I typically look for certain qualities in a book that fulfill my reading needs and at any given time those needs can change. I feel enriched when reading a book set in a particular place and time in history where I can put myself there and learn. As a psychology major, I have always been intrigued with human behavior, how we are able to influence one another and how memories of the past change over time. And as a lover of love and “romancery”, (defined in the urban dictionary as the art of leading someone into temptation, enticing, seducing, enchanting and charming the subject into making behavioral choices the would not have been made had he or she not become captive to the persuasive ways of the artisan), I am entertained with stories of new relationships. Below are three books that drew me in, all for different reasons!
Historical Fiction – The Ten Commandments, 1950s Egypt and a Grandfather’s Story
Picture in the Sand by Peter Blauner
I really enjoyed the audiobook version of Picture in the Sand. The story was a series of emails between Alex, a radicalized young Muslim, and his Egyptian Muslim grandfather; Alex reluctantly sharing his secret adventures in the Middle East after turning down his Ivy League education acceptance to participate in the war. The grandfather, the only person Alex agrees to communicate with, agrees to reveal his past that has been kept hidden from everyone in the family until now, with the hopes of encouraging his grandson to return home. The grandfather’s past occurred during Nasser’s rise to power and it coincided with the making of the Cecile B. Demille film, The Ten Commandments. Author, Peter Blauner combines real historic events with the imagined, from 1950s Egypt, controversial politics and the making of the Hollywood film, to romantic encounters, physical dangers and prison time. This dual timeline historical fiction book was well researched and has copious details.
Blauner’s school friend and fellow writer, actor David Duchovny described this book as a masterpiece. It took Blauner 20 years to write and research included multiple trips to Egypt.
If you enjoy Hollywood, history, religion, Egypt and an incredible family saga, this book is for you!
About Peter Blauner: Peter Blauner (b. 1959) is the Edgar-winning, New York Times bestselling author of nine novels, including SLOW MOTION RIOT and THE INTRUDER. A native of New York City, he apprenticed under famed newspaper columnist Pete Hamill and first broke into print as a journalist for New York magazine. His books are detailed, character-driven crime novels that have attracted a devoted cult following. His newest novel, PICTURE IN THE SAND, published in January 2023, is his first work of historical fiction. MORE ABOUT PETER BLAUNER
Mysterious Crime – Murder at a Boarding School
I Have Some Questions For You by Rebecca Makkai
I adored The Great Believers, Rebecca Makkai’s previous novel and although this one has little in common with her earlier work, I thoroughly enjoyed I Have Some Questions For You as well. The story centers on Bodie, formerly an outcast who attended boarding school where, during senior year, her roommate was murdered. A suspect was arrested and the case was deemed solved at the time, but 23 years later, Bodie, now a successful podcaster and professor, is questioning the evidence. She has been invited back to the school to teach a class, and reviewing the murder case has become part of one of her student’s podcast assignments. With teenage insecurities and perceptions that change over time, Bodie’s current recall surrounding her adolescence along with the collective memory of other students and faculty shed new light on the relationship dynamics and occurrences that led up to the murder years ago. As fragmented snippets of old memories are weaved together, it just may be that the wrong man has been serving time.
If you love boarding school stories, true crime and #MeToo scandals, pick up a copy!
About Rebecca Makkai: Rebecca Makkai is the Chicago-based author of the novels The Great Believers, The Hundred-Year House, and The Borrower, as well as the short story collection Music for Wartime. The Great Believers was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and received the ALA Carnegie Medal and the LA Times Book Prize, among other honors. Makkai is on the MFA faculties of Sierra Nevada College and Northwestern University, and she is Artistic Director of StoryStudio Chicago. MORE ABOUT REBECCA MAKKAI
Romance – An Emotionally Unavailable Pilot, A Nurse and Undeniable Physical Attraction
Usually content to walk, drive and do puzzles in silence, I have started listening to books, killing two birds with one stone. I find it to be a constant challenge to keep my mind focused while listening, so CoHo books, very simply written and easy to follow have been a new form of enjoyment for me. I’m not learning or growing as a reader or a person with these YA romance novels, but I am getting lost in the tension filled relationships she writes about and have laughed and cried out loud, so for me, it is worth the listen!
Life-changing, beautiful love can turn ugly. Miles has endured the unthinkable and is unavailable for new love; so when Tate moves in across the hall with her pilot brother Corbin, Miles feels the magnetic physical attraction but keeps his emotions distant. They both agree to get involved physically but keep their feelings out of it. This is easier said than done and Tate finds herself struggling. The dual timeline brings us back six years where we learn about Miles’ past and his previous relationship that impacted his outlook on love. Another CoHo hot and sexy romance – not a literary masterpiece – just pure entertainment.
If you are looking for ear candy (lacks depth but is fun to listen to), do what I did and check out the audible version from your local library…I used Hoopla.
ABOUT COLLEEN HOOVER: Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty two novels and novellas. Hoover’s novels fall into the New Adult and Young Adult contemporary romance categories, as well as psychological thriller.
Colleen Hoover is published by Montlake Romance, Grand Central Publishing and Atria Books. Colleen also has several indie titles, including Heart Bones.
In 2015, Colleen’s novel CONFESS won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance. That was followed up in 2016 with her latest title, It Ends With Us, also winning the Choice Award for Best Romance. In 2017, her title WITHOUT MERIT won best romance.
Her novel CONFESS has been filmed as a series by Awestruck and is available on Prime Video via Amazon and iTunes. Katie Leclerc and Ryan Cooper star in the series.
Colleen founded The Bookworm Box, a charity subscription service and bookstore, with her family in 2015. The Bookworm Box is a subscription service that provides readers with an exciting opportunity to receive signed novels in the mail each month from authors all over the world. All profits from the subscription service are donated to various charities each month. To date, The Bookworm Box has donated over $1,000,000 to help those in need. MORE ABOUT COLLEEN HOOVER