Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah – Book Review

Hello all!

I am back with another book review! Wow! I really have got into a habit of reviewing books, but then when will I finish my book? 😏😏

The book that I finished yesterday – in line with my “complete in two days” habit – was Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah.


Blurb:

Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family apple orchard; the other followed a dream and travelled the world to become a famous photo journalist. But when their beloved father falls I’ll, these two estranged women will find themselves together again, standing alongside their cold, disapproving mother, Anya, who even now offers no comfort to her daughters. On his deathbed, their father extracts one last promise from the women in his life.

It begins with a story that is unlike anything the sisters have heard before – a captivating, mysterious love story that spans sixty-five years and moves from frozen, war-torn Leningrad to modern-day Alaska. The vividly imagined tale brings these three women together in a way that none of them could have expected. Meredith and Nina will finally learn the secret of their mother’s past and uncover a truth so terrible it will shake the foundations of their family and change who they think they are. 

Mesmerizing from the first page to last, Winter Garden is an evocative, heartbreaking novel that navigates the enduring links between past and present and the layered landscape of the human heart. 

Review:

Wow! Just a big WOW!!! 

After I finished the book and turned over the cover of the book, I was left gazing in the space before my eyes. That’s the effect this book had on me! I couldn’t speak or think anything.

The story starts with two girls Meredith and Nina trying everything to catch their mother’s attention. They desire their mother’s love, which they have always missed. Their father is the one who tells them that their mother really doesn’t despise them. He assures his girls that their mother loves them, which the girls find hard to believe

Their life passes on. Meredith is a mother of two young girls while Nina is a famous photographer. Years later they are forced to come together when their father falls extremely ill. On his deathbed, the father takes promises from all the three women in life. Why does he want them to give their mother another chance? Though she doesn’t seem to ask for one. He tells them just one thing, to ask their mother to complete the fairy tale which she used to tell them when they were children.

What promises were those that bring the women, who are aloof to each other come together again? So close that they reach Alaska! What is the reason that the mother, Anya, has been like an ice queen to her own daughters? Why does she not feel cold? Why is she always in the garden though it is extremely cold? Why is the Winter Garden so important to her?
The story is bound to leave you speechless. As the story proceeded, lumps rose in my throat and I was happy to have selected to read this book!

A special thanks for the book goes to Josh! You should have a look at his blog and his latest post about his short film titled Positive! Congratulations buddy!! Waiting for the red carpet invite from you soon! 😂😂

Do read it my dear friends and you will surely love it!

This one gets a 5/5 score from me! A lovely book to read, a new experience and expressions that will leave you mesmerized!

Lots of love…

Syeda 

Love is in your arms! – Short story

Seeing him run towards me, filled my heart with abundant happiness. I was heaving having run around the block looking for someone I knew, some face that would look known. In this city of unknown, I was filled with a strange fear. Every passing man seemed to be like a demon lurking in the darkness, waiting to pounce on me. Waiting for the bait to fall in his clutch.

I had come miles away from home to meet him. Not to come so close and get lost in this labyrinth. He had told me that he would come to pick me up. The more he delayed coming, the more my heart thudded aloud in the cage of bones. I had come to tell him the truth. The little fact of my life. The fact that I had long hidden within my heart. I didn’t know what he was going to say, what his feelings and thoughts were, but I had to tell him. I just had to tell him!

A car screeched at the opposite side of the road, I pulled my black jacket around the body tightly. I shut my eyes fearing a blood-splattered sidewalk. With a shriek I covered my ears with the cold palms. I stood there, afraid to move or even see or hear the things happening around. There was a eerie silence that prevailed. I didn’t want to witness a horrific accident while I was already struggling as a lost foreigner in one corner of the city. 

As silent moments passed I heard footsteps. They were getting closer and I felt they were approaching me. Someone was running towards me from across the road. When I opened my eyes, I saw him coming towards me!

There was worry across his face and a fear looming in his eyes. Seeing him my eyes got filled with tears. Finally he was here. He was always there at the right time, whenever I had needed him, at school, at college, at dates with some boy he disapproved of and even today! Even with the worry on his face, he looked all the more amazing. He is one handsome man I have ever met in my life. While I did date some really good looking men, I never saw him as I did today. They say rightly, you value something or someone only when it moves away from you!

