The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi @harlequinbooks @alkajoshi #review #fiction


Author: Alka Joshi

ISBN: 9780778309451

Publication Date: March 3, 2020

Publisher: MIRA Books


After fleeing an arranged marriage as a fifteen year old to an abusive older man, Lakshmi Shastri steals away alone from her rural village to Jaipur. Here, against odds, she carves out a living for herself as a henna artist, and friend and confidante to wealthy, upper caste women. Surviving by her wits and talents, she shares her knowledge and keeps their secrets in a delicate balancing act amid the changing 1950s social mores brought about by Indian Independence. Vulnerable to opinion and innuedo, at any point her intentions might be misunderstood, and she could fall prey to a damaged reputation or worse. Still Lakshmi manages to save to build a house with the dream of bringing her aging parents here to live with her and redeem herself in their eyes. Then one day her ex-husband arrives in town seeking her out with a girl in tow, a sister she did not know she had. Her sister is both passionate and reckless by nature, and all of a sudden the caution that Lakshmi has carefully cultivated is threatened, along with her livelihood. But she preseveres, and in doing so manages to lift up the others around her with her success.

Lakshmi’s tenacity and spirit see her join the ranks of other brave women of historical fiction, such as Farough Farrokhzad in Jasmin Darznik’s Song of a Captive Bird.With gorgeous prose and urgent themes, the novel will captivate readers of Shobha Rao’s Girls Burn Brighter, and those who seek a narrative both compelling and necessary.


Lakshmi was in an abusive, arranged marriage. She escaped and created a whole new life for herself. She is the most sought after henna artist in her city. She thinks she is on the right path to riches. Then her estranged husband shows up with her little sister in tow. This threatens everything she has worked so hard to achieve.

I love Lakshmi! As most of you know, I love strong women characters and Lakshmi is one of the strongest. She has created herself a new life. She is building a house and creating a business which just keeps growing. She has a tenacity rarely seen. And her talent! Oh my! I could just picture her work in my mind! When her new life starts to unravel….you need to read this to find out how…she LEARNS from it and does not let it stop her.

This book is super good. I have never read a book about a henna artist. I will be honest, I did not even know they existed. I was so impressed with Lakshmi’s courage, talent and intelligence. Plus, the culture in this read…I learned a great deal!

Do not miss this one! Grab your copy today!

I received this novel from the publisher for a honest review.

About the Author

Alka Joshi is a graduate of Stanford University and received her M.F.A. from the California College of the Arts. She has worked as an advertising copywriter, a marketing consultant, and an illustrator. Alka was born in India, in the state of Rajasthan. Her family came to the United States when she was nine, and she now lives on California’s Monterey Peninsula with her husband and two misbehaving pups. The Henna Artist is her first novel. Visit her website and blog at


Author Website:

TWITTER: @alkajoshi

FB: @alkajoshi2019

Insta: @thealkajoshi






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Blame The Dead by Ed Ruggero @forgereads #review #historicalfiction


Ed Ruggero’s Blame the Dead is the thrilling start of an action-packed and timely World War II series by a former Army Officer for fans of compelling historical fiction.

Set against the heroism and heartbreak of World War II, former Army officer Ed Ruggero brilliantly captures, with grace and authenticity, the evocative and timeless stories of ordinary people swept up in extraordinary times.

Sicily, 1943. Eddie Harkins, former Philadelphia beat cop turned Military Police lieutenant, reluctantly finds himself first at the scene of a murder at the US Army’s 11th Field Hospital. There the nurses contend with heat, dirt, short-handed staffs, the threat of German counterattack, an ever-present flood of horribly wounded GIs, and the threat of assault by one of their own—at least until someone shoots Dr. Myers Stephenson in the head.

With help from nurse Kathleen Donnelly, once a childhood friend and now perhaps something more, it soon becomes clear to Harkins that the unit is rotten to its core. As the battle lines push forward, Harkins is running out of time to find one killer before he can strike again.


One of the doctors at this army field hospital is found murdered. He was NOT a “nice” guy. As a matter of fact, it could have been any number of people who could have committed this crime. Eddie Harkins is a military police officer and he has just stumbled upon this murder. He is a little out of his league. He has no idea what he is doing. The deeper he gets into the investigation the more questions he has.

There is a lot going on in this book. I was hooked from the get go! I love anything WWII and this unusual setting of an army field hospital was so mesmerizing to me. I learned so much. It is just hard to imagine what these nurses went through. The constant threat of assault, the dirt, the blood…these women were tough!

