#BookReview The Morning Star by Gita V. Reddy @RandomTTours

The Morning Star - BT Poster

Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for The Morning Star by Gita V. Reddy. My thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the author for my digital review copy.

The Morning Star by Gita V. ReddyAbout the Book

Anything is possible if fate wills it.

A desperate woman calls a neighbour before dying in childbirth. Is it a coincidence that she chooses someone who will give her all to save the baby from its unscrupulous father?

When Sudha answers a telephone call in the middle of the night, she cannot know how it will change her life. From the first, she feels a strong connection with the motherless baby. She brings her home and names her after the Arundhati star. Sudha loves Arundhati – Anu as she calls her – as much as she does her son. She is the daughter of her heart, a precious gift that fate has given her. As the threat to Anu’s safety increases, she grows desperate and takes a drastic step to protect the baby.

Only, it might cost her everything she holds dear…

Format: Paperback (329 pages)          Publisher:
Publication date: 30th August 2020  Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Find The Morning Star on Goodreads

Purchase links*
Amazon UK
*Link provided for convenience only, not as part of an affiliate programme

My Review

Having previously read the author’s two short story collections, Happiness Is A Collage and A Tapestry Of Tears, I was intrigued at the prospect of experiencing her writing in novel length form. Even more so since I also enjoyed her book, Outside the Magic Circle, exploring the private life of Charles Dickens and revealing his cruel treatment of his wife Catherine, mother of his children.

Described as “a story of love, sacrifice and the unseen hand of destiny”, The Morning Star takes the reader on an emotional – and literal – journey as Sudha attempts to fulfil her neighbour Prerna’s dying wish that she keep her newborn daughter safe from Prerna’s alcoholic husband. Sudha soon finds herself forced to choose between respecting the wishes of her husband Vinay, her responsibilities for her young son Raghu and her sincere conviction that destiny has chosen her to be the protector of the baby she names Arundhati. Her choice sets her on a path that jeopardizes her marriage, forces her to venture outside the relatively enclosed life she has led so far, and brings challenges and risks she can never have imagined.

Although Sudha’s actions may appear rash, even naïve at times, they are clearly motivated by her love for Arundhati, the daughter she would have loved to have, and by her own experiences as a child. This makes her a very sympathetic character. And I’m sure I’m not the only reader to give a little cheer the first time she, in her words, “stands her ground”, answering back to yet another mean comment from her cousin Lavanya.

A chance encounter on a train journey results in an unlikely friendship which brings Sudha (who is somewhat of an innocent abroad, at one point describing herself as “a boat without oars in a fast-moving river”) much needed practical help. It also leads to Sudha and Arundhati finding an unexpected refuge as well as a source of love and support, just at the moment they need it most.

The novel’s references to smartphones, Instagram and Netflix place it very much in the here and now, even more so as the author very cleverly weaves current world events into the storyline. However, as in her previous books, the central story is accompanied by fascinating insights into Indian culture, religious belief and social customs. Oh, and delicious sounding food.

The Morning Star is a moving family drama set against the backdrop of modern day India. It will take you on an emotional journey, one you won’t want to forget for a while.

In three words: Emotional, touching, hopeful

Try something similar: The Borrowed Boy by Deborah Klee

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Gita Reddy Author PicAbout the Author

Gita V. Reddy lives in Hyderabad, India, with her husband and son. She writes fiction for both adults and children. Her books for children are written when she takes a break from writing for adults and vice versa. She enjoys thinking up tales in different genres and has written historical fiction, women’s fiction and has recently made a foray into Regency romance. For children, she has written mysteries, adventure tales, fantasy, science fiction and also a fable. In addition to writing, she is interested in art and has illustrated three picture books.

Gita Reddy also writes under the pen names of Heera Datta and Jessica Spencer (for Regency romance). Ms. Reddy is a postgraduate in Mathematics. In an earlier life, that she voluntarily quit in 2011, she was a senior manager in a bank. To know more about her and her writing journey, visit her website.

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A Wedding in the Olive Garden by Leah Fleming #BookReview #BlogTour @HoZ_Books

Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for A Wedding in the Olive Garden by Leah Fleming. Thanks to Vicky Joss at Head of Zeus for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my digital review copy via NetGalley. You can find my review of A Wedding in the Olive Garden below.

FB_IMG_1582298166464About the Book

Can an island in the sun provide the second chance Sara needs?

Sara Loveday flees home and crisis to the beautiful island of Santaniki. Here, amid olive groves and whitewashed stone villas, where dark cypress trees step down to a cobalt blue sea, Sara vows to change her life. Spotting a gap in the local tourist market, she sets up a wedding plan business, specialising in ‘second time around’ couples.

For her first big wedding, she borrows the olive garden of a local artists’ retreat, but almost at once things begin to go wrong. To make matters worse, a stranger from Sara’s past arrives on the island, spreading vicious lies. Can her business survive? And what will happen with the gorgeous new man who she’s begun to love?

Format: ebook (352 pages)           Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publication date: 7th May 2020 Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

Find A Wedding in the Olive Garden on Goodreads

Purchase links*
Amazon.co.uk | Hive (supporting UK bookshops)
*links provided for convenience not as part of an affiliate programme

My Review

A Wedding in the Olive Garden is a departure from my usual diet of historical fiction but doesn’t everyone need/deserve something sweet and indulgent from time to time, such as a slice of baklava perhaps?

Having really enjoyed the author’s previous book, The Olive Garden Choir,  it was a delight to return to the (alas, fictional) Greek island of Santaniki and to be reunited with some of the characters from the earlier book. My personal favourite is Irini, on this occasion transformed from mother-in-law from hell to avenging angel.

It was also great to make the acquaintance of some new characters. One of these is Sara Loveday who has her own reasons for wanting to begin a new chapter in her life, reasons which she is unwilling to share with anyone initially (including the reader). Luckily, her new wedding planning venture requires all her attention if it’s to be a success. A number of couples amongst the island’s residents have their own very special and personal reasons for wanting to get married and it’s not long before they are making use of Sara’s services. The first wedding she organises is notable for a very unexpected arrival.

With all this going on there’s definitely no place for romance on Sara’s extensive to-do list. At least, that’s what she thinks.

I can certainly attest to the publisher’s description of A Wedding in the Olive Garden as “a gorgeous, warm-hearted and uplifting novel conjuring the local colour, traditions and close bonds of island life.” Of all the weddings featured in the book, my favourite was the traditional Cretan wedding in which the whole community pitch in to help. There are also fabulous descriptions of the islanders’ celebrations of Easter and of the feast day of Phanourios, patron saint of lost and found, whose services are definitely needed at one point.

I have to mention the luscious descriptions of food such as these offerings from the lunchtime menu of the taverna run by Northern lass Mel, her husband Spiro, and the aforementioned Irini: gigantes (butter bean stew), mountain greens in oil and lemon, salad of beetroot, garlic and walnut, village sausages, and roasted vegetable salad with feta. Oh, and don’t forget a carafe of the local wine and a raki to finish. Stomach rumbling yet?

With the author’s customary skilful blend of joyful and poignant moments, if A Wedding in the Olive Garden doesn’t have you longingly browsing travel websites ready for when ‘normal’ life returns, or even planning your own dream wedding, I’ll be surprised.

In three words: Engaging, heart-warming, joyful

Try something similar: The House That Alice Built by Chris Penhall

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Leah FlemingAbout the Author

After careers in teaching, catering, running a market stall, stress management courses in the NHS as well as being a mother of four, Leah Fleming found her true calling as a storyteller. She lives in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales but spends part of the year marinating her next tale from an olive grove on her favourite island of Crete.

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