Book Title: The Storyteller’s Secret by Sejal Badani Category: Adult Fiction, 399 pages Genre: Literary Publisher: Lake Union Release date: September 2018 Format available for review: print and ebook (gifted Kindle copy, PDF) Will send print books to: USA & Canada Tour dates: June 3 to July 12, 2019 Content Rating: PG-13 (There are some non-explicit sex scenes)
An Amazon Charts, USA Today, and Washington Post bestseller!
From the bestselling author of Trail of Broken Wings comes an epic story of the unrelenting force of love, the power of healing, and the invincible desire to dream.
Nothing prepares Jaya, a New York journalist, for the heartbreak of her third miscarriage and the slow unraveling of her marriage in its wake. Desperate to assuage her deep anguish, she decides to go to India to uncover answers to her family’s past. Intoxicated by the sights, smells, and sounds she experiences, Jaya becomes an eager student of the culture. But it is Ravi—her grandmother’s former servant and trusted confidant—who reveals the resilience, struggles, secret love, and tragic fall of Jaya’s pioneering grandmother during the British occupation.
Through her courageous grandmother’s arrestingly romantic and heart-wrenching story, Jaya discovers the legacy bequeathed to her and a strength that, until now, she never knew was possible.
REVIEW: A heartrending and inspiring account of acceptance and hope, the Storyteller’s Secret carries you from present-day New York City where we meet Jaya, a journalist who is struggling to come to terms with three recent miscarriages to the flower-scented gardens of India where we are introduced to Ravi, her grandmother’s long-time friend and servant. Jaya’s grandmother’s story comes to life as Ravi slowly recounts events from her childhood to marriage and later work as a schoolteacher.
The truth is, I really didn’t feel an immediate connection to Jaya. When the story travels back to Raj controlled India, she learns that her grandmother Amisha is an aspiring young writer who must balance her love of writing with the responsibilities and restrictions placed upon her as submissive Indian wife and mother.
The connections that Jaya makes as her grandmother’s story unfolds provide insight to her own mother’s childhood and why she never felt the connection that should have been there. She learns of the sacrifices the women in her family made for love and this has affected her deeply.
A story of enduring love, friendship, sacrifice and hope, the Storyteller’s Secret will haunt you long after you’ve finished reading it.
Book Title: The Clock Flower by Barbara Casey (Book 3 of The F.I.G. Mysteries) Category: YA Fiction, 208 pages Genre: Mystery / Fantasy Publisher: Gauthier Publications, The Hungry Goat Press Imprint Release date: February 2018 Content Rating: PG-13 (There is light profanity and some threat of violence.)
Dara Roux, abandoned when she was seven years old by her mother. Exceptionally gifted in foreign languages. Orphan. Accepted to Yale University.
Mackenzie Yarborough, no record of her parents or where she was born. Exceptionally gifted in math and problem-solving. Orphan. Accepted to MIT.
Jennifer Torres, both parents killed in an automobile accident when she was sixteen. Exceptionally gifted in music and art. Orphan. Accepted to Juilliard.
The three FIGs—Females of Intellectual Genius—as they are called, have graduated from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women after returning from New York City where Dara learned why her mother abandoned her all those years ago, and they are now attending universities where they can further their special talents. This means they will be separated from each other and from Carolina, their much-loved mentor and teacher who is “one of them,” for the first time in their young lives. They vow to try living apart for one semester, in the so-called real world that doesn’t include the orphanage; but if things don’t work out, they will come up with another plan—a plan where they can be together once again.
Dara is invited through Yale University to take part in an exciting archeological project in China. Jennifer, once again visualizing black and white images and the unusual sounds of another cadence that seem to be connected to Mackenzie, is engrossed in creating her next symphony at Juilliard. Mackenzie, because of her genius at problem-solving, is personally chosen by a US Senator to get involved in a mysterious, secret research project involving immortality that is being conducted in a small village in China—not too far from where Dara is involved with the archeological site. Once there, however, she finds herself facing a terrifying death from the blood-dripping teeth of an ancient evil dragon. Her best friends, the FIGs and Carolina, rely on their own unique genius and special talents to save her as she discovers the truth of her birth parents.
The Cadence of Gypsies: Book 1 of the F.I.G. Mysteries
Book Title: The Cadence of Gypsies(Book 1 of The F.I.G. Mysteries) by Barbara Casey Category: YA fiction, 272 pages Genre: Literary/Mystery Publisher: Gauthier Publications/Hungry Goat Press Release date: April 2015 (e-Book)
Content Rating: PG-13 (A few expletives, mild sexual innuendo)
On her 18th birthday Carolina Lovel learned that she was adopted and was given a letter written by her birth mother in an unknown language. After years of research she travels to Italy on a mission to find the truth about her past. Carolina is accompanied by three extremely gifted but mischievous students the FIGs from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women. In an effort to help their favorite teacher, the FIGs will have to use their special abilities to decipher the Voynich Manuscript, the most mysterious document in the world, and the one thing that is strangely similar to what Carolina was given. Their search will take them into the mystical world of gypsy tradition and magic, more exciting and dangerous than any of them could have imagined.
