Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Ayesha at Lat by Uzma Jalaluddin

 

40133941Publisher: Corvus

Publishing Date: 4th April 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via Pigeonhole, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

A big-hearted, captivating, modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice, with hijabs instead of top hats and kurtas instead of corsets.

AYESHA SHAMSI has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been overtaken by a demanding teaching job. Her boisterous Muslim family, and numerous (interfering) aunties, are professional naggers. And her flighty young cousin, about to reject her one hundredth marriage proposal, is a constant reminder that Ayesha is still single.

Ayesha might be a little lonely, but the one thing she doesn’t want is an arranged marriage. And then she meets Khalid… How could a man so conservative and judgmental (and, yes, smart and annoyingly handsome) have wormed his way into her thoughts so quickly?

As for Khalid, he’s happy the way he is; his mother will find him a suitable bride. But why can’t he get the captivating, outspoken Ayesha out of his mind? They’re far too different to be a good match, surely…

Rating: three-stars

 

Ayesha is a substitute teacher though what she really wants to do is write poetry. Ayesha is single and happy, she’s not interested in arranged marriages, accompanying her younger cousin on this way will suffice. But then she meets Khalid… But she hasn’t met his mother yet…

The book had a great potential, and I appreciated the humour very much but there were moments (in the end, too many moments) when I had a feeling that the author simply tried too hard and overdone it. The book started very promising, and I found myself smiling at the characters’ antics but then it only went downhill for me, I found my interest slowly fading and I started to skip some parts of it, with the many subplots and the action that was almost like in a gangster movie, and a) it was too much for me, too hard tried on making the story hilarious, b) the subplots were not developed enough for my liking, they were not properly addressed, just like that left hanging.

The romance between Ayesha and Khalid was humorous and also head – banging – on – the – wall desperate. When one of them finally got to their senses, the other was not interested and other way round. It was for sure a rocky way but altogether I liked that it was not so straightforward and obvious, and the problems they had were for sure different to the problems that the characters in other books usually have.

The characters could be better drawn, I think, because they were either brilliantly good or awfully bad, and this made them feel a little too exaggerated and too obvious in their behaviour. Sheila and Khalid’s mother are the best example here, but also Hafsa, the spoiled, judgmental and shallow one who actually wasn’t charming but only annoying. I am also not so sure about Khalid himself – on one hand we can say that his character saw development, on the other hand I’m not so sure because well, he changed, but did he really want to change?

The story touched upon many, many issues and probably this was the problem, maybe the author should focus on less than relationships, family ties, arranged marriages, family disownment, politics, stereotyping, racism at the workplace, theft and many, many more. It was simply too much. I had a feeling that if the story stuck to tell a romance, without all the other mosque and conference issues, it would be enough. I adored getting to know the colourful Muslim traditions, even the arranged marriages and the arguments that people involved in them had, their pros and cons, and I really got it all, it was really great to see the close – knit community and I’d really love it if the book focused more on this part of the characters’ lives.
There were too many moments that felt too drawn out and exaggerated for my liking. But altogether, it was a feel – good, funny and light story that had it moments. The writing style was lovely, so chatty and eloquent and the author is a great story – teller, that’s for sure, and she lets her imagination run wild.

 

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The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion

 

cover154110-mediumPublisher: Penguin

Publishing Date: 4th April 2019

Series: The Rosie Project #3

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 09.01.2020)

 

Synopsis:

The Rosie Result is the triumphant final instalment of the internationally bestselling series that began with The Rosie Project.

——

‘The phone call signalling an escalation in the Hudson Adjustment Problem came at 10:18 a.m. on a Friday morning . . .’

Meet Don Tillman, the genetics professor with a scientific approach to everything. But he’s facing a set of human dilemmas tougher than the trickiest of equations.

Right now he is in professional hot water after a lecture goes viral; his wife of 4,380 days, Rosie, is about to lose the research job she loves; and – the most serious problem of all – their eleven-year-old son, Hudson, is struggling at school. He’s a smart kid, but socially awkward-not fitting in.

Fortunately, Don’s had a lifetime’s experience of not fitting in. And he’s going to share the solutions with Hudson. He’ll need the help of old friends and new, lock horns with the education system, and face some big questions about himself. As well as opening the world’s best cocktail bar.

