Book Review: When Then Becomes Now by Sara Madderson #WhenThenBecomesNow @saramadderson @RandomTTours

Synopsis

You’re seventeen, and you’re hopelessly, crazily in love.
One night, everything goes tragically wrong, and you won’t see him for twenty-one long years.
When your paths cross again, you’re married. And he’s famous.
How can you be together?
How can you not?

“Twenty-one years of no contact and no answers and no way to heal from the fact that she fell off a figurative cliff, that day in 1998, and she’s been stumbling along ever since, putting one foot in front of the other, trying to exist.”

My Review

Clara and Alex were very much in love when they were 17. The events of that night had a tragic impact on their lives and the paths they would both take. After that night Clara and Alex never saw each other again. Fast forward 21 years and Clara is helping out at Sorrel Farm as a photographer when she is asked to cover the upcoming wellness conference which is being headlined by Alex. They say that you never forget your first love so how will Clara and Alex feel to seeing each other again.

Having just reading the second book in the Sorrel Farm series, Heaven On Earth, I very quickly picked up this book, which I can honestly say my heart was not ready for. I am a very big fan of this author, her writing style and the world building is just on point. From the moment I picked up this book I felt invested not only in the story but also the characters. It was so hard not to become part of the story.

As a character I loved Clara. She is so down to earth and such a likeable character. As for Alex, he sounded loving and adorable. 21 years may have passed but there were still glimpses into the 17 year old versions of Clara and Alex hidden in the bodies of their adult selves, whether that was in the names they called each other or their gestures. I can honestly say that this book totally broke my heart especially reading about the characters past and how they’d got to where they were today. Clara is definitely faced with a choice that I wouldn’t know what to do with. They’re both at a crossroads and there are tough choices to make. In that first meeting between Clara and Alex after 21 years my heart jumped in my throat because clearly there was still something between them that could never be erased and a longing that remained unresolved. There is what I would say an indescribable soulmate connection between them that the author has put so perfectly in words.

This storyline was full of so much heart and angst. There’s something about a ‘what if’ story that has so many possibilities for the characters. If you haven’t read this series I would highly recommend this and all of the other author’s books.

A story about never ending love, soulmates, ‘what ifs’ that will make you laugh, cry and reminisce.

Author Bio

Sara Madderson is an author, entrepreneur, wifeand mother. She was born in Ireland and moved to the UK with her family when she was ten years old. She lives in London with her husband Chris, their two children, Paddy and Tilly, and their cocker spaniel Charlie.

Before turning to writing, Sara worked in finance for a decade and then ran her own fashion brand, Madderson London, for eight years. She earned her MPhil in Early Modern History from the University of Birmingham.

Metamorphosis is Sara’s first book. Given that she spent most of her childhood writing and designing clothes, she’s now seen both of her childhood career dreams come true! She’s enjoyed the adventure of publishing independently as much as she’s enjoyed the writing process itself. She’s now completely hooked on writing!

Twitter @saramadderson

Book Review: We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride & Jo Piazza #WeAreNotLikeThem @cpride @jopiazza @HQstories

Synopsis

Not every story is black and white.

Riley and Jen have been best friends since they were children, and they thought their bond was unbreakable. It never mattered to them that Riley is black and Jen is white. And then Jen’s husband, a Philadelphia police officer, is involved in the shooting of an unarmed black teenager and everything changes in an instant.

This one act could destroy more than just Riley and Jen’s friendship. As their community takes sides, so must Jen and Riley, and for the first time in their lives the lifelong friends find themselves on opposing sides.

But can anyone win a fight like this?

We Are Not Like Them is about friendship and love. It’s about prejudice and betrayal. It’s about standing up for what you believe in, no matter the cost.

My Review

The story begins with the shooting of 14 year old Justin Dwyer by two police officers. Riley is a news reporter working towards her big break when she is assigned to report on the case as the lead reporter. Jen is the pregnant wife of Kevin, one of the police officers involved in the shooting. However Jen and Riley are not strangers, they’re childhood friends who grew up together and count themselves more as family than friends. How will the events and the aftermath affect Jen and Riley’s lives and their relationship?

