Recent Reads

Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

Synopsis - In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.
Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

Thoughts - I read the first of the two book series late last year. I had mentioned not loving it. The second part is much better than the first. With that said, still didn't love the series. 


My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

Synopsis - the epic story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton—a revolutionary woman who, like her new nation, struggled to define herself in the wake of war, betrayal, and tragedy. Haunting, moving, and beautifully written, Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to tell Eliza’s story as it’s never been told before—not just as the wronged wife at the center of a political sex scandal—but also as a founding mother who shaped an American legacy in her own right.
A general’s daughter…A founding father’s wife...The last surviving light of the Revolution…

Thoughts - This is my third book reading about the women of our history. The first was written by the same author and was about Martha, Jefferson's daughter. Last year I read about Alice Roosevelt and now it was time for Eliza Hamilton. It was a great book. Quite long. It spans from her life as a general's daughter, how she met the not always so great Hamilton. Living through tough times, the death of her son, the death of Hamilton and onwards until she herself died at the age of 97. So many insights into the creation of this country. If you have any interest in history I would pick this one up. 

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Synopsis - Two brothers meet at the border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of outback Queensland. They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old, no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish. Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he lose hope and walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…

Thoughts - Last year I read The Dry by Jane Harper and enjoyed it. The Lost Man is set in the Australian Outback were conditions are rough.. I had no idea. The book was slow but I enjoyed the characters and learning about life in the Outback. Things pick up towards the end and the twist was not at all what I had expected. It was a good book but I liked The Dry better. 

Long Bright River by Liz Moore 

Synopsis - Two sisters travel the same streets, though their lives couldn't be more different. Then, one of them goes missing.
In a Philadelphia neighborhood rocked by the opioid crisis, two once-inseparable sisters find themselves at odds. One, Kacey, lives on the streets in the vise of addiction. The other, Mickey, walks those same blocks on her police beat. They don't speak anymore, but Mickey never stops worrying about her sibling.
Then Kacey disappears, suddenly, at the same time that a mysterious string of murders begins in Mickey's district, and Mickey becomes dangerously obsessed with finding the culprit--and her sister--before it's too late.

DID NOT FINISH. I got through about 15-20% through the book but I just didn't care. 

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Synopsis - Looking at real estate isn't usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can't fix up their own marriage. There's a wealthy banker who has been too busy making money to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can't seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment's only bathroom, and you've got the worst group of hostages in the world.
Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises, these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in a motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.

Thoughts - I have read the Beartown series by Backman and loved it. This one, not so much. It wasn't a bad book but it was certainly annoying. A lot of annoying characters being annoying. There was a twist in the end but I still had to get through all the annoying bits to get there. I didn't hate it but not a favorite. 

Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor

Synopsis - On a sultry August day in 1922, Jay Gatsby is shot dead in his West Egg swimming pool. To the police, it appears to be an open-and-shut case of murder/suicide when the body of George Wilson, a local mechanic, is found in the woods nearby.
Then a diamond hairpin is discovered in the bushes by the pool, and three women fall under suspicion. Each holds a key that can unlock the truth to the mysterious life and death of this enigmatic millionaire.
Daisy Buchanan once thought she might marry Gatsby—before her family was torn apart by an unspeakable tragedy that sent her into the arms of the philandering Tom Buchanan.
Jordan Baker, Daisy’s best friend, guards a secret that derailed her promising golf career and threatens to ruin her friendship with Daisy as well.
Catherine McCoy, a suffragette, fights for women’s freedom and independence, and especially for her sister, Myrtle Wilson, who’s trapped in a terrible marriage.
Their stories unfold in the years leading up to that fateful summer of 1922, when all three of their lives are on the brink of unraveling. Each woman is pulled deeper into Jay Gatsby’s romantic obsession, with devastating consequences for all of them.

Thoughts - I must start by saying I have not read The Great Gatsby nor have I seen the movie. So I was going into this blind. But I always like going into things with a woman's perspective. Plus it was set in the roaring 20's the book had to be fun right? It was not. It had all the ingredients, all the women had interesting stories but I just didn't like it. There was no heart. It all felt superfluous. All the women victims of time and circumstance and all the men dicks. It was too black and white. Not for me. 

The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

Synopsis - She's got his back. He's got her heart. They've got a secret. What could possibly go wrong?Hannah Brooks looks more like a kindergarten teacher than somebody who could kill you with her bare hands. But the truth is, she's an elite bodyguard and she's just been hired to protect a superstar actor from his stalker.
Jack Stapleton's a Hollywood heartthrob - captured by paparazzi on beaches the world over, rising out of the waves in clingy board shorts and glistening like a Roman deity.
When Jack's mom gets sick, he comes home to the family's Texas ranch to help out. Only one catch: He doesn't want his family to know about his stalker. Or the bodyguard thing. And so Hannah - against her will and her better judgment - finds herself pretending to be Jack's girlfriend as a cover.
Protecting Jack should be easy. But protecting her own heart? That's the hardest thing she's ever done...

