Book Review: The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin

Imagine This: Life has been so good to you. With a lovely family, mother to your amazing precocious daughter and indulging in the heart-swelling romance of your life with the man who you never quite let go. Except the cancer is back, spread all through your body now, threatening to take away all the people you’ve loved your entire life.

But you would overcome! You know you would. You beat it the first time so, stage IV cancer can go screw with someone else who isn’t that strong enough!

Except when you are really determined to fight, a hospice isn’t the ideal not-giving-up solution, your dad thinks. He’s troubled, worried your mum, a born-fighter has given up on you. Worried he cannot do anything to take you out of this death prison.

Your daughter is quite unaware of this dire turning state of your health. Your sister relieves her tension by throwing mugs at her husband and making her children go on a diet. Your brother is contemplating on the what-happens-to-your-daughter-when-you-are-dead even though he’s scared to give much thought to this. Your closest friend has taken up shopping more frequently than ever. Everyone has a way of dealing with their pain towards your impending doom.

And you, through all the breakthrough pain, the bloating body parts, and the funny nurses who think they’d be better appreciated if they auditioned for the X-Factor, the only way to deal with this predicament is to sleep. Sleep and dream of the one very love in your big, dissipating heart.

You are not giving up yet, cancer!

OMG! Stop whatever you are doing and go get this book the moment you are done reading this line! (I’m not continuing if you don’t…).

The storyline isn’t fresh. Dying girl in her forties, battling cancer. Haven’t we heard of this so many times? Yawn. But no one said anything about the dying girl having the craziest family who are willing to stay by her side through thick and thin, no one said anything about the nurses who fancy themselves as Ireland’s biggest talents and actresses in a CBS-styled drama, no one said anything about a dreamy boy with the voice of [INSERT NAME OF KING OF ROCK AND ROLL AS MY VIEWS MAY CONFLICT WITH YOURS] who brought so much joy to Dying Girl’s life, no one also said anything about Dying Girl’s addiction to the principles of atheism. Lovely. A star to the storyline.── ★

You would adore Rabbit Hayes! OMG! Even strapped to a hospice bed, she could still gain your attention than heroines with all their boobs intact running around aimlessly (—this bring any heroine to mind?). You would love the way she tries to put humour in every situation, how she’d want to laugh her heart out at times despite dealing with bloated body parts (—but could you blame her when it’s hard to locate your ribs?), how she sometimes cusses at her doctors when she’s dealing with heart-wrenching pain. As if all the above is not enough, you would admire her life as a teen—when the only thing she could think about was her big, rock and roll sweetheart; her funny cancer column about when she was first diagnosed with mild breast cancer. Brilliant.── ★★

The presentation of this work is also one of its stunning features. The switch between the present and the past, the use of lots of flashbacks to provide engaging backstory throughout the whole novel. The story is told in third-person perspective of all the major characters in this title. And every character’s narration is distinct to their personalities as well as enjoyable. A star.── ★★★

The supporting cast… breathtaking! You would love Molly Hayes, the matriarch of the Hayes family who tries to hold it together even though she could do with learning to say the right things at the right time and not threatening to murder, kill or drown her family right at the presence of her dying daughter. You would love Jack Hayes, the father who relies so much on the strength of his wife he wouldn’t take an initiative if she doesn’t(——you know his type?) You would also love Davey Hayes, the superstar drummer who still lives in a tour bus despite approaching mid-forties. You would love Juliet, the charming daughter. You would love Grace Hayes, the sister who finds hospices more appealing than hospitals. The nurses, the priest, the band members of Kitchen Sink… Christ, I really do realize I could go on and on! Every single character delivered and there was no moment you would doubt the relevance of a character. Anna McPartlin demonstrates, in finding joy through life’s treacherous moments, you need a whole bunch of friends, family and health workers to help! A star to all the characters. Most of all, to Rabbit Haye’s one truest love, Johnny Faye.── ★★★★

It’s the thing with all cancer books——Oh, no, wait! The good, good cancer books. Too much suspense and sitting at the edge of your seat to find out what would happen to the main character in the end. Oh, and as if all that isn’t enough Anna McPartlin gives you so, so, so much to laugh at. Hell, you’d think a cancer book should be all about MRI scans, mastectomy, diagnoses after diagnoses! Throw that notion away when entering into Rabbit Hayes’ world!── ★★★★★

Something about Irish Chick-lit. The writing is raw. The plot is brilliant. The story is beautiful. Just as Anna McPartlin’s amazing debut!

My rating is definitely a six out of five stars—I’m not dumb, I know this is very possible in math, albeit in rare cases. (6/5stars)

Go buy the hell out of this book on amazon. And if you have any cancer relatives, friends, or even acquaintances—no offense, but you most probably do, go get this book for them all. Because, this is a story about laughing through life’s surprises and finding joy in every [treacherous] moment.