Big-hearted, hilarious and exuberantly life-affirming, The Rosie Result is a story of overcoming life’s obstacles with a little love and a lot of overthinking.

Rating: five-stars

 

In “The Rosie Result” the Tillman family has moved back to Australia as a result of Rosie getting a new job, leading a research project. Don takes a position as a genetics professor at the university, their son Hudson is already 11 years old. However, one meeting with the school principal after another and it quickly turns out Hudson has a hard time settling in. Following a kerfuffle at the university, Don decides to take time out and hence “Hudson Project” is born – a project aimed at helping Hudson to develop life skills that will make him fit better in the society and make friends. This all, of course, in typical, analytical Don’s style.

As much as I’d love to see a little bit more of Rosie in this book, Don has probably compensated it. I love his methodical and logical approach to everything and the fact that words “not possible” don’t exist in his vocabulary. I’ve never supposed he’d be such an involved father but he went into “Project Hudson” with all of his heart. “Project Hudson” involved among others helping him making friends or increasing his competences. The way he goes about things is so heart – warming and uplifting. He’s still very direct, literal and single – minded but that’s Don for you, and he’s also incredibly kind. I think I have a weakness for Don Tillman.

I adore Rosie and Don’s relationship. Rosie is so laid – back and always guides Don when he struggles. They are open and incredibly honest with each other and it’s such a refreshing change to have characters who can talk with each other about literally everything. They complement each other brilliantly. And their unity in all things Hudson was simply exemplary and enviable – when we argue with my husband it’s usually about our different ways of raising our daughter.

I totally appreciate the fact that the author didn’t choose the most straightforward ways for his characters. Being diagnosed with autism doesn’t only mean that you can have excuse for certain behaviour, it often means being labelled, stereotyped, people making assumptions, and he let his characters to made the decision for themselves. He showed different views when it comes to Autism and the scene of the discussion that Don and Rosie attended was incredibly interesting and eye – opening as well. The story gives us plenty thought for food, showing benefits of some treatments and also, what I liked most, focusing on the abilities rather than weaknesses of the children being “on the spectrum”, showing their individuality and specialty.

Graeme Simsion writes about some serious issues but with a light touch and in entertaining way. His writing style is exceptional – it’s witty, it’s clever, the banter between the characters is fast and intelligent and he so brilliantly captures the eccentric personalities.

“The Rosie Result” was quirky and charming, brilliantly balancing heavier issues with humour, uplifting and thought – provoking. It didn’t touch only upon Autism, but also the issue of working mothers and belittling them at their workplaces, or at least treating them differently, racism and sexism, bullying, violence – and while they really sound important and rather heavy, the author knows how to write in a light, entertaining way and still leave us thinking. This book was an excellent conclusion to the series, series that I’m truly going to miss. However, I’m left with a feeling that everything is going to be okay with Don, Rosie and Hudson. Highly recommended!

 

 

My Husband’s Wives by Faith Hogan / Blog Tour

My Husband’s Wives by Faith Hogan

 

45013776Publisher: Aria

Publishing Date: 7th March 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Better to have loved and lost, than never loved.

Paul Starr, Irelands leading cardiologist dies in a car crash with a pregnant young women by his side.

United in their grief and the love of one man, four women are thrown together in an attempt to come to terms with life after Paul. They soon realise they never really knew him at all.

The love they shared for Paul in his life and which incensed a feeling of mistrust and dislike for each other, in his death turns into the very thing that bonds them and their children to each other forever.

As they begin to form unlikely friendships, Paul’s deaths proves to be the catalyst that enables them to become the people they always wanted to be.

Rating: four-stars

Evie, Grace and Annalise’s lives are suddenly brought together after Paul Starr’s death – it turns out they were all married to him. As for Kasia, nobody actually knows what ties her to Paul. The present becomes intermingled with the past as the women say their goodbyes to Paul, and what starts as a complicated mess of secrets, lies and mistrust ends with an unlikely friendship.