This was a book that I have been looking forward to reading for a while not only because of the story but because it is written by two authors. The storyline is brilliantly written and is very relevant today.

The narrative switches between Jen and Riley which was very interesting. It was intriguing to see how they perceived what had happened and what they were thinking. At times I questioned what I would do had I been in Jen or Riley’s position and the honest answer would be that both characters are in difficult positions. It was clear from their narrative that Jen as a person of white heritage and Riley as a person of black heritage have had and continue to have very different experiences and the way they are treated by others. For example there is one situation where Jen compares both she and Riley have been through and appears to believe that that their experience is the same i.e. people touching Riley’s hair as a woman of colour and people touching Jen’s pregnant stomach.

Once I’d finished reading this book I couldn’t write my review straight away because it’s a story that really makes you think. I’ve never read a book with such a shocking and disturbing prologue, but it sets the scene perfectly for the book and what is to come.

Books like this are very relevant to the issues that arise today especially since the BLM movement. It’s a brilliant talking point for both friends, family and professionals. As it deals with such an important topic I hope books like this are added to reading lists for schools, colleges and universities. It’s a book that is emotive and a topic that will either bring people together or divide them. It’s a book that can be uncomfortable to read but it deals with a topic that should make people feel uncomfortable and question their own beliefs and thoughts.

This is a haunting and powerful book about race, relationships, friendships and love.

Author Bio

Christine Pride

Christine Pride worked in publishing for fifteen years. Over the course of her career, Christine worked with a variety of established and debut writers and published many New York Timesbestsellers and critically acclaimed books including, From Scratch, Heaven is Here, and A Reason to Believe. Christine now writes full-time.

Jo Piazza

Jo Piazza is an award-winning journalist and editor who has written for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Glamour, Marie Claire and Elle. The bestselling author of The Knockoff, How to Be Married, Fitness Junkie, and Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win, she currently lives in Philadelphia with her husband and two children.

We Are Not Like Them is their debut novel as a writing duo.

Book Review: Heaven On Earth by Sara Madderson #HeavenOnEarth @saramadderson @RandomTTours

Synopsis

TWO GUYS. ONE CHOICE. IT’S OBVIOUS, RIGHT?

Sadie has one job: to court the press and put Sorrel Farm on the map. 

She doesn’t suffer fools. She knows what she wants—in work and in love. And she always gets what she wants. 

Ned is the farm’s quiet, intellectual Finance Director. And he’s smitten. 

He’s got so much to give. If only Sadie could be bothered to look below the surface… 

Danny is everything Ned is not: overtly sexy, overtly flirtatious and extremely self-assured. But there’s something off about him… 

It’s obvious who the more attractive proposition is. Well, it’s obvious to everyone but Sadie. 

Join Sadie’s messy love triangle and reunite with your favourite characters from Food for Thought:Evelyn, Angus, Zoe and more!

My Review

Sadie is a former journalist who has been hired by Sorrel Farm to deal with their PR. At the same time that Sadie is hired, Danny is hired as a new assistant farm manager to help Angus with the day fo day running of the farm and lastly there’s Ned,  a long standing member of staff at Sorrel Farm and the Finance Director.

As soon as Sadie meets Danny it’s clear that there’s an instant attraction because he sounds totally hot. However when she meets Ned she dismisses him of hand. Will Sadie realise that there’s more to Ned that meets the eye? And who will Sadie choose Danny or Ned?

As an avid fan of this author I absolutely adored this book. There’s  something about the way the author writes her books that just feel like a comfort read to me. I loved the storyline and learning more about Sorrel Farm. As for the characters as always the author has done an amazing job in bringing the characters to life so they jump off the page. My initial thoughts on Sadie weren’t particularly positive but I did warm to her as the story progressed. Although she’s very smart and knows what she wants she doesn’t always see what’s right in front of her face. Sadie is someone who definitely judges a book by it’s cover especially when she meets Danny and Ned. As for Danny yes he sounds very good looking but there was something about him that just felt too charming. And as a complete an utter nerd myself I completely fell in love with Ned as soon as he appeared in the book. He is definitely a new person to add to the book boyfriend list. One of the other characters who I found very intriguing was Zoe. It was interesting to learn more about Zoe, what she’d been through and when she talked about her spiritual side. I loved how characters from the author’s other books make an appearance in this book and we get an update on where they are in life and also see them interact with  new characters. This book is just under 250 pages long and I honestly wizzed through it and I can’t fault anything about the story, the characters or the book in general.

