Saturday, 28 February 2015

'From The Ashes' By Shelby Morrison: Cover Reveal & Excerpt

Hi guys! Today I'm very pleased to be able to bring to you the official cover of Shelby Morrison's new book, 'From The Ashes: Legend of the Liberator' as well as a summary and the first two chapters from the book. 

For eighteen years Aia Wynnald has lived a lie. Raised as a highborn in the Kingdom of Tharien, she’s filled her days with tutors and archery lessons. But simmering beneath her polite surface is a dangerous gift, one which she must keep a secret. Aia is a Bender. And in Tharien, Benders are feared and hunted.
When her unruly power breaks free with dire repercussions, Aia’s lifelong goal of independence shatters. As she scrambles to piece her life back together while evading capture, she disturbs a vengeful force intent on destroying the kingdom.
Now, with the help of an unlikely ally, Aia will decide the fate of Tharien. To rescue those she cares about will require accepting what she is. But can she risk becoming the monster she’s dreaded to save the very citizens baying for her blood? -Goodreads

I think the cover is absolutely gorgeous. And if this pretty cover and summary aren't enough to make you want to get your hands on it, here are the first two chapters from the book. Enjoy!
Aia’s heart slammed against her ribs, her chest heaving. She sprinted down the narrow cobblestone streets, tugging at her silk dress when it tangled with her legs.
She replayed the final five minutes of her former life. The log hitting Damon. The blood. His smile. What had she done? She'd ruined everything.
The evening air nipped at her cheeks, and the coins her mother had slipped into her coin purse clinked loudly in the still city. The blood-red sunset dared her to continue. Shouting echoed in the distance. Someone had alerted the Breakers. They’d come for her. They’d be merciless.
She took the stone steps two at a time, her dress nearly tripping her again. Her steps pattered in the silence as she crossed the bridge connecting the base of Mt. Shadow to the rest of the kingdom. Farther and farther her legs carried her—from her home, the Church, the palace. But it didn’t matter how far she ran. They’d pursue her.
She threw a glance over her shoulder. The palace built into the mountain loomed above her, just as menacing, despite the distance. She couldn’t outrun it. Couldn’t outrun them.
The end of the bridge signaled her entry into Midtown, even worse than Hightown for someone evading capture. Houses towered over her, and dozens of windows like little black eyes dotted the sides. She pressed on.
She had to get off the street, away from the city. But where to run? Where would they not search for her?
The Ashen Wood. No one went into the Ashen Wood.
Her wretched dress bunched between her legs and she stumbled to the cobblestones. After a hasty peek at the road behind her, she scrambled to her feet and continued.
Hooves hammered against the cobblestones in the distance. They were coming. She dashed between houses like an alley cat, the Red Plains at the edge of the city in sight. Almost there. 
She increased her speed, thrashing through the thick weeds, despising her dress and its clinging folds. The endless field stretched before her, but she didn’t let up. She yearned for her beloved longbow and the security it offered. But she'd had no time to grab it before her parents shoved her from her home.
On and on she ran, her legs jelly. The stars had emerged in the indigo ceiling by the time she reached the edge of the legendary forest.
She struggled to slow her breathing, swallowing with difficulty, as she peered between flaky, ash-covered trees, searching for a path, a place to conceal herself. It was hopeless. She could only see a few trees in. She looked over her shoulder at the city. Her home. Her life of security. Candles appeared in windows, lit one by one, and the orange glow of torch-bearing Breakers illuminated the sides of buildings. Word was spreading. 
Hands shaking, heart thumping, she took a step into the forest. As if an invisible wall closed behind her, the outside world disappeared. No crickets singing. No city noises and shouts of pursuit. No whispering wind. Nothing but the forest.
Her lifelong secret had been revealed. Maia Wynnald was a Bender.


