Binstead’s Safari – Rachel Ingalls

This is so not your typical safari story. Filled with unexpected twists, extra-marital affairs, lion cults, poachers, and the mystery and savageness of Africa and its wildlife, the reader finds themselves mesmerized. Will Millie find happiness? Will Stan ever learn? Will the Lion God rule? Will they all survive?


After getting a haircut in London and a few new outfits (“she bought two pairs of shoes and began to enjoy herself”), Millie, the neglected American wife of an academic pill, is transformed—and, upon arrival in Africa, falls into the perfect affair. Binstead’s Safari unfolds the fractured fairy tale of the rebirth of a drab, insecure woman as a fiercely alive, fearless beauty. “Life was too short to waste time trying to find excuses for not doing the things you really wanted to do,” Millie realizes, helping herself to love and joy. The husband is astonished—everyone adores the new Millie. She can’t put a foot wrong, and as they move deeper into Africa in search of lion myths for his book, “excitement and pleasure carried her upwards as on a tide.” Mysteries abound, but in the hands of Rachel Ingalls, the ultimate master of the curveball, Millie’s resurrection seems perfectly natural: caterpillar to butterfly.

“Only now had she found her life”—and also her destiny, which may, this being Ingalls, take the form of a Lion God.


The Only Woman in the Room – Marie Benedict

Hedy Lamarr–Hollywood bombshell–and so much more. Told in first person, her story takes us from prewar Austria and her dinners with Mussolini, to Hollywood and her inventions that gave us much of today’s technology. Each time you use your cell phone, thank Hedy!


Her beauty almost certainly saved her from the rising Nazi party and led to marriage with an Austrian arms dealer. Underestimated in everything else, she overheard the Third Reich’s plans while at her husband’s side, understanding more than anyone would guess. She devised a plan to flee in disguise from their castle, and the whirlwind escape landed her in Hollywood. She became Hedy Lamarr, screen star.
But she kept a secret more shocking than her heritage or her marriage: she was a scientist. And she knew a few secrets about the enemy. She had an idea that might help the country fight the Nazis…if anyone would listen to her.
A powerful novel based on the incredible true story of the glamour icon and scientist whose groundbreaking invention revolutionized modern communication, The Only Woman in the Room is a masterpiece.

Birds Without Wings – Louis de Bernieres

It takes a village to truly depict the horrors of war and its aftermath.

Birds Without Wings is set in one village of Turkey where Christian and Muslim families have lived and loved for centuries, with mutual respect and affection. All is well until the fall of the Ottoman Empire and WWI sweep everyone into the void of death and destruction.

We see trench warfare through the eyes of a young villager who takes his father’s place when the recruiters come and that personal view is much more devastating than any general account of war could be. largely because we come to feel that the village is ours, that the inhabitants are our friends and neighbors.

We see the destruction of the village after the war when “the powers that be” make political decisions that force people to leave their homes.

Again, it is these personal stories that grip us in the spell of Bernieres’ powerful story telling largely because we come to feel that the village is ours, that we could be them.


Malala’s Magic Pencil – Malala Yousafzai


I bought this book for my granddaughter and fell in love with it.

Malala’s life story is brilliantly rendered for children, but it is the illustrations that captured my heart. They are delicate and evocative with the power to break your heart.


As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil that she could use to redraw reality. She would use it to give gifts to her family, to erase the smell from the rubbish dump near her house, to sleep an extra hour in the morning. As she grew older, Malala wished for bigger and bigger things. She saw a world that needed fixing. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true.
This beautifully illustrated picture book tells Malala’s story, in her own words, for a younger audience and shows them the worldview that allowed her to hold on to hope and to make her voice heard even in the most difficult of times.

Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree – Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani and Viviana Mazza


Remember Boko Harem? Perhaps not as they have fallen off the media radar. But guaranteed the girls captured, the families left behind, and those surviving in a world destroyed have not forgotten.

Written in two parts, this book captures the horror and the strength of individuals to survive against all odds. Part one tells the story in novel form from the point of view of one of the girls captured. Part two is a non-fiction narrative of the authors’ research to write the story and presents evidence from individuals and families they interviewed.

A new pair of shoes, a university degree, a husband—these are the things that a girl dreams of in a Nigerian village. And with a government scholarship right around the corner, everyone can see that these dreams aren’t too far out of reach.
But the girl’s dreams turn to nightmares when her village is attacked by Boko Haram, a terrorist group, in the middle of the night. Kidnapped, she is taken with other girls and women into the forest where she is forced to follow her captors’ radical beliefs and watch as her best friend slowly accepts everything she’s been told.
Still, the girl defends her existence. As impossible as escape may seem, her life—her future—is hers to fight for.

A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles


I relished every page of this book and every character. Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to house arrest in the Hotel Metropol in Moscow. It is through his eyes and heart that we watch the historical events reaging through the country from the 1920s to the 1950s. For all those years the Count could not leave the hotel. Reading the book, I was entranced to be there with him.

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

By Darlene Jones Posted in Books

Us Against You by Fredick Backman

Intense! Ostensibly about hockey, this book is really a revelation about the dynamics between people — love and hate and violence that we are all capable of.
Backman is a master storyteller with a unique writing style. We know from the beginning that someone is going to die, but who and how? And knowing does not detract from the suspense.

READ Beartown first to appreciate fully this sequel.

After everything that the citizens of Beartown have gone through, they are struck yet another blow when they hear that their beloved local junior hockey team will soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in Hed, take in that fact. As the tension between the two towns simmers, a surprising newcomer is handpicked to try to save the Beartown club.

Soon a new team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the enmity with Hed grows more and more heated.

As the big game between Beartown and Hed approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt grows deeper. By the time the last game is finally played, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after all they’ve been through, the game they love can ever return to something simple and innocent.

Us Against You is a declaration of love for all the big and small, bright and dark stories that form and color our communities. Compelling and heartbreaking, it’s a roller-coaster ride of emotions and a showcase for “Fredrik Backman’s pitch-perfect dialogue and unparalleled understanding of human nature


Beartown by Fredrik Backman


You don’t have to like hockey or even know much about it to find this novel riveting for the story revolves around the inhabitants of a small town, their fears, and sorrows and loves – all wrapped around the town hockey team. When violence enters, hearts break and yours will break too for the characters you have come to love.

NB After you’ve read Beartown, read the stunning sequel Us Against You.


People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

!!!! Boxing Week Sale !!!!

 For your reading pleasure this holiday season, I’ve put all of my books on sale.


Sci-fi series

Gifted with superpowers she can’t refuse, her life spirals out of control.

EMPOWERED – 50% 0FF $1.50
She’s crazy to build her life on childhood visions, but….

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Controlled by an Alien, Abby must decide if he’s real before she loses her life.

EMBROILED – 50% OFF – $1.50
Inexplicably drawn to the man stalking her, she knows she needs help.

Mystery/Adventure Duo  

Her dream was to go to university. Instead she’s wworking in a nursing home hunting a killer.

Will it be battle that kills him or the testimony of an old lady?


MALI TO MEXICO and Points In Between – 50% off – FREE

Happy Holidays and happy reading!


By Darlene Jones Posted in Books

Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere by [Ng, Celeste]

I cannot get this story out of my head. The intricacies of the characters’ relationships, the depth of emotion, the shattering of lives left me with an urge to dive into the novel and sort everyone out. If you’d just mind your own business, I screamed in my head, If you only knew. A vivid depiction of the importance of knowing the facts before acting and then asking yourself, “Is this any of my business?”


In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides.  Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.