This is book two in the Sorrel Farm series and although it can be read as a stand alone to the first book, Food for Thought I would highly recommend reading the first book in the series and any book written by this author to be honest. With Sara’s books you honestly can’t go wrong!

Author Bio

Sara Madderson is an author, entrepreneur, wifeand mother. She was born in Ireland and moved to the UK with her family when she was ten years old. She lives in London with her husband Chris, their two children, Paddy and Tilly, and their cocker spaniel Charlie.

Before turning to writing, Sara worked in finance for a decade and then ran her own fashion brand, Madderson London, for eight years. She earned her MPhil in Early Modern History from the University of Birmingham.

Metamorphosis is Sara’s first book. Given that she spent most of her childhood writing and designing clothes, she’s now seen both of her childhood career dreams come true! She’s enjoyed the adventure of publishing independently as much as she’s enjoyed the writing process itself. She’s now completely hooked on writing!

Twitter @saramadderson

Book Review: One More Christmas at the Castle by Trisha Ashley #OneMoreChristmasAtTheCastle @trishaashley @RandomTTours

Synopsis

Elderly widow Sabine knows this will be her last Christmas in her beloved home, Mitras Castle. Determined to make it just like the ones she remembers from her childhood, she employs Dido Jones of Heavenly Houseparties to help with the big day.

Dido is enchanted by the castle as soon as she steps through the imposing front door. And as Christmas day approaches, her feeling of connection to the old house runs deeper than she first thought. But when the snow begins to fall and Sabine’s family arrive at the house – including Dido’s teenage crush Xan – tensions rise around the castle’s future and long-buried mysteries begin to unravel…

As past secrets come to light, can this still be a magical Christmas to remember?

My Review

Sabine decides to host one last Christmas party with her family and friends at her home Mitras Castle so she can decide who to leave her beloved castle to or if it will be left to the National Trust. Dido runs Heavenly House Parties and when her Christmas booking falls through she is approached by Sabine to organise the house party at Mitras Castle but to also run the household the month leading up to Christmas. As soon as Dido arrives she tries to make Christmas at Mitras Castle the best it has ever been and is also reunited with her childhood crush Xan. Although Sabine has specifically asked for Dido she doesn’t appear to warm to Dido and Dido has no idea why. Will Dido find out the reason before the end of Christmas? Who will Sabine leave Mitras Castle to?

This was a warm and cosy read. I read this on a dull rainy September day and as soon as I started to read I was transported to Christmas at Mitras castle. The description of Mitras Castle was so detailed and welcoming that I wished I was there. The storyline was intriguing especially when more secrets started to be revealed as the story unfolded. The characters were also very well written. Sabine initially appears quite cold but as we learn more about her past she starts to thaw and glimpses into her past do explain why she acts the way she does. As a character Dido is likeable and sweet. Dido’s interactions with Xan were just adorable and it is clear that Dido’s childhood crush is still very strong. As for the food references, it was full of comfort food and made me feel ready for Christmas.

Definitely a book that will fill you full of Christmas cheer any time of year!

Author Bio

TRISHA ASHLEY’s Sunday Times bestselling novels have sold over one million copies in the UK and have twice been shortlisted for the Melissa Nathan award for Romantic Comedy. Every Woman for Herself was nominated by magazine readers as one of the top three romantic novels in the last fifty years. Trisha lives in North Wales.
For more information please visit http://www.Facebook.com/TrishaAshleyBooks or follow Trisha on Twitter @trishaashley.

Book Review: Could You Survive Midsomer? By Simon Brew #CouldYouSurviveMidsomer @simonbrew @Octopus_Books @RandomTTours

Synopsis

CAN YOU AVOID A BIZARRE DEATH IN ENGLAND’S MOST DANGEROUS COUNTY?