 Cole Balain sat crammed among his peers on a skinny wooden bench. Sweat trickled down his neck while the Church filled with more observers.
Alabaster stone sculptures marked each corner of the vast hall, harmonizing with the white stone walls. A vaulted, ribbed ceiling stretched deceitfully into the heavens, stained-glass windows spanning both sides. In the daylight, colors spilled through to offer undeserved comfort to people who thronged with bright faces to enjoy watching the will of Mighty be carried out.
Cole alone was sick about it. Sick in body. Sick to his soul.
But tonight the bloated room glowed with a different, misplaced comfort. One central flame illuminated the otherwise dim hall. A massive porcelain crucible held stark white, crackling flames, which stretched higher and burned brighter than normal fire. A fire that had one purpose. To Cleanse a Bender.
In front of the flames stood the woman he’d handed over not an hour ago; her hands bound behind her. She was trembling, and tears streamed down her pink cheeks. Her tattered brown dress indicated her rank as lowborn, and she was perhaps in her thirtieth year. Cole had witnessed it all dozens of times, and his stomach churned the same way every time.
Two Purifiers, a couple, clad in their sanctimonious ivory robes, stood before the woman. The man had the Book of Salvation in his open hands. He’d finished reading the famous passage, granting her soul safe transition to heaven. It was supposedly an honorable duty, passed down through family lines. But they weren’t the only ones responsible. This Bender would die because of him.
An adult Bender. Rare. She offered a glimmer of hope for their kind. It meant she'd managed to survive, have a life, possibly children. Benders were still far from extinct. Finding an adult meant more were out there. Most families turned their children in for Cleansing at the first sign of the gift, following the law. A few hid them. Then some managed to reach adulthood without being discovered. This poor soul had remained hidden, hadn’t hurt anyone, had blended in with her neighbors.
But when a suspicious neighbor jealous of another woman’s apple pie recipe claims she knows a Bender, the Breakers must investigate. As they did for every absurd reason. Still, no test existed to identify a Bender. Actual Bending or running from Breakers typically sealed their fate, and this woman had run. Cole had no choice but to pursue. She hadn’t struggled, hadn’t pleaded for her life or tried to Bend her way to freedom. She’d accepted her fate.
Cole hunched over his linked fingers, elbows resting on his knees, his gaze burning into the woman’s, refusing to permit himself to look away. He forced himself to observe every moment of the consequences of his actions.
She didn’t need to die. She could have chosen a Draining, which would have relieved her of her gift but also would have left her a fraction of who she had been. He wasn’t sure which was more horrifying to watch.
 Beside the oversized basin of fire towered a wooden contraption of pulleys and rope. Surely there were easier ways to go about this, without the use of such ridiculous gear. But, like the white walls and tall ceilings, it was more symbolic than actually useful. This was a show for the Church, a grand performance, and every prop enhanced the theatrics.
The Bender finished repeating the scripture through trembling lips. The male Purifier secured a strip of fabric across her eyes, which made the victim whimper more, the sound shredding Cole’s insides. How kind of them to blindfold her before they tortured her. Who was the blindfold for? The Bender, to prevent her from seeing the fire and panicking? Or the audience and the Purifiers, so they might sleep soundly that night, having avoided seeing the woman’s terrified eyes?
The Church expected Benders to choose what they deemed the reprieve of Cleansing. To relieve them of their burden. In the ten years he’d been a Breaker, only twice had a Bender been eager to be Cleansed. Despicable. Yet he understood their choice since the alternative was living a life of anxiety.
The torment of sitting through this ritual never eased. Not that there were many since the war two thousand years ago. Benders had to be out there somewhere, more than the few they’d captured. The Emperor prided himself on hounding them to extinction, as each Emperor before him had, but it wasn’t possible. It wasn’t a trait that could be weeded out, and even the people knew that. Still, the deep-seated fear plaguing the kingdom had roots so deep daily accusations flew like pigeons. The terrified expressions of every Bender he'd watched die would haunt him forever.
He massaged the crystals in the pouch on his hip. Their rough, uneven shapes and edges had been made smooth over time from his constant rubbing to calm himself. He blinked, the fire stinging his steadfast eyes.
