Stolen by Lesley Pearse

Book Review

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This novel gives the impression to be factual account of a real life incident or combination of several real life incidents, woven stylishly by an intoxicating story-telling from a chic writer—Lesley Pearse.

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Stolen:-

Author –  Lesley Pearse

Published in Penguin Books 2010

Book Review: A woman in her mid-twenties, with brutally cropped blonde hair and with purple marks on her wrists and ankles as if she’d been restrained, is found half drowned on the beach at Selsey. She is taken to a hospital in Chichester, she is weak, suffering from hypothermia and exhaustion, but her loss of memory is the most troubling aspect, her trauma the reason for the amnesia.

Dale Moore, a beautician in a spa at a Hotel near Brighton recognizes her to be her friend, Lotte Wainwright,  a hairdresser on the cruise ship they worked together fourteen months ago … the story leads to a sequence of ruthless realities.

The plot of the story is disturbing and may cause some readers distress; the horribleness of a parent is sourced as the primary factor of the protagonist’s misery, causing the young protagonist to get trapped into a tormenting situation. This story also breaks the myth of stereotypical friendship and also the myth of clichés relating to family bond.

The author’s effort in describing all the trivial things to present the reader with an enchanting experience, and with an in-depth analysis of the characters of the story along with the descriptive narration of the grief-stricken situation of the protagonist is in empathetic regard; however the reader may find the story draggy especially at the concluding chapters.

This novel, however lengthy a reader may find it to be, is worth a read from readers of 18 years and above; and shines forth with the supreme ability of the  writer in sequencing the events intelligently to rouse the reader with curiosity and also for narrating the gloomy plot of the story with sensible brighter shades of writing.


Amazon link: Stolen by Lesley Pearse


Readers of this blog are welcome to recommend any fiction novel (Genre: mystery, romance, science fiction/fantasy, suspense/thriller, realistic fiction, historical fiction, young adult, children’s literature) in English language for book review – I prefer to read novels in paperback format, share your thoughts through the comment section of this Blog: mirandavoice.com or tweet at twitter.com/mirandapresence

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See You in the Cosmos – By JACK CHENG

Book Review

As a reader of this book, it seems to me that this book is a humble tribute to an eminent astronomer Dr. Carl Edward Sagan by the author Jack Cheng.

Dr. Carl Edward Sagan (1934 – 1996) was an American astronomer:

“Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.” – Carl Sagan

He tried to make science popular. He thought about what life from other planets would be like. He said that people should look for life on other planets. He is world famous for his popular science books and the television series Cosmos, which he co-wrote and presented.

Sagan was associated with the U.S. space program from its inception. From the 1950s onward, he worked as an advisor to NASA, where one of his duties included briefing the Apollo astronauts before their flights to the Moon. Sagan contributed to many of the robotic spacecraft missions that explored the Solar System, arranging experiments on many of the expeditions.

Sagan assembled the first physical message that was sent into space: a gold-anodized plaque, attached to the space probe Pioneer 10, launched in 1972. Pioneer 11, also carrying another copy of the plaque, was launched the following year.

He continued to refine his designs; the most elaborate message he helped to develop and assemble was the Voyager Golden Record that was sent out with the Voyager space probes in 1977.

Sagan often challenged the decisions to fund the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station at the expense of further robotic missions. (Source: Wikipedia)  Dr. Caral Sagan’s Scientific Achivements

 

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See You in the Cosmos:-

Author – JACK CHENG

An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2017

Published in Great Britain by Puffin Books 2017

Book Review: Alex Petroski is a eleven-year old boy, though he thinks himself to be thirteen-years-old  in responsibility age because he can cook and take care of his dog, whom he has named  after his hero, Dr. Carl Sagan; he plans to launch his rocket—Voyager 3 at the Southwest High-Altitude Rocket Festival in the desert near Albuquerque, New Mexico, to carry his iPod into space – his Golden iPod with his sound recordings to connect with other life forms out in the universe, and thus this exceptional idea of his initiates his adventure …

So his golden iPod is like a personal diary – with him narrating to record the happenings of the day, his venture to the rocket festival which advances into meeting nice strangers, his trip to Las Vegas and so on … with many other exciting revelations.

