The Best Book I Read This Month: A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi

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Another slow reading month, thanks to my impending move and other life challenges. I read one meh book whose title I can’t remember and I read a book that will stay with me for a while: A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi.

Set in Afghanistan, Hashimi’s book centers on a women’s prison and on one prisoner in particular: Zeba, who is awaiting trial for the murder of her husband. Like Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns, A House Without Windows focuses on the lives and challenges of women in Afghanistan—but that is where the similarity ends.

 Hosseini’s book was stark, dark, and violent. Looking back, I can see clearly that—even though it’s about two women—it was told through the male gaze.

A House Without Windows, on the other hand, is a story of women told by a woman. It doesn’t grab and shake you. It lulls you in, tells a wInding tale, at times seems to lead down the garden path, until it reaches a satisfying conclusion.

It’s not a perfect book—there was one plot twist in particular that seemed too pat, too coincidental—but it was an engaging, effective mystery and a welcome glimpse into a country that seems to have been largely forgotten by the media and general public.

The Best Book I Read This Month: The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein

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I had a hard time getting back into reading this month, what with all the house sale/moving drama going on at the moment. I usually manage a book a week, roughly, but in the past 5-6 weeks, I’ve read a grand total of 2 books. Thankfully, one of them was a spectacular read: The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein. 

The Pearl Thief is a prequel to Code Name Verity, one of my all-time favorite books. I love and adore Verity, and I was worried Pearl Thief wouldn’t live up to the promise of its sister. Thankfully, it did. I was just as swept away as when I read Verity.

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Code Name Verity is the story of two friends, Queenie and Maddie, as their friendship develops and is tested during World War II, when one of them is captured by the Nazis. Each friend narrates half the book, so we get the story from two different perspectives. It's a stunning work, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

The Pearl Thief tells the story of Queenie's life before the war--when she's a teenager in Scotland in the 1930s. She's just as high-spirited, this time teaming up with local Travellers to solve a murder mystery on her grandfather's old estate. (That sounds far more Nancy Drew than it really is.) We even find out how she came to be known as Queenie.

The book combines three of my favorite things: a mystery, Scotland, and Julia Beaufort-Stuart (Queenie). It's a fun read, far more escapist than Code Name Verity, but a worthy companion, nonetheless.

A Wink and a Smile E-book is Available!

Publication day is here! The A Wink and a Smile anthology, which contains one of my short stories, is available in e-book format. (For those of you who, like me, prefer printed books, a paperback version will be available in a few weeks.)

Here's the blurb:

IN THIS READ ON THE Run title, we present eighteen romances. Not love stories, although some of them do include aspects of that. But whereas love stories are often sad, each of the selections in A Wink and a Smile has either a “happily-ever-after” ending, or at least a strong suggestion that this is where the characters are heading.
That doesn’t mean these tales all sound the same; to the contrary, we’ve found quite a diverse collection of romances. Yes, there are some traditional romances, and there’s a healthy handful of budding romances, but you will also find a story set in the future, and a couple of fantasy tales. You will find stories of pastries, and candies, of young lovers and old. You will meet several matchmakers and you’ll see couples reconcile, and there are even a few stories that will make you laugh.
As always, each story in the Read on the Run series of anthologies is short, to suit your busy lifestyle.

Click the button below the cover image to buy your copy!