His black shirt stuck to his body, which he had paired with a pair of black jeans. He had a passionate love for that color. His eyes were filled with feelings of concern and apprehension. His nose had a tinge of pink, which usually tinted his nose and cheeks when he had cold or was trying hard not to cry. His square shaped face with his well trimmed stubble was illuminated under the moonlight. His broad shoulders moved as he rushed. Every nerve that emerged and hardened under that skin was visible to me today. Why had I been so blind! I thought removing my palms off my ears.

Reaching close to me, he stopped at an arm’s length. Breathing heavily he spoke, “Are…. You…. All…right?” 

I nodded my head.

“What…are…you…doing…here? Why…didn’t… You…call…earlier?” he spoke one word at a time.

I just smiled at him. He stopped talking and looked at me. In a few moments of silence he had steadied his breath while I felt breathless standing so close to him. Waiting for an opportunity to tell him that what I had come so far to tell.

Suddenly his arms rose and held my hands. Instantly, he pulled me closer. “I was afraid when you said you were here! You shouldn’t have stepped out of the airport.”

“I wanted to surprise you! But guess that was a bad idea!” I giggled. Trying to control my laughter, I pulled my right hand off his grip and tucked a loose strand behind my ear.

Just then his hands cupped my face. “This wasn’t a surprise, Amanda! This was horrible. A terrible idea! You have any idea how I managed to drive that damn car without running over someone and avoiding myself from getting hit! I don’t know how many traffic signals I broke. The moment you said you were here, I was so happy but when you said that you left the airport in the middle of the night and there was no one with you, it drove me mad. How could you be so irresponsible? My heart…. I…. You….. You have no idea, right?”

He stopped midway.

“I have no idea of? What Rick?” I asked him.

He took a deep breath and his grip on my face turned soft. 

“I was scared. Scared of losing you. I can never think of existence on this earth without you Amanda. I just can’t….because….because….” A lone tear fell from his right eye.

“Because?” I looked at him. My heart was beating with a strange pain and blood gushing around with unknown speed. 

 He looked into my eyes and said, “Because, I have always loved you! Always have and always will.” 

As he said those beautiful words, he pulled away his hands and turned back. I saw his hand rise and knew he was wiping away that little tear. His shoulders rose and fell as he tried to control his breathing and the turbulent feelings. I knew he was trying to gain control on his emotions.

My body shook with a new joy, a new feeling of peace. Tears fell down my eyes and my heart skipped a beat. My lips split and stretched themselves involuntarily into a smile. I took a little step and got rid of the distance between us. I put my hand on his shoulder. He turned. His eyes red with new tears in them, his lips quivered as he struggled for words. Raising my right hand I wiped his tears, and stroked his cheek. He tried to look here and there and then finally his eyes met mine.

“And you never told me?”

He didn’t say anything. His head lowered down as though he had something wrong.

“Rick. You want to know what brought me here? You want to know what it was that I came here for?”

He wiped his pink nose and said,”Yeah! You had said you’d want to buy your wedding dress from Paris. So I guess that’s what you are here for!”

I smiled and realized how he remembered a little wish I had shared with him, years ago after watching some wedding gowns catalogue.

“No! How can I buy a wedding dress when I haven’t got a bridegroom?”

She took a breath and knew, she had to tell him, tell him now!

“Yeah! I broke up with Kevin and realized everything was just another mistake. When I announced my engagement with him six months ago I didn’t know I was being so naive. It just didn’t feel right. A few days later you left me there and came here to Paris. And then I knew what was wrong. I was wrong. I was so foolish that I didn’t know what my heart wanted. There was no way, I could keep that engagement when my feelings were for someone else. And those feelings I realized after I saw him go. Those feelings I accepted when he had gotten away from me. That love I valued when I had been separated from it, from him! And I came to tell that person, that man, that love of mine, that I love him. I love him a lot!”

