Welcome to the Smorgasbord Christmas Book Fair with a selection of books from personally recommended authors on my bookshelf I believe will make wonderful gifts for friends, family and for you.
The first book today is the poignant memoir by Miriam Hurdle…it is an inspiring read and I can recommend The Winding Road: A Journey of Survival.
About the book
In the summer of 2008, Miriam Hurdle was diagnosed with melanoma-an aggressive and invasive cancer in her internal organs. The survival rate before 2008 was low. Besides risking harsh treatments for a slim chance of survival, Miriam had hoops to jump through. By the time she received treatment at the beginning of 2009, her cancer had progressed from stage II to stage IV. It was a rough and uphill winding road. But alongside her was support and encouragement. Accompanied by the love of her family and community, this is Miriam’s journey of faith and miracle. It is a heartwarming story of resilience, courage, and the will to live.
One of the reviews for the book
Writing about a personal cancer experience as a therapeutic activity to cope with the emotions and physical changes that accompany diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis can be very beneficial to the person going through it.
However, making the transition from writer-based prose in the form of a cancer diary or journal to reader-based prose as a published cancer memoir poses a challenge. Miriam Hurdle faces this challenge head-on in her cancer memoir, The Winding Road: A Journey of Survival.
She begins by introducing the book with a Foreword in which she directly addresses the reader and explains her reasons for sharing her story: “I’m grateful to be alive, to give to others, and to receive from them.” Throughout the book, she never loses sight of the fact that she is telling her story to someone else. As a reader, I greatly appreciated this consideration. I also appreciated the family photographs she included, as her family played such a vital role in her journey of survival.
Key scenes–such as receiving an unexpected pathology report after a routine surgery–are dramatized so that the reader can experience the events and their accompanying emotions with Hurdle, rather than being told about them secondhand. She also includes italicized interior monologue, making the reader privy to her thoughts at the time, reinforcing the immediacy of the narration. In addition, she balances the experience of what she went through at the time with her current reflections on it now, so that readers can benefit from both perspectives on her cancer experience.
Hurdle includes just enough researched information about the type of cancer she had and the details of her own instance of it to give the reader a clear understanding of what she went through without feeling overwhelmed or getting the impression of reading a medical case study. (Make no mistake: the details of the treatments and their side effects are portrayed with brutal honesty.)
If I had to give just one reason to recommend that others read The Winding Road–regardless of where they are in their lives or their health–it would be that witnessing the support of a loving family and the incredible kindness shown to Hurdle by everyone in her personal and professional circles can serve as an antidote to the hatred and strife that characterize our current troubled times. Medical science aside, as critically important as it was, Miriam’s cancer journey gave me hope.
Also by Miriam Hurdle
The nex book today is a lovely and engaging romance that I can recommend, Marriage Unarranged by Ritu Bhathal. Look out for Ritu’s new book soon.
About the book
started ended with that box…
Aashi’s life was all set. Or so she thought.
Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.
But then Aashi found the empty condom box…
Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.
Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.
And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…
One of the reviews for the book
I truly enjoyed this book and let out a huge sigh when I finished it so am very pleased to know there is a second on the way. That’s a sign of a good book, when you just want to keep on reading forever.
I love romantic fiction, the escape, the will-they-won’t-they, and this book delivered all of that in full, and I was fully willing on Aashi from the minute Arjun is introduced to us.
However, this book had so much more to it than a simple love story, it taught me things. It taught me a little more about Sikh culture (the novel is jam-packed with domestic detail that gave it such warmth, for example – mustard oil on the doorframes) and as the characters travel from Birmingham to India, it taught me about their destination in a way that made me want to explore in a lot more depth.
Two things really stood out for me, the insightful, wise way that the author wove the family relationships, the love between these characters and the pressures that expectations can bring. I loved all the relationships in this book, parental-child ones, siblings, best friends, community – all were written in a way that you could really relate to and that drew you in.
The second was the way the author described her settings. At points I felt like I was in India, experiencing the chaos and the colour of the Bangles market, travelling to and visiting the Golden Temple complex and the gardens of Jallianwala Bagh, learning about the massacre that occurred there. It was all so evocative, all my senses were stimulated at the vivid descriptions of sights, sounds, smells, tastes. I found myself racing to read this, to take myself back to the world that the author created and I am very much looking forward to the next in the series.
Also by Ritu Bhathal
The final author today is Carol Balawyder – with her coming of age crime thriller...Just Before Sunrise
About the book
A coming-of-age story with a domestic noir twist.
Nadine, tired of running her call-girl agency has upgraded to gold digger as she finds the perfect rich widower to marry. Discovering that her wealthy widower is an abuser she seduces his stepson, Charlie, to plot her husband’s murder.
But things don’t go as planned and soon she is turning to her experience hiring young call-girls to find the perfect girl to save her from going to prison…
Homeless Maya is drifting on the streets, grieving the recent loss of her mother.
When she is offered the opportunity to prepare a lake-side house to be used as a half-way home for delinquent girls, she doesn’t think twice.
She soon falls for Charlie, the attractive boy next door, who has a seriously dark side. She is drawn into his murderous schemes, doing anything he asks her to, risking her own safety for the promise of a future with him. When she finds herself party to murder, and she realises he is more concerned with his older female accomplice than with her, she must learn to trust her instincts and use all of her courage to get out of their trap alive.
As a subplot there is the rocky romantic relationship between an older woman and a younger man who become involved in investigating the murder for which young Maya is accused of committing.
Just Before Sunrise is a story about loss and survival. About loneliness, betrayals and deadly desires.
One of the reviews for the book
Nadine has her sights on her wealthy husband Logan’s life insurance, and the quickest way to cash in is to murder the older man. An affair with Charlie, Logan’s stepson from a previous marriage, guarantees her an accomplice. When photos show up of the man’s drowning, Nadine and Charlie start planning a second murder, but this time, they need someone to take the fall. Enter Maya, a sixteen-year-old trying to get off the streets and turn her life around. Charlie plays Maya, entrances her, and Maya is completely taken in.
The pace of this suspenseful read moves along quickly right from the start. I held my breath as I could see Maya making one mistake after another and falling in love with a man who was manipulating her and setting her up. Fortunately, at age sixteen, she has some allies looking out for her, but the heart wants what the heart wants.
The story is free of graphic sex and violence. It unfolds in multiple POVs, all third person except for Maya, whose chapters are in first person. I liked Maya as a character. Despite her naivete, she’s a believable teen with a full backstory and range of emotions. Nadine and Charlie were utterly devious, and I enjoyed their scenes, eager for them to fail. A subplot between two secondary characters threads through the main story. A fast-paced, suspenseful read that I highly recommend to fans of coming-of-age thrillers.
A selection of books by Carol Balawyder
Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you are leaving with some books.. Sally