 

The simplicity of the language makes the novel a fortunate book for the children between the age-group of 8 to 11 years; the content is very informative and contemporary, though the exceptional presentation of the story does require a little explanation by an adult and at a leisurely pace a child may take a month’s time to finish reading this book.

The pace of this novel is slow for adult readers; considering that this book is particularly meant for young readers and written from a view point of a young child, however the unique presentation of the concept – by which I mean the novel is written like a narration on an audio player is highly commendable, makes it an admirable read for teenagers and adults too.


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Amazon link – See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

New York, Actually – By SARAH MORGAN

Book Review

Author: Sarah Morgan is the no.1 bestselling author with sales of over 15 million, her other novels based on the Big Apple  are Sleepless in Manhattan, Sunset in Central Park & Miracle on 5th Avenue.

 ‘Morgan is a magician with words’ – RT Book Reviews  

New York, Actually (HarperCollinsPublishers): Book Review

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This novel is on Molly, Dr. Kathleen Molly Parker, a relationship psychologist — her bog, Ask a Girl, has a large volume of traffic; and her books had hit the bestseller lists in both the US and the UK all under her pseudonym Aggie – which meant she had both anonymity and financial security enabling her to live comfortably in New York City.

On her early morning run with her dog, a Dalmatian—Valentine who has a heart shaped nose, in Central Park she comes across Daniel Knight, with his dog, a German shepherd—Brutus who is as strong and athletic as his owner; but something about the way he moved told her that when this man wasn’t pounding the paths, he dressed in a suit and was commander in chief of whichever empire he presided over.

Mr. Daniel Knight is the best divorce lawyer in Manhattan, who gets smitten by Molly during his early morning run – it wasn’t just her hair that caught his attention or those incredible legs, it was the air of confidence …

This is an unusual contemporary love-story, Molly and Daniel are characters with contrasting professional interest and that’s the incompatible point between these two’s outlook towards relationship, at first; otherwise they both personally view romantic relationships as a short-term association and this assertiveness brings them both together, at first.

Through this story, the author also remarkably expresses about the consequence of conflict in a relationship. (pp. 222, 223 & 224)

The city of Manhattan is the backdrop of this love-story; it particularly describes the Central Park and a bit of the city’s landscape in a vibrant manner.

 

The plot of the story fascinates  the reader to finish reading the story as rapidly as possible as it leisurely discloses layers and layers of mysteries, and the prose which consistently comprises of witty conversations between the different characters of the story has the reader thrilled – which certainly articulates  about the charismatic writing skill of the author—Sarah Morgan.



Amazon link: New York, Actually by Sarah Morgan


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BETWEEN the SHEETS – By Molly O’Keefe

Book Review

This novel is like watching (or the better word is IMAGINING) an X-rated Hollywood movie with a superb storyline. The book cover does suggest an erotic allure and it does contain a fair amount of the same, which seems not as much of tender and with a trace of sexual violence between the story’s main characters Shelby and Ty, because through this literature the writer essentially tries to mention how supressed negative emotions sprung reflexively during the very intimate moments.

Furthermore, this story talks of — the illness of Alzheimer, the excess care and support needed by its affected; how brutal childhood has a negative imprint on adult personality.

 

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Shelby Monroe, an art teacher, is a part-time employee at Bishop Elementary school; who’d been in cold, slightly awkward affairs with men she wanted very little from, men there was never any fear would try to get more from her — meets Wyatt Svenson, his nickname Ty, a man with a tall and wide physique and a charming personality; through Casey – a eleven-year old, tall and gangly boy, Ty’s child from a former girlfriend …

There are many other characters in this story which gives the story a nice strength, by the end of this very beautifully story all the broken pieces of Shelby’s and Ty’s core personality is merged together because of their faith in each other and their willingness to try to chance the bad situation in order to move ahead in life.

