying in one place long enough to call it home, with her mother by her side, Diya has never needed anything else. Then, in an instant, Diya’s fragile world is shattered. Her mother is arrested, accused of abducting Diya when she was a baby…
Vani has spent a lifetime looking over her shoulder, determined to make the best possible life for her daughter. Now she must fight for her child, re-opening the door to her childhood in India and the woman who was once as close to her as a sister.
Told through the eyes of Diya, Vani and Aarti, this is a heart-breaking story of friendship and betrayal, love and motherhood, which asks the question; how far would you go to protect your only child? NetGalley

My Teaser

I slam the door with a satisfying thud on her teary face and clatter down the stairs, the smell of burgers and overcooked rice, the faint yellow tang of urine, the reek of feet and angst trailing me. I hear our door open and close as she attempts to follow me, but she has no hope in hell of catching up. I hear her breath coming in laboured gasps and after a flight of stairs, I do not hear her at all.

Please share the link to your teaser in the comments below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (August 15)

Friday Finds Hosted by Should be Reading

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

So, come on — share with us your FRIDAY FINDS

It seems that this week everyone has been tempting me with brilliant sounding books, I have resisted plenty but the following where the temptation was just too strong.

Liz Loves Books had a fascinating interview with the author of The Dark Meadow, Andrea Maria Schenkel that convinced me that I needed a copy of this book.

The Dark Meadow

Blurb

Bavaria, Germany, 1947
At the end of the war, Afra Zauner returns to her parents’ cottage on the edge of Mauther Forest. Unmarried, and pregnant. As she struggles to raise her child, her father’s shame, her mother’s fury and the loud whispers of the neighbours begin to weigh upon her. She doesn’t believe in her sin. But everyone else does.
And someone brings judgement down upon her.
Many years later, Hermann Müller is throwing a drunk out of his tavern. A traveller, who won’t stop ranting about a murder left unsolved, about police who never investigated. Out of curiousity, the file is reopened. And in the cold light of hindsight, a chilling realisation creeps upon the community.
No-one ever atoned for Afra’s death. But her story is waiting to be told.
Andrea Maria Schenkel returns to the form of her groundbreaking The Murder Farm, narrating through suspects, victims and investigators to lead the reader to their own awful understanding NetGalley

Read Liz’s interview and review here

The Night Hunter by Caro Ramsay due to be published in November caught my eye as I enjoyed Singing to the Dead

The Night Hunter

Blurb

Elvie McCulloch’s sister Sophie has been missing for 57 days. She went out for a run – and never came home. Several young woman in the area have disappeared in similar circumstances, and Elvie’s family fears the worst.
As Elvie is driving to her new job late at night, the naked, emaciated body of a young woman crashes from high above onto an oncoming car. Elvie recognises her as Lorna Lennox, who has been missing for weeks. But why was she up there? Where had she been all this time? And why was she running for her life?
Teaming up with retired detective Billy Hopkirk, who has been retained by the mother of one of the missing girls to find her daughter, Elvie determines to find out the truth. But as the pair alternately collaborate with and infuriate investigating police detectives Anderson and Costello, they find themselves up against a terrifying enemy. Someone who has killed before. Someone who will kill again, for pure enjoyment. Someone they call The Night Hunter. NetGalley

I have a copy of The Stolen Girl by Renita D’Silva and I know I will love this after reading the enchanting Monsoon Memories and The Forgotten Daughter

The Stolen Girl

Blurb

For as long as thirteen-year-old Diya can remember, it’s always been just her and her mum, Vani. Despite never staying in one place long enough to call it home, with her mother by her side, Diya has never needed anything else.
Then, in an instant, Diya’s fragile world is shattered. Her mother is arrested, accused of abducting Diya when she was a baby…
Vani has spent a lifetime looking over her shoulder, determined to make the best possible life for her daughter. Now she must fight for her child, re-opening the door to her childhood in India and the woman who was once as close to her as a sister. NetGalley

And lastly I chose something for some lighter reading; Hello From The Gillespies by Monica McInerney which is due to be published in November by Penguin Books (UK)

Hello from the Gillispies

Blurb

Angela Gillespie has been pretending that her family is perfect for the last 30 years. And she is tired of it. This year she needs to tell it how it is.
Angela’s husband is in the throes of a mid-life crisis. Her grown-up daughters are more out of control than ever. And her youngest child spends all of his time talking to an imaginary friend. With fantasy thoughts of a life before marriage and motherhood becoming more than just an innocent daydream, Angela’s real life is slowly slipping out of focus. But, as the repercussions of her too truthful Christmas letter keep coming, perhaps she should have been careful what she wished for… NetGalley

Please share your finds with me because I am always on the look out for another good read and without your help I may miss something amazing.

