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Sometimes I Lie

Book Review

Title : Sometimes I Lie

Genre : Psychological Thriller/ Mystery

Author: Alice Feeney

Publisher : HQ/HarperCollins

Date of Publication : March 13th 2017

Number of Pages : 279

My Rating : 4 out of 5

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:

  1. I’m in a coma.
  2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
  3. Sometimes I lie.

This is the opening of Alice Feeney’s debut novel, Sometimes I Lie. Amber is in a coma, unable to move any part of her body. She was in an accident whose details she does not remember.

As she lies in a hospital bed, she hears everything that is happening around her and tries to tie together the fragments to figure out what happened to her.

I have always wanted to read this book but I’m only now getting round to doing so. I saw a lot of people discussing it online and the views presented made me want to read it.

This is a gripping thriller that I really loved. The author tells the story using Amber’s experience as she lies in hospital, flashbacks to the days leading up to her accident, and diary entries from her childhood.

At first, she appears to be a sympathetic character and I started off feeling sorry for her. But that is only because I had not paid enough attention to the “Sometimes I lie” bit at the beginning.

As the story progresses, it becomes quite clear that Amber is anything but a sympathetic character.

Ultimately, I started having many questions. What really happened before the coma? What of her childhood? Does her husband Paul really not love her anymore? What is the role of the sister/best friend Claire, in all this? And the mysterious Edward who appears in the story to leave a distressing and shocking footprint?

I liked Alice Feeney’s writing style. Amber is likeable and sincere, until she is not. I empathized with her as the victim of serious wrongdoing, then discovered that perhaps that may not be so. She is such an unreliable narrator.

I must say that I was very confused. As I went along, I had to undo all the impressions I had in my head about all these characters, most especially Amber.

In any case, since Amber is a self declared liar and no other point of view is presented to help us discern what is really happening, how do we know what part of the narrative is true and what part is not? This is the point of the story, I guess……..

By the end, I was still not sure what was going on. I felt a strong inclination to re-read the book and try and garner new facts from hints that I may have missed. Like the significance of the colour red and the events as set out in the diaries, use of the name Taylor, among others.

Amber is shown as clearly having an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). She has to check everything 3 times. We later see that she also suffers from anxiety and the OCD developed as a result of that.  This story is full of twists and turns and I kept wondering what would come next.

 I have seen many people speculate about a lot of aspects of the book, especially the final twist. For me, I was totally sure that this was a case of someone who had a Disassociative Identity Disorder (DID) and was heavily medicated in a mental institute!

It would make sense (to me anyway) if these characters (or at the very least Amber and Claire) are all the same person, especially as the lines are so blurred between Amber/ Claire/Taylor – and it’s not even clear who the villain in this story is! Or maybe I have just been reading too many books with DID characters recently!

I loved the suspense and mystery in this riveting psychological thriller and rate it 4 out of 5. It would have been a 5 if it didn’t confuse me so much! I recommend that you pick it up today, if you love psychological thrillers full of twists and turns.

You will enjoy trying to figure out what is going on. If you have read it, let me know whether you were as confused as I was!

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The Classics Club

I am joining a classics challenge! I was super excited to come across this challenge. It is run by the classics book club which is a community of lovers of classics. The idea is to read at least 50 classics and blog about them, within a period of 5 years.

This is meant to increase the number of people blogging about classics. Since I love classics, I have decided to join the challenge. Not bad, yeah? I can do that in 5 years. It is bound to be a refreshing experience.

My first task is to choose 50 classics that I would like to read and review. In selecting my list, am including books that I have read in the past and would like to blog about. That’s not cheating, it’s allowed.

The first one on my list has to be Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, my favorite romance. I’m looking forward to blogging about this one! I have read it multiple times. I picked it up again last year after watching the 1995 BBC adaptation (yes, the one with Colin Firth diving into the lake). I don’t know why it took me so long to find this series, but I loved it once I did.

I am also including several others that I read years ago, as it has been a while and I need to refresh my memory to do them justice in a blog post. The Classics Club has helpfully provided a list to pick from, though you can include any book that is considered a classic. I have created a separate page for this project here where I will update my progress and post my reviews. Feel free to either join me or follow my progress!

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Are You a Power Mom?

Lessons From Chicken Soup For the Soul.