 

The very lengthy erotic passages has some monotonous moments – otherwise from this, the narration captures the complexity of human emotions to the very core in a brilliant writing by Molly O’Keefe.

 

Few excerpts from this novel:

“Hey, Ms. Monroe,” Casey whispered, but before Shelby could say anything, Mom leaned over and shushed him.

Shelby gave him a wink and then tried very hard to pay attention to the church service.

………

“Tic-tac-toe?” he whispered. “Am I six?”

A laugh bubbled out of her and now her own mom was giving her the death stare. She composed herself and drew a hangman and the spaces for a ten-letter word.

“Hangman,” he whispered. “I like it.”

She pointed to a blank spot where he could write down his guesses and handed him the stubby pencil. Over the top of Casey’s bright head, Wyatt was watching her, and despite her years of experience ignoring things, she could ignore him for only so long. Almost as if her eyes were magnetized and he was true north, she could not help but look at him.  (pp.118 -119)

 

“Mom, we need to talk.”

“About the factory? Because I know our numbers are down, but I‘ve made some changes to the—”

“It’s not about the factory.”

“I can’t lay anyone else off. We’re running on a skeleton crew.”

“Mom. We’re going to have to bring someone into our house. A nurse. To care for you.”

 Mom was silent, and the tall weeds growing through the cracks in the asphalt and between the stones of the drive were laid nearly flat by the wind. Sturdy weeds levelled. (pp. 256 -257)

 

“We’ll go slow,” he told her. “For both of us.”

“Slow? We haven’t done anything slow.”

“We’ll start with dinner. Sunday night, my house. I’ll cook.”

“You can cook?”

“See all the things we don’t know about each other?”

She smiled at his joke and he felt the engine of his heart kick over. This was happening. It was really happening.

“What about Casey?”

“My son and I have kept enough secrets from each other, Shelby. If you and I are a thing, he’s got to know about it. If we’re in, we’re all in.”

She let go of the box only to cup his face in her hands. She pressed her lips on his, softly. Sweetly. She tasted of coffee and toothpaste, and if faith had a flavour, it was there too. (pp. 298 – 299)

Author: Molly O’Keefe is also the author of several other novels – Wild Child, Crazy Thing Called Love, Can’t Buy Me Love, and Can’t Hurry Love.

Amazon link: Between the Sheets (The Boys of Bishop)

The Girl in the Mirror – By Cecelia Ahern

Book Review

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The Girl in the Mirror

Author: Cecelia Ahern

This short novel of less than 100 pages comprises two short stories with bizarre concept perfected by perfect human emotions.

The title of the novel is the title of the first story i.e. Girl in the Mirror, narrated with smidgen of fairy tale charm mixed with fair amount of quirkiness.

Lila’s grandmother – Ellie, whom Lila fondly calls as Grellie, happens to drape all the mirrors in her spacious, hoary house completely in black sheeting. This little girl  has no anxiety of her grandmother’s odd behaviour — however, twenty-eight years old Lila disobeys  her grandmother’s rule to  unwrap a free-standing, full-length mirror, located in a spare room which she is strictly warned not to enter; on her wedding day to  see herself  in her wedding dress—and a peculiar incident happens ….

 

The second story, The Memory Maker, is a highly intellectual piece which takes about 2 to 3 times of reading to appreciate the inimitable concept of the story.

Tucked away in the basement of a Georgian house is a futuristic devise, the memory-maker, a machine which helps people in creating new memories, the creator of the machine is neither a doctor nor a scientist; and a great sadness is the reality behind the invention of this machine …

It takes a maximum of 2 days to finish reading this novel, more so because of the thrilling story telling ability of the writer which keeps you hooked on till you finish reading the entire story. This novel is a suitable read for teenagers as well as adults.

 

Amazon link: The Girl in the Mirror

EMMA – By Jane Austen

Book Review

Jane Austen (1775 – 1817): Jane Austen is one of the most well-known and widely-read English novelists.