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Forgotten Daughter – Renita D’Silva

Contemporary Fiction 4*'s
Contemporary Fiction
4*’s

What is it like to find out you are adopted?  How much worse would it be to find out on the death of your parents by way of a letter?

The Forgotten Daughter examines the life of three women, Nisha who lives in England and the recipient of the news that she was adopted. The only piece of information she has is the address of a convent in India to start the trail of why her mother gave her away.  Nisha longs to know why her parents chose to bring her to England to start a new life with no knowledge of her roots. Nisha narrates her journey of discovery from a dispassionate young women who finds solace in analysing numbers to one who begins to remember some long buried memories.

In India Shilpa is a traditional Indian mother, determined that her daughter Devi abides by the familiar traditions while Devi wants to break free from her claustrophobic love.  When Shilpa is admitted to hospital Devi gets to know her mother through her diary.  This isn’t any old diary though, this has the notes of the dishes she has cooks interspersed with the story of her life. These recipes included are complete instructions, not just a list of ingredients so you too can have a go at recreating the food Shilpa cooked for her family.

Devi’s story of a young woman desperate to break free from the constraints of her upbringing where her culture dictates that she behave, dress and abide by traditions that she longs to leave behind.

If you want a book to savour then this is the book for you.  Renita D’Silva writing means the smells, sights and sounds of life in India come to life through her brilliant descriptions. The beautiful saris the weight of the gold, the gaudy sandals that the women use to adorn themselves with shimmer on the page.  The more or less constant companion of the food that Shilpa prepares will make your mouth water as the story of the three women unfolds.  I have rarely read a book where the picture painted by the author is quite so vivid.

Like Renita’s debut novel Monsoon Memories, the contrast in culture of life in England compared to that in India is apparent and as the reader we get to see these first hand through the stories of Shilpa and Devi and through the eyes of Nisha who sees it as a newcomer.  As the women examine their lives you get the feeling nothing will be ever be quite the same.

A quietly emotional book of discovery this is an accomplished second book to follow Monsoon Memories.

I received a copy of this book which will be published on 28 February 2014 from the publishers Bookouture, in return for this honest review.

Read my review of Renita’s debut Monsoon Memories

 

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (February 26)

WWW Wednesday green

Hosted by Miz B at Should be Reading
To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading Sleep Tight by Rachel Abbott which was published on 24 February 2014.

Sleep Tight

Please see yesterday’s post for the blurb, instead here is the author explaining how she got the idea for her latest novel.

Sleep Tight is the story of an obsession that escalates from persistent stalking to something far more sinister – a powerful compulsion to possess. When the object of such potent emotions is slipping out of reach, tensions mount and control is lost.
When asked about the subject of this novel, Abbott said, ‘Being stalked is a terrifying experience, and yet it has only recently been classified as a criminal act. I was stalked when I was in my early twenties – and for a long time, I didn’t know who by. I would find messages stuffed under the windscreen wipers of my car, saying “I’m watching you”, and sometimes a flower on my front doorstep. I was constantly looking over my shoulder – wondering who it was, and what would happen next. So when writing this book, I tried to imagine how that might have intensified, if I hadn’t been saved by the intervention of a good friend who was prepared to put her own safety at risk.’ Rachel Abbott

This is my second book this year (already) about stalking, the first being The Book of You by Claire Kendal.  Sleep Tight  the Manchester police try to work out what has happened to Olivia and her children, they have disappeared without trace but how and why?

I have just finished The Forgotten Daughter by Renita D’Silva due to be published on 28 February 2014.