The Wish Rider: Book 2 of the F.I.G. Mysteries
Book Title: The Wish Rider (Book 2 of The F.I.G. Mysteries) by Barbara Casey Category: YA Fiction, 160 pages Genre: Literary / Mystery Publisher: Gauthier Publications Release date: May 10, 2016 Content Rating: PG-13
Seventeen-year-old Dara Roux and her two best friends, Mackenzie Yarborough and Jennifer Torres, the three collectively referred to as the F.I.G.’s (Females of Intellectual Genius) because each has an intelligence quotient in the genius range, have just returned from Frascati, Italy. It was there that their much loved teacher and mentor, Carolina Lovel, discovered that her birth parents were gypsies, and that she had a connection to the Voynich Manuscript, the most mysterious document in the world.
Now, with graduation from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women behind them, Dara asks her friends to help her locate her birth mother when she learns that she might be living in New York City. Relying on Dara’s gift for speaking and understanding foreign languages, the black and white images that stir musical cadences in Jennifer’s mind, and Mackenzie’s mathematical calculations that normally provide numerical solutions and answers to life’s most difficult questions, the determined young women tirelessly go from one address to another in search of Dara’s mother.
Their determination turns to desperation, however, as they encounter a dark hidden society more dangerous and terrifying than they could have imagined. It is there that Dara hopes to find out why she was abandoned in a candy store all those years ago.
Meet the Author:
Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, as well as book-length works of nonfiction true crime and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. Her nonfiction true crime book, Kathryn Kelly: The Moll Behind Machine Gun Kelly, has been optioned for a major film and television series. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency. Established in 1995, she represents authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. Barbara is also a partner in Strategic Media Books Publishing, an independent publishing house that specializes in cutting-edge adult nonfiction. Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with her husband, and three dogs who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix; Fitz, a miniature dachshund; and Gert, a Jack Russel terrier of sorts.
The Clock Flower is the third novel in the FIG series about three gifted young women and their mentor, Caroline. If you have already read the other two books you will have already met each girl: Dara – the linguist, Mackenzie the math whiz and problem solver and Jennifer – gifted in music and art.
Because of their unusual gifts and personalities, the girls have bonded with each other and with Caroline, who treats them as younger sisters. Their inability to interact with others places them at a disadvantage and Caroline acts to smooth the way for them.
This novel focuses on Mackenzie, who is asked to help troubleshoot a missing ingredient in a very ancient formula in China. Intuitively, the other two girls as well as Caroline seem to be drawn into her world through music, art and Carolina’s intuition as a gypsy’s daughter. As with the previous two books, we can expect plenty of excitement and plot twists in this story.
The author is able to develop fascinating plots and storylines which keep you hooked throughout the book. However, I found that too much time was spent trying to make this book into a standalone, in fact almost 40% of the book was trying to recapture the storyline from the first two books. There was a lot of repetition during the first part of the book and the storyline could have done with more character development.
I always enjoy a good mystery and The Clock Flower keeps you on the edge of your seat. I look forward to reading another FIG adventure!
Book Title: New Jerusalem News by John Enright Category: Adult fiction, 265 pages Genre: Literary / Humour Publisher: Yucca / Skyhorse Release date: August 2015 Available for review in: Print, gifted Kindle, audiobook (Audible) Will send print books: USA & Canada Tour dates: Nov 2 to 20, 2015 Content Rating: R (There are two explicit, matter-of-fact sex scenes, but no violence or bad language.) Book Description: Dominick is always just passing through. He is a professional houseguest who follows the sun and the leisure class from resort to resort. But this winter he lingers on a quaint New England island and in spite of his best intentions becomes involved in the travails of his eccentric geriatric hosts. An environmental protest against a proposed liquid natural gas terminal turns ugly, and by accident and happenstance Dominick becomes a mistaken suspect in terroristic bombings. But the book, of course, is really about its characters. None of them are young—white-bearded men and blue-coiffed women busy with aging, dementia, and ungrateful children. Dominick strives to float above it all in a life of itinerant escape. A New England comedy of sorts, New Jerusalem News, on another level, is an extended meditation on history, identity, and what it means to drift.
Originally from Buffalo, New York, John Enright holds a bachelor’s degree in literature from the City College of New York and a master’s degree in folklore from the University of California, Berkeley. After working in magazine journalism and book publishing, he left the U.S. to teach at the American Samoa Community College. He remained in the South Pacific for 26 years, directing environmental, cultural, and historical preservation programs and writing extensively about the islands. His acclaimed detective series, Jungle Beat (Thomas & Mercer), featuring Det. Sgt. Apelu Soifua, is set in Samoa. His collection of poems about Samoa, 14 Degrees South, won the University of the South Pacific Press’s inaugural Literature Prize for Poetry in 2011. He now lives in Jamestown, Rhode Island, with his wife, ceramicist Connie Payne.
The quirky plot of this novel captured my interest from the start. The characters were well-developed and the setting was easy to imagine. The writing was descriptive and the dialogue tongue-in-cheek. However, I couldn’t get past the language and sexual scenes so decided not to finish the book.