Jane’s fascination with words and with world of stories began quite early, in the 1780s during her adolescence she started writing her own novels. Between 1811 to 1816, Jane started to anonymously publish her works; Emma was published during this time.

Her works started attracting scholarly attention in the 1920s and came to be recognized as brilliant masterpieces and revealing commentaries on social conditions of Austen’s time.

Emma: This novel is a very lengthy read, with 55 chapters, very intellectually phrased with complex grammatical construction of sentences, which has to be read in short passages for a proper understanding rather than choosing for a hasty read which may cease to lose the novel’s excellence in the reader’s opinion.

It is unadulterated literature that enriches the reader with exceptional knowledge of English literature and in quintessence articulates about the opulent cultural life of people belonging to the upper stratum of society in England during the end of 18th century and at the beginning of 19th century. The humour is polished sarcastic; the novel starts with theatrical appeal with very lengthy conversations and gradually eases to poised narrative.

Highly recommended read for avid literature readers, and once you have finished reading this novel—it will all the more intrigue you for another read.

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EMMA- By Jane Austen

Twenty-one years old Emma Woodhouse is handsome, clever, and rich; the daughter of Mr. Woodhouse — a nervous old man, beloved for the friendliness of his heart and his amiable temper. The real evils of Emma’s situation is the disposition to think a little too well of herself, which leads her through a course of outright misperception in her impulsive ideas of match-making.

Hartfield, is Emma Woodhouse’s paradise; the residence of Mr. Woodhouse—the Woodhouses first in consequence in a town of Highbury.

There are many characters that exist to make this story about Highbury and Hartfield complete, a few important ones are:

Harriet Smith – A seventeen-year old, a parlour-boarder at Mrs. Goddard’s school, is a girl not certainly clever but with a sweet, docile, grateful disposition; totally free from conceit and only desiring to be guided by any one she looked up to.

Mr. Elton – A very respectable vicar of Highbury, is a handsome young man.

Mr. (Gerorge)Knightley – A sensible man with a cheerful manner, a very old and intimate friend of the family, but particularly connected with it as the elder brother of Isabella’s (Emma’s elder sister) husband. He lived about a mile away in the adjoining parish of Highbury, at Donwell Abbey.

Mr. Weston – A native of Highbury, had satisfied an active, cheerful mind and social temper by entering into militia of his country. Once his wife death, after a three years’ marriage, the widower-father, gave his child up to the care and wealth of the Churchill’s. When a complete change of life became desirable, he quitted the militia and engaged in trade. After eighteen or twenty years of his life, he had purchased a little estate adjoining Highbury, at Randalls; and obtained his second wife– a truly amiable woman, Miss Taylor.

Miss Taylor/ Mrs. Weston: Sixteen years had Miss Taylor been in Mr. Woodhouse’s  family, less as a governess than a friend, particularly very fond of Emma, between them it was more the intimacy of sisters. Matrimony as the origin of change, Miss Taylor was happily married to Mr. Weston.

Mr. Frank Churchill: Brought up as his uncle’s heir; Mr. Frank Churchill — a very good looking young man, had a great deal of the spirit and liveliness of his father’s.

Miss Jane Fairfax: The only child of Mrs. Bates’s youngest daughter; Mrs. Bates’s – the widow of a former vicar of Highbury, was a very old lady. Jane was an orphan, brought up by Colonel Campbell. Living constantly with right-minded and well-informed people, her heart and understanding had received every advantage of discipline and culture; and Colonel Campbell’s residence being in London, every lighter talent had been done full justice to, by the attendance of first-rate masters.   

Miss Bates: The simplicity and cheerfulness of her nature, her contented and grateful spirit, were a recommendation to every body, and a mine of felicity to herself. She was a great talker upon little matters, full of trivial communications and harmless gossip.

The catalysts of this novel are the characters – Miss Jane Fairfax and Mr. Frank Churchill.