The Forgotten Daughter

Blurb

‘You were adopted’.
Three simple words, in a letter accompanying her parent’s will, tear Nisha’s carefully ordered world apart. Raised in England, by her caring but emotionally reserved parents, Nisha has never been one to take risks.
Now, with the scrawled address of an Indian convent begins a search for the mother and family she never knew and the awakening of childhood memories long forgotten.
The secrets, culture and people that Nisha discover will change her life forever. And, as her eyes are opened to a side of herself she didn’t know existed, Nisha realizes that she must also seek answers to the hardest question of all – why?
Weaving together the stories of Nisha, Shilpa and Devi, The Forgotten Daughter explores powerfully and poignantly the emotional themes of motherhood, loss and identity – ultimately asking the question of what you would do out of love for your children? Goodreads

This is the second book by Renita D’Silva, her first Monsoon Memories wove a story set in England with one set in India. This book has a similar mix although far more of the story is set in India with wonderful notes in a diary on how to prepare Indian dishes which is a nice touch for those who want to replicate the food to go with the book. My review will be posted very soon.

The book I will read next is That Dark Remembered Day by Tom Vowler
That Dark Remembered Day

Blurb

Can you ever know what those closest to you are really capable of?
A son returns to the small town where he grew up, where his mother still lives and where a terrible event in his childhood changed the lives of almost every person living there. As the story unfolds through the eyes of the son, the mother and finally, the father, the reader experiences the taut build up to one day’s tragic unravelling, and the shock waves that echoed through a once happy family and close-knit community. Will they ever be able to exorcise the damage of that day or do some wounds run too deep? Goodreads

Having loved What Lies Within, Tom Vowler’s debut novel I have high hopes for this one.

So… I think this is the only time where every book I have on a Wednesday is by an author I have previously read.
What are you all reading, anything you can tempt me with?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (February 7)

Friday Finds Hosted by Should be Reading

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

So, come on — share with us your FRIDAY FINDS!

This week I have added to my collection (again) by using NetGalley so first up a book due to be published on 10 April 2014 by Headline, The Dead Ground by Claire MccGowen

The Dead Ground

Blurb

A stolen baby. A murdered woman. A decades-old atrocity. Something connects them all…
A month before Christmas, and Ballyterrin on the Irish border lies under a thick pall of snow. When a newborn baby goes missing from hospital, it’s all too close to home for forensic psychologist Paula Maguire, who’s wrestling with the hardest decision of her life.
Then a woman is found in a stone circle with her stomach cut open and it’s clear a brutal killer is on the loose.
As another child is taken and a pregnant woman goes missing, Paula is caught up in the hunt for a killer no one can trace, who will stop at nothing to get what they want.
The Dead Ground will leave you gasping for breath as Paula discovers every decision she makes really is a matter of life and death…

Having enjoyed both The Fall and the start of the new series featuring Paula Maguire, The Lost, I was delighted to be approved to read the next in the series.

I also acquired another book set around the time of World War I called The Fall and Rise of Lucy Charlton by Elizabeth Gill, published by Quercus in December 2013.

The Fall and Rise of Lucy Charlton
Blurb

1920, Durham. Since she was a child, Lucy Charlton has dreamed of working with her father in the family solicitor’s firm. But a scandal shatters her dreams and, when her father disowns her, she finds herself on the streets, fighting for survival.
Joe Hardy has returned to London after the Great War to find his life in tatters – his father is dead and his pregnant fiancée has disappeared. Then Joe learns he’s unexpectedly inherited an old river house in Durham from a stranger called Margaret Lee. With nothing left for him in London, he makes arrangements to travel north and claim it.
Lucy’s determination has finally secured her a job as a legal secretary, campaigning for the rights of the poorest in society. As Joe arrives in her office to collect the keys to his new home, she promises to help him uncover information about his mystery benefactor. But before long, the past comes back to haunt them both, with shocking consequences…NetGalley

I have also been lucky enough to win a giveaway at Goodreads making me the very pleased owner of Spilt Milk by Amanda Hodgkinson, another historical novel.