Something kicked the back of his bench. Lenz smirked his approval through his sandy beard; his blond, dingy hair hung in his malicious eyes and down his neck, curling behind his ears. Not everyone felt the same about the proceedings as Cole did. 
What a glorious capture, Lieutenant.” Quinn, sitting beside Lenz, offered his usual artificial smile, his shaved head giving him the appearance of a plucked chicken. A brawny, angry plucked chicken.
Cole offered a simple nod and turned back to face the consequences of his actions. Yes, good job. Another one he couldn’t save. Their praise jabbed him like insults.
The contraption’s mechanisms moved, the cogs turned, the pulleys squeaked. It lifted the woman up and over the bowl of ghastly flames. Its squeaking echoed in the hollow cathedral as it lowered the woman into the fire. Her screams echoed around the gargantuan room.
Cries of fear, not pain,” the male Purifier bellowed. “Children, don’t look away.”
Parents encouraged their children to watch, and some children wiggled eagerly in their seats.
The flames licked at her peasant dress. Her screams turned back into whimpers and sobs, confirming the Purifier’s explanation. Her pleas filled Cole's ears, blocking out any other sounds as if he were underwater.
Cole continued to rub the stones, his eyes never leaving the woman, despite his profound desire to escape her anguish. This stood as his penance. His heart sank as the blindfold slipped down the woman’s face. Her eyes darted about in terror, desperation. She stared into the flames lapping at her feet. The fire accepted her, its fingers pulling her inside as the contraption lowered her to be fully consumed.
The Kaz fire transformed from traditional flames to smoke-like tendrils, churning around her like a snake, her terrified face becoming obscured by a white veil until it enveloped her in the cyclone.
Cole broke his stare briefly to observe his peers. Some leaned forward in their seats, eager to witness the evil leach out of her. Others sat back with pursed lips; satisfied. A couple of new recruits appeared to be struggling between enthusiasm and nausea. He turned his focus again to the terror before him, rolling the two stones in his pouch.
A whistling sound reverberated through the obnoxious room while the smoke thrust into her nostrils and mouth until it disappeared. Gasps echoed from first-time audience members. The smoke remained inside the woman until her eyes rolled back and her head dropped and hung limp. A sigh-like whisper swept the room. The once-white smoke oozed black as coal from her lips, nose, and ears. It flowed and bubbled out of her, evaporating before it hit the floor. It was over.
Another soul has been Cleansed and accepted by our glorious Mighty.” The female Purifier wiped a tear and hugged her spouse.
A few people cheered. Cole clenched his rocks, digging them into his palms to suppress the urge to turn around and deck Lenz, who whooped and hollered while encouraging a few newbies to do the same. Quinn would always remain silent but with a contented smile. Cole wasn’t sure which annoyed him more.
He remained seated while the torches along the walls were re-lit. They restored the usual orange glow but didn’t eliminate any of the horror embedded in the walls, columns, and vaulted ceilings from years of publicly-celebrated torment. Just as abhorrent.
The audience stood, making their way from the Church and back home or back to whatever duties had been set aside. Breakers wearing the same black leather tunics and gold belt Cole wore headed for the palace and the Breakers’ Corridors.
Cole made his way from the pews, the clenching of his gut refusing to let up. Commander Endrin stopped him with a hand on his shoulder, as he did after every Cleansing or Draining.
Another quick apprehension, Cole.” His golden mustache hid his mouth, but his warm eyes revealed pride. “Your kingdom thanks you.”
Cole offered a brisk nod to his hulking superior and continued toward the door while the Emperor approached the commander. Emperor Stephan, King of Tharien and Emperor of Dyel. As feared as he was respected. At times, Cole couldn’t be sure who ran Dyel, the Church or the Emperor. Before Cole was too far away to hear, the Emperor’s words reached him.
Let it circulate that this woman was poisoning food on open carts.”
A fire spread through Cole’s veins, and he tightened his grip on his stones. This was nothing new. If a Bender hadn’t caused a stir themselves, Emperor Stephan was sure to order it done. The Emperor could always be counted on to assure tax monies continued to pour into his coffers, whatever it took.
Yes, sir.” Commander Endrin bowed.
And see to it a few citizens become ill. I can’t have anyone doubting. Those vile Symps are everywhere, intent on my undoing.”
Yes, sir.”
Cole once again headed for the exit, eager to escape this temple of death. Before he’d slipped through the doors, a young man, around his fifteenth year, burst through.
Bender!” The highborn boy panted and caught his breath. “There’s a Bender loose, and she’s attacked someone!”