All is not well in the beautiful county of Midsomer. On the eve of its first Villages In Bloom competition, a man lies slain, smelling of damson jam. Who could have done it?

Well, that’s where you come in. Step into the shoes of Midsomer CID’s newest recruit, choose your own path and decide which way the story goes.

Could You Survive Midsomer? sets off on an engaging pick-your-own adventure format to challenge the reader to solve a crime or succumb to the county’s suspiciously high death rate. Set in television’s most celebrated and murderous county, the book allows readers to see if they can get to the bottom of the mystery and bring the perpetrator to justice, avoiding an untimely, and possibly bizarre death, along the way. Your task is to make the right choices, solve the case and – most tricky of all – stay alive!

My Review

Shortly before the village in bloom competition, Peter James Maddock is found dead. As the reader it’s up to you to become the detective and find out what happened to Peter and why.

When I was young I absolutely adored choose your own adventure books. I loved the fact that you could start a story and then you could decide how the story panned out, essentially creating the storyline as you went along. When I received an invitation to be part of the blog tour for this book I couldn’t wait to be involved. This book brought back elements of my childhood as I have been looking for a book like this for awhile. I loved everything about this book from the format to the writing style. With a book like this there are endless possibilities depending on the path that you choose which I absolutely loved. It’s a book that you can read once and as soon as you’ve finished it you can start reading it again but you’ll end up with a different story each time.

Definitely a book that I would highly recommend!

Author Bio

Simon Brew is the former editor and founder of Den of Geek – the popular culture news and reviews website. He is the author of three books including Movie Geek, TV Geek and The Secret Life of the Movies. Simon is also the founder of the magazine and podcast Film Stories.

ABOUT MIDSOMER MURDERS
Midsomer Murders is a TV national treasure. For over 21 years, residents of this quintessentially English county have hosted a series of homicides, which have been at the centre of over 100 episodes. With a huge international fanbase, Midsomer Murders has sold in over 220 territories. A top export of the UK detective genre, the show is hugely popular in Germany, France and all over Scandinavia, as well as having major fanbases in North America and Canada, Australia – and Japan!

Book Review: The Daughter’s Choice by S.D. Robertson @SDRauthor @rararesources @AvonBooksUK

Synopsis

Is her whole life built on a lie?

Rose has always been close to her father. Her mother died soon after she was born, so it’s been just the two of them for as long as she can remember. But a chance encounter days before she’s due to get married leaves Rose questioning everything she has ever known. The man she trusts most in the world has been keeping a secret from her.
And the truth will leave her with an impossible choice…

Purchase Link – smarturl.it/TheDaughtersChoiceEB

My Review

Rose is an only child, raised by her father as her mother died shortly after she was born. Prior to Rose’s wedding she meets someone who will change her life forever and make her question everything she has been told and who she really is.

This was an interesting storyline and definitely a slow burn novel. I did struggle a bit to get into the book, but I’m glad that I continued to read. It helped that the writing style was easy to read and follow. I had an inkling where the story would go but then towards the end of the book the storyline steered into a direction that I wasn’t expecting which added further context to the story.

As the story unfolded I found the background to Rose and her father’s relationship very interesting. It was clear to see from Rose’s account that she is very close to her father and that he is also her best friend. This is the kind of story that makes you think what would you do in Rose’s situation and how would you react to all of the secrets that are revealed. I really enjoyed the dual narrative which switched between Rose and Cassie.

A book about family, secrets and relationships!

Author Bio

Former journalist S.D. Robertson quit his role as a local newspaper editor to pursue a
lifelong ambition of becoming a novelist. He lives in a village near Manchester with his wife and daughter and now writes full-time – and it’s safe to say the career move paid off! Stuart is a USA Today and Kindle Top 100 bestseller.

Social Media Links – @SDRauthor (Twitter), @sdrobertsonauthor (Instagram), S.D.
Robertson/@sdrobertsonauthor (Facebook).