Title : Chicken Soup for the Soul. Power Moms

Compiled by : Jack Canfield, Mark Victor & Wendy Walker

Publisher : Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing

Date of Publication : 2009

Number of Pages : 381

My Rating : 5 out of 5

Why Read This Book ?

Somebody in my family gave me ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul – Power Moms’. I still do not know who it was as it was part of the Secret Santa Christmas gift exchange that we do every year with my extended family.

At the time, I wondered why this beloved relative thought this was an appropriate gift for me. Not that I did not consider myself a Power Mom. On the contrary, I knew this description had aptly described me for many years since I became a mother. The issue was that this series consisted of 101 Stories Celebrating the Power of Choice for Stay-at-Home and Work-from-Home Moms.

You see, I did not consider myself as either one of these. I had almost always been a Work from Work Mom, except with my most recent job where I had occasionally been allowed to work from home, one day a week. Before that, apart from maternity leave and the other usual leave days, I was not to be typically found staying at home or working from home.

Not that I did not want to, the choices were just limited. None of my previous positions had provided for a flexible working schedule. So why did this relative think that this book was a good gift for me? Perhaps he/she was predicting my future. You see, for the better part of that year; I had been at home. This was not out of choice but due to a retrenchment exercise, which led to me being laid off.

In as much as I had been home, I did not consider myself a Stay-at-Home-Mom. I was busy searching for employment and any additional day I spent at home and not in an office genuinely felt like a punishment. I did not expect to take so long to get back into employment. Thus looking for work had become my full-time job.

Given that, I did not fully appreciate how good it was that I was at home. I felt that my kids were grown, at 15 and 11 years, and did not need me around. Besides, my son was away at a boarding school and was only around during the holidays.

There are only so many CVs you can send out in a day, so I had plenty of free time. My favorite thing to do with free time is read, so I decided to read the book and see what it was about.

Inspiring Stories by Power Moms.

The book comprises 101 short stories mostly written by Moms about their working lives and the choices they made after getting children. There are also some stories from a few men. It was compiled by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Wendy Walker. There are stories from Jane Green, Melora Hardin, Liz Lange, Jodi Picoult, and Lynne Spears, among many others. The foreword was written by Lisa Belkin.

Moms who share their stories have different professional backgrounds. There are lawyers, doctors, writers, marketers, professors, journalists and so on. The stories are grouped into 10 chapters, based on different themes. They detail the reasons why many women decide to quit their jobs and stay at home. Through their stories, different Moms share experiences that they went through after they made this critical decision.

They talk about financial sacrifices and the effects of spending days with babies or young children at home as opposed to adults in a professional environment. They highlight the satisfaction that ultimately comes from being there for your children and watching them grow without missing out on any important milestones.

Several Moms tell us how they dealt with additional challenges such as children with special needs. Moms who work part-time from home as they care for their children share the struggles involved in balancing the two roles as well as successes achieved as they carved their paths.

We also get to hear from several men. They write about experiences with stay at home moms, be it their wives or mothers. Some men also share their own experiences of staying at home and caring for their children. Finally, we take a look at how it feels when it is time for the kids to move on and start their own lives. The writers relate their experiences with letting go and watching their children start their own lives.

My Reflections on The Stories.

Once I started reading these compelling stories, I instantly realized how I had inadvertently been presented with a golden opportunity to be with my two children and spend more time with them. The genuine joy of being at home to greet my daughter when she came home in the evening was beyond anything I had ever experienced in the past. Previously, I had always arrived home after her. To a greater extent, I would be too exhausted to constructively engage in any meaningful conversation.

Now, we could take a stroll around our gated compound as she narrated to me what had happened to her in school that day. I got to properly know her problem areas in school and could adequately support her as she completed her homework. When schools closed and my son came home for the holidays, we were able to spend time just talking or playing all manner of board games. I guided them to explore different skills like cooking, baking and even ironing. We danced, exercised and told stories.

With time, I came to sufficiently appreciate the opportunity that I had to be home with my children. It is not just a simple issue of being there physically when they need me. It is about being fully present as I am not bone-tired every night from an exhausting workday and a long commute.

The stories started to resonate with me. My kids are much older than those featured in the stories and I do not have the crazy schedules that they narrated. Still, I remember those days. These remarkable women demonstrate to us how rewarding it is to be present in your children’s life. They highlight the key challenges and the rewards of doing this. Additionally, they illustrate how a proper balance at times becomes necessary and show us how they were able to achieve it, either by taking on part time work away from the home or working from home.

