25 October, 2021

The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth - [Book Review]

 

 Book Details:

Title: The Family Next Door

Author: Sally Hepworth

Genre: Domestic thriller, Contemporary Fiction, Women Fiction

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Print length: 335 pages

Source: A copy from the local library







Blurb :

A gripping domestic page-turner full of shocking reveals, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty, Amanda Prowse and Kerry Fisher.

The small suburb of Pleasant Court lives up to its name. It's the kind of place where everyone knows their neighbours, and children play in the street.

Isabelle Heatherington doesn't fit into this picture of family paradise. Husbandless and childless, she soon catches the attention of three Pleasant Court mothers.

But Ange, Fran and Essie have their own secrets to hide. Like the reason behind Ange's compulsion to control every aspect of her life. Or why Fran won't let her sweet, gentle husband near her new baby. Or why, three years ago, Essie took her daughter to the park - and returned home without her.

As their obsession with their new neighbour grows, the secrets of these three women begin to spread - and they'll soon find out that when you look at something too closely, you see things you never wanted to see.

Purchase Link:


My Review :

A good Women's Fiction that I read recently. This is the story of the neighborhood in Pleasanton court in Australia. It is majorly, the story surrounding 3 women and their families - Anne, Essie, Fran, and their new Neighbour Isabelle. 

Anne is an entrepreneur with 2 sons and her husband Ben manages his photo studio. Ben is very helpful and unlike other men, he pitches in to help Anne with managing kids, home and work. But, Anne realizes that all is not as well it seems.

Fran is a smart working woman who is on a maternity break with her second daughter Ava, whereas her husband Nigel is a perfect match for her intelligence and her older daughter is exactly like her father. Her life is smooth as a perfect couple until an extramarital affair ruins the peace of the family.

Essie is blessed to have a handsome and understanding husband Ben and her mom Barbara staying nearby. She suffered from postpartum depression with her older daughter. After her second delivery, she is waiting for a good friend in the neighborhood and is happy to find Isabelle. 

The story goes through the dark the secrets of their families, the insecurities, and emotions. This book is very nice to read as a woman as it deals with some important issues new moms face like postpartum depression. I can completely relate to the characters and their feelings.

Surprisingly, this is also a thriller with a twist in the end. So, overall, it's a great read. 

My Rating:

4/5


About the Author:

Sally Hepworth is the bestselling author of The Secrets of Midwives (2015), The Things We Keep (2016) The Mother's Promise (2017), The Family Next Door (2018) and The Mother In Law (April 2019). Sally's books have been labelled “enchanting” by The Herald Sun, “smart and engaging” by Publisher’s Weekly, and New York Times bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Emily Giffin have praised Sally’s novels as “women’s fiction at its finest” and “totally absorbing”.



Sally's novels are available worldwide in English and have been translated into 10+ languages.


Until next time,

23 October, 2021

The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman - [Book Review]

 Book Details:

Title: The Accidental Time Machine 

Author: Joe Haldeman

Genre: Science Fiction (Sci-fi)

Publisher: Gateway

Print length: 222 pages

Source: A copy from the local library





Blurb :

Grad-school dropout Matt Fuller is toiling as a lowly research assistant at MIT when, while measuring quantum relationships between gravity and light, his calibrator disappears - and reappears, one second later. In fact, every time Matt hits the reset button, the machine goes missing twelve times longer.

After tinkering with the calibrator, Matt is convinced that what he has in his possession is a time machine. And by simply attaching a metal box to it, he learns to send things through time - including a pet-store turtle, which comes back no worse for wear.

With a dead-end job and a girlfriend who left him for another man, Matt has nothing to lose by taking a time machine trip for himself. So he borrows an old car, stocks it with food and water, and ends up in the near future - under arrest for the murder of the car's original owner, who dropped dead after seeing Matt disappear before his eyes. The only way to beat the rap is to continue time traveling until he finds a place in time safe enough to stop for good. But such a place may not exist...

Purchase Link:


My Review :

This is different from the books I usually pick to read. Sci-fi is not my favorite genre but wanted to give it a try this time. 

Matt Fuller, a research assistant at MIT accidentally discovers a time machine from a faulty calibrator that he builts. The premise is funny. Every time when he hits the reset button in the calibrator, it travels to a timeframe in a linear pattern - like the first time - a few seconds, the second time - a few days, the next time - a few years, and so on.