Book Review: Starstruck by Beth Miller #Starstruck @drbethmiller @farragobooks @RandomTTours

Synopsis

Sally Marshall is just your ordinary suburban woman, who gets by performing as a tribute act to a pop star (Epiphanie, even more famous than Beyonce). She, along with dozens of others.

Until one day she is asked by the real Epiphanie to do a life swap for a couple of weeks.

Epiphanie trades Madison Square Gardens for doing gigs in pubs. Sally is catapulted from suburban semi life to double for a mega-star, her life turned upside down.
But which life will they each choose in the end?

Laugh-out-loud and unputdownable, Starstruck will leave you feeling warmer about all the different lives we choose.

My Review

Sally has been a tribute artist and has been performing as pop star Epiphanie for years. Epiphanie is the world’s biggest pop star and Sally’s idol. After attending a gig Sally is shocked to return home and find Epiphanie in her kitchen with a proposal. In exchange for $100,000 she wants to swap lives with Sally for a few weeks. Will the swap give them both what they’ve been dreaming of? Ultimately, which life will they prefer?

From the first page I know that I was going to like Sally because she was so funny and down to earth. When she meets Epiphanie for the first time, it’s clear that she’s quite literally star struck, who wouldn’t be after meeting their idol. But they are both very different people, use to very different lives. Epiphanie a famous star and Sally is just a normal person. The interesting part for me was once the swap took place and what came after. Although both characters initially struggled a little with the swap after a short while they effortlessly fitted into each other’s lives. However, as things started to become more complicated you could clearly see that things might not turnout as it had been planned.

I really enjoyed this book. What attracted me to the book to begin with was definitely the synopsis. I wanted to read it from the outset and would pick it up if I walked past it in a bookshop. The concept of a tribute artist and pop star swapping places was absolutely fascinating but as the book clearly showed that the life of a pop star filled with glitz and glamour also has its own pitfalls. I definitely think that Sally was able to fit better into the role of Epiphanie than vice versa. Although Sally was just a tribute artist, her own star worth definitely shone through. However, there were a few tell tale signs where Sally’s own personality came through whilst she was Epiphanie especially because of her love for team her eating habits and the way she treated people. One of my favourite parts was when Sally as Epiphanie started to wave at staff and there were complaints as they didn’t know what to do.

If you’re looking for a read which isn’t too heavy, has an interesting storyline and light humour then this is the book for you!

Author Bio

Beth Miller is the author of four novels, including the bestselling The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright. She has also published two non-fiction books, and works as a book coach and creative writing tutor. Before writing books, she worked as a sexual health trainer, a journalist, a psychology lecturer, a PhD student, an alcohol counsellor, and an inept audio- typist.

Book Review: The Juggle by Ellie Barker @elliebarkerwri1 @rararesources

Synopsis

Married couple Molly and Dan are forced to swap lives. But will it bring them closer together or drive them even further apart?

It was only a blip. Just a little mistake. But in the world of television, Dan Whitehead’s little slip could cost him his career.

His only chance is to swap roles with his wife, Molly, who also works part-time, behind the scenes at the show. It’s just for a couple of months. Easy. What’s so hard about looking after their twins and taking a step away from the limelight for a bit? Only, it’s not quite as simple as Dan may think. With more time, his past begins to haunt him. Then, when a friendly school-mum offers him the comfort he needs, is she everything she seems?

Meanwhile, Molly is more than happy in her sweatshirt and leggings. Why would she want to go back on-screen when she doesn’t even like leaving the house? But she needs to save her husband’s job. After all, it is her fault. Then, when she’s offered an exclusive interview on the other side of the world, her life in Cherry Blossom Park is under threat. Why is she the only person to ever be offered this interview? Dan must never know the truth.

The Juggle is more than just a story about parents keeping everything in the air. It’s about secrets from the past and hopes for the future.

It asks the question – is a marriage every big enough for two dreams to come true?