I recommend this book to anyone! Anyone battling cancer or not! Anyone looking for an uplifting book or not! Anyone looking for something to laugh their hearts out to or not! Anyone who wants something to render them all weepy because they have no use for their Kleenex or not! Anyone who wants a fantabuloustastic(——OMG! Did you hear that??) debut author to watch or not!

My work not done here. Off to post my review on Goodreads.

Book Review: Soldiers' Daughters by Fiona Fields

Soldiers' Daughters

Imagine This: You are training to be an officer in the army. It sucks. The training is hard, but of course you are doing this to please your dad. Maybe one day, he’d acknowledge your efforts and give back the love he’d starved you off since you were a child.

But anyway, you’ve gotten yourself into the army. A woman. A woman officer in a station where there are only a handful of women. You wished these men you are lording over would respect you, would not be darting weird glances your way across the room or scowling at you——as one dark, sexy, mysterious guy is always doing.

Besides getting your men to respect you, you are looking out for your friend. Your friend who’s always been trouble since boarding school all through the army. Your friend who’s after a married army officer she’s obsessed with. Your friend who’s after this man’s wife to get her away from him.

Certainly no more drama could unfold in the army? But there’s also the fear of being attacked by terrorists, the fear of being attacked by animals, and the fear of losing your heart to someone who hates you so.

Samantha Lewis’ complicated and dangerous life in the army summarised for your delight.

 I liked this book. A lot.

First of all, I think I’d keep admiring all the storylines of Fiona Field in her Army series. Because who really knows that much drama goes on in the army? Especially where the wives (or daughters) are concerned. I mean, you know people shoot, you know about guns and bullets and missing limbs. But they kinda don’t show on TV the stuff you get in this book. Because the author has spent time in the army herself, you find yourself wondering if this is fiction or not. Brilliant storyline.── ★

The main characters! Samantha Lewis and Michelle Flowers. I mean, why wouldn’t Samantha be my favourite because her life is more exciting battling dangerous animals, terrorists in the bushes of Kenya, and the teeny-weenie fact that she’s less annoying. I couldn’t stand Michelle! I mean, pursuing someone else’s husband and being totally delusional? But of course, you cannot deny that Fiona Field makes excellent characterization if she makes you actually hate a character you are supposed to hate. A star.── ★★

Other characters were thrilling to read about. There’s Jenna, whose story I was very much interested in after the cheating stunt she pulled in the first instalment of this series. There’s also Maddy Fanshaw, the Army wife battling with raising two kids under two. There’s also Seb, the sex-starved soldier who cannot keep his cock in his khaki. There’s Blake, the dark, scowling, mysterious soldier under Sam. Oh, there’s my super girly fave Immi, who brings some real female energy into this book. There’s Jack Raven, the hunky BBC reporter. Brilliant characters.── ★★★

If you’ve stayed glued to Fiona Field’s army series, you would know there’s a lot of Army drama in the first half, then the second there’s some non-stopping Army action. 

Great suspense! And the chuckling moments were a lot.── ★★★★★

My only not so nice critique about this book was its beginning. The first thirty-pages (I noted) when the girls were training in Army school. It felt too YA for me. But after that school part was all over, you get to see Fiona Field in her usual delightfully entertaining element.

So my rating is 4.5(/5) stars.

The sequel to Fiona Field’s fabulous Soldiers’ Wives, Soldiers’ Daughters is available on amazon.

I recommend it to anyone who has a relation in the army or not. Anyone who wants something action-and -drama-packed this summer should read this. Anyone who wants a life into what it feels like to be a Soldiers’ Daughter should get this too. And if you just want to put something entertaining on your reading list, well, this a great choice.

My work not done here. Off to post my review on Goodreads.


Book Review: A Fifty-Year Silence by Miranda Richmond

A young woman moves across an ocean to uncover the truth about her grandparents' mysterious estrangement and pieces together the extraordinary story of their wartime experiences

In 1948, after surviving World War II by escaping Nazi-occupied France for refugee camps in Switzerland, the author's grandparents, Anna and Armand, bought an old stone house in a remote, picturesque village in the South of France. Five years later, Anna packed her bags and walked out on Armand, taking the typewriter and their children. Aside from one brief encounter, the two never saw or spoke to each other again, never remarried, and never revealed what had divided them forever.

