REVIEW: The Book of Everlasting Things

“That day, two hearts broke, like the fragments of a newly divided land.”

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“The paper boat of your memory has drowned in the river of this heart.”

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“Like the stories in the book, this perfume struck the precise chords of history, legend, mythology, magic, poetry and delight.”

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“Lahore feels at a standstill, like we have paused on the plateau of some uncertain hope.”

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Samir’s family are Hindu perfumers. Firdaus’s family are Muslim calligraphers. Both families are living in Lahore in the late 1930s. Samir has been learning the art of perfuming under his uncle’s direction. Firdaus’s father is a bit progressive and is teaching his daughter calligraphy amongst other things. The two cross paths when Firdaus’s mother wants a perfume and they offer custom labels. Samir’s father thinks, better yet, let’s have Samir learn this skill. He spends his time learning both arts and the two children fall for one another. They spend years exchanging secret letters and hope to be married despite their religious differences. Unfortunately, they are coming of age as India is gaining independence from Britain and their home city is partitioned into Pakistan. Firdaus’s mother uses this to press her liberal husband to bring Firdaus back home and marry one of her Muslim cousins. At the same time, Samir’s family’s livelihood is destroyed and he must flee. He ends up in France where his uncle learned the art of perfumery in the war and spends years tracing his uncle’s life.

I learned a ton about a piece of history that I had minimal previous knowledge about. This story balances the equal joy of independence and a true homeland balanced with the horror of not being able to live in a place you have always known due to an arbitrary line. You feel awful for Firdaus and Samir who bridged the gap of their differences and in another place or time may have lived happily ever after. There is lots of knowledge and emotion here for sure. The writing is beautiful, hence all the pull quotes. That said, this book was probably 100 pages too long. The beginning gives you far too much detail on perfuming and calligraphy. Those passages are beautiful but too much for the average person. If that were trimmed as well as some tightening of the uncle’s journals and this would have been a much better reading experience.

Thanks to Flatiron books via Netgalley for the gifted access via Netgalley. All opinions above are my own.

REVIEW and LFL Dropoff: Locust Lane

Small town Massachusetts is nothing special but then a young girl is killed all of the secrets of the town are dug up and exposed in order to figure out what really happened to her. We get dramatic scenes of teens partying, using drugs and committing sexual violence and similar scenes of betrayals, affairs and substance abuse amongst their parents. There’s lots of mudslinging and finger pointing as we try to figure out what really happened.

This was a like not a love for me. None of the characters were particularly likable, which I can overlook in a thriller, but the pace here was not fast enough for that. I wanted to know what happened but I also felt like lots of the characters were like nails on a chalkboard. It bothers me when casual sex and affairs are treated like NBD. The way these characters lived and interacted was definitely not aspirational. The ending made me mad, but that said, I bet it’s how a lot of these stories end up in real life.

If you liked Big Little Lies, this one might be up your alley.

Thanks to Celadon Books for the gifted copy. All opinions above are my own.

I dropped this copy in my local littlefreelibrary – what’s the last great find you picked up in a Little Free Library?

REVIEW: The Notekeeper

“And if you are a mess, it doesn’t stop you deserving to be loved.”

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Zoe is a thirty something hospice nurse. She wants to help people have a “good death,” something that was denied to one of her family members. After that death she fled Australia to set up shop in Bath, England. She is living but has no real spark in her day to day until the hospice brings in new management. Ben immediately criticizes her and her practice of helping her patients write notes to those they are leaving behind. But she quickly begins to suspect there is something more behind Ben’s brusque behavior.

Be forewarned, this one is definitely full of heavy topics. I totally agree with the comparison to Jojo Moyes Me Before You, it deals with death but has romance as well as themes of self discovery. It reminded me a lot of The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot, because death is a thing that happens to everyone not so much a thing to be feared and in that you can find a lot of solace as well as inspiration.

Thanks to Love Books Tours for the gifted copy. All opinions above are my own.

When’s the last time you wrote or received a handwritten letter?

Pub Day REVIEW: Phaedra

“‘Are we safe anywhere?’ I asked dully. ‘We are only women, after all.”

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Phaedra is the youngest daughter of Minos and Pasiphae which makes her the granddaughter of Zeus and Helios. She is the sister of Ariadne and the infamous Minotaur. When Ariadne disappears and the Minotaur is killed, she is left to marry Theseus, the prince of Athens. She is just a girl and he a much older man. He has little interest in her other than using her as a piece of revenge against her parents. While he is off warring, his son (a proper prick if I do say so myself) rapes her. In this age, women are not seen, not believed and mostly seen as temptresses and pieces of property. Phaedra does the unthinkable and accuses him, demanding a trial. It goes just as you can imagine it will.

I’m a sucker for Greek myth retellings and after reading last year’s Ariadne, I was intrigued by continuing on with this family through young Phaedra’s eyes. Most of the recent retellings have been deep, emotional modern looks at women’s role in these famous stories. This attempts at that, but fell a bit short for me. First, it uses several POVs, but they all sound the same, man or woman, Athenian or Cretan… it’s really just a bland storytelling. It is missing the emotion and connection you’d hope for in a story like this. If you don’t know this particular myths and you just want a readable version that tells you the facts, this will give you that. 

Thanks to Alcove Press for gifted access via Netgalley. All opinions above are my own.

If you were on trial for a crime would you testify or leave it to the evidence?

Pub Week REVIEW: All the Dangerous Things

When Isabelle’s toddler son goes missing, her life falls apart. Her husband leaves, she can’t sleep and the case quickly goes cold. A chance meeting with a true crime podcaster gives her a chance to look at the disappearance in a new way. As she starts to look back she’s worried more will be uncovered than just the circumstances around Mason’s disappearance.