With so many main characters there were a few storylines running through the novel and I liked how seamlessly their tales were waived together – it felt natural and authentic, so hats off to the authors for doing it like this. Each of the female characters was different and I really liked to get to know them and their background, and they were really well developed, strong and believable women. I might not have always agreed with their choices and decisions, they were full of flaws but still they were likeable and authentic. Some of them more, some of them less, some of them it was easier to like to hate. I think that Kasia’s character was the most interesting one, her storyline for sure seemed so – it was a subplot with a difference, showing another side to the story. Also, she was kind and warm, always looking for good things in people. Annalise was the most shallow one, I think, a little like bimbo who couldn’t do anything for herself and alone, always unhappy and whinge-y, but as the story progresses you could see the change in her. Evie wasn’t happy with her life, she was vulnerable and I think she was still mourning the end of her relationship with Paul, didn’t come to terms with the break, this vulnerability and fragility were really well described. Grace is a famous artist who also must move on without Paul’s support. They were all compelling, real and authentic and simply they made the book so special.
I couldn’t help but feel dislike to Paul, the smooth operator who always knew what to say, how to make a woman feel wanted, who sweet – talked them, wrapping them around his finger but in the end he was cheating and playing them. He kept so many secrets from them and his lies have caused so much heartache. And I also think that the women were really better off without him – at least they knew where they stand.

I enjoyed the way the book was written. You can’t help but have tons of question and you want to know the answers immediately, but the author really takes her time, drip feeding us with them throughout the story. Maybe this is why I had a feeling that it’s rather slow – paced but it didn’t bother me so much, as there was enough to keep me interested. The fact of Paul having had more than one wife was not the main point of the book in my opinion, but rather the mentioned in the blurb “unlikely friendship”. It was heart – warming and beautiful to see how the women became friends. They were suddenly connected, in truly difficult circumstances, and yet they found strength, which the author vividly captured.

“My Husband’s Wives” was a story full of secrets and intrigues, filled with sadness, friendship and family bonds. It was about finding friendship and confidence, a touching story about grief and how it affects people. And the author had a way with words, she can beautifully write about feelings and emotions and gave her characters very distinctive voices and beautifully balance the lighter and darker sides of life. Recommended!

 

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Stone Mothers by Erin Kelly

Stone Mothers by Erin Kelly

 

42427478Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publishing Date: 4th April 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Psychological Suspense

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 19.03.2020)

 

Synopsis:

Erin Kelly, master of suspense, returns with her next thrilling standalone featuring an abandoned mental asylum and the secrets it holds.

Marianne was never supposed to return to town, the town where she grew up in the shadow of the Nazareth Mental Hospital. Her mother may be suffering from dementia nearby, but she had thought she’d left that place, and its dark secrets, behind her. That is, until her husband buys a flat in its newly renovated interior so that she can be close enough to help her mother, and Marianne can’t tell him why the place fills her with such dread, she can’t risk destroying the careful life she’s built. Erin Kelly, the master of suspense, will delight fans with her next thrilling novel of psychological suspense.

Rating: four-stars

“Stone Mother” was used as a term for an asylum. Such a mental hospital was the heart of a small town of Nusstead in Suffolk, that is, until it was closed, leaving many of the town residents unemployed. Now apartments have been built where the hospital used to be and Marianne’s husband Sam surprised her, buying one of them. Marianne is spooked and agitated but the reasons for her feelings are different to those you could think about… There is her ex – boyfriend Jesse involved, there is an old scandal and a successful but loathed politician. What do they all have to do with Marianne? And why is she so scared of living in the so – called “Park Royal Manor”?

This was a complex story told through different timelines. Rather of a slower pace, especially the first part, and to be honest I had some difficulties to get into it, which made me start to panic actually, and I think that mostly it was because there were so many detailed descriptions of the Nazareth hospital – there was more hospital than the actual story. And, well, I couldn’t connect with Marianne – no particular reason, she just felt too meh, too spineless, and Jesse made me feel desperate. However, when the story changed the narrator, it also speeded up and then there was nothing that could drag me away from the book and I was drawn into the characters’ lives.

The story is split into four parts and each part is told from a different point of view. This was not a bad idea, though it was also a bit risky – in my opinion, of course – because Marianne and her long, long story was the first one to be told. As I’ve just mentioned, I had problems with this character, with some of her decisions and I was getting frustrated and scared by the end of part one – scared that I’ll have to give up. For me, the real rollercoaster started with Helen and her story. Helen was probably the most interesting and compelling character in this book for me, she had something to tell, something to hide, the way she was was absolutely intriguing – she has saved the book for me.