Spilt Milk

Blurb

The eagerly anticipated new historical novel from the author of 22 Britannia Road: a novel about sisterhood, motherhood, and secrets that cannot be laid to rest.
1913. Unmarried sisters Nellie and Vivian Marsh live an impoverished existence in a tiny cottage on the banks of the Little River in Suffolk. Their life is quiet and predictable, until a sudden flood throws up a strange fish on their doorstep and a travelling man who will change them forever.
1939. Eighteen year old Birdie Farr is working as a barmaid in the family pub in London. When she realises she is pregnant she turns to her mother Nellie, who asks her sister to arrange an adoption for Birdie’s new born daughter. But as the years pass Birdie discovers she cannot escape the Marsh sisters’ shadowy past – and her own troubling obsession with finding her lost daughter will have deep consequences for all of them…Goodreads


 Another great surprise was to win a book through Bookmarks, this is how Random House deliver their surveys which cover everything from feedback on book covers to what types of books we read, how we read and where we read. I have filled in a fair few of these surveys and in return they have sent me a copy of Surrounded by Water by Stephanie Butland which is due to be published 10 April 2014

Surrounded by Water

Blurb

Elizabeth’s world is turned upside down when her husband dies in a tragic drowning accident.
How typical of her kind, generous husband to sacrifice his own life saving a complete stranger’s. At the heart of this village that has lost its most respected police officer is a woman who has lost life as she knows it.
Or so she thinks.
Before Elizabeth can begin trying to piece her heart back together, it might just need to be broken again. Goodreads

…. even better along with my book I got a new bookmarks. This means I don’t need to rely on scraps of paper or the loyalty card for the coffee shop anymore!

Finally after enjoying Renita D’Silva’s debut novel Monsoon Memories  I was delighted to be offered a copy of The Forgotten Daughter to read and review.

The Forgotten Daughter

Blurb

Three simple words, in a letter accompanying her parent’s will, tear Nisha’s carefully ordered world apart. Raised in England, by her caring but emotionally reserved parents, Nisha has never been one to take risks.
Now, with the scrawled address of an Indian convent begins a search for the mother and family she never knew and the awakening of childhood memories long forgotten.
The secrets, culture and people that Nisha discover will change her life forever. And, as her eyes are opened to a side of herself she didn’t know existed, Nisha realizes that she must also seek answers to the hardest question of all – why?
Weaving together the stories of Nisha, Shilpa and Devi, The Forgotten Daughter explores powerfully and poignantly the emotional themes of motherhood, loss and identity – ultimately asking the question of what you would do out of love for your children? Goodreads

So apart from being approved by NetGalley for my first choice, completely by chance, the genre of reading in my finds this week contains far less murder and mayhem!

What did you all find for me to envy?

Posted in Books I have read

Monsoon Memories – Renita D’Silva

Women's Fiction 4*'s
Women’s Fiction
4*’s

I was intrigued by the blurb when contacted by the publisher to see if I would be interested in reading this book. What follows is an unbiased review but I am really glad I was chosen to read this book that has that unique something that makes it immensely readable.

Monsoon Memories is an evocative book describing the life of Reenu, an eleven year old girl. Reenu visits her Grandmother in Taipur and finds a picture of a girl hidden in the family photo album. Having decided to be a sleuth like her heroine Nancy Drew she is determined to find out who the girl is and why she has been erased from history. Far away in England working as a programmer is Shirin, a woman haunted by the past and torn between enjoying the happy memories of her life as a child in India and being afraid of acknowledging the events that led her to leave. Between them Shirin and Reenu tell us a painful story of a family torn apart.

The heart of this story is family relationships including all the variations. The characters are brilliant; I loved Aunt Anita, Madhau the servant and the spirited Reenu. The heat of India, the monsoons and the casual poverty that surrounds the family is well described, as is the food. In fact food seemed to be mentioned continually; illustrating how important it was to the structure of the day, I found this occasionally intrusive (possibly as I haven’t eaten many of the Indian dishes described in loving detail.)

The structure of the story is measured and steady; at no point did I feel it was drawn out unnecessarily. The reader has different parts of the tale told from both Shirin’s and Reenu’s viewpoint which drew me in so that I was rooting for a happy ending for all the lovely characters, both minor and major bought to life in this book.