Cole felt gutted. Another one had been identified. So soon. Would she be worth saving?

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Two For The Heart By Ekta R. Garg

Two stories about relationships and the power of love. 

“The Proposal”: Pooja and Akshay don’t want to bother with relationships, but they get cornered into marriage. The two devise a fool-proof plan: get married, then get their divorce papers ready. But will they have the guts to go through with the break up?
“Remembrance”: Helen wakes up in the hospital, but she has no idea how she got there. Everyone dodges the question…and then the sister she hasn't spoken to in 11 years arrives. Why is she here? And will Helen ever remember what happened?- Goodreads
This book was a nice short read. I finished it in one sitting and I have to say that they were both very enjoyable. 

I loved how Ekta developed each character so throughly. Even though the stories were short, the author was able to bring across their personalities and their fears very well. She made the characters relatable and loveable for the most part.

I really loved how the author overlapped the stories by bringing in one character from one story into the other. It just made the first story seem that much lovelier and complete. It was almost like an epilogue of sorts with Pooja's involvement in the second story.

I think Ekta exhibited very good control with her stories and it's a pity because I think both stories would do very well as full novels. That said, I liked that Ekta was able to bring both stories full circle even with the limited word count.
My Rating: 4/5
*This book was given to me to read and review by the author*

Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Girl On The Train By Paula Hawkins

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar. 
Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train… -Goodreads
I love people-watching. There's just something so captivating about making up this whole life for someone else based only upon what you see in front of you. 

I decided to read this little thriller mainly because pretty much everyone was reading it and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I'm pleased to say that all the fuss is correct. This is one damn good book. I loved the grittiness of it. I loved how raw it was and how it stole your breath away when you least expected it.

Paula Hawkins basically makes you hate all the characters. She makes everyone a suspect. Every one including the baby.

"But where was the baby?"

I'm just kidding.

It was such a refreshing change to see characters that were so messed up and unlovable. I guess that's why it has been compared to Gillian Flynn's 'Gone Girl' a lot. I absolutely hated every character with a vengeance. I would find myself standing in the shower sometimes and I would be thinking of the characters and having this huge ranting session in my head about why they are douchebags. Then I would leave the shower, pulsing with fury only to pick up book again because I had to know what happened.

This story is told from the point of view of three highly unreliable and unstable narraters. You never know who is telling the truth, who is lying and who simply cannot for the life of her remember what happened. 

Rachel is the forgetful alcoholic, Anne is the lying second wife and Megan is the neurotic cheat. They have all been robbed of the fullness of life and they are all grieving for what could have been. Together they work to bring three lives together into the big mystery of what happened on Saturday night. Everyone keeps secrets. Everyone.

The reason why this book didn't get the full 5 stars from me was because I felt like the conclusion was weak. I didn't like how the book ended. I felt like it was overly dramatic. But that's the only flaw I could find. 

Now go out there and get your hands on this book because it is one hell of a good story.
My Rating: 4/5
*The publisher sent me a copy of this book to review*
Purchase the books at The Book Depositary using my special link Here

Thursday, 19 February 2015

All The Bright Places By Jennifer Niven

The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.- Goodreads

I'm going to get a bit personal in this review because this was a very personal book for me. 3 years ago, I went through what could only be described as a depression. I was experiencing all the symptoms but I was too scared to voice it up to anyone. People could see that I was in distress. Believe me, they could see it. But no one ever thought to dig deeper. That year was the darkest and most horrible year of my life. I thought about killing myself constantly. I would make these plans and I would imagine my suicide and funeral. No one cried at them. I would cry myself to sleep and starve myself in school because I was too busy writing about my horrible life in my diary to eat. I threw myself into reading and into isolation.  I didn't want to be around anyone. Not that the people around me at that time were that great either. I was being emotionally bullied by not just my peers, but my family. I was scared  and alone. I fell into this deep dark hole and I couldn't crawl out.  It wasn't a formal diagnosis but I believe that I went through a depression that year.

The following year, I found myself in a much better environment. I could breathe again. I could see the light. Slowly, I started to get better. I pulled my head out of my books (I used to read really obsessively as an escape from people and life. I now read a lot but I read healthily). I started doing better in school and I made more friends. It took a long time but I survived the darkness. I survived the 'Asleep'. I woke up.

This book brought back a lot of the feelings from that year. And that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. It just made me empathise and love the characters even more. Because I felt like Finch understood what it was like to be so depressed that you couldn't function. I understood Violet's immense sadness and her desire to be better for her parents. I just felt so deeply for the for the characters. 

When I started the book, I thought it was so 'The Fault In Our Stars'. I was pretty annoyed to be honest. And then, about 30% into the book, out of nowhere, it suddenly got ridiculously amazing. Suddenly Violet and Finch became real and I found myself completely immersed in the story.