Erin Kelly has brilliantly captured the atmosphere of the abandoned hospital. Creepy and dark, it gave me chills, and not only when it was abandoned, oh no, but especially when there were still patients and this setting of the mental hospital worked really well as a backdrop to the characters.
I’ve only read “He Said/She Said” by this author before and it blew my mind to be honest, so I was expecting something like this book again, and it took me by surprise as “Stone Mothers” was totally different. It doesn’t mean that it’s bad, of course. What is the same though is the brilliant writing style, so chilling, intense and intelligent, and the way Erin Kelly creates her characters and writes a character – driven drama.There were turns, twists and events that made my heart stop for a beat, guys. Not many of them but when they came, they were so well crafted, they were absolutely unexpected and unsettling.

This novel has a complex, complicated storyline and it took its time to eventually untangle all the secrets and Erin Kelly is a very skilful writer, with her beautiful prose and the way with words. “Stone Mothers” touched upon many issues, mental health being only one of them. There were lies that tied the characters together, secrets and blackmail, coming of age, poverty and revenge. It was also about women and concern about their mental health, their freedom and their choices. In the end, I’ve learnt to appreciate the long haul and the mystery was very well written, the way it evolved was complex and captivating. It was powerful and it was touching and I really enjoyed it. Recommended!

 

The Passengers by John Marrs

The Passengers by John Marrs

 

40718386Publisher: Del Ray

Publishing Date: 1st April 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 30.05.2019)

 

Synopsis:

Eight self-drive cars set on a collision course. Who lives, who dies? You decide.

When someone hacks into the systems of eight self-drive cars, their passengers are set on a fatal collision course.

The passengers are: a TV star, a pregnant young woman, a disabled war hero, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife – and parents of two – who are travelling in separate vehicles and a suicidal man. Now the public have to judge who should survive but are the passengers all that they first seem?

Rating: three-stars

 

“The Passengers” takes us to a world with self – driving cars… You don’t have to do anything, you are a passenger that simply sits in the car. Traffic congestion, pollution and accidents has gone down significantly. The cars are, of course, unhackable… That is, until one day, the system IS hacked. Eight “passengers” are on their way to different locations when suddenly they’re told their cars are taken over and soon they’re going to die in an accident. The governing body that oversees the driverless cars and the whole of AI technology are contacted and they, as well as some of the normal people serving in a jury, are to choose who of the 8 people should be saved and why. It is all, of course, streamed to social media and the general public also gets involved. The race against time begins – is it possible to save those people?

There was a great cast of characters. Among the passengers we have a refugee woman, an Indian woman with a family that was abused by her husband and who doesn’t speak English, a wife and husband of ten years, both in two different cars, a pregnant woman, a famous actress, an army veteran and a young man who’s down on his luck. Each of them is trapped, their routes being taken over, their destination programmed. After two and a half hours one of them will live, while the rest will die. A group of jury members, who are actually investigating who’s at fault when there is a car accident and people die (and it’s almost never the car’s fault!), are dragged into the hacker’s game. The only jury member who makes a stand against the hacker and the other members is Libby, a mental health nurse with a great dislike of the driverless cars.

It was a great story about manipulation and the dangers of technology. It was horrifying to see how easily you can manipulate people, showing them this what you want them to see, and actually how people react, where their morals lie, how easy it is to led them. I was very involved in the characters’ lives though I didn’t allowed myself to judge them, waiting for the outcome. And the fact that the author actually didn’t care which of the character should die, not falling onto pieces over them, was a great and refreshing change. He also brilliantly captured the mob mentality on social media and on the streets.

But. And there is a “but”, sadly. For me the book has a great premise, it started brilliantly and the development was also great, though I must admit that there were already moments that it seemed to me that the author had a great idea but then wasn’t sure how to direct it furthermore, how to bite it to make it thrilling. And then came the end that was a disappointment for me. I was expecting a mind – blowing, fireworks ending but it simply felt flat and not complete, not wrapped up. It seemed as if the idea petered away, and I’m really sad about this as I was hoping for so much more from John Marrs. Don’t get me wrong, please, I was hooked to the pages, I vibrated together with the characters, I wanted to punch some of them in their faces and kept everything crossed for the others, and then it was as if the balloon has deflated. Sadly.