Thus, he travels through different times in the future, even reaching the moon and different galaxies. But, coming back is complicated. Since he doesn't know how to do that, he continues going to the future until someone helps him to come back to his past. 

Matt meets different people from the future, and one person, at last, helps him to go back, but not to his time. 

The narrative is interesting and the premise is pretty simple though the explanation about how the calibrator traveled through time is not much clear. The story becomes a bit complex and unrealistic as we move to the future. There are many loose ends to clarify by the end.

The climax is very satisfying and relatable. 

My Rating:

3/5


About the Author:

Haldeman is the author of 20 novels and five collections. The Forever War won the Nebula, Hugo and Ditmar Awards for best science fiction novel in 1975. Other notable titles include Camouflage, The Accidental Time Machine and Marsbound as well as the short works "Graves," "Tricentennial" and "The Hemingway Hoax." Starbound is scheduled for a January release. SFWA president Russell Davis called Haldeman "an extraordinarily talented writer, a respected teacher and mentor in our community, and a good friend."

Haldeman officially received the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master for 2010 by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America at the Nebula Awards Weekend in May, 2010 in Hollywood, Fla.



Until next time,

05 October, 2021

The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht - [Book Review]

 

Book Details:

Title: The Tiger's Wife 

Author: Tea Obreht

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Mythology

Publisher: Random House

Print length: 353 pages


Source: A copy from the local library




Blurb :

Weaving a brilliant latticework of family legend, loss, and love, Téa Obreht, the youngest of The New Yorker’s twenty best American fiction writers under forty, has spun a timeless novel that will establish her as one of the most vibrant, original authors of her generation.

In a Balkan country mending from years of conflict, Natalia, a young doctor, arrives on a mission of mercy at an orphanage by the sea. By the time she and her lifelong friend Zóra begin to inoculate the children there, she feels age-old superstitions and secrets gathering everywhere around her. Secrets her outwardly cheerful hosts have chosen not to tell her. Secrets involving the strange family digging for something in the surrounding vineyards. Secrets hidden in the landscape itself.

But Natalia is also confronting a private, hurtful mystery of her own: the inexplicable circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. After telling her grandmother that he was on his way to meet Natalia, he instead set off for a ramshackle settlement none of their family had ever heard of and died there alone. A famed physician, her grandfather must have known that he was too ill to travel. Why he left home becomes a riddle Natalia is compelled to unravel.

Grief struck and searching for clues to her grandfather’s final state of mind, she turns to the stories he told her when she was a child. On their weeklytrips to the zoo he would read to her from a worn copy of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, which he carried with him everywhere; later, he told her stories of his own encounters over many years with “the deathless man,” a vagabond who claimed to be immortal and appeared never to age. But the most extraordinary story of all is the one her grandfather never told her, the one Natalia must discover for herself. One winter during the Second World War, his childhood village was snowbound, cut off even from the encroaching German invaders but haunted by another, fierce presence: a tiger who comes ever closer under cover of darkness. “These stories,” Natalia comes to understand, “run like secret rivers through all the other stories” of her grandfather’s life. And it is ultimately within these rich, luminous narratives that she will find the answer she is looking for.

Purchase Link:


My Review :

The tiger's wife is narrated by Natalia, an aspiring young doctor who is inspired by her Grandfather who is a doctor as well. The death of her Grandfather and the stories she heard from him before his death make her dig more into his Grand Father's life and his childhood. 

She comes across many mysterious stories and superstitions where she works with her friend Zora at an orphanage. 

What's great?

I loved the stories narrated by her grandfather to Natalia. The narrative is interesting. The story of Deathless man also gives a good philosophy on love, life, and death. The deaf-mute girl making friends with a tiger and finding solace is heart-touching. 

The characterization is deep and thorough.

Liked some great quotes from the book:

" In the end, all you want is someone to long for you when it comes time to put you in the ground."
"...fear and pain are immediate, and that, when they're gone, we're left with the concept, but not the true memory--why else...would anyone give birth more than once?"

What might have been better?

The narrative shifting between present, past, and between characters of deathless man, grandfather, Natalia, the tiger's wife all make it really confusing. The organization might have been better.