Pages 163, 189, 190 & 191 – Comprises very brilliant descriptive narrative of a shop called ‘Ford’, which is place of convenience to the citizens of Highbury.

Chapter 8: This chapter is a debate over the mind-set related to men and women on the subject of suitability of partner associated with social norms in the prospect of matrimony, these considerations do prevail in the present era in consequence to arranged marriages in some cultures.

A few passages from this novel:

“ A man,” sad he, “must have a very good opinion of himself when he asks people to leave their own fireside, and encounter such a day as this, for the sake of coming to see him. He must think himself a most agreeable fellow; I could not do such a thing. It is the greatest absurdity —Actually snowing at this moment!—The folly of not allowing people to be comfortable at home—and the folly of people’s not staying comfortably at home when they can! If we were obliged to go out such an evening as this, by any call of duty or business, what a hardship we should deem it;—and here are we, probably with rather thinner clothing than usual, setting forward  voluntarily, without excuse, in defiance of the voice of nature, which tells man, in every thing given to his view or his feeling, to stay at home himself, and keep all under shelter that he can;—here are we setting forward to spend five dull hours in another man’s house, with nothing to say or to hear that was not said and heard yesterday, and may not be said and heard again to-morrow. Going in dismal weather, to return probably in worse;—four horses and four servants taken out for nothing but to convey five idle, shivering creatures into colder rooms and worse company than they might have had at home.” (p. 95)

 

“But your father is not going so far; he is only going to the Crown, quite on the other side of the street, and there are a great many houses; you might be very much at a loss, and it is very dirty walk, unless you keep on the footpath; but my coachman can tell you where you had best cross the street.”

 Mr. Frank Churchill still declined it, looking as serious as he could and his father gave his hearty support by calling out, “My good friend, this is quite unnecessary; Frank knows a puddle of water when he sees it, and as to Mrs. Bates’s, he may get there from the Crown in a hop, step, and jump.”(p. 159)

 

“If it would be good to her, I am sure it would be evil to himself; a very shameful and degrading connexion. How would he bear to have Miss Bates belonging to him?—To have her haunting the Abbey, and thanking him all day long for his great kindness in marrying Jane?—

“So  very kind and obliging!—But he always had been such a very kind neighbour!”And then fly off, through half a sentence, to her mother’s old petticoat. “Not that it was such a very old petticoat either—for still it would last a great while—and, indeed, she must thankfully say that their petticoats were all very strong.”(p. 183)

 

When the ladies returned to the drawing-room after dinner, Emma found it hardly possible to prevent their making two distinct parties;—with so much perseverance in judging and behaving ill did Mrs. Elton engross Jane Fairfax and slight herself. She and Mrs. Weston were obliged to be almost always either talking together or silent together. Mrs. Elton left them no choice. If Jane repressed her for a little time, she soon began again; and though much that passed between them was in a half-whisper, especially on Mrs. Elton’s side, there was no avoiding a knowledge of their principal subjects: The post-office—catching cold—fetching letters—and friendship, were long under discussion … (p. 243)

 

“I cannot make speeches, Emma:” he soon resumed; and in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably convincing.—“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am.—You hear nothing but truth from me.—I have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have borne it. —Bear with the truths I would tell you now, dearest Emma, as well as you have borne with them. The manner, perhaps, may have as little to recommend them. God knows, I have been a very indifferent lover.— But you understand me …. (p. 348)


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R.K. Narayan’s Malgudi Schooldays

Book Review

Malgudi Schooldays is a slightly abridged version of R.K. Narayan’s classic novel Swami and Friends published in the year 1935; and includes two more stories featuring Swami.

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I had purchased this book from Amazon; you too can grab a copy for yourself through this direct Amazon link –  Malgudi Schooldays

This is a story of a boy who is in threshold to teen-age and sees absurdities and incongruities in the most trival and unnoticeable things; set in the background of the period when the British still ruled India and Gandhiji was fighting for India’s independence, and rooted in a fictional small town of Malgudi in South India.