His eyes questioned me, though I felt it was all clear for him. 

“I came to tell you, Rick, that I…love… you!” I spoke each word slowly so that he would have no more doubts.

Never had I seen someone cry with happiness like I saw Rick that day! He pulled me into his arms and hugged me tightly. I could hear his heartbeat as he stroked my hair with one hand and held me by my waist with the other. I felt safe. I felt loved. I could feel the love in his heart. I could feel love in those strong arms of his. I had got my little heaven of love, right there, in the arms of the man I loved! 
After a long time wrote a little story! Couldn’t come back with something other than love! 😅 Hope you guys liked it! 

Lots of love to all!

Syeda

The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Vikrant Khanna – Book Review

Hello friends!

As said yesterday in the call out for writers/poets/authors with their entries for the anthology, I am back with a book review!

The book that I am up to review now, is The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Vikrant Khanna. The book is provided by Arudhaa Club in exchange for a genuine review.

Image result for the girl who knew too much vikrant khanna

Blurb:

Can true love bring someone back from the dead?

Akshara is left devastated by her mother’s death and spends most of her time in solitude at the local park. One day she meets a man named Harry, who, to help ease some of her pain, recounts to her a story about the miraculous reunion of a young woman and her dead boyfriend. The story makes Akshara hopeful that she can perhaps see her mother again.

But she soon realizes that Harry isn’t what he seems to be. Even the characters in his story seem dubious, almost unreal. So what is he hiding? And why? Is there any truth to his story at all?

In this darkly suspenseful romance mystery, Akshara is left facing a truth that will make her doubt not just Harry but also herself. . .

Review: 

The first thing about the book that caught my attention was the cover. The lonely girl walking on the wooden ramp did leave me intrigued and made me go ahead and read the blurb. 

P.S. I do not judge the book by its cover, but yes it always helps when it stirs up some curiosity! 😉

The blurb was indeed one to excite me and trust me, I wasn’t disappointed. 

The story starts on a very subtle note, with the interaction between a child in pain after losing her mother. Her loneliness and sorrow is well described. Just as another sensitive and concerned passerby, Harry’s eyes fall on her and he knows she is in pain. The little talk they have makes her smile and cry. A sweet friendship is seen blossoming between them, while Harry narrates a story to Akshara.

All seems set for a simple story, right? Well, of course not! The story isn’t so simple. Harry starts telling her a story which he believes will help her too. His story is about Sahiba, her boyfriend Sidhu and himself. A little revelation by Harry is made to Akshara as well as the readers and we are all left wide eyed. As his story moves ahead in the book, it leaves us wondering at many things. For an instant you really don’t know if you should believe it, or just drop it off as a big leap of faith. Anyhow, it wasn’t going to make me stop, and I am so happy I didn’t.

Gradually as Harry’s story reveals few more secrets of his, we start liking the spirit and character of Harry. And as his story ends, he has all our emotions in his favour. But as the story ends, Akshara like us, is seen questioning a lot of things. And her queries do not surprise us, for the same seem to be looming in our minds. She is seen in doubt about the story Harry narrated to her. She has doubts over his existence. She has doubts on her own self!

Can someone be brought back from dead? Does true love really exist? Can true love bring someone back from the dead?

These questions are not to be easily answered. Rather I am sure we all are just not equipped to answer them. Yet, they are there, looking right into your eyes and waiting for you to search for them!!

The book is really a good one to read. 209 pages that keep you hooked till you turn to the Author’s Note.  Though it wasn’t really an unpredictable one for me, I still had a nice time reading it. Reading on those lines earlier has made me a good guesser, I guess!

The story is set with real people in real situations but then the events that follow are quite unrealistic. A few light moments are added up to make the book ‘a feel good one’. It may feel like a ‘leap of faith’ kind of story, a miracle that we all are sure doesn’t happen, neither does it really sound convincing yet the curiosity makes you go on till the end.

Another area I found myself unsteady was when Harry’s story was going on. It just confuses you a bit if you read too quickly. I mean the timeline of his story jumps back and forth without prior warning. Yet this didn’t take away the fun that I had while reading it. 