The story seems like ended abruptly. The climax is not satisfying enough and the ending is confusing. 

My Rating:

3/5


About the Author:

Téa Obreht 
was born in Belgrade in the former Yugoslavia in 1985 and has lived in the United States since the age of twelve. Her writing has been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s, and The Guardian, and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. She has been named by The New Yorker as one of the twenty best American fiction writers under forty and included in the National Book Foundation’s list of 5 Under 35. Téa Obreht lives in New York.



Until next time,

12 September, 2021

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini - [Book Review]

Book Details:

Title: A Thousand Splendid Suns

Author: Khaled Hosseini

Genre: War Fiction

Publisher: Riverhead Books

Print length: 372 pages

Source: Copy from the local library


Blurb :

Propelled by the same superb instinct for storytelling that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, the #1 New York Times bestseller A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once an incredible chronicle of thirty years of Afghan history and a deeply moving story of family, friendship, faith, and the salvation to be found in love.

“Just as good, if not better, than Khaled Hosseini’s best-selling first book, The Kite Runner.”—Newsweek


Khaled Hosseini returns with a beautiful, riveting, and haunting novel that confirms his place as one of the most important literary writers today.

Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss, and by fate. As they endure the ever-escalating dangers around them-in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul-they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation. With heart-wrenching power and suspense, Hosseini shows how a woman's love for her family can move her to shocking and heroic acts of self-sacrifice, and that in the end, it is love, or even the memory of love, that is often the key to survival.

A stunning accomplishment, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a haunting, heartbreaking, compelling story of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love.

Purchase Link:


My Review :

I got this book from our local library and this is the first book by Khaled Hosseini that I read after listening to many great reviews.

This is a heart-touching story of 2 women in Afghanistan during the period of war with Russia and when the country is occupied by the Taliban later. Mariam who is smart and intelligent raised by her mom had to go through so many difficulties in her life for one bad decision of trusting her father Jalil. 

We feel the problems of Mariam through the story and relate to her helplessness after she is forcibly married to Rasheed at a young age. 

Laila who is the neighbor of Mariam in Kabul is a girl raised by her parents who are educated. Her life turns upside down when their parents die due to the bombing and her friend Tariq leaving with his family to Pakistan due to war. She takes an important decision in her life knowing that it would hurt her forever.

Rasheed's character makes us hate him. He uses the rules of patriarchy the best by manipulating both Mariam and Laila.

The rules set by the Taliban on Afghanistan women seem cruel. It is so sad to read that women didn't have freedom even to walk outside their house without a male companion and that even the police never cared about domestic violence.

It is inspiring to see how women survived without their basic rights in those times. Mariam has to take the difficult decision but she is brave enough to sacrifice her life for the good of Laila who is like her daughter. 

Laila is courageous enough to rebel against Rasheed and even get beatings just to meet her daughter. Mariam and Laila are some of the best women characters I ever read.

The story ends very well, but it makes us shiver thinking of the atrocities against women in those times. 

Usually, war stories are depressing to read. But, this story though heart-wrenching and emotional, it makes us feel positive and hopeful.

What's great?

The way story is written makes it relatable to the readers. The characterization is thorough and deep. The message at the end is great and it is definitely the best read.

My Rating:

5/5

I recommend this book to readers who love historical fiction, and real war stories.

About the Author:


Khaled Hosseini is one of the most widely read and beloved novelists in the world, with over thirty eight million copies of his books sold in more than seventy countries. The Kite Runner was a major film and was a Book of the Decade, chosen by The Times, Daily Telegraph and Guardian. A Thousand Splendid Suns was the Richard & Judy Best Read of the Year in 2008. Hosseini is also a Goodwill Envoy to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Refugee Agency and the founder of The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation which provides humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. He was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and lives in northern California.

Until next time,

15 August, 2021

Mammoth Hotsprings, Yellowstone Itinerary Day #3

 Read this post to plan the Yellowstone Vacation with kids - How to Plan Vacation to Yellowstone

Our Day #1 itinerary covering Yellowstone Waterfalls - The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Our Day #2 itinerary covering the mid-way geyser basin - The Grand Prismatic Spring

 Our Day #2 (part 2), itinerary covering the Upper and Lower geyser basin - Old Faithful Geyser

On Day #3, we covered the Northern part of Yellowstone - Norris Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hotsprings, and Roosevelt arch.