I respectfully salute all these women for their amazing strength and incredible dedication. Many of them fully deserve the noble Super Mom title! I was inspired by their tales to look for work opportunities that allow me to spend more time on that most important job of all- being a Mom!

I fully recommend that you pick up this book and browse through these inspiring stories. Whether you are looking for some practical advice, comfort or just a laugh, this book has it all!

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Books Books Books

I love reading and consistently have. I fondly remember eagerly reading as a young girl. I would bury my head in a book and get taken away into a new world. A world that originally only existed in between the pages, but which came alive as I began visualizing it. I visited enchanted lands on The Magic Faraway Tree, went on adventures with the Famous Five, and solved mysteries with The Secret Seven, Moses and Nancy Drew.

With age, I was typically drawn to other books like the Sweet Valley High series which was irresistible to my teenage self. I also discovered successful comics like The Adventures of Tin Tin, Asterix, and the Archie series. There were many other titles I read during this period whose names am not able to recall, either because they were not as popular, or they were standalone and not part of a series. I vaguely recall some hardcover books that I discovered during the one-hour library session that we had in my primary school which featured young girls and their love for horses and riding. No one else even perused these books and there were in pristine condition. Whereas I scarcely remember their titles or authors, I know I found them very interesting. This was to the surprise of my classmates who considered them extremely serious, long and boring. Which they were not, at least not to me.

Other books that I enjoyed reading though many of my friends did not were classics like – The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; Little Women; Pride and Prejudice; Jane Eyre; Wuthering Heights; Oliver Twist; A Tale of Two Cities; Treasure Island, and The Three Musketeers. Looking back, I am not totally certain what initially drew me to these publications. I was slowly becoming a voracious reader, and if in print, I was going to read it!

Over time, I must have read over 500 Mills and Boon and Harlequin Romance series books! I honestly found them irresistible, even as I typically began finding the familiar plot rather predictable. I would save up my pocket money in High School, so I could go purchase a couple of these books when the school closed. Thankfully, I also discovered espionage and conspiracy genres as authored by Tom Clancy, Jeffrey Archer, and Robert Ludlum. Never has an excellent publication thrilled me as the Matarese Circle invariably did!

During my prime High School years, I read esteemed African writers like Chinua Achebe – Things Fall Apart, No Longer at Ease and A Man of the People. Also Ngugi Wa Thiong’o – A grain of Wheat and The River Between. I should have read all their books. Things Fall Apart was required reading for our exam, and we analyzed it thoroughly in class. I suspect that I did not fully appreciate the message in the other books by these literary giants, possibly due to my maturity and general awareness at the time. I therefore intend to re-read them together with the rest of their collection. It will most likely be a different, insightful learning experience.

This looks like a great reading list. Yet I have scarcely touched on what I read post-high school after discovering John Grisham and Robin Cook. Nor did my genuine love of Danielle Steele, Jackie Collins, Agatha Christie, Lee Child, James Patterson, and Paulo Coelho even come through! Or that time I borrowed a fascinating volume of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare and worked through it, story by story, instead of the business book I should have been reading. Or how I am currently reading A Song of Ice and Fire after watching Game of Thrones! Nor how The Richest Man in Babylon and Who Moved My Cheese are my favorite books of all time! I now realize it is not possible to list all the authors I love and all the books I have read over time!

Possibly, what this means is that, invariably, I have lots of essential material for a lively blog on books. My reading habit has stayed comfortably with me, though it suffered a bit of hiatus at times due to extremely busy periods at work combined with after work studies! I continue reading. I love books. Books have defined me and will undoubtedly continue to do so. I proudly accept the noble title of ‘bookworm’ with no apologies. Not even to the dear auntie who always shakes her head in wonder, saying what she recalls of me as an adolescent was the book in my hand! I take it as an ideal compliment, though it is understandable she does not get how a young girl could genuinely enjoy reading so much!

Ergo, as long as authors keep writing, I will keep reading and will indeed re-read what they wrote many years ago. Mostly to see what new lessons I can glimpse that may have subtly escaped me then. And I will continue connecting with other readers to share ideas and get tips on wonderful new books to add to my collection! And who knows, maybe one remarkable day, eventually write a brilliant book too!