An earnest, if overlong, novel about the lasting effects of a Bangladeshi Muslim childhood in England.

A girl from a conservative household grows into a woman torn between tradition and independence in Lee’s debut novel.

Growing up in a Bangladeshi immigrant family in Ashcroft, England, Eleanor is raised according to her mother’s Muslim faith. “We are not here to judge what is written,” her mother tells her, “only Allah knows what is written for us.” This notion of things being written doesn’t sit well with Eleanor, for why would Allah write such terrible things? The man who molests her at the mosque, for instance? Or the violence that Eleanor and her mother suffer at the hands of her father? At the age of 7, Eleanor is drawn to Mrs. Abbots, a friendly woman in a fur coat whom she meets while putting flyers under windshield wipers in Ashcroft to promote her father’s restaurant. Mrs. Abbots teaches her that life gives people the freedom to make their own choices, and, inspired by that idea, Eleanor attends college, moves out of the family home, gets a job, and begins to travel the world. She seems on track for a liberated, self-determined life but feels she owes it to her mother to enter into a traditional marriage, as she promised she would. She begins to see Syed, a Bengali man who would please her parents but who does not share Eleanor’s views on female independence. Will Eleanor end up a subservient housewife like her mother or find the freedom to write her own story? Lee tells Eleanor’s tale in smooth, expressive prose that captures her protagonist’s inner turmoil: “I woke up in the morning, staring emptily at the ceiling. Syed had already left for work. I could just walk out and leave, couldn’t I? I thought as I looked at the door. How many mornings had I let that thought run through my mind, only to unconvince myself?” At 570 pages, the book is far too long, particularly since the reader has a pretty good sense of where it is going from the start. That said, people caught between religious and secular cultures should be able to relate to Eleanor’s struggles and may see themselves in her story.

An earnest, if overlong, novel about the lasting effects of a Bangladeshi Muslim childhood in England.

Pub Date: Dec. 9, 2019


Page Count: 526

Publisher: Loving Creative Inspirational Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2020


A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.

Truth and deception clash in this tale of the Holocaust.

Udo Graf is proud that the Wolf has assigned him the task of expelling all 50,000 Jews from Salonika, Greece. In that city, Nico Krispis is an 11-year-old Jewish boy whose blue eyes and blond hair deceive, but whose words do not. Those who know him know he has never told a lie in his life—“Never be the one to tell lies, Nico,” his grandfather teaches him. “God is always watching.” Udo and Nico meet, and Udo decides to exploit the child’s innocence. At the train station where Jews are being jammed into cattle cars bound for Auschwitz, Udo gives Nico a yellow star to wear and persuades him to whisper among the crowd, “I heard it from a German officer. They are sending us to Poland. We will have new homes. And jobs.” The lad doesn’t know any better, so he helps persuade reluctant Jews to board the train to hell. “You were a good little liar,” Udo later tells Nico, and delights in the prospect of breaking the boy’s spirit, which is more fun and a greater challenge than killing him outright. When Nico realizes the horrific nature of what he's done, his truth-telling days are over. He becomes an inveterate liar about everything. Narrating the story is the Angel of Truth, whom according to a parable God had cast out of heaven and onto earth, where Truth shattered into billions of pieces, each to lodge in a human heart. (Obviously, many hearts have been missed.) Truth skillfully weaves together the characters, including Nico; his brother, Sebastian; Sebastian’s wife, Fannie; and the “heartless deceiver” Udo. Events extend for decades beyond World War II, until everyone’s lives finally collide in dramatic fashion. As Truth readily acknowledges, his account is loaded with twists and turns, some fortuitous and others not. Will Nico Krispis ever seek redemption? And will he find it? Author Albom’s passion shows through on every page in this well-crafted novel.

A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2023

ISBN: 9780062406651

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023


A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Three woman who join together to rent a large space along the beach in Los Angeles for their stores—a gift shop, a bakery, and a bookstore—become fast friends as they each experience the highs, and lows, of love.

Bree is a friendly but standoffish bookstore owner who keeps everyone she knows at arm’s length, from guys she meets in bars to her friends. Mikki is a settled-in-her-routines divorced mother of two, happily a mom, gift-shop owner, and co-parent with her ex-husband, Perry. And Ashley is a young, very-much-in-love bakery owner specializing in muffins who devotes herself to giving back to the community through a nonprofit that helps community members develop skills and find jobs. When the women meet drooling over a boardwalk storefront that none of them can afford on her own, a plan is hatched to divide the space in three, and a friendship—and business partnership—is born. An impromptu celebration on the beach at sunset with champagne becomes a weekly touchpoint to their lives as they learn more about each other and themselves. Their friendship blossoms as they help each other, offering support, hard truths, and loving backup. Author Mallery has created a delightful story of friendship between three women that also offers a variety of love stories as they fall in love, make mistakes, and figure out how to be the best—albeit still flawed—versions of themselves. The men are similarly flawed and human. While the story comes down clearly on the side of all-encompassing love, Mallery has struck a careful balance: There is just enough sex to be spicy, just enough swearing to be naughty, and just enough heartbreak to avoid being cloying.

A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-778-38608-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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