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On the way to Mammoth Hotsprings, we can visit the Norris geyser basin.

Norris Geyser Basin:

Norris geyser basin is the hottest and the most dynamic area of Yellowstone. The temperature on the surface can be as high as 459 F here. This area changes frequently with seismic activity and water fluctuations. 


Norris Geyser Basin



This place is home to the world's tallest geyser 'Steamboat geyser' which raises to 300- 400 ft when erupted. 

This area is divided into 2 parts - Back Basin and Porcelain Basin. We first visited the Porcelain basin which is more dynamic with a large concentration of geysers. We can see the hottest geothermal features called Fumeroles here. They release steam and gasses with a loud noise. This trail is 3/4th mile with bare ground and some Broadwalk. 

The Back Basin is shaded and geysers are scattered across different locations. The Broadwalk trail is 1.5 miles. We walked to Steamboat geyser only and returned back as it seemed lengthy under hot Sun.

Steamboat Geyser:

This is the world's tallest geyser which can splash water up to 300 ft. The eruptions are entirely unpredictable. Last time, it erupted on July 8, 2021, and it erupted for 37 days! 

We can see this geyser in Back Basin after the Emerald pool. There is a connection underground between the Cistern pool and the Steamboat geyser. When a Steamboat geyser erupts, it drains the Cistern pool completely and it fills back after the eruption. Isn't this amazing?

Next, we drove to the Mammoth hot springs area. The drive to Mammoth hot spring is beautiful. 

Mammoth Hot Springs :

For hundreds of years, people used to collect the minerals in this area to use it as white paint. The mineral deposits are formed by the network of fractures that form a plumbing system releasing hot water from underground to the surface. Due to chemical reactions with limestone and carbon dioxide, Calcium carbonate is deposited on the surface forming travertine, the rock that's formed in this area. 





Canary Springs



This area is almost near to the North Entrance to a town called Gardiner. The whole Broadwalk with many steps covering Upper and lower terraces is around 1.75 miles. On a hot sunny day, it is tough to hike this, it is better to carry water and snacks as there are many steps too.





A must-see attraction on the Upper terrace is Canary Spring. The colors of the water - blue, green, turquoise are beautiful to watch flowing down the white rocks. 

After you finish the trail to Canary Springs and back, you can proceed to the lower terrace. On the way to the lower terrace, the blue spring is fabulous.


Mound terrace


Patterns on the terrace - Close up


The yellow mound terrace and the pattern on the terraces are amazing. We couldn't see any water flowing through the Minerva terrace, but I think, the landscape here is changing over time.


Lower Terrace



Liberty Cap:

We can see the Liberty cap at the end of the trail. This rock is made of travertine (a type of limestone formed in hot springs) and it is known to be one of the extinct thermal features.  


Liberty Cap



Terrace Grill:

We stopped by Terrace Grill restaurant for our dinner. Dinner is delicious and we tried the homemade ice cream in the next store as well. If your kids love buses and trucks, terrace grill will give this free cardboard toy bus for kids meals. :-)





Female Elk



We also saw Elk while having dinner at picnic tables opposite the Terrace grill.

Roosevelt Arch:

Then, on driving for 15 mins or so, we reach Roosevelt Arch. In 1903, the partially constructed arch was dedicated by President Roosevelt with much fan-fare. The arch is named after the President as he was vacationing in Yellowstone during the construction.


Roosevelt Arch



2 miles off the Mammoth Hotsprings towards Gardiner, there is a place called Boiling River where the water from hot springs mix with the river water making it the best place to swim. The bathing area is a 5 to 10 mins walk from the parking area.

Other places to see around are Tower falls, Petrified tree, and Undine Falls (1.8 miles out and back trail).

If you have at least 2 to 3 hrs of time and you love animals, drive to Lamar Valley. We had to skip it due to the lack of time.

So, that's it from Yellowstone. It was a great 4-day vacation there. At last, the time has come to say goodbye to this other-worldly place.

The next day we drove to Idaho - The state which is famous for its potatoes. We found some great waterfalls, cool bridges, and a place that is similar to the Moon. 