The characters, the setting and the murder investigation make this novel enthralling. The story did sort of lose steam in the middle but I still found it intriguing and very unique.

I received this novel from the publisher for a honest review.

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The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz @harlequinbooks @BrendaJanowitz #review

The Grace Kelly Dress : A Novel

Brenda Janowitz

On Sale Date: March 3, 2020


Trade Paperback

$16.99 USD, $22.99 CAD

Fiction / Contemporary Women

336 pages


Two years after Grace Kelly’s royal wedding, her iconic dress is still all the rage in Paris—and one replica, and the secrets it carries, will inspire three generations of women to forge their own paths in life and in love.

Paris, 1958: Rose, a seamstress at a fashionable atelier, has been entrusted with sewing a Grace Kelly—look-alike gown for a wealthy bride-to-be. But when, against better judgment, she finds herself falling in love with the bride’s handsome brother, Rose must make an impossible choice, one that could put all she’s worked for at risk: love, security and of course, the dress.

Sixty years later, tech CEO Rachel, who goes by the childhood nickname “Rocky,” has inherited the dress for her upcoming wedding in New York City. But there’s just one problem: Rocky doesn’t want to wear it. A family heirloom dating back to the 1950s, the dress just isn’t her. Rocky knows this admission will break her mother Joan’s heart. But what she doesn’t know is why Joan insists on the dress—or the heartbreaking secret that changed her mother’s life decades before, as she herself prepared to wear it.

As the lives of these three women come together in surprising ways, the revelation of the dress’s history collides with long-buried family heartaches. And in the lead-up to Rocky’s wedding, they’ll have to confront the past before they can embrace the beautiful possibilities of the future.


This story is told by three different narrators. Rocky is the daughter set to wear the dress in present day. Joan, “the mother of the bride, as a bride herself” as the book titles this section. And the Paris seamstress who originally made the wonderful creation.

I enjoyed reading about Rocky and her situation. Rocky is a rebel. She does not conform to the norm. She is a successful, powerful woman. Her mother, Joan, is adamant she wear the Grace Kelly inspired dress, which has been handed down through the family. Well, this dress is not at all what Rocky envisions for her big day. As a matter of fact, she and her mother are on two very different pages about this wedding.

I also loved reading about the seamstress in Paris. This narration is set in 1958 and it is all about the creation of this lovely gown and the people who made it happen. The different ideas and how this gown made such a huge splash and why, is a very interesting part of this novel. The author created a unique aspect of this dress.

The narration “the mother of the bride, as the bride herself” was blah. I actually skimmed this section. There were many places where I rolled my eyes and just went “WHY!” This part of the story may appeal to many romance readers out there. So please forgive me. I found it very elementary and one dimensional.

So, two out of three narrations is not bad. I did enjoy this novel. It was a quick read and Rocky is a character I loved. She is the reason the book works!

I received this novel from the publisher for a honest review.


Brenda Janowitz is the author of five novels, including The Dinner Party and Recipe for a Happy Life. She is the Books Correspondent for PopSugar. Brenda’s work has also appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, Salon, Redbook, and the New York Post. She lives in New York.


Author website:

Facebook: @BrendaJanowitz

Twitter: @BrendaJanowitz

Instagram: @brendajanowitzwriter




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You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen @stmartinspress #review #psychologicalthriller


One of Newsweek‘s Most Anticipated Books of 2020
One of SheReads Most Anticipated Books of 2020
One of PopSugar’s Most Anticipated Books of 2020
One of HelloGiggles’ Most Anticipated Books of 2020
One of Marie Claire’s Best Fiction by Women in 2020
One of Woman’s Day’s Best Fiction Books Coming Out in 2020

The electrifying #1 New York Times bestselling authors of THE WIFE BETWEEN US and AN ANONYMOUS GIRL return with a brand new novel of psychological suspense.

Shay Miller wants to find love, but it eludes her. She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end. She wants to belong, but her life is increasingly lonely.

Until Shay meets the Moore sisters. Cassandra and Jane live a life of glamorous perfection, and always get what they desire. When they invite Shay into their circle, everything seems to get better. 

Shay would die for them to like her.
She may have to.


Shay witnesses a suicide via subway train. It absolutely sends her into a downward spiral. Then she meets the Moore sisters. Their friendship changes her life. She has a makeover, finds a new apartment and a new job. But, at what cost?