Towards the end, I actually found myself mentally pausing. I didn't want to read the next sentence but I also did. I didn't want to turn the page but I also did. In my head there was this steady mantra going, 'Nonononononononono'.  

When I finished the book, I was in tears. And I'm talking ugly tears that made my head hurt. I was physically hurting and I was incapable of well anything really. It hurt so badly. 

Many people compare this book to 'The Fault In Our Stars' and while the author is honoured by that, I feel like there is something very important that All The Bright Places has and that The Fault In Our Stars lacks. People always tell writers to write what they know. John Green's book was based off his imagination. All The Bright Places, as was mentioned in the author's note, was based off a real life experience of hers. I don't want to give away spoilers here so I won't elaborate but Jennifer Niven's book just had that authenticity. You could just feel the emotions radiating from the pages.

This book was epic and already it is blowing up. Everyone is going crazy for it and Elle Fanning has been cast as Violet. I'm so happy for Jennifer because she is such a sweet and genuine human being and I couldn't be happier for her immense success. If you haven't read it yet, drop everything and go get a copy. It's so good and you won't regret it.

The author, Jennifer Niven, very kindly agreed to let me interview her for my blog so here are her answers to the questions I had. Take note that there might be some mild spoilers in the last two questions.

1) People often like liken your book to The Fault In Our Stars and Eleanor and Park. How do you feel about that? 

It’s an honor to have All the Bright Places compared to these two wonderful books, but at the same time I worry that it does all the books a disservice because each of them should really be able to stand on their own.

2) Are all the places that Violet and Finch wandered to real? 

All but one—I invented the bookmobile park. (Which I hope someone will create someday!)

3) Have you been to them? Have you left something behind too?

 I’ve been to some of the sites, but in April I’ll be in Indiana on my book tour and I’m hoping to see all of them then. I’d like to do a Finch and Violet tour of Indiana and leave something behind at each place.

4) Why the obsession with Virginia Woolf? Do you personally like her work?

 I’ve actually never been a fan of Virginia Woolf, but I came to appreciate her more while I was working on All the Bright Places. (I actually wrote a piece for The Guardian recently on how I came to quote Virginia Woolf in the book:

5) If you could have anyone in the world to play Violet and Finch, who would they be? I’m asking so I can get a better idea of how you saw them in your head as you were writing it. 

When I was writing the book, I always pictured Elle Fanning as Violet, and now she’s actually playing Violet in the movie version! (I’m so excited!!) For Finch, I pictured Nicholas Hoult. He’s got the same weird beauty and sex appeal as Finch, and is able to play both sensitive and sweet and frenetic and wild. (Sadly, I think he’s a bit too old now to play Finch in the film.)

6) You mentioned that you once lost a boy you loved to suicide. I’m so sorry to hear that. Did you get the idea and write the story based on your relationship with him or was it something else?

I got the idea to write the story from knowing and loving this boy years ago. I saw firsthand his struggle to be in the world, and the dramatic highs and lows he experienced on a daily basis.

7) What was the most interesting thing you learnt and person you got to meet during the research of this book? 

It actually happened after the book came out—I reconnected with the family of the boy I knew and lost, and it’s been really special to be in touch with them again.

8) Why was Mr Embryo so unfriendly and harsh on Finch? Why did you decide on that direction with a profession that is usually painted as being warm and loving? 

Unfortunately, the counselors at my high school were overworked and understaffed, and they could only do so much for their students. Not all counselors are like this, of course, but I know too many teens who have been overlooked or underserved by their own school counselors. That said, I actually thought Embryo did the best he could with Finch. He used tough love when dealing with Finch, and I really do think he cared. As he himself said, yes, he probably could have done more, but Finch was also very guarded and careful about how much he revealed to everyone, Embryo included.

9) Why exactly did Mrs Finch try to always distance herself from her children? Did she have a mental illness too or was she pulling away because of what Mr Finch did to her? 

Mrs. Finch is a very wounded person who is simply going through life as best she can. She is basically just showing up for life without actually engaging in it or with the people around her. Basically, she does the bare minimum she needs to get by. I see her as a woman who was very hurt by the man she loved and married, who is still reeling from that hurt, so much so that she is incapable of truly seeing, understanding, or taking care of her kids.