More in the next travelogue.

Until next time,




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10 August, 2021

The Captain's Daughter by Doreen Berger - [Book Review]

  Book Details:

Title: The Captain's Daughter

Author: Doreen Berger

Genre: Middle-grade fiction, sci-fi

Publisher: Polaris Print LLC

Print length: 254 pages

Source: Review Copy from the author







Blurb :


"A cozy family adventure…" — Kirkus Reviews

For most adolescents, growing up is hard enough when one has both feet planted firmly on the ground. But for mischievous, twelve-year-old sisters Diane and Robin, life is complicated further by the fact that their father, Captain William Marsh, is the commander of the Starship Polaris. Living among the stars provides a never-ending realm of creative possibility for the free-spirited girls’ pranks and adventures.

When aliens bent on profit and revenge kidnap Diane and Robin, only their indomitable spirit, ingenuity, and a common love of trouble allow the pair to escape the alien vessel. Finding their way home seems assured until the sisters realize they have been taken further from home then they could ever have imagined, and that they must evade an enemy who will stop at nothing to get them back into his evil clutches. Blocked by interstellar battles, malevolent creatures, and overwhelming obstacles, the sisters fear they may never find a way to return to their own universe and to the father they love.

Purchase Link:


My Review :

I got this review copy from the author. I am not a big fan of middle-grade fiction/sci-fi, but the blurb seemed interesting to me.

This is the story of 2 girls Dianne and Robin, who lose their parents in a space attack are raised by their uncle Marsh. Marsh is a captain for the advanced spaceship - Polaris. The story is about the girls' abduction and rescue. 

The story is wonderful and it focuses majorly on relationships, family values, and love. There are some great scenes about the best parenting behaviors. 

Marsh is good at both disciplining their daughters and also showering them with love. The girls are adventurous, sometimes turn to trouble makers like any other children.

The girls are smart and use their intelligence to escape from commander Blassen, but things don't go as planned and they end up in a parallel Universe. Whom do they find in this parallel Universe and how they return home back is the remaining story.

What's great?

The story, characters, unexpected twists, and the portrayal of family love.

The title of the book is apt and I absolutely loved the cover.

What might have been better?

There is nothing much to say in this section except a few minor things. 

I felt, there is a little bit of confusion when the narrative goes between 2 parallel Universes. It might have been easier for the reader if the book clearly mentions which Universe the chapter is about. 

After the girls are rescued once from Blassen, the next few chapters felt a bit boring.

My Rating:

4/5

I recommend this book to children aged 9 to 11 years who love science fiction. 

PS: I have received this free review copy in exchange for a review and this is my honest opinion of the book.

Until next time,

31 July, 2021

Old Faithful and Upper Geyser Basin - Yellowstone itinerary Day #2

Read this post to plan the Yellowstone Vacation with kids - How to Plan Vacation to Yellowstone

Our Day #1 itinerary covering Yellowstone Waterfalls - The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Our Day #2 itinerary covering the mid-way geyser basin - The Grand Prismatic Spring

 On Day #2, we covered the midway geyser basin in the morning and Upper and Lower geyser basins in the evening.


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Upper Geyser Basin:

The upper geyser basin is composed of multiple paved paths and boardwalks which allows us to see many geysers from nearer. 

This is the place with the highest concentration of geysers. As we all know, Old faithful is the popular geyser in this area.

The Upper geyser basin loop is 3 miles and can be reached from Old faithful inn. 


Upper Geyser basin Trail



The old faithful inn was designed by Robert Reamer in 1903 which is a historic building with lodge pines. The architecture inside is beautiful and the place on the roof with seating to view the Old faithful erupt is well designed.


Old Faithful Inn






We started our trail for the Upper geyser basin from the Old faithful inn parking lot. There are many Bison happily resting near Old faithful inn and rolling in the dust.

The trail starts at the castle geyser. Castle geyser is a big cone and one of the oldest geysers in the basin. As of now, it's erupting every 10 to 12 hrs and the National park service displays the approximate eruption time for all the geysers.

We cross through the crested pool along a bridge and the other side has 3 geysers - Spasmodic, Grand, and Turban geysers. They all erupt at once every 1 to 3 hrs. This is fascinating to watch. The water rises above 10 ft.