Purchase Links
UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Juggle-Cherry-Blossom-Park-Book-ebook/dp/B099ZXRDM6/
US – https://www.amazon.com/Juggle-Cherry-Blossom-Park-Book-ebook/dp/B099ZXRDM6/

My Review

Molly and Dan are married and work in the world of news at The Daily Blossom. Molly is a part time producer working one day a week, spending the rest of her time as a housewife and mother. Dan is a news reporter always in front of the camera and a local celebrity. When Dan makes a faux pas which could end his career, their boss gives him one option to save his career which is to swap places with Molly. How will Molly and Dan take to their new roles? Will the change have an impact on their relationship and marriage?

It was clear from the outset that Dan and Molly are very comfortable in their current roles, so the change is very disconcerting to begin with. However, they both start to develop a new sense for their current role and its challenges. In some ways it brings the characters a new found appreciation for their partners’ role. Molly seems to take to the role like a duck to water, even though initially she is reluctant and makes a fantastic reporter, which is picked up by everyone around her. Dan appears to struggle more than Molly especially when it comes to looking after their twins. He clearly misses being in the lime light and starts to show signs of jealously because of Molly’s success. Add in the nagging inner voices of Molly and Dan who fill their thoughts with doubt and guilt. I really enjoyed the storyline as it was interesting to see two different people thrown into new roles and complete chaos. Plus it was also a really easy read and time just flew by whilst reading.

The book ended on somewhat of a cliff hanger so I’m intrigued to see what happens next to Dan and Molly. Although, this book is part of the Cherry Blossom Park series it can be read as a standalone.

A book about relationships and marriage.

Author Bio

Ellie Barker is a television reporter and presenter. The Juggle is her second book. You can find out more about Ellie at https://www.elliebarkerwrites.com/
Social Media Links –
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/elliebarkerwrites/
https://www.instagram.com/elliebarkerwrites/
https://twitter.com/elliebarkerwri1

Book Review: Tinker, Tailor, Schoolmum, Spy by Faye Brann #TinkerTailorSchoolmumSpy @WriterFaye @fictionpubteam @HarperFiction @RandomTTours

Synopsis

Vicky Turnbull has never regretted giving up her career for family life in the suburbs. And apart from being outstandingly good at paintball, no one would ever know that in a past life she was an undercover spy and has been trained to kill a man with her bare hands. Not even her husband, and certainly not the other mums at the school gate.

But beneath the school runs and bake sales, Vicky had never quite said goodbye to the past. So, when a newcomer on the PTA sets alarms bells ringing and MI5 comes calling, she’s determined to prove that despite her expanding waistline and love of pink gin, she’s still every bit the cold-eyed special operative.

When the assignment gets uncomfortably close to home, Vicky must decide if she has got what the job takes after all, and if home is really where her heart is…

My Review

Vicky Turnbull is not an ordinary housewife and mother. She’s a former spy who somewhat retired 14 years ago after having her first child. So she is very surprised when her former employer, MI5 reaches out with a new assignment that is a little too close to her home life. But Vicky very quickly dusts down her spy skills and off she goes. Does Vicky still have what it takes to be a spy? Once she is back in her former spy life which life will she choose?

The book arrived just before the weekend and it was the perfect weekend read. It was funny, light and full of suspense. A mum who’s a spy is just a brilliant concept and kept me entertained from start to finish. Vicky is such a likeable character and hilarious, it was hard not to like her from the beginning. You could tell from the first chapter during the paintball event that Vicky had the makings or was a covert agent and that she’d not lost any of her skills. However, it was also clear that she missed her former life and she fell back into her old role very quickly and easily. There were a few hair raising moments when Vicky was under cover and trying to obtain information, especially when a ghost from the past made reappearance. It was also interesting to learn more about Vicky’s life before she was married and had children and her past assignments. This added more context and background to Vicky’s character. I would really be interested in a prequel based on Vicky’s life as a spy. Although I loved everything about this book as a Whovian I have to say one of my favourite parts was when Vicky and her husband attend a Halloween party and they dress as Dr Who and Vicky dresses as a Dalek.

A funny, witty and a comedic spy movie in book format. I can’t recommend this book enough. Definitely a book I will be reading again!

