Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: A Nest of Vipers, by Harini Nagendra {ends 5/28}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

‘You are not the same person you were when you first came to Bangalore. You are an experienced detective now. Think about all the different cases you have solved. Not just the murders, but also the smaller cases. The missing goat, the woman who lost her memory, the boy who ran away from home and didn’t want to go back – and refused to tell you where his home was. How did you solve those cases?’

Kaveri looked at him.

‘You didn’t give up.’ Ramu took her by the shoulders, and gave her a little shake. ‘My Kaveri, the woman I married and fell in love with, never gives up. You realize that, don’t you?’

Kaveri squared her shoulders, giving him a small smile. ‘I won’t give up.’

Kaveri and Ramu have the best arranged marriage ever. She ended up with a true partner who loves her and supports her unique Bangalore Detectives Club and her crime-solving adventures.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: A Nest of Vipers, by Harini Nagendra {ends 5/28}
This latest novel in the
Bangalore Detectives Club mystery series takes the reader deep into the historical era surrounding the visit by Edward, Prince of Wales, to Bangalore in 1921. When the prince begins a tour of a number of Indian cities, he encounters passionate crowds demanding independence from Britain, with rioting on the streets of Bombay in November 1921.

The mood of the prince's subsequent trip to Bangalore and Mysore in January 1922 appears, at first glance, very different and is made to large, welcoming crowds. But perhaps all is not what it seems to be. While exploring another (seemingly unrelated) crime scene, Kaveri and Ramu become tangled in a complex web of intrigue, getting pulled into a potentially dangerous plan that could endanger the life of the visiting prince.

This new novel also takes us into the world of jadoo—Indian street magic—with sleight-of-hand magicians, snake charmers, and rope tricks. Kaveri and Ramu continue their sleuthing, with help from the Bangalore Detectives Club, amidst the growing rumblings of Indian independence and the backdrop of female emancipation.

The third book in the series starts with Kaveri and Ramu being gifted surprise tickets to a popular magician’s show. Once they arrive, they are even invited to meet Das, the famous and gifted magician and his son/assistant. The show is as amazing as expected, but the ending sets Kareri on solving a new mystery. As usual, she isn’t entirely sure who to trust and which question will lead her on the right path to solving what is really happening.

The Bangalore Detectives Club mystery series again has several intersecting plot lines, and some beloved characters returning, including Kaveri’s husband, Ramu, her mother-in-law, and a few people she’s helped in earlier books.

Overall, this was another engaging and entertaining mystery with a great setting and interesting characters. The story earns 4 out of 5 stars and would be enjoyed by readers who enjoy cozy mysteries and books about other times and cultures.

{click here to purchase via the blog's Amazon Affiliate link}

Becki Bayley is a reader, wife, and mother of two humans and two black cats. She loves learning about the world through books with an element of true history, while reading in the comfort of her own home. Check out what she and her family are up to on Instagram where she posts as SweetlyBSquared.


One of my lucky readers will win a copy of A Nest of Vipers!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Tuesday, May 28th, at 11:5pm EST, and the winner will be notified via email the next day and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

A Nest of Vipers, by Harini Nagendra

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Quick Pick Book Review: By Any Other Name, by Jodi Picoult

  • Opening lines: Melina, May 2013
    Many years after Melina graduated from Bard College, the course she remembered the most was not a playwriting seminar or a theater intensive but an anthropology class. One day, the professor had flashed a slide of a bone with twenty-nine tiny incisions on one long side. "The Lebombo bone was found in a cave in Swaziland in the 1970s and is about forty-four thousand years old," she had said. "It's made of a baboon fibula. For years, it's been the first calendar attributed to man. But I ask you: what man used a twenty-nine day calendar?" The professor seemed to stare directly at Melina. "History", she said, "is written by those in power."
  • Reason I picked up the book: I'm a huge Jodi Picoult fan, and I think I've read most if not all of her books—you can read my previous reviews of them here.
  • And what's this book about? 
    From the New York Times bestselling co-author of Mad Honey comes a novel about two women, centuries apart—one of whom is the real author of Shakespeare’s plays—who are both forced to hide behind another name.

    Young playwright Melina Green has just written a new work inspired by the life of her Elizabethan ancestor Emilia Bassano. But seeing it performed is unlikely, in a theater world where the playing field isn’t level for women. As Melina wonders if she dares risk failure again, her best friend takes the decision out of her hands and submits the play to a festival under a male pseudonym.

    In 1581, young Emilia Bassano is a ward of English aristocrats. Her lessons on languages, history, and writing have endowed her with a sharp wit and a gift for storytelling, but like most women of her day, she is allowed no voice of her own. Forced to become a mistress to the Lord Chamberlain, who oversees all theatre productions in England, Emilia sees firsthand how the words of playwrights can move an audience. She begins to form a plan to secretly bring a play of her own to the stage—by paying an actor named William Shakespeare to front her work.