Thoughts - This is my second Katherine Center book. The first one was Things You Save in a Fire. I am not big on romance books but I had enjoyed the first book so I give this one a shot. It was cute with some funny thrown in. It had heart and it wasn't too sappy. I wasn't blown away by it but it was a decent read.

Drowning by T.J.Newman

Synopsis - Six minutes after takeoff, Flight 1421 crashes into the Pacific Ocean. During the evacuation, an engine explodes and the plane is flooded. Those still alive are forced to close the doors—but it’s too late. The plane sinks to the bottom with twelve passengers trapped inside.
More than two hundred feet below the surface, engineer Will Kent and his eleven-year-old daughter Shannon are waist-deep in water and fighting for their lives.
Their only chance at survival is an elite rescue team on the surface led by professional diver Chris Kent, Shannon’s mother and Will’s soon-to-be ex-wife—who must work together with Will to find a way to save their daughter and rescue the passengers from the sealed airplane, which is now teetering on the edge of an undersea cliff.
There’s not much time.
There’s even less air.
With devastating emotional power and heart-stopping suspense, Drowning is an unforgettable thriller about a family’s desperate fight to save themselves and the people trapped with them—against impossible odds.

Thoughts - I listened to this book. I finished it in one day. I don't remember the last time I got through a book that fast.. probably in my teenage years. It was like reading a Tom Cruise movie.. it was really fast paced and was just a fun ride. No higher thinking needed.. just like a summer blockbuster. Which I heard it will be turning into.. movie deal has been finalized. 

Maame by Jessica George

Synopsis - Maame (ma-meh) has many meanings in Twi but in my case, it means woman.
It’s fair to say that Maddie’s life in London is far from rewarding. With a mother who spends most of her time in Ghana (yet still somehow manages to be overbearing), Maddie is the primary caretaker for her father, who suffers from advanced stage Parkinson’s. At work, her boss is a nightmare and Maddie is tired of always being the only Black person in every meeting.
When her mum returns from her latest trip to Ghana, Maddie leaps at the chance to get out of the family home and finally start living. A self-acknowledged late bloomer, she’s ready to experience some important “firsts”: She finds a flat share, says yes to after-work drinks, pushes for more recognition in her career, and throws herself into the bewildering world of internet dating. But it's not long before tragedy strikes, forcing Maddie to face the true nature of her unconventional family, and the perils—and rewards—of putting her heart on the line.

Thoughts - This is a must read. It is so beautiful. Maddie is an amazingly real character. She is not perfect and she has nothing figured out, she has a complicated family life, lives with the high expectations and guilt of being a first gen and is used to putting everyone else's needs before her own. Growing and learning with her was such a moving and sometimes heartbreaking journey. If you haven't read this one already then please go out and read it. 

My Darkest Prayer by S.A.Cosby

Synopsis - “I handle the bodies.”
Whether it's working at his cousin's funeral home or tossing around the local riffraff at his favorite bar, Nathan Waymaker is a man who knows how to handle the bodies. A former marine and sheriff's deputy, Nathan has built a reputation in his small Southern town as a man who can help when all other avenues have been exhausted. When a beloved local minister is found dead, his parishioners ask Nathan to make sure the death isn’t swept under the rug.
What starts out as an easy payday soon descends into a maze of mayhem filled with wannabe gangsters, vicious crime lords, porn stars, crooked police officers, and a particularly treacherous preacher and his mysterious wife. Nathan must use all his varied skills and some of his wit to navigate the murky waters of small town corruption even as dark secrets of his own threaten to come to the surface.

Thoughts - I don't know. This book had stellar reviews. As so do all of Mr. Cosby's books. And I'm not saying it was a bad book but I have read better crime novels and I just didn't see what all the fuss was about. 

Year One by Nora Roberts

Synopsis - It began on New Year's Eve.
The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed--and more than half of the world's population was decimated.
Where there had been order, there was now chaos. And as the power of science and technology receded, magic rose up in its place. Some of it is good, like the witchcraft worked by Lana Bingham, practicing in the loft apartment she shares with her lover, Max. Some of it is unimaginably evil, and it can lurk anywhere, around a corner, in fetid tunnels beneath the river--or in the ones you know and love the most.
As word spreads that neither the immune nor the gifted are safe from the authorities who patrol the ravaged streets, and with nothing left to count on but each other, Lana and Max make their way out of a wrecked New York City. At the same time, other travelers are heading west too, into a new frontier. Chuck, a tech genius trying to hack his way through a world gone offline. Arlys, a journalist who has lost her audience but uses pen and paper to record the truth. Fred, her young colleague, possessed of burgeoning abilities and an optimism that seems out of place in this bleak landscape. And Rachel and Jonah, a resourceful doctor and a paramedic who fend off despair with their determination to keep a young mother and three infants in their care alive.
In a world of survivors where every stranger encountered could be either a savage or a savior, none of them knows exactly where they are heading, or why. But a purpose awaits them that will shape their lives and the lives of all those who remain.
The end has come. The beginning comes next.