Shay is a little bit in the weird side. She keeps a journal, not of thoughts or experiences, but of data. She is a bit analytical. So when the gorgeous Moore sisters show up in her life, she is in awe of their beauty, clothes and their life. It does not take much for these ladies to influence her and to move her like a pawn to do what they want.

This story just keeps winding tighter and tighter then when it starts to unravel….WOW! I enjoy a smart read and this is definitely it! You cannot skim a single word of it or you will miss something important. I did not think it was possible to top An Anonymous Girl, but these ladies have done it. They are the top of their craft! I just love the intricate movements of this story. It is intense and masterfully done!

Need a good psycho thriller…THIS IS IT!

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Once Upon a Sunset by Tif Marcelo @tallpoppywriter #Tallpoppyblogger #review #fiction


The author of The Key to Happily Ever After—“a true gem filled with heart, laughs, and a cast of delightful characters” (Nina Bocci, USA TODAY bestselling author)—returns with a heartwarming and charming novel about a woman who travels to the Philippines to reconnect with her long-lost family…and manages to find herself along the way. 

Diana Gallagher-Cary is at a tipping point. As a Washington, DC, OB/GYN at a prestigious hospital, she uses her career to distract herself from her grief over her granny’s death and her breakup from her long-term boyfriend after her free-spirited mother moves in with her. But when she makes a medical decision that disparages the hospital, she is forced to go on a short sabbatical.

Never one to wallow, Diana decides to use the break to put order in her life, when her mother, Margo, stumbles upon a box of letters from her grandfather, Antonio Cruz, to her grandmother from the 1940s. The two women always believed that Antonio died in World War II, but the letters reveal otherwise. When they learn that he lived through the war, and that they have surviving relatives in the Philippines, Diana becomes determined to connect with the family that she never knew existed, though Margo refuses to face her history. But Diana pushes on, and heads on a once-in-a-lifetime trip that challenges her identity, family history, and her idea of romantic love that could change her life forever.

Infused with Tif Marcelo’s signature “sexy, adorable, and heartfelt” (Kate Meader, USA TODAY bestselling author) voice, Once Upon a Sunset is a moving and lyrical celebration of love, family, and second chances.


Diana has caused some trouble at the hospital where she is a physician. So, she is “sort of” on a vacation. After her mother, Margo, discovers some old letters from WWII, Diana decides to take a trip to the Philippines.

Give me a family mystery any day and I am sold. I have enjoyed all of Tif’s books. This one has some of the best characters. I loved Diana’s mother. She was a mess. She and Diana had some great exchanges and conversations. I laughed out loud at some of their antics.

This is a heartwarming tale about family and love. I did think part of this story was far fetched especially when the family money comes into play…you must read this to find out. But, it is a very good, quick read! Grab your copy today!

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February Escapes and Escapades

Well! I hope everyone had a fantastic February. I honestly had very little escapades this month. I spent most of the month working, reading and scrapbooking. Sounds like a perfect month to me!

My escapades were these cards and scrap layouts. I am also working on an NYC album. Hopefully that will be completed in March.

Now on to the Escapes! Wow what a fabulous month for books.

I also finished American Dirt. I did not do a blog post on it but I did give it a 5 star rating on goodreads. I know it has some controversy but I thoroughly enjoyed it!

This review is coming up in March so stay tuned!

What did you read in February? Inquiring minds want to know!

Thanks for stopping by!

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My Audible Reads for February


Wow, what a great month for my Audible Reads. Thanks to my friends over on Litsy. I was able to read a lot more this month. Every month they hold a readathon called 24 before Monday. The reader tries to read 24 hours before Monday. I was able to participate this month because I was off the weekend it was held. I had a blast. I did a huge amount of “audio scrapping”. Here are the results!

I enjoyed this one. I am a huge fan of James Taylor talent and this was great and eye opening.

James Taylor

Celeste is Hilarious. If you do not follow her on instagram…you need to! She absolutely brightens my day. When this book started…I was like… “I will not like this!” But it turned out to be crazy funny! I LOVED IT!

Challenge Accepted

Lisa Jewell does it again. I am playing catch up with the author. I have not read many of her books so I listened to this one. It was intricate and very intense.

Then She Was Gone

This one fell short. I finished it but it was eye rolling in places…and I hated the main character! He was mean and obnoxious!

One Lavender Ribbon

This one is super good. Highly recommend!

Turtles All the Way Down

That’s it for February. What did you read this month? Enquiring minds want to know!

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