    Told in intertwining timelines, By Any Other Name, a sweeping tale of ambition, courage, and desire centers two women who are determined to create something beautiful despite the prejudices they face. Should a writer do whatever it takes to see her story live on ... no matter the cost? This remarkable novel, rooted in primary historical sources, ensures the name Emilia Bassano will no longer be forgotten.
  • Recommended for: Anyone who enjoys historical books or books that jump from past to present.
  • Favorite paragraph: In public, Emilia played the part of a decorative object. In private, when she felt too full at the seams of her own life, she spilled all that emotion and intelligence and hope onto pages and pages of poetry, fables, and snippets of dialogue. Emilia wrote from the point of view of the bird of prey, delighting in those few moments of freedom befroe the jesses were pulled. She wrote fairy tales about princesses who climbed down brick towers, rescuing themselves. She wrote female characters who were adored for both their minds and their beauty. She wrote witty banter with men who were not afraid of a woman who could think for herself. She wrote of what sex must be like when your soul was as invested as your skin. She wrote love poems, where sometimes love was fire, sometimes it was rote, and sometimes it was agony.

    She hid hundreds of pages under her mattress.

    She did not write happy endings. As any real poet knows, the best tales are the ones that contain kernel of truth.
  • Something to know: I vaguely remember hearing that Shakespeare perhaps did not write all of the work that he's known for, and this book explores that.
  • What I would have changed: I'll admit that this Picoult book took me a little longer to get in to—however, once the story/plot picks up, I enjoyed it a lot. So I would maybe change the beginning a bit, but I'm not entirely sure how. 
  • Overall rating: 4 stars out of 5.
  • Where can I find this book? Click here to pre-order via my Amazon affiliate link—the book will be out on August 20, 2024.

Monday, May 6, 2024

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Klara's Truth, by Susan Weissbach Friedman {ends 5/12}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

They arrived at Krakow’s main train station a half hour late, as Hannah had predicted. Their station, Krakow Glozny, was just northeast of the Old Town, formerly the Jewish Quarter. Some of the buildings looked like they could use a fresh coat of paint, but the town was bustling with people, mostly tourists. There were multiple cafes and bars with Jewish food as their specialty, and some restaurants featured klezmer music as well. The streets were narrow, with a mixture of three-story buildings, including a number of art galleries and antique shops with wooden shutters to go along with the historical sites. It was different from the other areas; there was a distinct bohemian feel, and Klara noticed there were no spires or churches here. 

“Wow,” she said, looking all around. “You weren’t kidding – this really seems to be a fascinating place.”

Klara has spent her adult life pretty independent. After her dad left when she was six, she decided not to risk letting anyone close to her heart.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Klara's Truth, by Susan Weissbach Friedman {ends 5/12}
It is May 2014, and Dr. Klara Lieberman—forty-nine, single, professor of archaeology at a small liberal arts college in Maine, a contained person living a contained life—has just received a letter from her estranged mother, Bessie, that will dramatically change her life. Her father, she learns—the man who has been absent from her life for the last forty-three years, and about whom she has long been desperate for information—is dead. Has been for many years, in fact, which Bessie clearly knew. But now the Polish government is giving financial reparations for land it stole from its Jewish citizens during WWII, and Bessie wants the money. Klara has little interest in the money—but she does want answers about her father. She flies to Warsaw, determined to learn more.

In Poland, Klara begins to piece together her father’s, and her own, story. She also connects with extended family, begins a romantic relationship, and discovers her calling: repairing the hundreds of forgotten, and mostly destroyed, pre-War Jewish cemeteries in Poland. Along the way, she becomes a more integrated, embodied, and interpersonally connected individual—one with the tools to make peace with her past and, for the first time in her life, build purposefully toward a bigger future.

Klara has largely moved on from her family. Her dad left, and her mom and grandfather were people she’d rather be as far away from as possible. While she never really considered needing closure to her early years of a happy childhood that ended too soon, hearing from her mother that her father had actually been dead for almost as long as he’d been gone sets a series of things in motion for Klara, both physically and mentally.

She evolved into a whole new person during a somewhat impulsive visit to Poland to see where her father had been laid to rest. While she’s always been intelligent, determined, and successful, she now wants to be involved and passionate about her life. Everywhere she looks she sees more that she wants to be engaged in—extended family, a romantic relationship, and a real purpose that aligns with the education she gained along the way.

While this book may appear to be somewhat related to WWII on the surface, the story was really about a modern woman’s life and how strongly it was shaped by her family’s past. The book earned 4 out of 5 stars and would be good for readers who enjoy contemporary fiction, light historical fiction, and stories of Jewish families. 

{click here to purchase via Amazon Affiliate link}

Becki Bayley is a wife, mother, and reader who enjoys learning about other cultures and lives through books. Check out her other interest on Instagram where she posts as SweetlyBSquared.


One of my lucky readers will win a copy of Klara's Truth!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Sunday, May 12th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be contacted the next day via email, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

Klara's Truth, by Susan Weissbach Friedman

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