10) How did you manage to score a movie before this book was even published? (Congratulations on that by the way) 

Thank you! My wonderful film agent sent the book out early last spring, after we’d sold a number of the foreign rights. She knew the foreign rights sales so early on in the process and all the early buzz about the book would get the attention of Hollywood, and luckily she was right! 

11) Do you plan to be heavily involved in the movie making process?

 Yes! I actually just did an event yesterday with the producer and the director and Elle Fanning! They are all being so wonderful to involve me as much as possible.


12) What was it that finally drove Finch over the edge? Was it the expulsion? Because he seemed to be doing well until he got expelled. 

Like the boy I once knew, Finch suffered from bi-polar disorder, which meant that every day was a struggle for him. It wasn’t a matter of one event driving him over the edge. There were certainly multiple events that contributed, but more than that, it was Finch trying to stay Awake and not wanting the Long Drop to come back. He was tired of fighting, and he dreaded the Asleep—his word for the lows— which he knew would inevitably come.

13) How is it that he spent most of the novel fighting to stay alive for Violet but in the end, she wasn’t enough?

I hate to say it, but a person can’t be enough for another person to stay. This is something I learned firsthand from my experience knowing and loving this boy and others like him who struggled with depression, bi-polar disorder, and suicide. Finch loved Violet more than he loved anyone, but he was battling demons far bigger than that love. The thing is, Finch should not have died. There was help for him. Suicide should never be a solution. If only Finch had let people in and let them know what he was dealing with and realized that he’s not alone, that other people struggle with these same issues, he could have been saved.
My Rating: 5/5
P.S. Jennifer, I still really really want a signed copy
Purchase the books at The Book Depositary using my special link Here

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

The Other Wife By Kathleen Irene Paterka

Eleanor Anderson has a beautiful home, a loving husband, a tranquil life. After thirty-eight years of marriage and her children now grown, she finally has time for herself. She’s not expecting any surprises; certainly not to wake up one morning and find her husband dead in bed beside her from a massive heart attack. It’s a devastating discovery… but not as much as the shock awaiting Eleanor when she learns the truth about her husband’s secret life. 

Claire Anderson isn’t your average thirty something. A professor of psychology at a prestigious university, Claire has a successful career, a handsome husband, and two young children at home. But nothing in her background, including her academic accomplishments, prepares Claire for the horrendous reality of discovering that the life she’d led was all a lie… fostered by a husband who’d promised to love and cherish her forever.

Two women from two generations, bound together by denial, anger, and grief.  
What happens when each of these women comes face-to-face with the other wife?-Goodreads
This book isn't something that I would have picked up for myself but I have to say that I quite enjoyed it. Mostly because the themes in this book struck a chord within me. I found this book to be relatable in a very small way to me. I would say that it is unfortunate and I would hope that this book isn't relatable to anyone. 

So this book is about these two women. Both with children. Eleanor has two grown children and a grandchild. Claire has two toddlers. Unfortunately, Eleanor and Claire also share a husband. When Eleanor awakens to find Richard dead next to her, both their lives come crashing down. Suddenly finding herself in broke and homeless due to the fact that Richard had left all his money to Claire, Eleanor has to learn to adapt to a more eager lifestyle. Claire, with her buckets of money has to grieve over the man who she was falsely led to believe that she'd married. She has to cope with the fact that she only found out that he died well after he was buried and she has to figure out how to move on.

Now maybe I'll start this review off with the only flaw I found in this book. It was way too long. This book could have been about half it's length if there was proper editing done. A lot of thoughts were repeated more then twice and the inner monologues were lengthy and repetitive. Granted that they added a certain depth to the women and the story, it was unnecessary in my opinion.

Now, the good points. I loved how the author chose to parallel the women so similarly so that we could see just how this revelation affected each of them. I thought it was very interesting. I also really liked how each of them had such extreme impressions of the other but when they finally meet, they realise that everything they thought to be true was not.

I think this book is not really something a lot of teenage or even young adult readers would pick off the shelf for themselves so I'm really hoping that this review can convince you to give this book a try. I know this book seems more like an adult kind of book but let me assure you that it is very beautiful story.  It is a really interesting read and even if you don't have any personal experiences with the subject matter, the book still draws you in and teaches you a thing or two about the law. If you have a thing for the law or basically just curiosity over the 'what ifs' in life, you will enjoy this book.

This book was actually given to me to read and review by the author and she very kindly agreed to an impromptu interview when I was done reading. Here's what she had to say.