An appreciable thing about the book is the simple language. Akshara and Harry stand out while the characters of Harry’s story – Sahiba and Sidhu – sound too unbelievable or too cliche!

However it is an entertaining book you just can’t put down unless you read the last line!

I give it a 4 star for giving me something to think on and wonder at, for the lovely time I spent relishing the story of Akshara and Harry!

Do order it here on Amazon.in 

 Well, that’s about it! Hope to be back sooner with a review or my write up.

Keep writing and sharing, I am trying hard to read all your works, lots still left to check out on!

Lots of love and best wishes for all….

Syeda

 

 

Calling for submissions for Anthology! #poetry #shortstories

Hello all! 

I am back after an unintended break. Some issues that cropped up regarding work and spouse health had kept me extremely busy. Soon will be up with a book review, but today I’m here to announce about an anthology!

This is open to all writers out there. Even international poets and authors can send in their entries. There are no hidden charges, for it is a genuine way to make dreams come true. 

Do send in your entries. Kindly spread the word so that all of us who dream and aspire to get published might just see it happen for real. 

P.S. Yours truly in involved in this, so friends let the entries come in abundantly!! 😉😍 Waiting to read your work!!

Lots of love and best wishes!

Syeda

My soul’s craving! – Poetry

Hazel-eyed, an epitome of beauty

The soothing charm in you, ocean’s serenity

Long silky tresses, entrapped my heart

The secrets that lie deep in you

I wish to explore and unravel a few

To uncover the hidden one in you.
Like the sculptor Pygmalion in ancient tale

Who rejected all maidens, all plans had failed

For he loved his own creation, a mould of female

Living together, yet unfulfilled love theirs

Unless Aphrodite looked into his wondrous case

She blew life into her, the one for which he cares.
And lo’ behold, the sculpture breathed alive

And into the ocean of love, did they dive

My love for you is no lesser, not bound by any limit

For you’ve grown within me, drop by drop, bit by bit

Deeply embossed, your name in my heart engraved

Your love and presence, it’s You, my soul always craved!
P.S. the pic is of one of my favourite. Love the way Eugene looks at her!! 💜💜

©Syeda F.R.

Another Tale of Two Cities by Ezhuth Aani – Book Review

Hi all! 

I am back with another book review. So here it goes!

The book is provided by Arudhaa Club in exchange for a genuine review.

Blurb:

Fourteen thirty one is the year remembered for the martyrdom of Joan of Arc. But another landmark event was unfolding in a future French colony. Cambodia was a cultural cauldron of Hinduism, Mahayana Buddhism and Theravada Buddhism. The largest metropolis of the preindustrial era was also facing a climate change calamity.

The story unfolds in fifteenth century Cambodia and travels to China, Sri Lanka, India and the Middle East, as Princes Adithya and Mahendra set out to seek help for their beleaguered country. Will the splendid twin cities of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom survive? Who wins the heart of Mandagini, the warrior princess?

Review:

The cover is really intriguing. The reflection of the city and the hues do pull the reader towards it. 

The reader is taken into a world centuries ago, and the turmoils of the two princes, Adithya and Mahendra. Their dedication and patriotism towards the country is what makes them do the unimaginable and unbelievable. They are ready to face the impossible for the welfare of their motherland. And that’s what makes the story go ahead.

The tasks and missions they undertake for the people, their kings and their countries involves the voyages, the quests and the revelations of many things. The story tries to describe everything in detail -a lot of imagery in place. 

The storyline is set in Cambodia yet all the regions and the happenings of the world over are discussed and narrated. The characters are strong and described in detail. There are many minor characters fulfilling the needs of the story. 

I would give the book a 3.75/5. 

On the whole, the story kept me involved. A good read if someone is interested in the historical fiction genre. The reason it fall 0.25 short from the 4 is the extreme detailed description of things. As a reader, I find it a little difficult to follow the story if too much information is there, for it makes me restless for the story to move ahead! Kind of deviates me from the main storyline.

You can order the book from here on Amazon.

So that’s about it!

Lots of love and best wishes!

Syeda