A Fifty-Year Silence is the deeply involving account of Miranda Richmond Mouillot's journey to find out what happened between her grandmother, a physician, and her grandfather, an interpreter at the Nuremberg Trials, who refused to utter his wife's name aloud after she left him.  To discover the roots of their embittered and entrenched silence, Miranda abandons her plans for the future and moves to their stone house, now a crumbling ruin; immerses herself in letters, archival materials, and secondary sources; and teases stories out of her reticent, and declining, grandparents.  As she reconstructs how Anna and Armand braved overwhelming odds and how the knowledge her grandfather acquired at Nuremberg destroyed their relationship, Miranda wrestles with the legacy of trauma, the burden of history, and the complexities of memory.  She also finds herself learning how not only to survive but to thrive – making a home in the village and falling in love.

With warmth, humor, and rich, evocative details that bring her grandparents' outsize characters and their daily struggles vividly to life, A Fifty-Year Silence is a heartbreaking, uplifting love story spanning two continents and three generations.

Guys, this is my first stab at non-fiction. And I am so, so surprised I ‘loved, loved’ it that much, I’d be urging you all to go buy it. I mean, I would have been urging you all to go buy it already (as if you had a choice!), but I didn’t think I’d love it that much. So my review:

First of all, I loved the whole reason that motivated this story. Love, War and a place to call home during times where displacement to avoid death was as much as an in-thing as property-scouting in LA (in case you end up becoming a reality TV star). A granddaughter investigating the reason her grandparents split up for fifty years and never spoke to each other! Never spoke of their love with each other, never spoke of the reasons of their separation. A well-lettered couple who always put down records of their lives in a journal during the times of the Holocaust, but then, there’s a huge gap about how they met, how they fell in love, why the woman packed up all her possessions including the children and just left. I figure stuff like this are what non-fiction books are made of. Very intriguing and brow-knitting material. A star to the storyline.──

I loved the whole presentation of this work. A story in which the end is already known to the reader (though not your cheesy romantic comedy!), a start that’s very hard to decipher, and an even more confusing, puzzling middle. The whole ending is they split up without seeing or speaking to each other for fifty years. But, was it a happy marriage or one filled with terrible memories? Did they marry out of love or forced together by circumstances of the war (a ‘you only live once’ moment)? Where did their love story all start from? And where did it all end at? Most importantly, what did the middle of this love story entail? Miranda Richmond presents a story that has huge gaps from start to finish. Her duty to connect the dots rifling through old journals of her grandparents, asking her reticent grandparents questions about this separation, looking through old Holocaust records to put their stories together when the parties involved were not being cooperative enough. More discovery leads nowhere or anywhere, a research so involving our researcher finds herself being accused by friends and family of having her purpose in life mistaken. ── ★★

There’s enough suspense to keep you glued to this book. With a grandmother whose evasiveness would sometimes get you clenching your teeth in annoyance or happy to be learning a lot about these moments that shook the world, a grandfather who flies into rage anytime word of his ex-wife is mentioned, and their (love) story which holds much prominence in history, how could you not be glued to your seat? I read it all in two days, twitching nervously in my seat for hours on end.── ★★★

The two main characters: the grandparents, were lovely. They had so much personality it was such an amazing experience reading about the adventures(?) of two well-lettered jews during such dark times in history. You would love Anna, the grandmother, who was carefree in her days before the war, whose views on things such as life, wisdom, are enlightening as well as inspiring, whose evasiveness gives her actions a whole mysterious nature. You would also adore, Armand, who is so much uptight and particular about how things should be done (it’s not a wonder his wife left him), who is so reserved and a total snub to anyone who has high-spirits as his ex-wife, who naturally pushes anyone aside as a weird way of loving them. Their jobs in medicine and linguistics in a time of war is also informative. A star to the main objects of Miranda’s research.── ★★★★

Other characters also make this book a masterpiece. Miranda, herself, whose quest to find out what truly happened with her grandparents which no one in her family had ever bothered themselves with, whose undying curiosity gives this book the depth it has, whose selflessness at the expense of her living is put to much questioning by family and friends. Julien, the man who gave our lead character all her restless soul really needed: a home of her own (with a family that has suffered much displacement). Erna, a grandaunt who played an important part in her grandparent’s (love) story.  A star to these characters.── ★★★★★

My rating is obviously a five out of five stars (5/5 stars).

Miranda Richmond’s A Fifty-Year Silence is one of those moving, inspiring, informative books you must purchase about one girl’s quest to find answers everyone is, um, silent about.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good, old, love story set in a treacherous historical background (as the holocaust). Anyone who has had enough of Hitler literature and would want to learn about the ordinary lives of Jewish families and the effect the war had on them. Also any of you, like me, who love sinking into DW TV’s holocaust-styled documentaries, would revere this title so much.

Look out for my interview with Miranda Richmond for a more insightful look into this title.

My work not done here. Off to post my review on Goodreads.