But altogether, it was a fast – paced and full of twists and turns story and although it touched upon some difficult and thought – provoking issues, it was an easy read, surprising you with the development of the story. The author has brilliantly captured the future world – he made it scary and dangerous and it really freaked me out to see that people not only allow the electronic devices decide for them but they’re also not afraid to play with other people’s lives. It was accomplished and unsettling and I am so truly sorry and also sad that it didn’t work for me – I wanted to love this book but I also wanted more substance and better execution. However, I know there is so much potential in John Marrs’ writing, his books are original and unique and I’ll be reading whatever he writes in the future.

 

Sleep by C.L. Taylor / Blog Tour

Sleep by C.L. Taylor

 

40584479Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 4th April 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover  | Paperback (out on 05.09.2019)

 

Synopsis:

All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.

Each of the guests have a secret but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they’re on the island. There’s a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they’ve set their sights on Anna.

Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.

Someone’s going to sleep and never wake up…

Rating: four-stars

 

After a car accident, which claimed lives of Anna’s two colleagues and severly injured another one, she decides for a complete change in her life and takes up a position of a receptionist and general dogsbody in a small hotel on the Scottish Island of Rum, hoping to get rid of the guilt she has after being a driver of the car. She needs a time out and sleep and overcome the night terrors that keep plaguing her, and what better place to start if not on a remote island with only 36 residents? Soon after she starts working there, seven guests arrive at the hotel and strange things and events occur, making Anna think if her stalker followed her from London to Scotland? Is she in danger? Is someone trying to… kill her?

I like the fact that the twists and turns in this novel were so straight to the point. I can’t give you an example (obviously!) but I simply loved how the things happened and without all the extras, there wasn’t any unnecessary building the tension, will it happen/won’t it happen/what ifs, it was such a pleasant change and made the reading so much more dynamic and thrilling.

The book started in a perfect and very promising way: “If you’re reading this then I am no longer alive” – wow, right? The remoteness of the hotel has added so much to the storyline, it was a great idea to set it on the Scottish Island of Rum, cut off from the world because of raging storms. This really sets the scene, dark, mysterious and dangerous and the feeling of isolation, of being cut off from the outside world – literally – was there, and was overwhelming.

The characters were very well written and vividly described. They were troubled and full of flaws and they kept secrets, and what was great was the fact that actually I was all the time changing my mind about them – I always like this feeling of uncertainty, of not knowing who I can trust. They were not likeable to be honest, and in fact, personally, I didn’t really care who’s the culprit, because they were all able to do this and because well, I didn’t have my own favourites. They simply didn’t quite hit the mark for me.

But guys, I’m not sure what it was but I’ve missed something in this book. Maybe I’ve simply expected much more? C.L. Taylor is an author that’s getting raving reviews and I keep hearing brilliant things about her books so probably I went into “Sleep” expecting unimaginable things. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good book, interesting and hooking but also somehow flat for me, not reaching the promising height it could have. Yes, I was intrigued but I’ve missed the tension, this overwhelming feeling that something bad is going to happen. And Anna seemed to me very cold, lacking in emotions and while I was worried about her, I didn’t feel any connection to her, a connection that would make me vibrate, that would make me sit on my tenterhooks, shout “watch out” and completely fell for her.

“Sleep” was a story full of twists and turns. I had, however, a feeling that the author didn’t engage with the characters, that she was not fully in their skin – I’ve missed the connection there, or maybe it was intentional? Never mind, it didn’t work for me too well. But I still enjoyed the storyline, the surprises that the author has thrown our way, and the fact that actually till the very last moment I was kept guessing. It was a solid and interesting psychological thriller with addictive writing style – the prose, the assortment of words has me reading every sentence, every word, as I simply didn’t want to miss anything. The clues and red herrings were placed masterfully, in all the right places yet it really took me till the end to find out who was the one trying to kill Anna and why – because the why is also not so obvious. Recommended!

 

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Finding Dorothy byElizabeth Letts / Social Media Blast

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts

 

44072454Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 4th April 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Historical Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 20.02.2020)

 

Synopsis:

A richly imagined novel that tells the story behind The Wonderful Wizard of Oz , the book that inspired the iconic film, through the eyes of author L. Frank Baum’s intrepid wife, Maud–from the family’s hardscrabble days in South Dakota to the Hollywood film set where she first meets Judy Garland.