Author Bio

Faye grew up in Essex before running away to drama school. She worked in the West End as a stage carpenter but decided to get a ‘proper job’, for reasons which are still unclear but may have been influenced by Rachel from Friends. After a decade working her way to the heady heights of middle management, Faye met her husband and moved to Dubai where she ditched corporate life for good in favour of having a baby, performing improvised comedy, and gaining an MA from Falmouth University.
Now back in London with her family, Faye divides her time between performing in musicals with her local theatre company and working as a freelance copyeditor, but her real passion is for writing novels about (and for) kick-ass middle aged women. Her first novel, Tinker, Tailor, Schoolmum, Spy, won the Comedy Women in Print Unpublished Prize in 2020.
Keep in touch with Faye on Twitter and Instagram @writerfaye

Book Review: Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian #GoldDiggers @sanjenasathian @simonschusterUK @RandomTTours

Synopsis

ANYONE CAN BE EXTRAORDINARY. BUT IT COMES AT A PRICE…

Neil Narayan’s parents moved to America for a better life, and his perfect older sister is now headed to an elite university. Neil is funny and smart, but he is not living up to his parents’ dream. While he tries to want their version of success, mostly, Neil just wants his neighbour across the street, Anita Dayal.

Once a lot like Neil, Anita is truly thriving academically, athletically and socially. Anita has a secret: she and her mother Anjali have been brewing an ancient alchemical potion from stolen gold that harnesses the ambition of the jewellery’s original owner. Anita just needs a little boost to get into Harvard. When Neil – who needs a whole lot more – stumbles onto their secret and joins in the plot, events spiral into a tragedy that rips their community apart.

Ten years later, Neil is an oft-stoned history grad student studying the California gold rush. Anita has given up her high-flying tech career and is working as an event planner, just for now. Anjali, the woman who gave them both so much, is in trouble, and only gold can save her. What choice do Anita and Neil have but to pull off one last heist?

Gold Diggers is a dazzling coming-of-age story that speaks to anyone who ever wondered quite how they belong, and who ever dreamed of being the very best they could be.

My Review

Neil and Anita have known each other since they were young and Neil likes Anita more than a friend. Neil is struggling with his studies and the high expectations of his parents. Neil has always been fascinated with Anita and her unconventional upbringing. One night Neil breaks into Anita’s basement and finds what can only be described as a DIY laboratory and what appears to be lemonade which he drinks. What transpires is that Neil hasn’t drunk lemonade but is a gold potion that is brewed by Anita’s mother using stolen jewellery. Drinking the potion gives the recipient the power to achieve their ambitions because the gold is infused with the owner’s good luck and hopes which is then transferred to the drinker. Neil hopes that the potion will make him more successful. However, all actions have consequences and when Neil and Anita reconnect 10 years later can they escape the ghosts of the past for one last heist.

This was an unusual and unique read. As soon as I read the synopsis I knew this was going to be a different story to anything I’ve read before and it didn’t disappoint. As someone of Indian heritage all of the characters felt very real and it was hard not to identify with them. The author has done a brilliant job in writing characters who are trying to balance being both American and Indian at the same time i.e. trying to find a place in America but not leaving behind their heritage. In Neil and Anita’s case they are definitely the perfect description of ABCDs American Born Confused Desis. There were some comedic moments like when Neil’s sister Prachi is going to college and their mother insists that they go to the temple every time they buy something new from Prachi’s college list (this does happen). Of course who can forget the mention of turmeric milk which every Asian parent makes their child drink as they believe it will cure any illness. It’s still a big no no for me. And the mandatory bhajan (prayer) that every child is made to listen to. What I also enjoyed about the book was the side story regarding the gold rush and it fitted into the main story perfectly and complemented the gold theme which runs throughout the book.

This is a coming of age story about identity with a touch of alchemy and magic.

Author Bio

A Paul and Daisy Soros fellow, Sanjena Sathian is a 2019 graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She has worked as a reporter in Mumbai and San Francisco, with nonfiction bylines for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Food & Wine, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, and more. And her award-winning short fiction has been published in Boulevard, Joyland, Salt Hill, and The Master’s Review.