1) What inspired this book?

My husband Steve. Several years ago he was hospitalized for a cardiac issue. It was 5 am, and I was in his hospital room, sitting at the end of his bed in the semi-darkness. Suddenly he made a strange sound. I thought he was snoring… but it was the infamous ‘death rattle’. Steve had just died. Thank God he was in the hospital and hooked up to heart monitors. A Code Blue was called, and the medical team managed to resuscitate him. But Steve’s episode with death started me thinking. What if he’d been at home asleep in our bed? What would I have done when I heard that horrible snore? I probably would have poked him, then rolled over, and gone back to sleep… only to wake up and find him dead beside me. I tried to imagine how I would feel, and how I would handle things after he died. Then I started thinking along the lines of story: what if, after a woman’s husband died, she discovered he’d been hiding a secret… a horrible secret that would change her life forever?

2) Was there any reason why you were drawn to this subject matter?

I believe a good story begins with two words: ‘What If?’ Death is a natural part of life, and I wasn’t too keen on writing about the subject. But ‘what if’ the story started after the husband had died, and about how his wife handled the aftermath? And ‘what if’, in settling his estate, she discovered her husband had secrets? And to carry it further, ‘what if’ another woman was involved? And ‘what if’ the other woman was in exactly the same situation as the first (i.e., married to the man)? ‘What if’ neither of them knew about the other? How would they each cope? Would they want to meet? Would they resent each other? Would they be angry? Jealous? Would either seek revenge? I found the emotional prospect of creating a storyline around these two women, Eleanor and Claire, neither of whom knew about the other, tremendously exciting, and I began writing.

3) What was the most interesting thing you learnt/interesting person you met while researching for this book?

Dr. Penny Visser of the University of Chicago was extremely helpful to me in researching for the book. A professor of psychology at U of C, Dr. Visser gave me a ‘behind-the-scenes’ tour of the psychology department, introduced me to other departmental staff, and answered all my questions. I’m a very visual person; being able to tour the campus and psychology department with her was fascinating. I even saw a human brain in a jar on the desk of one of her fellow professors (and yes, that little detail went into the book!).

4) Does this kind of thing happen often? When a man has two wives in this day and age. Does it still happen?

In researching for the novel, I was careful not to involve myself with the interests of different faith groups that practice plural marriage. That being said, people are human. If they’re determined to do something, they often will not let the mere technicality of a law stop them. Bigamy exists, even though state laws mandate that a person may not be married to more than one person at a time. Richard thought he could get away with it, and so he married Claire. As for men having multiple wives who remain hidden from each other, Eleanor and Claire each had their own story to tell, but from a different perspective. Eleanor was married to Richard for 38 years, while his ‘marriage’ to Claire was brief (4 years). Each woman is devastated when she learns the truth about the other woman. How does each of them cope? And what happens when they eventually come together? How does each woman deal with ‘The Other Wife’?

5) Do you think Vivi’s claims that it was Eleanor’s fault that her dad found Claire was justified?

I don’t think that Vivi was emotionally stable enough to realize that her claims were unjustified. She had grown up as a daddy’s girl, and could never recognize her father’s failings. As far as Vivi was concerned, it was a natural assumption to blame Eleanor for Richard’s numerous affairs and his eventual marriage to Claire. Yet neither woman, Eleanor or Claire, was responsible for Richard’s behavior. He was brilliant in his manipulation of each of his wives, and did exactly as he pleased. Each woman did the best she could to bring herself and her children through the emotional dilemma in which they found themselves following Richard’s death.


5) Introducing Vivi’s mental illness was interesting. Do you think Richard had it too?

I think there definitely was a father/daughter connection. The classic definition of a narcissist includes personality traits such as grandiosity, arrogance, and lack of empathy towards others. Vivi followed her father Richard in that regard. She was certainly not empathetic when it came to her relationship with her mother Eleanor. And while some things are not necessarily a matter of ‘nature vs. nurture’, I do believe there is a genetic ‘predisposition’ to inherit certain qualities or traits from an earlier generation. For example, if a child’s father was an alcoholic, it does not necessarily mean that the child would grow up to become an alcoholic… but the ‘predisposition’ would be more a threat for that child than for another person whose family carried no addictive traits or behaviors.

My Rating: 4/5
*This book was given to me by the author to read and review*
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