Malgudi Schooldays is all about the antics of  Swaminathan aka Swami  —  his curious outlook at religion and  education;  his raw interactions with his  family  members – especially gossips with his  doting grandmother, and his bittersweet relationship with his strict but thoughtful  father; his lethargic  attitude  towards studies  and dislike for school; his nasty  involvement in an agitated  procession;  his boisterous friendship with Mani and Rajam; and his spontaneous interest in cricket —  is narrated  with subtle humour and  engrosses for a very entertaining read for both adults and teenagers.

A few excerpts:

‘What is Lisbon famous for?’ said the teacher.

            Swaminathan  hestitated and ventured, ‘For  being the capital of Spain.’    

            The teacher bit his moustache and fired a second question, ‘What do you know about Indian climate?’

            ‘It is hot in summer and cold in winter.’

‘Stand up on the bench!’ roared the teacher. And Swaminathan stood up without a protest. He was glad that he was given this supposedly degrading punishment instead of the cane. (pg. 18)

 ———

Swaminathan read at the top of his voice the poem about a woolly sheep. His father fussed about a little for his tiny silver snuff-box and the spotted handkerchief, which was the most unwashed thing in that house. He hooked his umbrella on his arm. This was really the last signal for starting.  Swaminathan  had almost closed the book and risen.  His father  had almost gone out of the room. But – Swaminathan stamped his foot under the table. Mother stopped Father and said: ‘By the way, I want some change. The tailor is coming today. He has been pestering me for the last four days.’ (pg. 28)

———

Samuel was reading the red text, the portion describing Vasco da Gama’s arrival in India. The boys listened in half-languor. Swaminathan suddenly asked at the top of his voice, ‘Why did not Columbus come to India, sir?’

            ‘He lost his way.’

            ‘I can’t believe it; it is unbelievable, sir.’

            ‘Why?’

            ‘Such a great man. Would he have not known the way?’

            ‘Don’t shout. I can hear you quite well.’

            ‘I am not shouting, sir; this is my ordinary voice, which God has given me. How can I help it?’

            ‘Shut up and sit down.’

            Swaminathan sat down, feeling slightly happy at his success. The teacher threw a puzzled , suspicious glance at him and resumed his lessons.

            His next chance occurred when Sankar of the first bench got up and asked, ‘Sir, was Vasco da Gama the very first person to come to India?’

            Before the teacher could answer, Swaminathan shouted from the back bench, ‘That’s what they say.’ (pg. 116-117)

———

‘You think you are wiser than the newspaper?’ Father sneered. ‘A man may have the strength of an elephant and yet be a coward: whereas another may have the strength of a straw, but if he has courage he can do anything. Courage is everything, strength and age are not important.’

Swami disputed the theory. ‘How can it be, Father? Suppose I have all the courage, what can I do if a tiger should attack me?’

            ‘Leave alone strength, can you prove you have courage? Let me see if you can sleep alone tonight in my office room.’

            A frightful proposition, Swaminathan thought. He had always slept beside his Granny, and any change in this arrangement kept him trembling and awake all night. He hoped at first that his father was only joking. He mumbled weakly, ‘Yes,’ and tried to change the subject; he said very loudly and with a great deal of enthusiasm, ‘We are going to admit even elders in our cricket club hereafter. We are buying brand-new bats and balls. Our captain has asked me to tell you …’ (pg. 164)

———

‘Sir, can’t you permit him to go home after four-thirty?’

            The Headmaster sank back in his chair and remained silent.

            Rajam asked again, ‘What do you say, sir, won’t you do it?’

            ‘Are you the Headmaster of this school or am I?’

            ‘Of course you are the Headmaster, sir. In Albert Mission they don’t keep us a minute longer than four-thirty. And we are exempted from Drill if we play games.’

            ‘Here, I am not prepared to listen to your rhapsodies on the pariah school. Get out.’

            Mani, who had been waiting outside, finding his friends gone too long, and having his own fears, now came into the Headmaster’s room. (pg.178)


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