30 July, 2013

#BookReview :: Birthdays of a Princess by Helga Zeiner

To be famous and be admired by total strangers can be very dangerous.
Her little girl has always been her princess. In fact, she was so lovely, Melissa entered her toddler into child beauty pageants, making her a star from an early age. But her dreams and hopes are shattered one October morning, when Melissa watches a breaking news story on television. A young girl has been filmed by bystanders, committing a brutal assault in broad daylight in a downtown Vancouver Starbucks…and it looks like the girl is her daughter.
From this moment on, a story unfolds, so shocking, that it will hold you captive and you will find yourself reading faster and faster into the night. 

Tiara has always been a ‘beauty queen’.

Tiara was raised by her mother and aunt from the very beginning as her father had lost his life to war. What starts as an easy way to earn money, soon turns to be something so much more sinister. Not only is nothing as beautiful and glittering as it looks like on the pageants circuit. When she is caught assaulting a lady, and its flashed on news, Tiara come in contact with a psychiatrist and a detective who take steps in order to help out Tiara. But the Doctor’s suggestion of Tiara start writing a journal soon opens a can of worms that shock the readers.

I have read Ms. Zeiner’s work before. Her previous novel Section 132 dealt with a polygamous sect in Canada. As a well written novel dealing with a serious matter, this author had captured my heart right away and I had made it a point to keep out for her upcoming works. When this book came up for review for a Blog Tour, I knew I had to be part of it. But at the same time, I have to admit that I had picked up this book with some previous expectations. And am finally glad to report that I wasn’t let down.

The author has her own style of writing wherein she seamlessly mixes in facts and fiction to create a world for us. There’s a certain ‘darkness’ about the plot and some of the characters in the story that absolutely took a grip on me. Horrified at moments by some of the characters, I pitied Tiara at times, felt bad for her most of the times and yes, finally I cheered for her. Tiara’s character is a hope for humanity. She emerged as a strong person in the end – even after all the abuse and that gave me hope that maybe humanity’s resilience is stronger than evil. The author has also dealt with some serious issues – from the world of child beauty pageants to paedophilia with great deal of sensitivity and originality. The plot and characters are supported by and excellent narration style wherein we hear the story from multiple point of views thus giving us a chance to make up our own mind about each character.

Awesome book. Do not pick up this book if you are looking for a light fun read or to get tips on fashion or learn about brands. (try Pretty Little Liars Series for that). But in case you are a serious reader who likes to know more about ‘facts’ through fiction, or like to read books that touch your heart, or makes you really think, please go ahead and pick this one up.

"In Birthdays of a Princess, Helga Zeiner has captured the inner thoughts of an abused teen with amazing sensitivity. From my own experiences in 25 years of Forensic Psychiatry both in private practice and at Youth Forensic Services the psychopathology of the characters is accurate and realistic."
~~ Dr. Paul Janke
Forensic Psychiatrist, M.D., F.R.C.P., Vancouver, BC

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  1. WOW! That is an awesome review. I am also a fan of this author and had trouble putting this book down. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  2. After reading this review I ‘lost for words’ which, being an author, is hopefully not a permanent state. A big Thank You to you and all the other reviewers for taking the time to read this novel. Your work is so important because it connects writers and readers in an honest way.
    Thank you again with all my heart.
    Helga Zeiner, author