The heat in this area comes from Yellowstone Volcano which is inactive. The molten lava or magma is as close as 3 to 8 miles underground in the Upper geyser basin. So, as close as we can get to danger :-)

The beauty pool is colorful to watch. Then we pass through several geysers like Giant geyser, Grotto geyser, and riverside geyser. We saw Grotto geyser erupting venting off a lot of steam and making loud sounds. There is a bench to sit on just before Grotto geyser. We also saw an Elk in this area up close!





Morning Glory Pool:

But, the highlight of this trail is Morning Glory Pool which is one of the not-to-miss locations.

The photos don't do much justice here and you should definitely watch this pool.


Morning Glory Pool



Unfortunately, this pool has become a victim of Vandalism. Since people dropped coins and trash in the pool, steaming vents closed making the temperature drop, blocking the natural spring water.

Orange and Yellow bacteria give the color to the spring that we see now. It would have been magnificent before the steam vents were closed. 

After this trail, we had dinner in Old faithful Inn watching the Old faithful erupt from the roof. This is an amazing view!

Old Faithful Geyser:

What's so special about this geyser that it has become an icon in Yellowstone?

Old Faithful has been faithfully erupting at regular intervals since 1872. The water can rise to 180 ft max when it erupts and it erupts every 60 -110 mins. The eruption might last between 1.5 to 5 mins.


Old Faithful Geyser



The national park service predicts the eruption to the exact hours and mins. Since it erupts almost every 1 hr / 1.5 hrs, it is easy to catch it erupt. We had dinner every day at Old faithful inn and watched the eruption at least 2 to 3 times in those 4 days that we spent in Yellowstone. 


Watch the video of the Old Faithful eruption.





This is the second not-to-miss location in Yellowstone in the Upper geyser basin.

During the eruption, the temperature of water in the Old faithful may reach 204 F. It releases around 3700 to 8400 gallons of water for each eruption!

Old faithful Observation Point:

We were too tired to walk to the observation point, but the trail to the Observation point is around 1.3 miles. From there, you can watch the complete upper geyser basin and the Old faithful.

Lower Geyser Basin:

The lower geyser basin covers all types of hydrothermal features like geysers, hot springs, fumaroles, and mud pots.

We took the trail to the fountain paint pots only as we were tired by that time. The fountain geyser in this area seemed to be most impressive when it erupts. It is the most predictable geyser it seems.

Fountain paint pots are formed by mud pots bubbling and popping mud. They look a little pink and other colors which gave the name Fountain paint pots.


Fountain Paint Pots



Red Spouter is interesting to watch in that area. It is like a hot spring in winter, a muddy reddish pool in spring, and fumarole steam venting out in summer and fall. Isn't it amazing how it changes with seasons?

One more place to watch is Biscuit Basin. We couldn't stop there due to a time crunch. Biscuit Basin loop is a 2/3 of a mile hike that covers some colorful hot springs and geysers. This area is unpredictable and volatile. It recorded an earthquake at 7.5 on the Richter scale in 1959 it seems.

We wrapped up that day and returned to the hotel. The next day we covered Norris geyser basin, Mammoth hot springs, and Roosevelt Arch. Watch out for the next travelogue soon!

Until next time,




The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell - [Book Review]

 Book Details:

Title: The Family Upstairs

Author: Lisa Jewell

Genre: Mystery, thriller, suspense

Publisher: Atria Books

Print length: 352 pages

Source: Copy from the local library





Blurb :

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A GOOD MORNING AMERICA COVER TO COVER BOOK CLUB PICK

“Rich, dark, and intricately twisted, this enthralling whodunit mixes family saga with domestic noir to brilliantly chilling effect.” —Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author

“A haunting, atmospheric, stay-up-way-too-late read.” —Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone comes another page-turning look inside one family’s past as buried secrets threaten to come to light.

Be careful who you let in.

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.

Purchase Link:


My Review :

I got this book from our local library intrigued by the blurb. 

Oh my God! It's a perfect mystery thriller with a lot of unexpected twists in the story. I thought it is a horror while reading the first few pages. The story parallelly narrates  2 different time periods touching 3 to 6 characters.