I did this one on audio and the performance was phenomenal. So phenomenal that I spent the first half worried about this falling into my least favorite trope of unreliable narrator. I’m glad I stuck with it though, I definitely did not see the ending coming. There were so many little twists that added up to a great ending. If you’re a thriller fan, definitely check this one out!

Thanks to Macmillian Audio for gifted access via Netgalley. All opinions above are my own.

This one publishes tomorrow so add it to your TBR! 

You can tell by the picture how long ago I read this one… how long does it take you to post your reviews?

REVIEW: Clouds Without Water

Clouds Without Water tells the story of the small town of Cavalry in 1844. Their prodigal minister returns with a message, the world will be ending imminently. All must repent and renounce their earthly possessions. Some of the townspeople fall to their knees immediately and spend their days in prayer abandoning their businesses, farms and daily life. Others are incredulous and while peer pressure is strong, they carry on although business gets much harder with lots of the town shuttered. But when the apocalypse fails to come, the screws really press in with blame falling on those who resisted the tide in the first place. 

Garry Harper captures perfectly, the fervor, which quickly turns into mob hysteria. It was so convincing at times, that I found myself wondering about my own religious practices. It does feel like a slippery slope sometimes. How do you balance living with preparing for heaven?Generally that is an individual choice, at least in this day and age…. not so much in the 1880’s. The story focuses in on one small family and the heartache they go through, it’s just unbelievable. The things that humans will do in the name of God is often jaw-dropping. I appreciated that this story balanced the truth of what happened in the small town, yet made it infinitely. 

Thanks to the author for the gifted copy. All opinions above are my own.

What cult has had you the most intrigued?

REVIEW: The Witch of Tin Mountain

“Why is it that most of a woman’s troubles in life have to do with a man?”


Tin Mountain is a small town in Arkansas haunted by all the things a small town usually is… and then some. We get two time points in this one 1831 and 1931 and in both we have strong women who are relied on by the community. Until a handsome preacher comes into town. Quickly the town is turned against them and they must fight to survive and restore their reputations.


Deidre and Gracelynn are two women unusual for their time. Both strong and resilient and there is power within them. They are both taken in by the preacher and quickly realize there is something sinister there. I liked that the stories mirrored in a lot of ways but also differed. Getting glimpses of the small town a century apart was interesting and yet not surprising that the mob mentality lives on. Women who are different are easily feared. Great LGBTQ+ representation and found family themes in this one.


If you liked Spells for Forgetting or Widdershins definitely check this one out. This one is out Feb 1 so add it to your TBR.


Thanks to Lake Union Publishing for gifted access via Netgalley. All opinions above are my own.

What are you reading this weekend?

REVIEW: The Stranded

When the world war to end all wars takes place, biological weapons are key. The folks who survive with no virus exposure are people with berths on cruise ships. A whole society is formed with totalitarian leadership that controls everything. The upper decks have it a bit better but the lower decks are rife with crime and gangs. Ester and her sister May have a chance to get off as a medic and military cadet respectively but they get caught up in the rebellion and they have to weigh there own futures with that of the greater good.

Man oh man is this one packed with action. Literally from page one, there is danger and strife, good guys and bad guys. If you like layered characters who are unexpected heroes or villains than this story is for you, although the one baddie is a super baddie that you will love to hate.. The backstory unravels for us slowly throughout as the fight for survival and rebellion take place. At first it’s a bit overwhelming to keep straight all of the facets of the ship, the new government and who is really in control of what but if you go with it, everything is revealed in time. My investment in the characters was a bit lacking though, while I was interested to see where things went, I wasn’t rooting for the main characters as much as I would have hoped. Check this one out if you liked Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves.

Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire for gifted access via Netgalley. All opinions above are my own.

Have you ever been on a cruise? Where to? Did you enjoy it?

Pub Day REVIEW: Night Wherever We Go

It’s the late 1850s in Texas on a plantation and the family is struggling financially. They decide to bring in a breeding male negro to impregnate their female slaves, more babies means more income long term. The women are understandably angry and will do anything to thwart these efforts.

This was another one of those books where I spent the entire time heart-aching and devastated by the realities of our history in America. The author perfectly demonstrates how the slave owners treated these

 rich, complex humans as nothing more than stock animals simply because of their color. The focus here is on the women as not only workers in the field but as wet nurses for the master’s children at the detriment to their own, the forced breeding with strange traveling men and then being ripped from their children. I had so many emotions reading this one, my heartbreak and anger were overwhelming. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I did this one on audio and enjoyed the narrator.

Thanks to Harper Audio for gifted access via Netgalley. All opinions above are my own.
What’s the last book that broke your heart?

Pub Day REVIEW: The Villa

Emily and Chess are childhood friends and successful writers. Emily has a more steady career with a backlist of cozy mysteries while Chess is a no holds barred non-fiction, self-help guru. Both are looking to get started on their next project but are a bit stalled. Emily is also going through a divorce so Chess suggests a trip to Italy. She books them into a famous villa which was the site of a notorious murder in the 1970’s.

Generally I enjoy a story with two timelines. This one didn’t really work for me. The two timelines just didn’t vibe for me in any real way. The people were all super unlikable, which was true of Hawkins last novel as well but they grated on me a bit more here. There was a ton of cattiness and gaslighting which really distracted me from the murder mystery. I did like the atmosphere and the parts about the writing but any interactions between Emily and Chess was like nails on a chalkboard for me. It’s a quick read though, would definitely be perfect for a beach or pool read to keep you entertained for a few hours but it’s not going to wow you or stick with you in any way.

Thanks to St Martin’s Press for gifted access via Netgalley. All opinions above are my own.

Do you have any friends you’ve had since childhood?