Maud Gage Baum, widow of the author of the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, met Judy Garland, the young actress playing the role of Dorothy on the set of The Wizard of Oz in 1939. At the time, Maud was seventy-eight and Judy was sixteen. In spite of their age difference, Maud immediately connected to Judy–especially when Maud heard her sing “Over the Rainbow,” a song whose yearning brought to mind the tough years in South Dakota when Maud and her husband struggled to make a living–until Frank Baum’s book became a national sensation.

This wonderfully evocative two-stranded story recreates Maud’s youth as the rebellious daughter of a leading suffragette, and the prairie years of Maud and Frank’s early days when they lived among the people–especially young Dorothy–who would inspire Frank’s masterpiece. Woven into this past story is one set in 1939, describing the high-pressured days on The Wizard of Oz film set where Judy is being badgered by the director, producer, and her ambitious stage mother to lose weight, bind her breasts, and laugh, cry, and act terrified on command. As Maud had promised to protect the original Dorothy back in Aberdeen, she now takes on the job of protecting young Judy.

Rating: four-stars

“Finding Dorothy” is written from Maud Gage Baum’s point of view – she was Frank L. Baum’s, the author of “The Wizard of Oz”, wife. It tells the story in two different time frames and subplots – the first one starting in the 1870’s and telling about Maud’s private life and the second in the 1939 Hollywood, where filming of “The Wizard of Oz” starring Judy Garland took place.
I haven’t seen the film, so there, I’ve just said that. But if I’m to see it anytime then I’ll know that the slippers weren’t ruby and that Oz isn’t emerald green – as the book has just confirmed this.

It was a beautiful, nostalgic story that I thoroughly enjoyed, though I think I’d love to hear about Maud’s childhood much more, she was such a tomboy, just a girl after my own heart. Nevertheless, her story was absolutely captivating, colourful and one of a kind. We cover the years from 1871 to Hollywood in 1939, following a dual time line in Maud’s life.
The story of Maud being a daughter of a leading voice for women’s rights Matilda Gage was already hooking, but it was even better and more interesting to learn Maud getting to know Frank and what has happened after that. Of them, young and poor, and raising a family of four boys. Of Matilda being so upset with her young, independent and well educated daughter to marry so quickly and a “theatre man” that she stopped talking to her daughter after the marriage. I don’t want to recount more – the story is rich in detailed, brilliantly researched information and facts and it’s so hooking that just go and read it for yourself and fell in love with it, just like I did. Maud proves to be her own woman, strong, optimistic and determined.
The second subplot is the making of the movie and Maud tries to keep it true to her husband’s original storyline and where she befriends Judy Garland, and it was fascinating to read those parts. I admired Maud so much, her strength and determination and how unselfish she was, trying to help Judy during filming. She was not afraid to speak her mind when fighting for her husband’s vision, when she’s noticed that something was not right – clearly, the fact of being a daughter of a famous suffragette paid off.

I loved Maud’s passion and determination to ensure that the movie really reflected her late husband’s vision, especially after so many refusals and people and life throwing challenges at her. I adored being able to have a look at the behind the scenes of the movie parts of the story. However, it was also shocking, especially the way the author described how the then 15 years old Judy Garland was treated. I’m guessing that what she’s written has really happened – pills for everything, cigarettes, slap in the face, many “uncles” surrounding her – this manipulation and yes, abuse, was on a daily basis.

It was a very well researched story, with some acts and events of course distorting the truth but still realistic and sounding real. It was an original, captivating, colourful read, full of hidden treasures, behind the scenes facts and things that never saw the light of day. Be aware that the books starts a little slowly and is rather long, as the author goes on to describe the lives of Maud and Frank in a very detailed way, introducing us to all the places where they used to live and all the jobs Frank took up, but when it picks up on pace there was nothing that could me drag away from it. It’s a book with a heart, poignant and touching, a tribute to Frank L. Baum, Maud Baum and “The Wizard of Oz”. It’s about never giving up, about having dreams and letting them come true. The author in a great way blends facts and fiction, so well in fact that you won’t be able to tell which is which. It felt authentic and passionate, engaging and is very well written. Highly recommended!

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