Libby who unexpectedly inherits the ancestral house in Cheyenne walk is excited as well as curious about this inheritance. She tries to learn more about the house and the mysterious murders that happened 25 years ago with her friend and an investigative journalist Miller.

Lucy with an abusive ex-husband and 2 children, tries to come back to the house after 25 years to find the baby they left in the house long ago.

Henry is a pivotal point to the story and the most mysterious character. Clemency, Justin, and Phin play an important role in revealing the facts gradually about the house and their families.

Connecting the dots from past and present and reading the story from different people's perspectives is the most interesting part of the book. 

What's great?

Unexpected twists, parallel stories, interesting characters, and mystery maintained till the end.

What might have been better?

I would love to read more about Henry. The story ends well, but the curiosity about Henry stays when you finish the book. 

I didn't feel the title is apt. Yes, the mysterious family of David stays upstairs. But, I felt, there is more to the story overall.  

I would love to read more about David and his personality. A few pages from the perspective of David / Birdie / Justin / Henry Sr / Mom might have been better to understand the reasons for their strange arrangement. It really seems unbelievable that David could twist the mind of the main family members and use them to his advantage. I wasn't sure about his final goal. 

My Rating:

4/5

I recommend this book to readers who love suspense stories with multiple unexpected twists. 



Until next time,

25 July, 2021

Midway Geyser Basin - Grand Prismatic Spring - Yellowstone Itinerary Day #2

 Read the Yellowstone itinerary of Day #1 here

On Day #2, we covered the most important and vibrant places in Yellowstone. 

We started after 11 am to avoid traffic as we are going to visit the popular sites that day. We directly reached to Mid-way geyser basin first. 


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Midway geyser basin:

Midway geyser basin is actually a part of the lower geyser basin, but due to its isolated location, and being between lower and upper geyser basins, it's called the midway geyser basin.

The parking area at the midway geyser basin is not very big and so we parked the car on the side of the road just near midway geyser basin. For me, this is one of the not-to-miss locations.

The midway geyser basin trail is a 0.8-mile Broadwalk that passes through multiple hot spring pools like Excelsior geyser, Grand prismatic Spring, and turquoise pool. 

First, we passed through a wooden bridge and we saw the hot water with steam rushing to the Firehole River. This was pretty amazing to watch. It was very windy on that day and the heat from the Excelsior geyser was pretty evident.


Boiling water gushing to Firehole river



Excelsior geyser was once the largest geyser in the world. After its eruption in 1880, it became a thermal spring now discharging 4050 gallons of boiling water per minute. The temperature of the water would be around 199 F. The bright blue color is amazing to watch.


Excelsior geyser


Bacteria Mat and colors!



Here comes the most colorful spring in Yellowstone - The Grand Prismatic Spring. The temperature of the water ranges from 147 to 188 F. This trail is one sure way to walk near the bright blue, green, red, and turquoise colors. But, the best way to watch the colors is through the Fairy falls trail from up!





The trail passes through 2 beautiful, yet small pools - Opal pool and turquoise pool. 

As I mentioned before, the best way to experience the vibrant colors of Grand Prismatic Spring is to watch it from the top. We had a quick picnic lunch and We drove to Fairy falls trail, which is the next stop.

Fairy Falls trail / Grand Prismatic overlook:

This trail gives access to 2 trails - Grand Prismatic overlook and Fairy falls.

An easy 1.2-mile hike takes us through Grand Prismatic spring overlook. Even though the trail is easy, it climbs around 105 ft in 0.6 miles which makes it a bit tough on a sunny day. This hike even on a sunny day is 100% worth of your time.

The Grand Prismatic shows up bright with its blue, red, orange hues letting off steam into the air. This is the largest spring in Yellowstone and the third-largest in the world. This is also one of the most photogenic places in Yellowstone. The various colors of the Grand Prismatic Spring are due to the presence of microbes and due to the sunlight being scattered by mineral particles in water. 


From Overlook






Fairy falls trail is 4.8 miles out and back trail. We couldn't do this trial as we were tired by that time. Fairy Falls is 200m high and one of the spectacular waterfalls of Yellowstone.

We visited the Upper geyser basin which is the home of Old Faithful and the Lower Geyser Basin on the same day evening. But, since this travelogue is becoming too lengthy, will cover them in my next blog post.

Until next time,




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