Thoughts - I don't read a lot of fantasies but when I come across a good one it makes me really happy. This one made we happy. It was eerie to read about a pandemic that wiped out most of the population after having lived through Covid. This book was written prior to Covid and it felt unreal how on point her 'fantasy' world was. There were lot of characters to keep track of but I got sucked in and was easily hooked. 

Of Blood and Bone by Nora Roberts

Synopsis - They look like an everyday family living an ordinary life. But beyond the edges of this peaceful farm, unimaginable forces of light and dark have been unleashed.
Fallon Swift, approaching her thirteenth birthday, barely knows the world that existed before—the city where her parents lived, now in ruins and reclaimed by nature since the Doom sickened and killed billions. Traveling anywhere is a danger, as vicious gangs of Raiders and fanatics called Purity Warriors search for their next victim. Those like Fallon, in possession of gifts, are hunted—and the time is coming when her true nature, her identity as The One, can no longer be hidden.
In a mysterious shelter in the forest, her training is about to begin under the guidance of Mallick, whose skills have been honed over centuries. She will learn the old ways of healing; study and spar; encounter fairies and elves and shifters; and find powers within herself she never imagined. And when the time is right, she will take up the sword, and fight. For until she grows into the woman she was born to be, the world outside will never be whole again.

Thoughts - This was part two of the three part series. I had never read Nora Robert before. She is quintessentially a romance writer, or so I thought. She always seemed too Hallmark - Lifetime to me which is not my jam. I am glad I stumbled upon these books. There is one more book in this series which I am currently reading. 

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  1. Sounds like your recent reads were sort of a mixed bag, but I'm glad you found a few great ones! Sometimes you give a whole series a chance, hoping it will get better, and it's disappointing when it still ends up not being for you.

  2. These all sound so interesting!

    Curated by Jennifer

  3. Well you've tempted me with several of these. The Hamilton book, The Lost Man (I've only read The Dry, but loved it), and Maame. Our bookclub liked Anxious People quite a bit. I still need to read the Beartown series.

  4. Anonymous2/26/2024

    A mixed bag this month. Thanks for your reviews.

  5. I'm glad to see how much you enjoyed Maame. It's a book I've been considering.

  6. Maame sounds really good. I'll have to see if I can reserve it at my library.

  7. Maame sounds amazing! I wish I had more time to read!

    Corinne x

  8. i have not been much of a reader. i joined a book club hoping to change that and it has not helped!! my knitting teacher loves to read, i am going to send this to her, i know she will appreciate your narrative!!

  9. Many thanks for sharing your reads with us.

    All the best Jan

  10. Anonymous2/26/2024

    I had the same thoughts about Anxious People, I didn't love it, didn't hate it, it was just annoying. I also thought Nora Roberts only wrote romance novels, my mom loves her books. It's weird to think of her writing fantasy, but glad it turned out well.

  11. That's quite a lot of books. I have read The Great Gatsby, and... Yeah, the characters aren't great people in that novel either. Not a favorite.

  12. We have a few spring trips planned and I'm always looking for good books to take. Thanks for the recs!


  13. I didn't know any of these books and I want to check a few out!

  14. The Australian books would be good to read, watched The Dry on TV as it's a moviek rather enjoyed it having been to the outback many times in our travels.

  15. It's great to see you had more hits than misses :)
    I hope your next read is amazing!

  16. I don't think I ever wrote a review for it, but I really loved Maame. I have actually never read anything from Nora Roberts but my sister keeps telling me I should read this series. I might give it a try now after hearing your thoughts on the books.

  17. Oooooo...have only heard great things about Maame! Great to hear you loved it too!
    PS Saltburn is actually a movie I loved but I don't know if I would recommend it to everyone. You've probably heard that some scenes were pretty crazy.:D

  18. I'm going to have to look up Drowning! Thanks for sharing and visiting my blog earlier.

  19. I heard so many great things about Maame! And My Dear Hamilton also sounds so good.

  20. Thank you for sharing these reviews, Hena! I've still got quite a TBR pile to go through, but I'm currently reading at a snail's pace ... xxx

  21. At the moment I am not reading anything, I just need a little break from books

  22. Gracias por la reseƱa. Tomo nota de los de Nora Roberts. Te mando un beso. Enamorada de las letras

  23. Anonymous2/27/2024

    Like your take on Beautiful Little Fools, because that has been on my to read list!


  24. Oooh I love being read to! I listen on Audible, and also on YouTube where there a lot of full-length novels. Recently I have enjoyed the Simon Brett mysteries -- both the ones with Charles Paris as the protagonist and the Blotto and Twinks mysteries. On my table beside me are three books by Laurence Leamer, who I'm big into right now -- King of the Night: the Life of Johnny Carson, Capote's Women, and Madness Under the Royal Palms, a history of Palm Beach. LL is a great writer. xoxo

  25. Sounds like you had quite a variety of reads this month.
    Maame sounds particularly intriguing.

  26. I like your concise reviews, Hema! I'll look for Maame and I've heard good things about Nora Roberts.

  27. I really want to read that Nora Roberts series. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it so much. :)

  28. Thanks for sharing these reads! I wish I had more time to read.

  29. I liked Anxious more than you did, but then I read it a while ago and maybe I don't remember all of it. I love seeing the books you read.

  30. Thanks for sharing these book reviews. I have a 15 hour flight coming up and so am looking for some good reads!
    Julia x

  31. Glad to see you enjoyed Year One - and the follow-up. I've had it sitting on my bookshelf for 2-3 years and keep putting it off. You've reignited my interest in it!

  32. Hi, Oh I enjoy book reviews, thank you!!
    I have read all of Backman's books. The Beartown series was a favorite of mine as well.
    Thank you!!

  33. Enjoyed reading your thoughts on the books that you read. I thought I had read all of Jane Harper´s books but the one you described does not sound familiar. Yah! I like her books! I enjoyed Long Bright River (I think? I read it. If it´s what I´m thinking of, I liked it).

  34. I've been hearing good things about Katherine Center and The Bodyguard in particular. I should probably try to read this soon, I'm really curious if I'd like it more than you did. I'm glad you had a lot of other books you enjoyed though!

  35. My Dear Hamilton sounds really good! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these!

  36. Looks like a lot of great reads here. It takes me forever to read a book (unless it's one I really like!). Then I put everything else on hold and plow through it.

  37. You read a lot of books of great variety. I loved The Dry and another of her books so I am kind of a fan now.

  38. So many people I know raving about Renee Ahdieh, but I've been hesitant to pick one of her books up. Kind of disappointing to hear that they might not be worth the rave! Glad to hear the Nora Roberts is worth it, anyway!

  39. Love to read "The lost Man."
    Thank you for sharing your reviews

  40. I'm adding Maame and Drowning to my library list! Thank you for sharing your reviews!

    Jill - Doused in Pink

  41. I put Maame on my TBR, then took it off ... just so many books competing for attention. Looks like I have to put it back on again!

  42. I love Fredrik Backman's writing, what a shame you found this one annoying. xxx

  43. I really liked the first book in the Ahdieh series, need to read on, sorry the series wasn't great for you. I also liked the Katherine Center book you read, but it wasn't anything special for me either. I read the first in the Nora Roberts series, but never got around to the second one even though I did enjoy it. Looks like some good books for you this month even if you didn't enjoy them all.
    Lisa Loves Literature

  44. I'm reading a Nora Roberts book right now-- Identity and find that her books are all over the place; some are magic/fantasy, some are brides and romance, some are about ghosts, some are about strong women overcoming hard obstacles, etc. I'm enjoying this one but I do find that I don't always love her books because I'm never sure what I'm going to get! She also writes a really fun futuristic crime series under the name J. D Robb and I love those.

  45. I've been curious about the Renee Ahdieh series, but I think I will pass on it. I am still thinking about Maame.

  46. I am so impressed by the volume of books you've read! The Gatsby book is an interesting concept, now that they have taken the copyright restrictions off of characters written before (I think) 1935 (???) people can use the characters and situations in new work. I'm not sure that's always a good idea and this book, while an interesting premise, sounds as though it might bear that out. I'm sort of interested in reading it to see (and compare -- and how do you compare with the mastery of Fitzgerald's prose, even if you are using his characters). But maybe.... I'll give it a pass!

  47. I've been eyeing My Dear Hamilton and wondering if it would be one I like. I am glad to see you liked it. I will have to add it to my wish list. I am sorry Anxious People didn't work for you. I loved it, but not every book works for everyone. I'm a little afraid of Drowning. I have a copy on my TBR and I enjoyed Falling, by the same author. I think I keep putting Drowning off for two reasons: 1) I think it will be too much like Falling and 2) I feel claustrophobic just thinking about it. Haha. I do think I'll like it when I finally get to it though. I have heard mixed opinions on Maame, but it's one I really look forward to reading. I am so glad to hear you enjoyed it! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on all of these!

  48. Yes! Drowning was the kind of story you need to read in one sitting! My husband and I listened straight through driving home from our New Year's vacation. Made the long drive home exciting! Didn't know they're making a movie of it. I'll definitely watch. I'll add that Nora Roberts series.


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